Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life. Yes, it’s Thursday. I’m two days late. Have you ever felt quite sure you’ve done something that you haven’t done at all? Well, I have that sheepish feeling today. I thought I’d sent my next guest, the lovely Scarlet Darkwood, the interview questions, but I hadn’t. So we are back on track today!
Please do check back next Tuesday for the next fabulous author interview.
Novelist Scarlet Darkwood always prefers avant garde themes for her stories that take the reader on unusual adventures, exploring the darker parts of the human psyche, and sometimes she takes a happy-go-lucky romp on the brighter sides of life.
Writing in several genres unleashes Scarlet’s imagination, so she never grows bored. From a young age, she enjoyed writing and keeping diaries, but didn’t start creating novels until 2012. She’s a Southern girl who lives in Tennessee and enjoys the beauty of the mountains. She lives in Nashville with her spouse and two rambunctious kitties.
What is the genre of “Words We Never Speak”?
The genre for my latest release is supernatural romance. It also fits into ghost and occult.
Please describe what the story/book is about.
My book is a ghost story with a “gotcha.” It’s about love and forgiveness when hurtful things are said, but this takes place much later in the character’s life. People should always consider the power of their words. The spoken word becomes truth, if you’re not careful. The story is also about a connection to one’s past and wanting to hold on to those special elements.
How did you come up with the title?
I borrowed the snippet from my spouse. Whenever I get angry at something and open my mouth, he tells me, “Oh, those words we never speak never have to be forgiven.” I use that line in the story!
Great line! Scarlet, what inspired you to write “Words We Never Speak”?
This book was inspired by a dream I had of an old classmate who died after high school. In real life, he and I were never friends, let alone dated in high school. So the work, though grounded in lots of personal truth, is fiction.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Being able to write in bursts when the ideas come. I don’t have these ideas flowing like milk and honey like some authors do. I struggle with getting a handle on my story and filling in the guts of it. Sometimes my skeleton is pretty sparse at the beginning, but in the end, it has all come together.
Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?
Kit Millinger resembles me in that she loves old houses and antiques, and that though she appreciates religion and some of the force or intent behind it, she doesn’t get caught up in the trappings of dogma or ceremony. Unlike Kit, I personally enjoy the ancient spiritual teachings that seem to give me a broader understanding of spiritual laws and principles.
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Really grabbing the story by the horns and focusing in such a way that it gets down faster and more efficient. The other challenging aspect for me is being a little fearful of painting myself in a corner. It forces me to keep plotlines simple, and that can be a huge hindrance. What makes a good story sometimes is the intricacies and details that come together in the storytelling. I risk keeping things too predictable and status quo. Though several readers have mentioned in reviews of my books that they didn’t see “such and such” coming. So maybe I don’t do too badly!
What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?
I read “The Widow’s Game,” by Maddie Holliday Von Stark. I had seen a particular post of hers one day back in the summer, and I decided to read the story. I found the writing descriptive, the word choices titillating at times, and the interwoven stories intriguing. There was excitement and chapters that dug into emotion and experience.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I’ve enjoyed Madeleine Roux’s Asylum Series, and I like books by Liz Curtis Higgs: Bad Girls Of The Bible, Mad Mary, and I also purchased, It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba—also by Higgs. I didn’t realize I’d liked her that much until you asked your question! I’ve enjoyed some of Anne Rice’s books: The Mayfair Witches (I’m getting through the second book), and her Sleeping Beauty Trilogy. I have some of Stephen King’s books, but I’ve only read Salem’s Lot (Cell and Pet Sematary are on the shelf).
What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?
I’m not sure I can pick any particular authors who have influenced me. I look to different ones to learn how a particular genre is handled, or how certain subject material is presented. Then what I do is inject my own take and go from there.
Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?
I have a European ergonomic chair in my living room. When I’m not working, I’m sitting in that chair and on the computer.
Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I took about two years of ballroom dance, and did some showcases and competitions. Hint: Unfortunately, I look nothing like a ballroom dancer.
Has the writing process uncovered surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?
As far as surprises, go, I learned that certain genres have readers who are super picky, and certain ways you write things or the way you present the material can be an immediate turn-off. For publishing, I’ve learned that unless I’m the publisher, I’m not interested in pitching my work to agents or other publishing houses. I like total control over what I do. I might enter the occasional anthology, but it has to feel right.
What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
I hope readers will have been entertained, most of all. I also hope some of the themes or subject matter covered allow readers to focus on those aspects or experiences in relation to themselves.
Looking back, Scarlet, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?
Re-editing the book and making some additional changes created work that makes me feel more confident. Working with some marketers and other authors has helped get the book out a little more. I simply think putting out more work might help everything catch fire a little better. It’s a tough market, and everyone is told to do the same: write, write, write.
What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?
Paying money for advertising hasn’t worked. Social media is extremely time-consuming, and if it works, it’s slow going. Also, thinking that there would be huge author support in a publishing house—not so. Authors won’t support or share for various personal reasons. So it’s really back to you as the author to find your own way.
Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?
Learn to self-publish, because you’ll never be at the mercy of another. Having control over your work is a good feeling. If you want to write, read some books on the craft of writing or take some online courses. An author needs to understand why certain elements need to be included in a story or excluded. They need to have a good handle on each story they write, and they need to learn the whys and wherefores of everything they write.
Please share your website and social media links.
Follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/scarletdarkwoodauthor
Follow her on Google+ at: http://ow.ly/VvZ82
Follow her on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ScarletDarkwood
Where can we find your book?
What’s next for you, Scarlet?
I’m off to try a different genre, and I’m opening myself up very slowly to helping publish other authors.
Thank you for chatting with The Writing Life, Scarlet. I wish you the best with your books and publishing adventures!
ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA:
Eleanor Parker Sapia is the Puerto Rican-born author of the award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, which garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is a writer, artist, and photographer, who is never without a pen and a notebook, and her passport and camera are always at the ready. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives and writes in Berkeley County, West Virginia.
Eleanor’s book, A DECENT WOMAN: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
Please visit Eleanor at her author website: HTTP://WWW.ELEANORPARKERSAPIA.COM