Author Carolyn Arnold
(you can visit the Event at https://www.facebook.com/events/191966814346532/).
Author Carolyn Arnold
Carolyn Arnold is the best-selling author of the Madison Knight series. Her writing has been compared to New York Times Bestsellers such as JD Robb, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen, and more. She is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and lives with her husband, and two beagles in a city near Toronto.
So, Carolyn, what are your feelings regarding pets? DO you have pets? Have you had pets in the past?
I had goldfish when I was growing up. Their names were Oscar and Louise. As they passed away, they were replaced so there was at least an Oscar the Third. He was a black goldfish and Louise was gold.
Cats and I don't typically get along that well. When I was young, I picked up the neighbor's cat and it clawed my face. I remember Mom marching with me across the street to its owner to make sure its shots were up to date. My one sister also had a cat who reached out to claw my face, but thank goodness for my cabbage patch doll at the time. She took the brunt of it. I think it's just something to do with our eyes when they connect. Since then I have met 1 cat that I got along with—and that was only a month ago—but I think the cat was a dog in disguise. It was the only cat I've ever met who loves to cuddle.
I have never had a bird, but love to eat chicken.
Now, dogs, they are my favorite. Love them. All of them. All sizes and all breeds. I have two beagles currently, Max and Chelsea. They are just over four years old when I write this response, and are brother and sister. Before them, I had a beagle named Todd. We refer to him as Uncle Todd to the new guys. He passed away at 11 and will never be forgotten. They worm into your heart and really become another family member. Todd has a permanent spot in the Madison Knight series as Terry Grant's one beagle is named after him.
Of all your characters, who are you the most like? Who are you the least like?
I am the most like Madison because I am determined and speak my mind. There are also some differences. Madison is afraid of commitment, whereas I am happily married. She also has an addiction to chocolate I can't quite match.
I would say I'm the least like Tessa, the protagonist from Hart's Choice. She loves ballet and the fine arts, and while appreciation for such exists within me, it doesn't consume me as it does Tessa. For her, dance is her passion.
Where do you get your characters' names?
For the most part they come to me without much thought. Supporting characters, suspects, or one-off encounters sometimes send me to an online random name generator in search of a name, but my main characters always tell me who they are. I have even perused my social media feeds for names.
In Found Innocent, there is a motel clerk Madison Knight and her partner, Terry, question. During the working stages, I had him just marked as "*" in a few spots. I do this when I don't have a name, or need to ensure I get the right one in there, if I've mentioned it before. Anyway, I felt a strong need to put in the name Trevor. As I kept working through the scene, I came to realize that's what I had named him later on, in previous drafts. It just confirmed that was supposed to be his name.
I have even had characters correct me on their name. A funny thing happened with Eleven and what is now the first in the Brandon Fisher FBI series. When I was going through the outlining process for the book trailer, I had put in the name as Brandon Fisher. I didn't catch this oversight until the trailer was finished. See, I had written the manuscript with his last name as Harper. Ironically, however, when talking about him I would always refer to him as Fisher, even though that was originally the last name for his supervisor. Brandon was very hard-headed about his name and got the one the one that belonged to him after all.
What do you do when facing a plot block?
I let it sit and busy myself with other things, and it eventually it comes to me and resolves itself.
The first I experienced a solid block was in the brainstorming process for Assassination of a Dignitary. The problem was I told my character Raymond Hunter who he was--I wasn't listening to him. To fix this issue, I let my mind drift from the plot and the characters. When I let go of my premonitions about whom and what he was, he spoke to me, rather loudly I may add and told me, "I'm not a good guy." See, I had originally pegged him as an innocent. Turns out he was a former hitman for the mafia.
Do you hear voices?
Absolutely and I embrace them! LOL Well, I hear them in the sense of my writing, nothing beyond that. I think all writers need to hear voices to get their stories down.
How do you write? Do you plan it all out, or go with the flow? Do you handwrite it and then type it out, or head right for a computer?
I write like I'm watching a movie in my mind. I see the scene, I observe the interactions, and I record them. I prefer to write on a computer, my laptop or desktop, I'm not fussy. I have handwritten scenes when I don't have access to a computer, though.
I am what many term a "panster", meaning I write from the seat of my pants. I don't outline in the typical sense. I go with the flow, but make notes at the end of the manuscript with points, or scenes I want to pick up on next, or in the near future.
What is the best compliment you've received about your writing?
I have received high compliments with comparisons to some of the greats—JD Robb, Sue Grafton, and Tess Gerritsen to name a few. But when people tell me they can't put my book down, wow! I had a reader tell me they had to finish up my book and spent their Sunday doing so. That spoke specifically to me because Sundays are a day of family and relaxation. To know that people are relaxing with my books, that is special.
How much of your personal experience do you incorporate into your writing?
I would have to say a lot of it. I don't think this can be helped by any author. It's our observations of people, places, events, and interactions which are unique to us and get integrated into our writing.
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