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Roving Reporter Mona Interviews Carolyn Crane!

Submitted by on June 21, 2010 – 3:00 am7 Comments
Interview with Carolyn Crane
Carolyn Crane is one of the funniest, sweetest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I wish I could have transcribed the entire interview, but something interfered with the recording and blanked out segments of it, and those parts were lost.

When you read her responses to my questions, you’ll discover what so many other readers have…her quick wit, her great sense of humor, and her openness. She definitely has a long and prosperous career ahead of her, and I can’t wait to see what’s in her future. 
Thanks to Carolyn for being accessible and patient and sharing – rare qualities in a busy author.

Mona: How did you get started writing professionally?

Carolyn: I’ve always loved to write, and dabbled on the side of whatever I was doing for a job – a novel or a collection of this or that. Eventually I became a freelance writer, but I still always had that fiction project on the side. 
I started with writing funny essays, actually. My husband and I used to put out a little free magazine of funny essays that we wrote. Those were my first published pieces, in a way. And then I started getting really serious about writing novels and I actually wrote three fully polished, three worked-over, slaved-over novels that were never bought. And then I wrote Mind Games. I queried a few agents, and my current agent, the wonderful Cameron McClure of Donald Maass, asked to see the book. She wanted me to cut a bunch out of the beginning — I thought that was smart, so I did it, she took me on, and here I am.

Mona: Are you a plotter, pantser, or a combination? (We were interrupted here by a guy rolling in a table with water, ice and glasses, and making lots of noise. After the surprise, it was kind of funny.)

Carolyn: You know, I’ve got to wonder if anybody’s a true plotter or a true pantser. I think everyone’s a bit of a mix. Basically, I’m really on the plotter side. I like to know where I’m going. I don’t have really copious outlines, but I know the scenes, I kind of know the ending. I like fleshing out a strong ending scene that I know I’m heading toward. To me, a plot outline is a kind of map. I change things along the way, and I always have room for new ideas to creep in, detours, but generally, I tend to stay pretty close to my outline and not go too far down side roads. 

Mona: So basically, you’re a plotter.

Carolyn: I’m very much a plotter. I don’t write detailed outlines, more like lists of events, sometimes snippets of dialogue. I’m a really slow writer, and I handwrite my first draft – I know not a lot of writers do that. It’s not fast. But I find it easier to think with a pen in my hand, and that’s a kind of plotting, too, because I stare out of the window and think, and then I write everything out. 

Mona: How many books did you write before being published?

Carolyn: Three really.

Mona: Do you still have them?

Carolyn: Oh yeah. One’s a romantic comedy about a girl who tries to bluff her way into an experimental sci-fi theater troupe, in another, this woman’s neighbor is a hermit and she tries to bring him out of his shell, and he doesn’t want her to. Then I had a really weird novel I wrote about a time capsule. People wrote their stories and put them in a time capsule. They’d write stuff about each other and different things that would happen.

Mona: That sounds interesting!

Carolyn: I thought it was interesting. 

Mona: Maybe you should revisit it and do some editing. You might be surprised, because you might get it published.

Carolyn: (Laughs) I don’t know if that would be a good thing…that was number one. That was the training novel, and I thought, you know, I’m never doing a plot like this ever again.

Mona: Who is your favorite character or type of character to write?

Carolyn: I like the underdog. I like people who are up against something inside themselves, or are psychologically mixed up, dark, troubled, because that can provide nice internal obstacles. I’ve been having fun with it in this series.     

Mona: It sounds as if you like tortured characters.

Carolyn: Yes, for sure. Tortured characters are a kind of underdog, too. Underdogs are really fun to write. Not that I don’t like upstanding, trustworthy heroes. But they’re a little harder to write about. When I try to write them, I have to be very careful, because they can turn out boring instead.

Mona: When you’re writing a series, do you just concentrate on it or do you switch to something else to clear your head?

Carolyn: That’s a good question. I wrote book one, and after book one, I did take a break to do a paranormal series. It’s not sold yet or anything, because it’s not ready to be sold. But then I wrote book two, and I really want to go back to the paranormal, because it’s a third person, multi-point-of-view, and I just feel good about it. And I think it helps the creative process to exercise different muscles. To me, it’s sort of like a farmer, rotating crops.

 Mona: Actually, most of the authors I talked with do prefer to take a break and do something different.

Carolyn: Do they? I can totally see it. I was talking to my agent, and I told her I have this other series and she said, “After you’ve done book three.”

Mona: Who influenced or encouraged you the most?

Carolyn: It would have been my teachers.

Mona interrupts: That’s funny, because one of my questions is “Who was your favorite teacher and what did they teach?” Because teachers always influence people more than they ever know.

Carolyn: I know. Sometimes I think about the teachers I had, and I think about tracking them down and just thanking them. It’s not like I’m famous, but I always think about tracking them down just to say thanks.

My first important encourager was an English teacher in high school, Miss Judd. I wasn’t even thinking about writing, but she thought I should. It planted the idea, and I went off to college – to become a math and computer major, of all things. Writing was more just something I enjoyed. I would write letters to people, and I would keep a journal, but little by little, I got more serious.
And I had good teachers in college who encouraged me, too. 

