My guest today is Carlyle Clark, author of the mystery thriller, The Black Song Inside. Clark was raised in Poway, a city just north of San Diego, but is now a proud Chicagolander working in corporate security and writing crime and fantasy fiction. He is a martial arts enthusiast and a CrossFit endurer who enjoys fishing, sports, movies, TV series with continuing storylines, and of course, reading. Visit his website at website or ….
Welcome to Blogcritics! Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Black Song Inside. When did you start writing and what got you into mystery thrillers?
I started out almost 10 years ago just flailing away at a keyboard with no idea what I was doing. I wrote a mystery thriller because I enjoy mysteries and thrillers so I wanted to try to capture the elements I enjoy in each genre in one novel and that means for me dark humor, dry wit, an emotional connection to the protagonists, three-dimensional characters, no “slow” parts, and a lot of action. One reviewer compared The Black Song Inside to a Tarantino film and that’s similar to the tone I was looking for.
Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
For better or for worse I did not have an actual human writer to mentor me. What I did have was a lifetime of reading and a willingness to devour books and articles about writing. I think that may be for the best because I hear a lot of complaints about cookie cutter writers being churned out by writing programs and workshops and no one has ever accused my writing of being like anyone else’s.
I had tremendous difficulties when I started writing because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I would write great big flashbacks that had noting to do with the present story, and leave in scenes that didn’t add anything to the story because I liked a particular turn of phrase or something, real cringe-worthy writing. And then let’s not even talk about the years and of trying to get published before I finally did.
What was your inspiration for The Black Song Inside?
The inspiration actually came in two parts and sprang from the characters. I wanted a male PI who was tough, funny, competent but vulnerable and a little off-kilter, but who wasn’t an ex-cop, ex-military, alcoholic, etc. As for my female protagonist, after seeing most cyber whizzes cast as a guy in the movies and in books I wanted a female (I SWEAR I started this novel before I’d even heard of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!) who was also a tough customer and at some point in the revisions it dawned on me that she was ex-military and that she lost her leg in Iraq. I hadn’t read about a character like that before so it excited me to create one.
What was your publishing process like?
It was actually pretty exciting. I had decided to go the Indie route and had put the novel out there self-published because the only publisher I was interested in was Thomas & Mercer and I had no agent and no way to submit to them and getting an agent can take years let alone then getting a publisher. I had a lot of faith in the novel so I just dove right in. Lo and behold a few months after I had self-published it I got an email from an editor at Thomas & Mercer saying he’d readThe Black Song Inside and he loved it and he wanted to publish it. Sometimes you just get lucky.
George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Comments?
That is an incredibly accurate quote. I mean, you’re sitting there making stuff up and it’s always hard to believe that people will “buy into it” the way you buy into the books you read. That entire feeling stems form the fact that it’s yours which makes you both proud and frightened. Yet you are compelled to keep trying and hoping and being frustrated and exhilarated at the same time. It’s so brutal that when anyone tells me they are thinking about being a writer and asks me if they should, I tell them if you can be happy without writing, if you’re not compelled; for God’s sake don’t do this to yourself!
What is your advice for aspiring authors?
If you can’t get out of it like I said in the last answer, then it depends on each writer’s goal. If your goal is to make a living, or at least earn a decent amount of money, you have to treat writing with the respect you would if you were trying to get a law degree. You can’t just keep “skipping class” putting it off because you can do it any time, any more than you could not study for the courses you would be taking to earn a law degree. You also have to accept that unless you’re very lucky, your loved ones will be unhappy you choose to write instead of spend time with them unless and until you become “successful” at it.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
Where is your book available?
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
Actually, I’d like to wish them all happy holidays and I’d like to thank Blogcritics for hosting me.