Not all novelists dream of writing fiction. Some writers – like Carrie Daws – take a more indirect route. Here’s how she ended up in the novelist’s seat.
Welcome! Thanks for being here. Let’s start at the beginning: what genre do you write? How did you pick it?
I primarily write in two genres: inspirational fiction and Christian living nonfiction. My introduction to the writing world was through blogging short devotions, so I never thought I’d write fiction. But a writing coach encouraged me to explore a fiction idea I had, which led to my first four novellas. After that, a friend came to me with an idea for a book for military spouses, so I jumped on board with her, which led to my first nonfiction book.
What are your favorite genres to read? Why?
As a writer, I read a lot of books every year, many out of necessity for learning my craft/industry or for research on my next book. I also read a lot just to keep up with what’s available on the market and what’s popular among readers. But when I have a moment to just relax with a great book, I tend to pick up humorous inspirational historical fiction—writers like Kristi Ann Hunter, Cathy Marie Hake, or Jen Turano.
How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript (published or not)?
When I finally got serious about writing, just a few weeks. But in the beginning, when I was most uncertain about writing a book, I would write for a little bit then put it away for weeks at a time. Finally, one of my friends got a hold of what I’d written and started pressuring me to finish it. She wanted to know how it ended.
Have your follow-up novels been easier or harder to write? Why do you think that is?
Easier, in most ways. It’s never easy for me to transition from researching to writing, but I’m much more confident in the process now. I can better prepare my family for the writing days, and I know the excitement of handing a new book over to my readers. That’s always the best, and most nerve-wracking, part.
What’s surprised you the most about the book-publishing process?
So very much! I knew writing was work, but I didn’t understand before how much work is involved after the writing is done, or after the book is finished. The work doesn’t stop just because a book is now available to purchase.
What’s been the most challenging part of getting a book published?
I’ve surrounded myself with excellent people who make the process these days much easier. I have a lot of difficulty with anything visually artistic. Even if I have an idea of what I want a cover to look like, I don’t have the ability to bring it forth onto a page and I struggle to even communicate it. I don’t see undertones in colors very well, and I’m horrible at picking out good fonts! Thankfully, my design team comes together and helps to make me look good.
What’s your favorite part of the publishing experience?
Learning! I love to learn new things, and as I write my fiction books, I’ve had the opportunities to shadow some great people and found field experts that talk me through scenarios to make my books more believable. Some of the kudos in reviews I’ve received truly belong to those people who’ve helped me along the way.
For learning the writing craft, which do you prefer – books or conferences? Why?
I prefer books, although I see great value in conferences. Like many writers, I’m very introverted. People, in general, exhaust me, and the hoards of people at conferences exhaust me even more. Furthermore, I like to be able to skip through parts of books that I’m comfortable with and take my times with sections that are new to me. That being said, I do enjoy the occasional opportunity to leave my family and completely immerse myself with those who understand writing, publishing, and all that entails.
If you could recommend one writing conference, what would it be? Why? (If you haven’t attended one, which one would you like to attend? Why?)
One of the best conferences I ever attended was She Speaks. Focused on both writing and speaking, it was clear throughout my time there that the organizers of the event had prepared well for all the attendees. I also made sure that I didn’t cram my schedule full, so I had time to relax and enjoy the other writers around me.
If you could recommend one writing book, what would it be? Why?
Angela Hunt wrote a series of short reads called Writing Lessons from the Front. Each one is honest, to the point, and practically helpful. She not only walks the reader through her process for creating her own best-selling books, but she provides excellent examples and handy checklists. These books are perfect for both quick tips and long-term strategies to being a better writer.
If you could pick any of your novels to be made into a movie, which one would you pick? Who would you want to play the lead roles, and why?
If I were able to choose this, I would most likely pick my Embers series. Three novelettes, these books follow a fire inspector as she seeks to find an arsonist setting nuisance fires in her small town. The story was a lot of fun to write, and contains some great, endearing characters. The fire inspector could be played by Laurie Holden because she has some of the same spunk and sass necessary for the part. The paramedic that plays opposite her could be played by Gerard Butler, as he needs to be fun, sarcastic, and sweetly annoying.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It’s been a great honor to spend these few moments with you! Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts, and feel free to connect with me on social media.