A Bookish Dame’s Interview with Mary Carter
"Questions for Authors Series"
Hello, Mary. Welcome to A Bookish Librarian! I’m so delighted you’ve agreed to allow us to get to know you and your book better. I have several questions!
1) First of all, please tell us a special something about what makes you “tick.” When you aren’t writing, what are you doing? (Aside from being a mom)
Well, I’m not a mom, so that leaves me a lot of “free” time. When I’m not writing, I’m now teaching writing. I started The Manhattan Writers Den where I’m giving six-week courses in writing. As a business owner, I’m now spending a lot of time thinking about how to grow my business, and cultivating the culture of my workshop. I’m also an avid reader. I LOVE travel, and spend a good deal of time daydreaming about where I would go if money were no object. I live in
, so people watching is another favorite past
time of mine. I also love New
York City Central Park, dive
bars, live bands, and going to plays. Lastly, I’m a huge dog person, currently
without a dog.
2) You chose a specific genre, a place and time to write about, what made you choose it?
First, I have to say that as a writer, I didn’t really choose the genre. I thought in terms of my characters and story, and the publisher starts thinking in genres. Each novel I write stems from an idea of a character and their situation first, and then the setting. For The Things I Do For You, it began as a novel about a couple who want to run a bed and breakfast. But when I sat down to write the story, I wasn’t “in love”. That’s when I decided the bed and breakfast would also be a lighthouse. That got me excited again and I was off and running. Ideas often start as a little spark, then hopefully grow into a roaring fire.
3) Bronte or Austen? Hemingway or Hawthorne? Why?
Do I have time to go back and re-read some of these classics before I answer? It’s truly been a long time, except for Hemingway. I would have to say Bronte because of Wuthering Heights, and Hemingway—I did love The Scarlet Letter, but Hemingway’s concise, yet incredibly descriptive prose, has to be the winner for me. The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the
Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, and Hills Like White Elephants. Impossible
not to go with Ernest. Bell
4) In your opinion, what makes a book a great one?
A character with a really big problem they have to overcome. Everything else, vibrant descriptions, snappy dialogue, the inner workings of a character’s mind, insights on human nature—has to compliment the main thrust of the story, which is “a person with a problem”. Stories are about people in crisis. Only when they’re forced to struggle to we get to see what they’re really made of, and how far they will go to get what they want. I personally like stories with imperfect characters. Flaws to me make the person more real, someone I can identify with.
5) Which author(s) most influenced your love of books from childhood?
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Sam Bangs and Moonshine by Evaline Ness
Nancy Drew Series (ghost written under pseudonym Carolyn Keene)
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude
The Bobsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards
Are you there God, It’s Me Margaret and all others by Judy Bloom
Everything by Lois Duncan
I’ll be here forever if I keep going!!!!
6) Read any good books in the past 6 months?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
Defending Jacob by William Landay
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
7) Choose 4 guests from any era for dinner. Who would they be and what would you choose for a topic of conversation?
I can’t believe this. I was just saying to a friend of mine—you know that question about “If you could have 4 people living or dead to dinner”… and I said—I would have HIM wouldn’t you? It’s someone very interesting who would have also stirred up a lot of controversy. And of course now I’m drawing a complete blank on who it even was! This is going to drive me crazy for the rest of the day.
Herman Hesse – Absolutely loved “My Essays”
Bruce Springsteen – so he can sing to us
Oprah Winfrey – So I can talk her into featuring one of my novels in her book clubs—plus I just like her…
Jesse James – I want to hear his stories and see what kind of trouble he would stir up…
And NO, I did not think of the person I originally wanted just a few short days ago. Oh well. Getting older.
8) Which of your characters is most like you?
They definitely ALL have bits and pieces of me. Melanie, from my first novel, She’ll Take It, is a lot like me, EXCEPT for the kleptomania part. Unfortunately, people still hide their silverware when I come over. But seriously, a little bit of me is in every character. However, they become so much of their own person that by the time I’m done writing, they’re no longer me, but them!
9) If you could cast your book for a movie, who would you choose?
Which book would I choose? All of them, of course! If you mean which actor for particular books, I’m so bad at this game. I get kind of proprietary of my characters and don’t like to think of them in terms of celebrities. The “stars” have to become my characters, not the other way around.
10) Worst habit you have?
I procrastinate. See, I didn’t even want to write this sentence. And I obsess. I’m still mad I can’t think of the mysterious dinner guest. It was truly a brilliant choice!
11) How much research did you do before and during writing?
It depends on the book. In general I spend an hour or more a day researching, while writing the book. Currently I am working on a novel set in
, so several hours a day are
spent researching. I wanted to go and live there for a year, unfortunately that
didn’t happen. Thank goodness for the Internet! Florence, Italy
12) Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?
Funny. I FOUND one of these questionnaires from my childhood!
A WRITER, ACTRESS, AND WAITOR.
Guess what? I’ve been all three!
Thanks for joining us on The Bookish Librarian!
Thank you! It’s been fun. Except for forgetting about that mysterious dinner guest!
About the Author:
Mary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist. The Things I Do For You, is her sixth novel. Her fifth novel, The Pub Across the Pond, was July’s pick of the month with Barnes and Noble online book club, and is also available as an audiobook through Blackstone Audio. Her other works include: My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged. In addition to her novels she has written three novellas: A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home, and A Kiss Before Midnight (in an anthology collection headlined by Janet Daily) which will be out in the Spring of 2013. Mary is also excited to announce that she has started, The Writers’ Den, on the
Readers can visit Mary at www.marycarterbooks.com.
To get your paperback copy of THE
To get your ebook copy of THE
To purchase a copy of THE THINGS I DO FOR YOU by Mary Carter at Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-things-i-do-for-you-mary-carter/1105389647?ean=9780758253378
Like Mary Carter on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Carter-Books/248226365259
Follow Mary Carter on Twitter:https://twitter.com/marycarterbooks
About The Things I Do For You:
What happens to a marriage when a husband buys a lighthouse behind his wife’s back?
Bailey Jordan has loved her husband, Brad, since they were ten years old. She’s followed him on every adventure–opening a sweater store in
Awakening after his near-death experience, Brad has a new mission. He buys a lighthouse on the
Thoughtful and moving, The Things I Do for You exhibits a rare understanding of the joys, compromises, and small rebellions that lie at the heart of every marriage, and of the resilience and surprising power of love.