Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interview With Carolyn Arnold

Today my guest is the writer Carolyn Arnold. She’s the author of 6 novels and is currently completing her 7th novel entitled Eleven. Carolyn is also the founder, publisher, and author of the blog A Writer’s Journey.

JG: You recently had an amazing post about determining body temperature at the time of death. What kind of research did you do to find this out?

CA: The internet is an amazing wealth of information. Of course, you can’t take everything you read as credit worthy. That’s why I cross-reference the material to ensure the accuracy of what I’m trying to share with the followers, and viewers of my blog. I also suggest any M/T/S (mystery/thriller/suspense) writer get the book Howdunit Forensics A Guide for Writers.

JG: Who are some of your favorite writers?

CA: Love David Baldacci, and Sandra Brown. Other authors I have enjoyed reading are Lisa Unger, John Gilstrap, and Jonathan Kellerman to mention a few.

JG: What turns you off?

CA: Inaccuracies or inconsistencies. If you’re going to write a novel, make sure you know your facts. As writers, we’re reminded that our readers are more educated than ever, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint them. Even keeping in mind that some of our readers may get their education from “Hollywood”, as writers we are entrusted with the privilege to get the facts right. So, if something we present in our work may contradict what they watched on TV, but it’s factual – always go with the factual.

JG: Why did you decide to start a blog?

CA: At the point I started the blog, I was editing. I find the process of editing, although rewarding, to be even more solitary than writing itself. I thought by writing blog posts this would fill the need to get words “out there”. What it became was much more. I opened the blog to guest posters, and found that by getting fresh perspectives I learned from them, and became inspired by them.

I believe that as writers we’re stronger united, and banded together, than we are alone. I also strive to be creative, and unique with the subject matter I decide to discuss. This is how Forensic Friday, The Human Observation Project, and Writing Weekend posts were born.

JG: Are you working on anything special right now? Any assignments, novels, query letters

CA: Right now, I’m working on finishing my seventh novel. ELEVEN is a thriller that follows a FBI team in search of a serial killer. When they think they have everything figured out, it’s almost too late when they realize they don’t.

I’m also working on finalizing edits for my other novels, and getting them ready for agent query. And of course, I’m doing all this while working full-time.

JG: If you had your druthers, would you prefer publishing a story online or in a print magazine?

CA: I’m going to go with print. And this is for two reasons: 1) I love the feeling of holding what I read in my hands, and would love to hold my work, and 2) isn’t everything, even printed work available online at some point? :)

JG: Self-publishing or Traditional?

CA: I praise anyone who gets their work into print, and hold respect for those who choose to self-publish. For myself though, at this point, I still have untapped opportunities that I’d like to pursue in the traditional publishing arena.

JG: Who are your writing influences?

CA: Influences, or support system? Inside, I believe I was meant to write. Now, maybe this sounds absurd, but at this point, it’s what I believe. As far as a support system, I’m thankful to say that I live with my best friend, and largest supporter.

JG: Why do you believe you were meant to write?

CA: I used to write as a way of expressing myself as a teenager. As life went on, I got married, and everything significantly changed. I didn’t even think of writing anymore other than the passing thought “it would be neat to write a novel”, and even then, it didn’t come up often.

But about four years ago now, a situation arose where a co-worker asked me to tell her a story. Work was uncertain at the time, and we knew that the Head Office would be coming in and laying off the department basically any day. So, I emailed her the first two paragraphs of a story, that just “came to me”. She kept wanting more, and then told me I had to finish. By then, I was wrapped up in the characters, and the excitement of writing again so it wasn’t a problem. A year later, I had completed my first novel.

I believe if you come back around to something in your life, it tells you something. I have since written 6 novels, with my 7th in the works.

JG: How long does it normally take you to complete a first draft of a novel?

CA: My first took me about a year, the second six months, the third three, and then my fourth, fifth, and sixth novels anywhere from one to two months each.

JG: What are you reading now?

CA: True Blue by David Baldacci.

JG: What's your daily writing routine like?

CA: I wake up about six during the work week to a cup a coffee and my laptop. I find the early mornings to be the most productive time for writing. I also bring my laptop to the day job and work on my writing during my lunch (but it’s only half an hour). At night, I work on posts for my blog. Weekends – while they’re like the “promised land”.

JG: What’s your favorite place to hang out?

CA: Honestly? My media room. We’ve got it set up with a large screen TV, and surround sound. There’s a sixteen-foot bar down there too. What more can I say?

JG: Favorite Bookshop

CA: It has to be Chapters. You can’t go wrong with Starbucks in there too!

JG: The 5 most important books you’ve always wanted to read, but still haven’t gotten around to.

CA: Wow, this is a tough question. I guess I don’t give a lot of thought to what I’m reading that far ahead. I know there’s a few from writers I’ve met online that I would love to support.

JG: Plot or character?

CA: You mean, which is more important? That’s a tough question. I believe the two are required to make a solid book. While characters drive the plot of the novel, you also need a plot to lead the characters along their journey.

JG: Any words of wisdom you’d like to share?

CA: Keep writing. Even on days you don’t feel like it, make yourself. You’ll be amazed what comes out onto the page. And as you keep writing, you’ll learn and grow. Another key aspect of growing as a writer is to read. Read other books in your genre, read out of your genre, read books on the craft. But on the latter, I’m placing a disclaimer. Books on the craft can be incredibly useful, but don’t take them as rule books, view them as suggestive guidelines.

Open yourself up to criticism. It’s tough, and sometimes it can sting, but you’ll grow from it.

Another thing, reach out to other writers. Whether this comes in the form of an online community, one in your neighborhood, a blog, or Twitter – connect.

Brief Bio: Carolyn Arnold was born in 1976 in the rural town of Picton, Ontario. Currently she lives with her husband of fifteen years and her two beagles in a city about two hours from the well-known Canadian center, Toronto.

While her first completed novel was a romantic suspense, since then she has branched out to the mystery, suspense and thriller genres. Her goal is to become a well-known writer, and a mentor for others striving to reach their publishing dreams.

You can follow her on her blog here. Also on Twitter here.


  1. Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog, John.

  2. Great interview with a lovely writer!

  3. Carolyn the please is all mine. Looking forward to the release of Eleven .

  4. Awesome post. Thanks to all. Reggie Ridgway

  5. Carolyn's a great woman. Awesome interview!

  6. Loved the interview, John & Carolyn!