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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Monday, November 26, 2007

FEATURED AUTHOR: Carole McDonnell


EDITOR: You know I'm always excited to introduce you to a new writer, because it means they've reached what some of you are striving for. Its my way of giving you hope on this crazy journey. I also like introducing you to someone I've met online, because its inspiring to me to see someone I've communicated with see their dreams come to reality.

I'm excited for Carole because she's step into a genre not many AA authors write, but she didn't let that deter her from telling her story. From the reviews I've read its a good story too. I look forward to reading it over the holidays. I hope you get a chance to pick it up or add to your Christmas list. Please take a moment to meet this debut author.

Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

Carole McDonnell holds a BA degree in Literature from SUNY Purchase and is a writer of Christian, supernatural, and ethnic stories. Her writings appear in various anthologies including "So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonialism in science fiction," edited by Nalo Hopkinson and published by Arsenal Pulp Press; "Jigsaw Nation" published by Spyre publications, "Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: writings by mature women of color" among others. Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, two sons, and their pets. Her first novel, Wind Follower was published by Juno Books in September 2007.

Tell us about your current book?


It's a paranormal romance called Wind Follower. In the story a young eighteen year old man falls in love with a twenty year old woman and asks that she be his wife. The woman isn't too keen on this at the beginning but grows to love him. Just as they are about to start a new life together, old vendettas and spiritual forces tear them apart. It's a Christian fantasy but it isn't like many Christian fantasies you would read. Most Christian fantasies take place in a Euro-centric world with dwarves, elves, etc. But this one is based in a more tribal setting. It's got a lot of African folkloric stuff in it, such as shamans, demons, tribe headmen. In addition it's very multicultural and it's about multiculturalism because there are different tribes with different skin colors and all these tribes brush up against each other.

What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

So many things. Definitely a love for marital love and fidelity. Love is such a glorious thing. The effect of the book depends on the reader, I think. I'd like the non-religious reader to understand how the religious heart views religion. One of the things I like best about the book is the way we see how the insecure human heart works when it's in love. For various reasons, my two characters are both emotionally wounded. They don't trust each other's love. They don't trust their family's love. That doesn't help matters.

What inspired this story?

I love old Elizabethan ballads. Many of my stories begin when one of these ballads simply pops up and refuses to leave my brain. One of my favorite songs is, "He's young but he's daily growing." I swear, I would be walking downtown and the song hounded me. The song is about a twenty-four year old woman whose father betroths her to a fourteen year old boy. The kid dies while she is waiting for him to grow up and there is this very sad lingering grief. Well, that lingering grief pretty much attacked me. I couldn't shake it. I love love. But I also love romances with unmatched lovers. I also like interracial stories. My film collection seems to be wholly made up of love stories where people from different cultures meet. The next thing I knew I wanted to write a love story which was not rooted in Northern American culture or in western notions of love, culture, feminism, etc. Of course I had to change the ages. Too far apart. And I changed the reason for the marriage.

I also like tribal stories and I felt it was about time that the Christian fiction world widened itself. So often we North American Christians forget that Christianity is primarily a non-western religion. Jesus Christ was a tribal man, who came from the tribe of Judah. I wanted the American Christian audience to understand the tribal foundation of Christianity. There is also the folkloric foundations: the notion of blood sacrifices, the holiness of the Creator, demonic battles, etc. It should be about the lives of all the people in the Christian community. I know this all sounds very political and racial, yet the book isn't really like that at all.

So there were emotional, creative, cultural, and spiritual reasons for the birth of Wind Follower.

How long did it take from first word to sale? What were some of the steps along the journey?

About two years. The story went through so many permutations. It started out as a short story then became a novel. My friend, Cynthia Ward, told me that Juno was looking for books with strong female characters. Although Wind Follower wasn't finished I sent in about 70 pages to the Juno editor. Honestly, that was about all I had when Juno signed me on. Not a good thing to do, mind you. A writer should be finished with a manuscript when she presents it to an editor. But some of my fiction had already been published in reputable anthologies and the editor, Paula Guran, knew I could write. Besides I had Cindy Ward telling Paula to give me a chance. In addition, Paula liked the idea of having Wind Follower, with its Christian folklore theme, on the Juno list. Juno doesn't publish Christian fantasy, mind you, so the book had to prove that it would work as a secular book.

What have you learned throughout the process of writing, pitching - and now, promoting - a novel?

The story is what matters. If a writer knows the basics of plotting an original story and pitches it to the right editor and writes within the guidelines of the publishing guidelines she is pitching to, her novel should get published.

As for actually writing the story, I think it's best that a writer create the setting, the characters, the internal motivations and external conflicts of the characters and then let the characters be themselves. Open the gates, tighten the springs, and see what happens when these characters come up against each other. Certain things MUST happen. I don't believe in outlines because then the story becomes too predictable. I believe it's good to write an outline of the story after the second draft. In that way, there aren't any loose ends. But pretty much an author should develop a sense of faith in the work --the muse, God and the unconsciousness-- and trust that everything in the story will work itself out and make sense by the eighth draft.

Any exciting things happening before or during the time period while the book is releasing?

Not really. The most exciting thing is seeing how proud and happy my friends are for me, and seeing all the lovely things the reviewers have discovered in the book. Lovely stuff that I get to take credit for, I might add. I did get interviewed on the radio. That was neat. And I got invited to read at the local Barnes and Noble author celebration. But the best thing is to be a published author, to actually have a book out there.

How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

I'm a mad networker. I'm always talking to different people online. This has led to interesting marketing but I didn't really aim for marketing in the first place. I think the thing that works for me is that I like writing. So I write a lot of articles at friends' blogs.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

The importance of taking care of one's health
The power of God's word
The love of God for me.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

I am always taking time for myself, unfortunately. We writers tend to procrastinate if we aren't careful. What I need to learn is to take time for my novel. My current work-in-progress is called Inheritance. It keeps calling to me. And I'm working on it. But honestly, I tend to neglect it at the drop of a button. So I have to remind myself that professionalism demands that I finish books instead of watching some cute actor in a creature feature on television.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Email addy: strongarmstudios@gmail.com
Email addy: carole@carolemcdonnell.com
Website: http://www.carolemcdonnell.com/
Blog: http://www.darkparables.blogspot.com/
Blog http://www.carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/

5 comments:

LaShaunda said...

Carole,

Congrats on your new book. I love the cover. A strong black woman.

Many blessings to you and your new career.

Gwyneth Bolton said...

I have this book. I've been waiting for the right moment to dig in. Great interview! I'm now all the more intrigued. I might have to start reading it tonight.

Gwyneth

J. M. Butler said...

Finished reading the book, and it is incredible! Thanks for the interview. It was great to read more of your soul. Windfollower was beautiful! Simply beautiful. And very thought provoking.

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Thanks, LaShaunda, for giving me this interview. I really, really, appreciate it.

Re: the cover.

The Borders' bookseller chose the cover. At first I really had a problem with it but after I while I realized he had totally gotten the soul of the character.

Thanks to everyone who has read the book or who intends to read it. I hope it blesses its reader as much as it blessed its writer. -C

Mirtika said...

It's a terrific debut novel, one of the best Christian fantasies I've read, period. I recommend it to your readers.

Mir

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