Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tag Teamin' It! Interview With Carole A. Sutton!

Hi Everyone,

And thank you for joining in the "Four Hundred Hours to Four Hundred Days" blog tour!

Today, I am thrilled to have the very talented Carole Sutton, author of Ferryman, And the Devil Laughed, and Blood Opal on the blog! Carole and I did a sort of "Tag Team" interview where we bounced questions off of each other. Her answers to my questions will be posted below, and my answers to her questions will appear on The Woven Strands Blog. Be sure to check out both!!!

1. LC: If you had to isolate one experience that inspired you to become a writer, what would that be?

CS: A very old friend of mine, the late Professor E.G. West, author of numerous books on State Education and biographer (Adam Smith) once uttered the magic words, ‘you should write a book,’ purely on the basis of the letters we exchanged over the years. It was always in the background of my mind that if Eddie thought I could do it…

2. LC: I believe you have three novels currently available. Can you tell us a bit about each and what genre(s) they fall into?

CS: Ferryman Steven Pengelly, wrongfully convicted of murder is released two years later. When he joins the hunt for the real killer, he comes up against a powerful and deviant businessman, who runs an illegal casino staffed by women held captive in his cellars, and whose escalating quest for bigger thrills takes him to the edge of madness. The individual investigations of Steven, and the detective who originally put him away, converge. Sworn enemies, but can they work together as another young woman goes missing?

(Short listed for the Dundee International Book Prize 2007)

And The Devil Laughed Australian undercover cop, Hannah Ford, eager to return to work after trauma leave, takes on a drug-surveillance job in Draper’s Wharf. But when she arrives, the town is in shock after the rape and murder of its local barmaid. Hannah, a rape victim with a career to salvage, needs to prove to her boss she can hack it.

(Short listed for the Genre Fiction Award by New Holland Publisher 2007)

Blood Opal Those who harm it — die, goes the legend of the Blood Opal. But when her husband is implicated, Pug believes his brutal murder has more to do with the slaughtered woman in his bed than the curse of any stone. When the robbers lose their prize, one of them suspects Pug knows its whereabouts and targets her. She takes her dog and her boat and sails away but cannot shake her shadows. With the body count growing, can the crime investigators nail the real villain before Pug becomes the Blood Opal’s next victim?

Genre for all three is crime fiction/murder mystery/thriller. You can read a free chapter from each book on my web:

3. LC: Your latest book, "Blood Opal" sounds intriguing. How did you come up with the story line? What were your inspirations?

CS: I’m fascinated by ‘black’ opals and their vibrant colourings and their history. A while back, my daughter visited Lightning Ridge, an outback area in Australia where opals are mined. Knowing I was interested, she brought back photos of real quality opals – see the book cover for my favourite. It triggered the imagination. Who could resist weaving a tale around such a beautiful gem?

(The photo, taken by Jenni Brammal was used as a bookcover with permission of Down To Earth Opals.)

4. LC: What, would you say, has been your greatest triumph as an author?

CS: My first ever publication. Beginners luck. Sixteen years ago, whilst engaged in my first creative writing course, I spotted an advert in the local paper’s ‘lost and found’ column. Someone had found a German shepherd dog: ‘very friendly, sore feet, no collar.’ My imagination went into overdrive as to how this dog had gained its sore feet. I wrote a novella, Gus, Sore Feet – No Collar, about a dog abandoned by its owner in the Australian bush. The story followed the actions of Gus, his bewilderment and the creatures he met on his travels. A local publishing company took it on. They arranged the publicity. The Department of Education passed it for school libraries and Heather Mast agreed to do the illustrations. I attended meetings with my editor, just like a real author! I was walking on air! Nothing since has passed that initial euphoric triumph.

5. LC: I notice on your bio that you've belonged to the same writing group for over fifteen years. Tell us about your group and some of the fun things you've done.

CS: The group first came together in an official Business Writing Course, under the auspices of a literary agent in 1996, when I was still glowing from my success with Gus. At the end of the course, some of us asked our mentor if she would continue to monitor an open ended course tailored for novel writing. She agreed.

We met once a week at her local pub; bought our drinks at the bar and sat in the dining room which was not used on Wednesdays. There we would read our chapters aloud for the group to critique. Occasionally, members of the public sat too near and cast querying looks in our direction and reduced the blushing reader to a whisper when reading out steamy love scenes!

A box of chocolates on the table heralded a success – when a member had a story, or an article published. As time went by our numbers dropped. The pub changed hands and Wednesday night was no longer available. Our mentor invited us to continue in her home. As the years passed, people gave up, or moved away. Then, a few years ago even our mentor moved interstate. And then we were three.

