Today on Awesome Authors I get to treat you all to an interview with the lovely and talented Carol Wyer. Carol and I met during my stint at the venerable death-star of an indie blog, Indies Unlimited, and I’ve been a fan ever since. She’s sweet, funny, and always finds a way to inject humor into her writing, whether she’s penning fiction or non-fiction. Best known for her Grumpy Series (How Not to Murder Your Grumpy and Grumpy Old Menopause) Carol is a veritable powerhouse of a publicity-generator, and if she ever gives a class on promotion, consider me there. She currently lives in the UK with her very own Grumpy. And now for the interview:
Bio (from the author): Carol E. Wyer is an award-winning author whose humorous novels take a lighthearted look at getting older and encourage others to age disgracefully.
Her best-selling debut novel, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines, won five awards for humour. Surfing in Stilettos, which follows the further adventures of Amanda Wilson as she attempts to inject some fun into her life, won a gold award for Romance at Readers Favorite. How Not to Murder Your Grumpy, the first of three non-fiction books in a ‘Grumpy’ series, is a finalist for the People’s Book Prize Award 2013-14.
Carol has featured on numerous shows discussing ‘Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’. She has had articles published in national magazines such as Woman’s Weekly’ and on-line magazines. She writes regularly for The Huffington Post and author website Indies Unlimited. She is a signed author with ThornBerry Publishing and Safkhet Publishing.
DV: Welcome to Awesome Authors, Carol! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?
CW: Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m rather excited to be here. So, about me? Well, I started writing decades ago when I was in my twenties and lived in Morocco where I was a teacher/translator. I wrote for pleasure and it wasn’t until my thirties that I wrote with a view to being published. My first stories were written for children and taught them basic French. They were used in schools. There was even a tape of songs to go with them (Mercifully I didn’t sing the songs.)
I didn’t write full-time until my son left home. It was about then I decided I wanted to fulfill my ambition to become a well-known writer (given my desire to be a well-known comedienne was unlikely).
I wrote my first novel that year, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines, got a stack of media attention and contracts with two small publishing houses, and since then it’s been all go. I am currently writing my seventh book and am enjoying myself thoroughly.
DV: Since you write both non-fiction and fiction, do you find that you need to do something different (time off from writing, virgin sacrifice, different kind of laundry detergent, etc.) to switch between genres? Or is it an easy change for you?
CW: It’s no problem at all for me. Fiction allows me to spend hours in the bizarre fantasy world that is my brain, while the non-fiction books are more logical in format and fun to write. I derive a lot of pleasure from researching them too. I collect stupid facts and jokes all the time so now I have stacks of useless information that would make me an excellent contestant at a pub quiz. How Not to Murder Your Grumpy and Grumpy Old Menopause are both related to getting older and ageing disgracefully, themes that are to be found in my novels. Even my own precious grumpy old man enjoyed the trivia and jokes in the first.
CW: It was a superb experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The television production team are extremely welcoming and enthusiastic people, so it’s very easy to get carried along with it all. I barely had a minute to think, from the moment I arrived at the hotel the day before and was interviewed by a researcher, to the end of the interview. I wrote about the day on my blog, so rather than bore you all here, you can find out what it’s like to be a star for the day by clicking the link Dreams Are Made of This
DV: Tell us about your latest release.
CW: My latest book, Love Hurts, is a departure from my usual humorous stuff and should surprise all readers. It’s a collection of five stories on the theme of love but not at all conventional. Each story aims to evoke an emotion from the reader. Each is different and may tease, torment, surprise and/or delight.
DV: How long did it take to go from inception of the book to completion?
CW: This book has taken a year. All my books seem to take about the same time. They start as nuggets of ideas in my head. I then scribble some sort of essay plan down and, because I suffer from insomnia spend night after night going through possible twists, characters, endings and plots. Once I’m satisfied the story is a goer, I’ll start typing. That can take three months of hard effort. The rest is the laborious process of going through edits, sending to beta readers, editing again and again. Then I send it to an editor, where it goes through several edits and then on for formatting, proofreading and publishing. I was extremely fortunate to have excellent beta readers on this project who worked very quickly to return the stories to me, I had a top editor, Cathy Speight, and a formatter who worked faster than Superman–Indies Unlimited’s very own Rich Meyer. They all worked so hard to get the stories ready before Valentine’s Day and I owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.
DV: Great choice of people! It’s so important to have a good team. Short stories take a different skill set than writing novels. What do you like most about the form? Least?
CW: My writing career began with short stories and I wrote them because I only had time to write in short bursts. Short stories are much easier to write because you have to hold so much information in your head all the time when you write a novel. You need to be careful not to repeat yourself and ensure timelines are correct. The continuity can often be a problem.
If I’m honest though, I now prefer to write lengthier novels where I can get into characters’ minds and give them substance. However, these stories allowed me to test out a side of my writing personality that I usually hide. I’m known for my humour and lighthearted approach to life but my mind can be a scary place and I often have horrific dreams (when I sleep). Even my husband wonders where the ideas come from when I tell him what I’ve dreamt. These stories allowed me to free some of those ideas. It’s my intention to develop this further and I’m going to be writing a psychological thriller next year.
DV: Oooh–sounds right up my alley. Seriously can’t wait to read that. Do you plan your books prior to writing them or just get on with it?
CW: Plan, plan, plan and plan. It comes from my years at university where I studied French and English. I had to write essay plans before I could write the essay. I have notebooks filled with scribbled notes, arrows and plans for each novel. I never sit down and start typing. I always write chapter layouts, character traits and some of the story out longhand.
