Bestselling author Tom Carter is a longtime Nashville resident who lives with his wife, Janie, a few miles from Nashville’s legendary Music Row. He’s here today to talk about his latest novel, Nashville: Music and Murder.
Welcome to Blogcritics, Tom! Tell us, what got you into writing?
Necessity. In November, 1970 I was a college student and construction worker in Tulsa, Oklahoma where my job was ending for the year due to cold and wintery weather. I went to my college counselor seeking employment leads. I was told The Tulsa World, the morning newspaper, needed someone to write obituaries. I took the job. For two and one-half years I wrote formula stories about dead people. Eventually I became a general assignment reporter, and ultimately became a human interest columnist. Seventeen years later, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee where I collaborated to write the autobiography of blind singer, Ronnie Milsap. Since then, I’ve written eighteen more books.
What do you like best about being an author?
I like the freedom inherent from ideas through free association. I like the fulfillment when my writing is my best, and hope people will like it. I like working on my own.
When do you hate it?
When I have writer’s block.
What is a regular writing day like for you?
If it involves non-fiction, I digest all of the facts I intend to weave into sentences that day. If it involves fiction, I read what I wrote the previous day, then kick my imagination into creative overdrive.
Do you think authors have big egos?
Yes, especially if they’re commercially successful.
How do you handle negative reviews.
I note that the reviewer has comprised a short and disposable small notice. I, on the other hand, have written an entire book that will last throughout the ages. And if my work is so bad, why did he or she even bother profess their opinion? Then I remember that Ernest Hemingway wrote wordy sentences that sometimes consumed entire paragraphs. He also had difficulty spelling four-letter words.
How do you handle positive reviews.
In the words of Billy Crystal, “I’ve tricked the critics once again.”
What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?
“My, your life must be so interesting,” they usually say.
What do you do on those days when you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break.
I force it. Soon, I’m right back in a creative groove.
What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby.
Most everyone does that now. Many think that professional writing is a lazy person’s way to avoid work. Others see it as a lark where the author is luckily paid for simply letting his fingers tickle a typing keyboard. Only dedicated writers know how truly demanding writing can be. If writing were easy, most people would be doing it. If for no other reason, they’d escape driving to and from an office where their anonymity is beaten inside cubicles beneath hot and harsh fluorescent lights.
What’s on the horizon for you?
The writing of my 20th book.
Leave us with some words of wisdom about the writing process or about being a writer.
Find your creative versus commercial groove, and ignore assessments like mine or anyone else’s.