What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?
I’ve always enjoyed living inside the pages of a book. As a youth, I read everything I could get my hands on. For me, writing is simply an extension of that reading enjoyment. I think many readers have a secret desire to be a writer. The characters I create become as real to me as walking, breathing people. I’d say that getting to know my characters is probably the part I enjoy the most about writing.
What was the idea that inspired you to write A Cobweb on the Soul?
I started casting about for an idea that would challenge one of my characters and give her the experience she needed for the second book in the series. One day I was watching the MSNBC TV News Channel, and along the bottom marquee I read, “Skeleton of an infant found in the attic of an old house.” That excited my writer’s imagination.
I enjoy running “What if?” scenarios in my mind. When an idea peeks my curiosity, I simply must put it to paper and start playing with it. Some people work crossword puzzles to pass the time. I enjoy playing with ideas to see where they take me.
I had been thinking about creating a story about a serial killer, but I felt “serial killer” had been done to death. As my mind played with this idea, I had one of those ‘Ah-ha’ moments where I envisioned a type of serial killer story that had never been written before. I began planning and plotting the story in 2000. Late in 2004, ePress accepted A Cobweb on the Soul for publication.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It started with poetry. At a young age I enjoyed reading poetry and in school, we were required to memorize quite a number of poems, some of which I still remember. I wrote my first poem when I was about ten years old and even reading it today, I think it isn’t too bad for a first attempt. However, the problem with me and poetry is that I have to be in a certain frame of mine to access the necessary language. I can’t always conjure up that place I need to be to write poetry. Later as a teenage, I read Little Women. Jo became my hero. The desire to someday write a novel was imprinted at that time.
What do you see as the influences on your writing?
In grade school I had a teacher, Beth West, who drilled us on the fundamentals of English. Many students who learned the basics from her went on to careers that required a strong grasp of the English language.
Another defining event was when I discovered the town library near my elementary school (they didn’t have a school library at that time). An important part of this equation was Clevonia Ramey, the librarian. I would read a book and then take it back to check out another. Instead of simply doing her librarian duties, Mrs. Ramey asked me questions about the book I’d just read, none of which could be answered with a simple yes or no. They were probing questions about the characters and about the events in the book that made me think about the story on several levels. Soon, I began to anticipate the librarian’s questions and to read accordingly. Today, that’s called reading like a writer.
My interest in the mystery genre first came from reading the Nancy Drew series and The Boxcar Children. My all time favorite novel is To Kill a Mockingbird. Today, my reading of choice is suspense, but across a widely diverse range of authors: Mary Higgins Clark, Marilyn Harris, Diane Mott Davidson, Tami Hoag, Patricia Cornwell, and Jodi Picoult.
Tell us about your novels.
My first novel, Price of Silence, a historical fiction about the Japanese-American internment during World War II, and was published in 2000. It was published under the pen name Nadene Mattson. For copies, go to my website at http://www.nadenecarter.com.
My second novel, A Cobweb on the Soul, is a psychological suspense set in Utah. It will be available this summer through ePress as a print version as well as an eBook.
I’m also working on a sequel to Cobweb as well as a “How-To” non-fiction. I go about constructing a novel a little differently from other writers. I’m hoping it may be of help to other authors as another approach to writing.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes. When I was writing Price of Silence, I became stuck. No matter what I did to move forward with the story, I was blocked. I remember the panic and despair I felt. What if I’d written all I had to say? What if I couldn’t complete the story?
What I’ve learned over the years is to listen to the stuckness. Every time this has happened to me, I eventually come to understand that I’ve taken the story in a wrong direction. Getting stuck still happens, but I recognize it for what it is. It may take me some time to figure out where I’ve gone wrong, but at least now I don’t experience the panic. I can stand away from the project and examine the structure to find the flaw.
Author of: A Cobweb on the Soul (summer 2005), and Price of Silence (pub. 2002). Member of: League of Utah Writers, Sisters in Crime, and International Women’s Writing Guild FREE Workshops available for Readers and Literary Group discussions at http://www.nadenecarter.com