Monday, September 20, 2010

Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She teaches novel-writing in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking.

She is the author of Hemlock Lake (July, 2010, Five Star).

When did you decide to be a writer?

I made the decision when I was about twelve and realized that one of my cousins was entertained by the stories I made up whenever she slept over at my house. I began keeping journals to record all of my “great thoughts” and “amazing ideas.” I now have a stack of journals and when I look through them I have two distinct impressions: 1) I was a deeper thinker then than I am now and 2) I must have been a real pain in the you-know-what as a teenager.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

About five years ago I made a pact with myself to nod, smile, and promise to consider all suggestions and critiques, but to let them “settle” for several weeks before I did any rewriting. I need that time and space to get over the fact that members of my group don’t love every wart on “my baby.” I act on about one suggestion in every six. If you try to please everyone else, you can’t please yourself.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

I have three jobs—editing manuscripts for other writers, teaching classes in novel-craft, and filling in as a high school substitute teacher—so I use time when I have it and I try to use it well. In the summer when school is out, I write 6-8 hours a day, every day.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

I enjoy puttering in the garden, reading, and tackling minor home renovation projects. Laundry can also be restful, as long as I can stay ahead of the curve. I’m also addicted to water aerobics and sometimes lap swimming. That allows my mind to work on writing issues while I’m on “automatic pilot.”

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

I have lots of favorites. When I was younger I was entranced by the language and feeling of Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward, Angel). Lately I’ve loved Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series because I like to test myself against the literary references.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

When I see how some writers use description and symbolism and create complex characters I’m in awe of their ability and skill. That makes me raise the bar for my own work. I read to learn and grow.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Hemlock Lake is a mainstream mystery set in the Catskill Mountains. The core of the story involves betrayal, vengeance, love, loss, and redemption set against the search for an arsonist and killer in a remote community.

Where did you get your inspiration for Hemlock Lake?

I grew up in the Catskills in the years after World War II when everything seemed to be changing at an increasing rate of speed. New people were moving in and others were moving away. Some liked change, others denied it. I went off to college at 18 and lived in several different states over the years, but the impressions I formed as a child remain strong. When I decided to set a book in the Catskills, I knew that change and how people cope with it would be part of the equation.

Which character is most like you?

Dan Stone’s determination to get away sprang from my own desire to go to new places where I could shed the past. I like to think I also have Camille’s ability to see things as they are.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Probably Camille because she comes in from the outside and stirs things up. She’s a catalyst for Dan’s emotional journey.

Did you know how Hemlock Lake would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

I knew how it would end when I began writing, but there were blanks in the middle. I like to give my characters some leeway to change and develop when they get into motion and interact with each other. They came up with a murder I hadn’t anticipated and reactions I hadn’t considered.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

Change is inevitable. We can fight it, but when we do we have to be prepared for the emotional consequences of winning or losing.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I’ve solicited a lot of reviews, done a bunch of guest blogging, and posted with several of the groups I belong to. I had a party for the book at my local bookstore (Cover to Cover in Vancouver, Washington) and taken part in several meet-the-authors events. I got a lot of response from my blog on Suspense Your Disbelief when I wrote about this book’s long journey to publication.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

After years of telling myself that Hemlock Lake was a stand-alone story, I’ve begun work on a sequel. Depending on how much I can scrimp on my jobs, I hope to finish in the spring.

My husband and I are also at work on book three of the Devil’s Harbor series, a cozy mystery series set on the Oregon coast and published by Krill Press.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Write. Write. Write. Think less about the destination and concentrate more on the journey. Enjoy it.

Want more? Stop by The Borrowed Book on Thursday for an excerpt from Hemlock Lake by Carolyn J. Rose.


  1. I will be sure to stop by on Thursday, this book sounds really good.

  2. I'm delighted you stopped by today. Thanks.


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