I love connecting readers with authors and today, I have a special treat for you. Editor and author Carolyn Haley has agreed to sit down with us for an in-depth interview. I’m so excited about this because she’s such a talented writer who’s been in the business for years. I learned so much from her and I know you will too. So grab your favorite beverage and enjoy. She even has a giveaway, too. Take it away, Carolyn:
What is your writing process?
Reverse engineering. I just bomb out a draft to get my ideas down; then, through multiple revisions involving multiple back-and-forths with my writing group who give excellent technical and emotional feedback, I figure out how to make the story work as a narrative with a plot arc, character development, etc.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you?
Mary Stewart and Dick Francis are the primaries. However, I read so much that more authors than I can remember have influenced both my thinking and my writing.
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
The only time I’ve ever thought about this was when the movie Splash came out. The moment I saw Daryl Hannah as the mermaid, I thought of my main character Linny Eagan in Wild Heart. The actress matched my private vision of my character’s looks (aside from the mermaid tail, and Daryl having rippled hair while Linny’s is dead straight). Over the course of Wild Heart’s development I’ve changed Linny’s appearance to something plainer, which is relevant to the story, but originally she was as gorgeous as Daryl.
Have you always liked to write?
Yep. I began as a diary writer then moved to journals then advanced to novels.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Learn craft as early as you can!
I wasted a lot of time not knowing what I was doing, and discovering only one or two important techniques with each full rewrite of the manuscript. It takes a lot more than one or two techniques per version to reach the “polished and publishable” stage. An artiste is rarely a craftsperson. It takes both creativity and craft together to achieve artistic, technical, and commercial success.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Pantster for fiction. I start with a handful of ideas relating to something I care about or some question I can’t answer, then connect the ideas with freestyle thinking until I’ve got a working draft. Then, as mentioned above, I reverse engineer with help until everything is tidied up and flowing smoothly.
For nonfiction, I outline. Not meticulously, but enough to know where I’m going and stay on track. That work usually has deadlines and must fit within somebody else’s parameters, whereas in fiction there are no limits. I worry about where a novel fits in the marketplace after it’s done.
What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?
Marketing and promotion.
Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
I struggle with persuasively conveying emotion—a critical challenge when you write romances!
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
I’m up to four now, and envy the prolific folks who can write that many a year. But I didn’t get the “natural storyteller” gene. Instead, one half of me is an artist/illustrator, and the other half is a very analytical editor. The connective tissue between them isn’t strong, so I have to work extra hard in getting the two mentalities to synchronize.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
Currently wrapping up an un-cozy murder mystery set in rural Vermont. It has a romance subplot, of course; everything I write is a romance, even if it’s packaged as something else. To me, romance is the most interesting story no matter what context. That’s why I dub my novels “hybrid romances.” I’m hoping the new romantic mystery will launch a series, which has long been a goal.
Do you write naked?
Only on very, very hot summer days! Living in a northern climate, we don’t have many scorchers, but when they hit we are flattened because our bodies haven’t had time to adapt, and few rural homes like ours have air conditioning. Thus bare skin plus fans and cool showers are all we have to keep ourselves upright and working during a heatwave.
Have you ever gotten into a fight?
If you mean fisticuffs or worse, no. Just verbal. However, I’m considering a physical fight scene for my next novel and wondering how to present it plausibly when I have no real-world experience. It’s going to be a “catfight”—woman vs. woman—but none of my gal friends has ever gotten into a fight, either, so I can’t draw from them. This will be an interesting exercise. If what I come up with doesn’t work, I’ll dump the idea and recast the scene. I do want to try it, though.
Do you drink? Smoke? What’s your vice?
I indulge in most legal vices: smoking, drinking, partaking of caffeine, chocolate, etc.
What is your biggest fear?
Poverty combined with incapacity.
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)?
Visit the British Isles. I would love-love-love to rent a car and travel the entire area for at least a month, including walking tours and horse-riding tours and taking ferries to the outer islands.
Title Wild Heart
Author Carolyn Haley
Genre Equestrian Romance
Publisher Borealis Books
She’s afraid to love again, and he’s afraid to love at all...until their shared love for horses shows them how to love each other.
In one day at a horse show in 1975, Linny Eagan loses her job, her beloved, and her dream of becoming an equestrian champion. The triple loss forces her to invent a new dream—this time skipping the romance part and trusting only in horses, which can never betray her.
