Please welcome author Sela Carsen!
And you'd be right. I'm mostly another mom. One of the many millions out there. We all have common experiences. We make sure the kids get to school and activities and dentist appointments. We make sure there's dinner on the table every night and that the homework gets done. We make sure the bathrooms get cleaned on at least a semi-regular basis. We have our own styles and schedules, but daily life is daily life.
But during the day when I should probably be folding laundry, I'm writing. Putting pieces of myself on the page not just to get the voices out of my head, but to give other people a smile during their day.
People assume that they know who writers are because they've read our words. They project about what our lives must be like. And to a certain extent, that's true for me.
You'd probably be able to decipher that I'm Southern. A Texan, to be specific, but I've not written a specifically Texan heroine.
You'd probably figure out that I like to eat. I like sushi and Sonic drive-ins. I drink wine and have been known to bake muffins by the hundredweight. All of my characters eat what sounds good to me when I'm writing. Pizza, pasta, steak, creamed spinach and sweet potato fries have all made appearances. (This close after Thanksgiving, though, I'm still too full to read that sentence without a stomachache.)
It would be a no-brainer for you to assume I like to read, based on some of my books. One of my heroines nearly swooned when she walked into the hero's library. In my head, it was like the library in "Beauty and the Beast," or more accurately, like the one in Robin McKinley's glorious book, "Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast." In another book, my heroine was a librarian.
All of these things are true, yet I work to make sure that my heroines really aren't that much like me at all. I mean, if I met a werewolf in the dark, I'd probably pee myself and faint. If I turned into a Selkie, I'd sink. If a vampire chased me through a graveyard at midnight, I'd be exsanguinated in the time it would take me to spell "exsanginuated."
But not my gals! They're not just little bits and pieces of my experiences. They start out as a few words on a page or as faint images or sounds in my head, but by the end, they've become so much more. They've become fully realized individuals, separate and distinct from each other and very definitely distinct from myself.
So sure, they may read the same books I read and they may like sweet potato fries as much as I do, but they are entirely themselves -- and fun to get to know on their own!
Carolina Pearl is second in the Carolina Wolf series. Ok, so there are really only two books total. There might be a third someday if I can get it to come out right.
The truth is, I never set out to write a series. I always thought a series had to be something that was planned and plotted and outlines and...I don't. At all. The very thought gives me hives.
I wrote Carolina Wolf for a call for submission that Samhain was doing for paranormal romantic comedies. I'd already written two para-rom-coms (it takes a while to write it all out), so it was right up my alley.
It ended up in an anthology called Tickle My Fantasy and people seemed to like it. After a few months, my fellow anthology-buddies came up with the idea that it might be fun to try it again. Since I'd never planned for there to be another story, I struggled with writing Carolina Pearl.
I knew I wanted to keep the town a central part of the story. There were secondary characters who needed to make more appearances, and there was more life in this little town than could be contained in just one novella.
So I did a Google map search of the real-life Congaree Swamp in South Carolina. And there's a house there, just on the edge of the swamp. All by itself. The satellite image shows it to be pretty old and run-down, but the idea of it was all I needed.
Now, my husband is a real DIY kind of guy. I've spent more hours watching HGTV and Bob Vila and "Holmes on Homes" with him than I can count. I've lived through one major kitchen gutting, one minor kitchen remodel, and at least three entire bathroom re-dos since we've been married.
Now I had my town and I had my house. I closed my eyes and saw a man replacing siding by himself, standing on a scaffold and cussing in frustration. Voila! A hero is born! Ok, so maybe not too heroic, but he only needed the right woman.
I saw an opportunity for tying this story in with Carolina Wolf right off the bat, though. I loved writing the prologue for Wolf -- it encompassed so much sensory detail and really dropped people smack into the setting. So I used some parallels and my heroine appeared.
It sounds almost hokey when I write it out like that, but those were the sparks I needed to get the story going. Now it's the in the hands of the readers to decide if I did it right!
Sela is giving away a PDF copy of Carolina Pearl, to enter please leave a comment or question for Sela along with your email.