1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love taking small events of interest and turning them into the seed of a new project. Funny moments, scary things, witticisms, interesting strangers, and overheard conversations can all find their way into something else. It’s the best recycling I know.

  1. How often do you get new ideas? A thousand a second, or every 12 years when the moon is full and the stars align?

I get them all the time, but not everything stands up. Still, I scribble notes to myself, save “clues” or descriptions or crimes in my phone, and jot things on my “crazy idea” board until I have time to weave something together. If I waited for the stars to align, nothing would ever get done!

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

How can anyone choose with so many wonderful writers out there? My favorite mystery writers include Rex Stout and Agatha Christie, both dead, but living on through their twisty, clever plots. I love Jane Austen, too. I enjoyed meeting Alexander McCall Smith recently, though I can’t say that I really know him except through his novels. One of the most interesting and talented writers that I do know well is Mark Rhodes, a show writer and creative director I worked with at Walt Disney Imagineering. He is one of a circle of terrific writers who impress me with their wit, generosity, and ability to see through the drafts to the potential story buried within. They leave breadcrumbs until I discover the tale I want to tell in what can sometimes be a dark, overgrown forest of trolls.

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

I have a well-worn copy of The Original Illustrated ‘Strand’ Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that I refer to a great deal. I love all the different versions of these stories including Elementary and Sherlock on television, and the Sherlock Holmes movies, all crammed with Easter eggs from the original stories. My first academic paper to be presented by a professor and cited by another student was about The Hound of the Baskervilles. Those stories are a treasure trove.

  1. What kind or creative rituals or patterns do you have?

All my rituals start with coffee, for sure. Really, I just try to work through a very messy draft of something, pushing through even if it isn’t really working and then I come back to it later and the ideas flow about what it could be. Rarely does my first draft resemble the final product, so my ritual is persevering through that first pass so I can get to the place where I can change it, try new things, and push myself until I find something good.

Bonus question: If the last thought you had last night before falling asleep was an animal, what would it be?

A burrowing, secretive animal for sure, like a fox or a hedgehog. Those last drifting thoughts may or may not stick around until morning, though I’m sure they were clever, but furtive in the moment.


The team at Writers & Words wishes you all a fun and safe July 4th, and we look forward to seeing you next week, July 11th for another great reading at Charmingtons.  Come out, meet Carolyn, have coffee, hear words. Life, enhanced.

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