And our Sue's Clues Mystery Author is:
It's only been four years since Liz Carlyle published her first book, MY FALSE HEART. Since then her fingers have been flying across the keyboard, along with her imagination, to give us 5 more books, a novella, and she's definitely not finished! This fall will bring us her first contemporary story that will be part of an anthology. Spring 2004 will see the release of a regency titled A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL. Plus, she will be contributing to an anthology of regency era tales in 2004.
You might think I'm kidding about flying fingers and imagination, but I really think they must! *G* I think you would agree after reading this excerpt from an interview Liz did for RBL Romantica:
"....I only began writing on a dare from a friend in December of 1996, when I found myself between jobs. I was awaiting a new assignment which was to begin around March, and after two weeks, I was climbing the walls. So I started writing. I cannot tell you how mesmerizing and cathartic the process was! I was utterly absorbed. It was like being possessed by some benevolent spirit, and when I woke up in late January, I had written a book!"
Her husband encouraged her to sell it. While that book was not bought by the publisher, they were definitely interested in her work. By 1998, Pocket bought two of her books and published her first in November 1999.
Now Liz is a full-time romance novelist - all thanks to a dare from a friend! Hmm... wonder if she had to issue the infamous triple-dog-dare.... *G*
Liz is very busy writing, taking care of her 3 cats, and traveling between her homes in the Blue Ridge Mountains and NC, but she found some time to answer the questions below.
1. I love the fact that you have family trees for your characters at your website! What a great idea! How did it come about? Do all of your books have characters that cross over into others? Do you find yourself consulting these charts while writing in order to keep them straight?
I developed the family trees in response to a circle of devoted readers who kept suggesting I post something which would help fans follow their favorite characters from one book to the next. Frankly, I kept putting them off, because I couldn't think of a good way to do it. Then one day, I was doing some genealogy work for a distant cousin, and it struck me that family trees would be the way to go. To answer the second half of your question, yes, I think all my historicals are loosely linked to one another by characters who either know one another, or are related by blood or marriage. Surprisingly, I never look at the charts. I know exactly who is who. My characters are disconcertingly real to me. Sometimes I talk to them. My husband thinks medication may be in order.
2. Do you do a lot of genealogy work? I've been working on my family tree off and on now for a few years and I'm fascinated by it. Have you worked on your own? If so, have you found any interesting ancestors?
I can't fairly claim to have done much of the actual research. I was lucky in that my family has always kept copious records. Also, they all came to the US pretty early on (Virginia families) and didn't move, which makes it much easier to track, of course. ;-)
I just try to keep up with the info, and give it to relatives who ask. I don't have any children, so I have no one to pass it on to, and most of my family is totally disinterested in history or genealogy. Shocking, no?
3. I see a new book will be released in Nov. 2003 - an anthology (tentatively titled) "Out of Uniform" - which appears to be a contemporary romance. Is this the first time you've tried your hand at writing a contemp? How hard was it to switch from writing historical to contemporary? Do you think it is something you would like to do again?
Yes, Sue, the new book is called BIG GUNS (which is rather suggestively subtitled Out of Uniform) and it is a contemporary anthology written by myself, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and a fabulous new author, Nicole Camden. My story is entitled "Let's Talk About Sex," and it's the whimsical tale of an insecure psychology professor who ends up hosting a talk radio show about human sexuality. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I was surprised at how easy it was to slip into a contemporary voice. I was very much afraid I'd become stuck in the nineteenth century, and that was in part my reason for wanting to do something different. As to whether or not I'll do it again, that remains to be seen. Big historical novels will always be my first love.
4. How are your "babies" (Liz's cats *G*)? I can see you and your husband have a soft spot when it comes to cats. Are you still volunteers for Pound Pals? How did you get involved in this? btw... Saving Grace's story really tugs the heart. How wonderful she was able to teach children about animal abuse after being found?