DV: You use humor extensively in your work. Comedy is a hard thing to pull off, but you do it well. How do you inject humor into your work, or is it second nature?
CW: Sadly, I am one of life’s irritatingly cheerful people who injects humour into everything. I must be a nightmare to love with. There is a very long story as to why I’m this way. Maybe a look at this article will give you an idea. http://clinicalposters.com/news/2013/0206-laugh-at-unfunny-life.html
“I never sit down and start typing. I always write chapter layouts, character traits and some of the story out longhand.”
DV: You’re one of the hardest working authors I know in regard to publicity and promotion. What have you found works best for you when you’re launching a new book?
CW: Wine! No, seriously, it’s got easier the more books I launch because I now have a contact list and can send out press releases.
I spend every morning sending emails. I usually start with local press and target any magazines whose readership best suits my book. I know quite a few radio presenters, so I always stay in touch with them and let them know if I have a new release. The best thing to do though, is to write around your subject. I make sure I have a Google alert out on my book title or a subject related to my book. If a news item appears that is relevant, I write a piece about it and send to the press.
“I usually start with local press and target any magazines whose readership best suits my book.”
DV: Great ideas. Especially the wine…In light of the huge changes in publishing we’ve all seen, what do you predict for the industry over the next few years? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
CW: I really don’t know where this is all going. The increasing number of authors who are able to self-publish along with the role of the internet, is surely going to have a bearing on the industry. It seems to me that it’s getting harder and harder to become noticed and unless you’re prepared to stick at it and turn out books every year, you’ll only have a limited time as a successful writer. It seems to be a good idea to try and find other writing projects or projects related to your writing. I write for several websites, online magazines, and national magazines now. I’m even branching out and doing stand-up comedy this year. I also appear on BBC radio every month in a slot as a ‘loud mouth’. You need to do as much as possible to stay in the limelight. In five years? I’ll still be writing, and telling jokes and being an irritating nuisance.
“I’m known for my humour and lighthearted approach to life but my mind can be a scary place and I often have horrific dreams…”
DV: What advice would you give to a writer who is just starting out?
CW: Be patient. One of the biggest mistakes new writers make, time after time, is to rush to get published. Make sure your work is the best it could possibly be before you even consider sending it to an agent, a publisher or publish it yourself. You must make sure it is correctly edited and presented. If it takes three years then so what?
DV: Completely off-topic question: If you could time travel (either backward or forward) where would you like to go and why?
CW: I’m a complete Francophile. I speak pretty good French and used to live and work in Paris. If I could time travel, I’d love to go to Paris for the 1889 World’s Fair. I would like to join all the thousands of people who walked up the 1,710 steps for the first time then experience the wonder of the whole Exposition.
DV: Wouldn’t that be cool? Thanks so much for being here, Carol. It’s been a pleasure interviewing you. If you’d like to find out more about Carol and her work, you’ll find links at the end of this post. But first, here’s a teaser from her latest release, Love Hurts:
Love does not always result in ‘happy ever after’. It is a powerful emotion that, in the hands of a damaged soul, can be all-consuming, dangerous and even lethal.
In this collection of short stories—some dark, some lighthearted—written by award-winning author Carol E. Wyer, we discover what happens when love takes over.
Be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions.
Estelle grabbed the inside of her soft, upper, left arm, pinched it firmly and swore quietly. She breathed in deeply and checked her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Her corkscrew curls tumbled in all directions. Her hair had a renewed lustre. It looked distinctly coppery in this light, with soft highlights of blonde. It had never looked so good. Her eyes sported grubby, smudged, mascara circles, but not even these could detract from the glow emanating from her. A smile stretched her slightly swollen lips and stretched further as she recalled how they had become swollen. No, she wasn’t dreaming. She had just spent the best night of her life with a young stallion, who, in spite of his age, had shown and taught her things about sex she had never before dreamed of.
Behaving in the most wanton and sluttish way, fueled by the bottle of Bollinger beside the bed and encouraged by the sexy wild stud, who was at least fifteen years her junior, made Estelle feel twenty years younger. Her skin prickled in anticipation of experiencing it all again. She stared more closely at the woman in the mirror. She would leave the mascara. It exemplified the wild, carefree person she had recently become, or had that person always been there, hiding? Maybe she had lost sight of her true identity, having masked her desires and feelings for so long.
She moved away from the mirror to the bathtub. She sat on the side and idly watched water pour in from the waterfall tap, swirling bath salts in with one hand. Had it only been three months?
Her thoughts wandered back to that first March morning when she had rolled up at the Belside Country Club in her white Mercedes SL. She strolled into reception, where she handed in the voucher she had been given. The receptionist phoned the Golf Pro office. She asked Estelle to wait for a moment while they sent up the instructor to escort her to the golf range. Estelle was examining the wall adorned with photographs of various celebrities clutching golf trophies when she heard her name spoken. She spun around and found herself staring into the most arresting midnight-blue eyes.
“Delighted to meet you, Mrs Chambers. My name is Ricardo. I know, I don’t sound Italian. My mother is Italian. People usually call me Rick or Richard. Would you prefer me to call you Mrs Chambers, or may I call you Estelle?” he said in a lilting gentle Irish brogue, making her name sound seductive. He held out his hand.
She offered her hand but couldn’t reply instantly. She was too busy taking in his muscular shoulders, his smile and staring at the designer stubble, which made him look like a movie star. She tried to think of whom he resembled.
“Oh, sorry, yes. Please, call me Estelle,” she stammered, suddenly noticing the warmth passing between them and realising he was still holding her hand. She pulled it away hurriedly. He smiled an easy smile.
Links to find out more about Carol: