Ask the Author: Emily Carpenter

What would you like readers to know about you?

I only starting writing novels in my late forties. I’d worked with CBS television before that, on two soap operas, but not as a writer, just as an assistant. But those years of reading scripts for the shows were really educational. When I decided to start writing novels, it took me three tries before I got an agent. My first two books are in a drawer. It was the third that actually got published.


What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?

My latest book REVIVING THE HAWTHORN SISTERS (October 2020) is a dual narrative about a woman whose grandmother was part of a tent evangelist/faith healing duo back in the Great Depression. The woman finds out her grandmother may have been a con as well as a murderer and has to unravel the mystery before she loses everything.


What has been your inspiration for writing it?

In my first novel BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS, there’s a character named Dove Jarrod who figures into the mystery of that book. This book is all about Dove, her past, how she came to be what she was, and how her family deals with the fallout of the hard choices she had to make to survive. I had a great time getting back to her character and delving into her past.


What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?

I loved all the chapters set in 1934 Alabama. I loved exploring how these traveling evangelists really were the entertainers of the day and offered such hope, even though it was sometimes false hope, to people who were struggling to just survive the day to day crush of poverty. Thinking about what kind of person ended up on a stage, offering miraculous healing to crowds of people, really interested me.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?

I grew up reading all the Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie mysteries. Basically, I read everything I could get my hands on. As an adult I was into the Bronte sisters, Stephen King, Phillippa Gregory, Daphne du Maurier and a wide array of other books. I happened to go to school with Amy Plum, a wonderful YA author, and was really directly inspired by her to attempt to write a book myself.


What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?

Read, read, read – and especially in the genre you want to write in. Also, read recently published books just to give you an understanding about where the market is. It’s good to write what’s in your heart and mind, but this is a business and you also have to craft a product that appeals to readers. Also, steel yourself for plenty of criticism and rejection. This business is full of it, but if you’re resilient and you’re good and incorporating criticism into your work, that’ll put you way ahead of the pack.


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