Sue, my babies are spoiled rotten, and they rule the house! Elliott is the Alpha Cat, and he is in charge of scheduling all our daily activities, particularly sleeping and eating. (In other words, if Elliott wants to eat, no one gets to sleep.) His brother and sister, Pelham and Mary, are far less demanding. The three of them were rescue cats. Unfortunately, they were feral, so they weren't particularly friendly or playful. That always poses a problem for the shelter staff. Visitors always want to adopt the "cute" kittens, not the ones that spit and hiss, so these kittens were scheduled to be euthanized. We are so thankful we took them. The joy they have brought us is immeasurable. As far as our interest in animal rescue, we just do what little we can, but if everyone did just a little-especially spay and neuter their pets-we would not have to euthanize millions of cats and dogs in this country every year. To me, that is just a shameful, shocking statistic. As to how we got started, I had been a member of our local SPCA for many years when my husband and I married, so I suppose I dragged him into it. But he was definitely a cat person, and went willingly. We hope to adopt a dog when our travel schedule slows down. Of course, we will have to run that by Elliot, so we might be out of luck there.
5. Love your description of being a writer: "The awful truth about novelists is that we are mostly dull, introverted homebodies who only write in order to live our fantasies vicariously." I guess writers have more in common with the reader than I realized! LOL But, before you were a writer, you were a consultant in the corporate world. What kind of consultant were you? Did you go to college?
I did go to college, and my degree is in-believe it or not-journalism. I actually went to school on a Scripps Howard writing scholarship, but somewhere along the line, I lost interest in a career as a starving journalist. So I ended up spending almost two decades in the chemical and automotive industries, primarily in H.R. and Labor Relations. All jokes aside, I was successful and I loved it, but after a while, the downturn in manufacturing made that career a bit depressing. I saw many of my friends let go, and had to let more than a few people go myself. So when I sort of fell back into writing by accident, it just seemed like it was what I was meant to do, so I kept doing it. My husband was totally supportive---and I mean that literally. Without him, I would never have been brave enough to give up a steady paycheck. Never. I admire those who have the guts to do that. For awhile, I was so fearful of giving up my old career, I did try to write and also do some outside consulting, but my publication commitments have pretty much nudged that aside!
6. When you aren't writing, what are you reading? I know a lot of romance novelists don't touch a romance for reading material. Any favorite authors?
This year, I've read almost no fiction, I'm sorry to say. In romance, I do have my autobuys, like Jo Goodman and Mary Balogh. Sometimes they just pile up on my shelf, but hey, there's always retirement. I also read a lot of quirky, mostly Southern stuff. Carl Hiaasen and Clyde Edgerton are big favorites. (Anyone who ever wondered what "voice" is should read Edgerton's book WALKING ACROSS EGYPT for a quick tutorial.) Sometimes I'll read a little Dickens or Trollope to keep my ear tuned to the nineteenth century. But mostly I read nonfiction for research purposes. That doesn't mean it isn't fun. Right now I'm reading LAW, LAND, AND FAMILY by Eileen Spring, which is all about how land was conveyed in England, and the social implications of male-primary inheritance.
7. What hobbies do you have?
None. At all. Isn't that awful?
8. No, I really don't think I do. If I do, it is deeply subconscious?
Some of my favorite authors are, in no particular order: Dara Joy, Christine Feehan, Sherrilynn Kenyon, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Karen Marie Moning, Connie Flynn, Stephen King, Catherine Spangler, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Sandra Hill. When any of these great authors come out with a new book, it's an automatic buy for me.
9. Tell us about your family? What do they think about your writing? Does your husband ever read your books?
My husband is my biggest fan, and he travels a lot, so he always takes one of my books with him, and makes a big show of reading it in public. That, naturally, generates questions. (I mean, he's 6'2", a button-down corporate attorney with a marine buzz cut, just to give you some idea of what we're working with here.) Then, if anyone expresses interest, he'll often just give the book away on the spot. I sometimes get the feeling that every stewardess and cabby on the East Coast is reading my stuff. (Yeah, I wish.) Regrettably, no one else in my family reads romance. One of my four sisters took THE DEVIL YOU KNOW with her on vacation, and announced she was going to try to read it. That was June. I never heard back, so I'm guessing it didn't strike a chord. ;-) Honestly, my family is supportive, but they seem to find it hilarious that I now write romance for a living. Sometimes, they just look at me and burst into peals of laughter. I guess you had to know me before. Let's just say I didn't exactly dress like Barbara Cartland, which, sadly, is what my family thought romance writers looked like.
Visit Liz at her website: www.lizcarlyle.com to learn more about her, her books, and her cats!
Thank you, Liz!