Now, we continue to meet on a fortnightly basis. A bottle of wine supercedes the box of chocolates to denote a member’s achievement. In ages, we three combined have 198 years between us, a number of magazine articles, short stories published and 12 novels out there in the public arena.

6. LC: What chapter, from any of your books, was your favorite to write, and why?

CS: That’s difficult to answer as I don’t wish to drop spoilers. For instance in ‘Ferryman’ I enjoyed writing the whole ending scenario. The action, colour, noise, smell and the emotional input took on a life of its own. But to describe it here would give the game away. In ‘And the Devil Laughed’ Chapter 14 is one that stays with me for a long time. Described by others as ‘powerfully written’ it answers many questions the reader may have had at this point about the main character, Hannah’s, past.

7. LC: What do you find to be your greatest challenge as an Independent Author? What has been the biggest advantage?

CS: My greatest challenge is self-promotion. I’ve never been one to blow my own trumpet and although I’ve had excellent reviews on all three books, I do find it difficult to tell the world myself. The biggest advantage is that thanks to independent publishers, YWO and NGP have turned my manuscripts into three good looking books that I’m happy for others to read. But, don’t take my word for it, look at the reviews.

8. LC: If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, who would you want it to be, and why?

CS: Gil Trelawney from ‘Blood Opal.’ He was an interesting character to write about and I couldn’t make up my mind until I was near the end of the book whether he was a goody or a baddie. Such was his profile he could have been either up to a certain point. But, good or bad, Gil Trelawney would be a great character to cuddle up to on a deserted island. 

9. LC: I think it's fascinating that your family has built sailing boats. How did this come to be a part of your résumé?

CS: My husband is a great DIY man. We started sailing back in our courting days, over 50 years ago and joined our local sailing club with an old clinker built 12 foot sailing dinghy. As time went by we progressed to a 17 foot, two berth boat – just enough room for the baby and the dog.

A few years later, with no dog, but two more children, we needed something larger. Unable to afford the size we wanted, we bought the 27 foot, 4 berth yacht in kit form. Our new boat arrived at our designated boat-shed looking like a huge, empty fibreglass egg shell. It was accompanied by a mast and rigging, boxes and packets of all the bits and pieces that had to be put together like a giant ship’s model, everything was there even down to the last screw. While the kids played on the muddy shoreline, Bill and I worked every spare hour we could between our day jobs. It took us three months to build.

Four years later and with the kids still growing, we did it all again with a 32 foot six berth yacht, also in kit form. The kids were old enough to rope in and help with the building this time. In this last boat we regularly sailed the Cornish waters, the Channel Islands and down the French coast to the Bay of Biscay. This boat is the model for Pug’s boat Cazutt in my third novel, Blood Opal. We were sad to see our boat go as we sold her prior to moving to Australia.

10. LC: And in conclusion, what is the greatest lesson you've learned as an author?

CS: I think the greatest lesson I have learned as an author, is that you can’t do it alone. Authors are too close to their work to make unbiased judgments. You need someone to read your work, someone who is prepared to make honest assessments. My mss have been read and critiqued by numerous other authors, by on-line members of Internet Writing Workshop, by my peers on YouWriteOn, by two valuable professional critiques, and finally by my writing colleagues in our face2face writing workshop.

We three all agree turning out a good book is teamwork.

Thank you Lisa for taking the time to interview me – I thoroughly enjoyed our shared experience. I’m looking forward to seeing your new cover-art.

Thank you, Carole! I had a great time too!!!

Carole Sutton's bio:
Reared in the county of Devon in England, my earliest memory is of the Exeter blitz in 1942. I married an Exeter man in 1960, and we reared our three children in Cornwall. We built our own sailing boats and sailed the English Channel visiting many ports on the French coast on our holidays. We moved to the warmer climes of Perth in Western Australia in 1981, and took up a small retail business.

Ten years later, on retirement, I had time to indulge in my personal pursuit, writing. I attended a creative writing course and in 1995 my junior fiction book Gus, Sore Feet — No Collar was published by Rawlhouse, Perth. In that year, I became a member of a professional writing group. We met on a weekly basis to discuss and review each other’s work, and still do to this day. I followed up my ‘Gus’ success with short stories that were published in various anthologies, and articles with photographs in wildlife magazines, before I started writing novels.

My real passion became crime fiction. My first novel ‘Ferryman’ was short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize 2007. Published by it is enjoying excellent reviews. My second crime fiction novel, ‘And the Devil Laughed,’ published by New Generation publishing was short listed for the Genre Fiction Award by New Holland Publishers 2007. My third novel, Blood Opal, was released October 2010. I am currently working on novel #4

Learn more about Carole on her Independent Author Network Page

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