Mona: What do you find interrupts or interferes with your writing the most?

Carolyn: Part of it is having to pay the bills. I work as a freelance writer so a lot of the time, I’m doing advertising, and there always seems to be some last minute thing that comes up. Sometimes the client will call needing me and I have to drop everything. And I may have a book deadline, but you can’t say no, because when you’re a freelancer you have to be flexible with your time or they’ll go elsewhere. So that really interferes.

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of issues with social media. I’ll finish a page and think, I need to check twitter, then forty-five minutes later, I still haven’t gotten back to it. (laughs)

Mona: If you weren’t a writer, what type of work would you do?

Carolyn: I think I’d like to be a police officer. I’d have to be a different kind of person, because I’m the kind of person who would give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and I think that would be bad. 

Mona: I think you could toughen up.

Carolyn: Yeah, I would have to get some training, but I think it would be really fun. I love that show COPS.

Mona: What do you think is the biggest drawback to writing and the best thing about writing?

Carolyn: That’s funny, I can’t think of any drawbacks. I like to collaborate with people, so as a writer, I miss out on that. Though after being published, you actually do get to do that with the agent and editor, but that’s not a true collaboration. 

I have a critique partner, and in a way, I feel like she’s a collaborator. As a freelancer, I work a lot on my own, and I don’t mind the solitary work as long as I can get a little bit of interaction, but it can be a drawback, too. But, you know what? I think the insecurity can be a drawback for me, because I’m always worrying if anyone will like it, will they not like it. And the job insecurity, will my publisher keep me on, will I keep going. I think that’s the biggest drawback…the insecurity. 

Mona: Are you ever overwhelmed with the attention you receive?

Carolyn: My books are just debuting, so I don’t get a ton of attention, but still, it is overwhelming, in a great way.  

There are people who buy my book, and ask for me to sign their copies, and they tell me how much they like my book, and I just want to crawl over the table and give them a hug, give them my camera and my wallet, ‘cause I’m just so grateful, and that’s overwhelming in a good way. Just knowing that someone on the other end is with you on this story–it’s just so wonderful. It just takes one person. 

Back when I was a reader, I would do that, too. I would want the authors to know that I liked their work and why I liked it, and I never realized what it’s like on this end. 

Mona: If you decided to write in a genre you had never tried before, what genre would it be?

Carolyn: It would be a mystery. Yes, I think I’d like to write a mystery.

Mona: What would you like people to know about you that they may not know?

Carolyn: I actually lead a routine, boring life, so there’s not much to know. (laughs) 


PBD would like to say thank you to Carolyn Crane – wonderful interview! If you would like to learn more about Carolyn Crane and her wonderful books, visit her website.

As always, PBD would like to thank our Roving Reporter and Honorary Doll, Mona – for all the time and effort she put into these wonderful interviews. 

Noa first fell in love with books when she discovered 100 acre wood and its inhabitants. To this day, the last pages of “The House at Pooh Corner” make her cry. In a good way. From“Calvin and Hobbes” to “The Iliad and the Odyssey” and lets not forget “Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes”. Biographies, mysteries, history books and romances all have a place on her bookshelves. Who needs furniture? This 29 year old singleton’s dream is to invent the zero-calorie chocolate. But until that day arrives, she tries to create sweet confections with whatever chocolate she can find. An MA in conflict studies (need a mediator?) means Noa loves a good debate, especially when she wins. If she were in charge, books would be free for everyone.
Doll Noa
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  • Mona, reading this again, I continue to be so impressed and grateful for all your thoughtful questions. This was such a fabulous interview!! Thanks so much!

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  • lbgregg says:

    What a great interview!

    Carolyn Crane is a smart, funny writer with great depth, and a creative whirlwind who offers sound, intelligent commentary on the genre.

    You really captured that!


    LB Gregg

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  • Day says:

    It's a great interview that seemed to bring out more of the author's personality! that's what I love to read!

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  • Swinka says:

    OOOOOHHH it's Carolyn x 2 … just got to read this for lunch!!!! Thanks, Mona! Thanks, Caroyln!!

    Reply to this comment »
  • AngelGoneMad says:

    That was a great interview!

    The underdog thing made me think and have decided I agree.

    People always think the underdog is the person that is the loser, the one that has nothing going for them, the one that can't get the pretty girls or gorgeous guys. But they don't realise that other people have extreme insecurities that lead them to turning in on themselves and that causes them to be the underdog in the story as you don't see them for who they really are until they character figures themselves out via a trip of self-discovery or someone helps them get over some traumatic event that has happened and they start to see themselves a lot clearer! This then makes them the hero/heroine of their own story/life and it makes us all realise that we can all be the underdog of our own story until we stop hiding from who we really are! We see that in Justine in Mind Games, but slowly and surely she comes more into her own and she becomes the neurotic heroine that we can't wait to read more about.

    Okay, I'm babbling now! Great interview again :)

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  • Elie says:

    Just dropped in to say hi to Carolyn, I love Mind Games. Great interview.

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  • Stacy~ says:

    Loved this interview! I've only met Carolyn online, but I find her delightful :) And I hope she continues to write her stories for decades to come.

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