Her first try lands her at a public trail-riding stable on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. There she meets Con Winston, who dreams of being a Western artist on his own Montana ranch. But he must play family head-games for two more years, when he will inherit a fortune that will make his dream come true. Until then he won’t waver from his path, or give himself to anyone.
Yet in working together with horses, he and Linny discover a perfect match of heart and mind. But Linny doesn’t share Con’s dream and won’t ask him to sacrifice it; and Con feels the same way about her dream. When things fall apart at the stable, they regretfully continue in opposite directions, connected only by Con’s half-wild horse.
Living apart finally proves to them that dreams need love to sustain them, and the only chance to have both is to reinvent a new dream together.
Shark, like all the trail horses, was strong from daily treks through deep sand. The string of riders scaled the slopes without puffing and lurched down the other sides. Our seats thumped the saddles as we spread across the dunes, silhouetted against the fuchsia-streaked sky.
I savored the breeze across my skin and the slanted light that picked out the gold in Con’s hair and the white of his eyes and smile, while he jogged around on his copper mare Klatawah, chatting with the other riders. He rode with the ease of the Marlboro Man, making me wonder how he had learned the Western seat so well if his life had been spent in prep schools and Ivy League college.
He caught me watching a few times as he and Miriam funneled the group back into line when the dune dropped to join a trail marked by signs and tire ruts, where bridle path and dune-buggy route shared one official track to the beach. Shark jerked up her head and pointed her ears at a grassy knoll ahead, at the same moment other horses whinnied and snorted. The riders muttered and giggled, unsure what lay ahead.
In answer to our unspoken question, an arm of wind swept over the knoll to salt-tingle our noses. The group scrambled forward, to be blocked by Miriam upon mounting the crest.
“Look sharp and sit tight,” she told everyone. “Your horses might get excited at this part. Stay in line behind me, and if you all keep control, we might get in a little trot.”
We attempted to obey, falling silent as we beheld a broad, flat beach arching out of sight in both directions, fringed by ocean stained to gold-slashed burgundy by the setting sun. My collar and bandana fluttered as I gazed, while all around me the horses bobbed and blew, straining to be free.
Shark started to rev up like a race car—and Klatawah didn’t bother revving, just bunched her muscles and shot off in a spray of sand. Con yelped as he lurched back, but his polo reflexes saved him, whereas I had to save myself by grabbing the saddle horn when Shark dropped her head and leaped after them, searing the reins through my fingers. Around us whoops, whinnies, and hollers erupted as the rest of the herd spewed across the beach like buckshot.
I had never ridden as fast as Shark was galloping—wind ripping my bandana off and splaying open my shirt—and I’d lost my stirrups at her first plunging stride. But I found my balance and just let the horse go, inhibition having been blown away with everything else. Nothing mattered except the freedom of pounding across the sand straight into the sunset. Behind me lay a helter-skelter of shouting blurs belonging to another life.
Joy brought tears to my eyes, and wind streaked them across my face. I whipped by Con, who had managed to circle Klatawah and regain control. He spurred the mare after me like a cop after a speeder and ate the distance between us with Klatawah’s huge strides. I saw a russet shape encroaching from the corner of my eye; then Klatawah drew even, her nostrils gaping and mane streaming as Con stretched over her neck, urging her on. No chase, I realized, but a race!
This was not supposed to happen. From the glance he shot me, I knew that he knew, and was throwing responsibility away for a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I caught the same fever and spurred Shark onward, feeling wilder than I ever had in my life.
We veered toward the water, hooting and pumping the reins. Our horses extended beneath us in their own instinctive race, until the beach dropped sharply into the waves. Shark and Klatawah jammed on the brakes to get their hindquarters under them, almost hopping as they adjusted to the slope and the sudden momentum-stopping water. Con and I banged in our saddles, splashed to soaking before we realized we’d be swimming if we angled out any farther. Our race deteriorated into a scramble back upslope, the horses heaving through the wet, gummy sand to the drained, packed sand, and up over the shoulder to the dry beach.
I reined in, laughing, and met his grin while our mounts blew and bucked in circles around each other. He was waiting to meet my gaze each time our horses were pointed in the right direction, and he held it with equal intensity, all masks forgotten, all words that could be said captured in our smiles. For those moments, I felt my heart beat with his and almost saw something reach out between us and bind us to each other.
But then faint shouts broke the connection and brought reality back.