Tuesday, May 10, 2016


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Althea Bell is still heartbroken by her mother’s tragic, premature death—and tormented by the last, frantic words she whispered into young Althea’s ear: Wait for her. For the honeysuckle girl. She’ll find you, I think, but if she doesn’t, you find her.

Adrift ever since, Althea is now fresh out of rehab and returning to her family home in Mobile, Alabama, determined to reconnect with her estranged, ailing father. While Althea doesn’t expect him, or her politically ambitious brother, to welcome her with open arms, she’s not prepared for the chilling revelation of a grim, long-buried family secret. Fragile and desperate, Althea escapes with an old flame to uncover the truth about her lineage. Drawn deeper into her ancestors’ lives, Althea begins to unearth their disturbing history…and the part she’s meant to play in it.

Gripping and visceral, this unforgettable debut delves straight into the heart of dark family secrets and into one woman’s emotional journey to save herself from a sinister inheritance.

Some Q & A with Emily~

(I'm in the middle of reading this book and love it! Jill)

1.    Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing:

I originally wanted to break into the movie business as a screenplay writer. I was working for two CBS soap operas at the time, and I didn’t realize it but I was really absorbing some key elements of storytelling and suspense. The whole screenwriter gig never really took off, and it suddenly occurred to me, I might have better luck telling these same stories in the form of novels. So I wrote this romantic comedy about a woman who uses tango to test the men in her life, to determine which one would make a good boyfriend.

2.    What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I love hanging out with my kids – I have three teenage boys – I love talking to them and eating with them and binge watching whatever show they’re into. I love working out; I have a great boot camp class I go to that just kills me, in a good way. I used to dance Argentine tango, but I haven’t in years, but I miss it. I’d love to get back to it. I love seeing movies with my husband. When I met him, he rarely went to see a film. Now, he’s like Siskel and Ebert rolled into one. Very into movies. Very opinionated about them. Wants to deconstruct them afterwards.

3.    Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I don’t, not in the sense of an office I go to. But I am a full-time mom and housekeeper and laundress and cook.

4.    Where do you get your ideas?

Years ago I took this test – it’s called the Johnson O’Connor, and it assesses aptitudes, which are, basically, abilities you’re born with. I tested off the charts in the area of “Ideaphoria,” which essentially means my brain is bombarded with new ideas on a constant basis! So, for me, new ideas are not a problem. Crafting them into coherent and compelling stories can be a bit more of a challenge. I do draw a lot of inspiration from news stories and things in the cultural zeitgeist. Sometimes even just a really evocative setting – a house or piece of land – will trigger something in me and I’m off!

5.    Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?

Back when I was banging away at screenplays - entering them into contests and getting just enough strokes to know I was a competent writer, just enough encouragement not to give up writing altogether – I heard about a grade school friend of mine, Amy Plum, who had written a YA trilogy called “Die For Me” (The Revenant Series). I read the first book and was floored by her amazing talent and the characters and world she built. I thought, this is freaking fantastic…and maybe I could do this, too. Maybe this would be a way to tell stories that didn’t involve having to break down Hollywood’s door, which seemed like an impossible task. She was a great inspiration to me. And, by the way, go buy her books. She has another YA series and an adult horror novel on the way. Such a talented writer.

6.    Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

Every step was a challenge. Writing that first book, the tango book. Querying agents. I didn’t actually get an agent with the first two books I wrote; the third was the charm. After that, there was a lot of revision and rewriting and really trying to shape the book into something my agent could pitch to editors. Finding the right publishing house for the book was a whole other process. It was basically a six or seven year journey from start to finish.

7.    If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?

The book started off with three flashback sections dropped in to the present-day action. It was basically me trying to write this epic saga, which, in the end, turned out to be at odds with what the book actually was - a suspense / thriller. It took way too long for me to figure out that I needed to excise two of those long flashbacks and turn the novel into a dual narrative that stuck to the essential, most interesting stories. If I could go back, I’d realize that sooner and not mess with those long, involved and in the end, unusable chapters!

8.    How do you market your work?

I do basic social media stuff and try to be available when readers want to connect. I love to be myself on social media – just share random tidbits about my life that I think are funny; I’m not a huge fan of the hard sell. Except the week my book released. That week I was on Facebook and Twitter so much I had a gross social media hangover. I love book clubs. I’m just starting to do those. And I’m scheduled to speak at a couple of conferences this summer. I’m looking forward to that. Marketing is a whole world that sort of baffles me a bit, and I’m trying to learn more about it. On the other hand, I also realize a good portion of what we writers think we control is really out of our hands. It’s my job to come up with a kickass idea and write a compelling, fun book. After that, it’s up to the reader to spread the word.

9.    What are you working on now?

Another suspense / thriller set on one of Georgia’s sea islands. This one has a really fun, fraught relationship between a mother and daughter, and it’s been interesting to explore my main character’s yearning for a close mother relationship and how it blinds her some important things she should recognize.

10. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

Nothing is based on my personal experiences. There are a few historical events that form the backdrop of my story, but if I say more, it would get spoiler-y.

11. Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

I love Jinn’s chapters, my character in 1937 Alabama, especially her introduction. I love when she meets the savvy business women from Chattanooga and they tell her she’s beautiful like Myrna Loy, the movie star, and buy her homemade honeysuckle wine. You can see right then that she is starting to feel her power. That her “head is being turned.” You can tell there is going to be a problem ahead for her.

12. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write as much as you can and try to finish projects, even when you think they might not be all that great. Editing is a magical thing; it can transform a so-so work into something spectacular. Also, read tons of books, especially current ones. I mean, I adore Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson and a slew of other classic writers, but the truth is, today’s market is really unforgiving in terms of how long you have a reader’s attention before you jump into the action. I believe it’s really beneficial to see what’s working in the market now. You don’t have to necessarily write to the market or pander, just know what’s what.

13. What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?

Sometimes it can be hard dreaming of stories and characters all day and then have to transition back to paying bills or making your kids’ dentist appointments. But there is no better job than writing. None.

14. Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you for reading! Connect with me on Facebook at Emily Carpenter Author or Twitter @EmilyDCarpenter. I love to connect, see who’s reading and what you guys think. 

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