Win Antispyware 2006
Destroy all known viruses!
Historical Author Of The Month

Carolan Ivey

(Note To The Reader)
The author’s bibliography follows the interview.

Name? : Carol B. Goodman

Pen Name(s), If Any? : Carolan Ivey (“Carolan” because I’m into Celtic music, and “Ivey” was my great-grandmother’s maiden name. The woman was certifiable, but she had a beautiful name!)

Homepage? :

Country where you reside? : Ohio, USA

Personal bio? : Born in North Carolina, spent most of my life in Ohio; Ohio State graduate in Natural Resources; one husband, two children, one aging dachshund; real job as a technical writer for a public utility. Card-carrying soccer mom. The most fun thing I did last year: a trip to Scotland, immediately followed by a trip to the RWA National conference in Chicago (can you say “jet lag”?)

Do you belong to any writer’s organizations? : I’m a member of RWA and EPIC.

Where can a reader purchase your work? : Dreams Unlimited. Disk: $5.50 + shipping; $5.00 download.

Current and/or planned future projects? : I’m currently working on a guardian angel story with a dark twist. A sequel to Beaudry’s Ghost will follow.

When did you begin writing? And what did you write? : I did an inordinate amount of reading when I was a child, since I was chronically ill and spent most of my time indoors. I started out making up stories in my head (usually with me starring in some heroic role!), and as I got older wrote articles, poems and short stories for school publications, right up through college. After that I was a news reporter and editor for many years, until the kids started coming. Then I switched to contract technical writing, which pays well but as you can imagine, isn’t very stimulating. At that point I began to entertain the idea of finally writing my Great Work Of Fiction (cough, cough). Having gotten hooked on romance while pregnant and stuck in a snowbound house one winter, I decided to try my hand. It was a perfectly horrible contemporary about a singer who’d lost his voice. I still laugh when I go back and look at it. It was resoundingly rejected by every publisher known to man, and deservedly so! :) I had a lot to learn; I’m still learning.

Which authors are/were your inspirations? : There were so many...but I still go back and read Marguerite Henry’s books. They never get old for me; what a storyteller she was! My first attempts at fiction were modeled after her. Kathleen Eagle is also an early inspiration that drove me to try writing my own books.

Which authors/books are your current favorites? : Again, there are so many great storytellers out there, both paper and e-pubbed! I’d hate to settle on one or even a few. I’ll read anything by Eileen Dreyer, Suzanne Brockmann, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Dinah McCall, Christina Skye, J. C. Wilder, Joyce Moye, Janet Evanovich, Parke Godwin... My tastes are quite varied and I’ll read anything that’s good. :)

Of all the books you’ve read, which one do you wish you had written? : Parke Godwin’s Firelord. It’s a wonderful, gritty, realistic rendition of the King Arthur legend. I’ve re-read it so many times it’s falling apart. I never fail to get lost in the story.

Please give an overview of your research habits. : For Beaudry, I was very lucky to have access to a group of Civil War re-enactors on Compuserve. They were generous with their advice and critcism. In general, when I first start out I do a lot of reading and Internet searching to get a feel for setting, atmosphere, background stuff. The heavy-duty research comes after the first draft is finished, when I want to get every detail right. I want to get that story down first; and if changes have to be made later on because of what my research turns up, those changes are always for the better. What has happened to me again and again (and I’ve learned not to question this!) is that things that come purely out of my imagination in the first drafts turn out to be true. An example is my current WIP (Work In Progress)—I have a character who is developing a computer program to aid canine search and rescue teams out in the field. Out of the blue I ran into a guy online who does that very thing, and will be happy to supply me with any background info I need. Pure chance? I don’t think so. :)

Have you ever included in your novels real historical personages? If so, how true do you stay to what has been written about them? Do you ever deviate from known facts? How much do you fictionalize them? : Beaudry’s Ghost is a fictional event set during a real Civil War battle, so I had to weave my story into the time frame of the real event. When the Union troops landed, when the battle took place, when the cannons went off, etc. I mention several real people in the book, such as General Wise and his nephew, but these people were not directly involved in the story. I had to take some license because several of the Outer Banks lighthouses did not exist at that time, at least in their present form. For example, the modern Cape Hatteras Light wasn’t constructed until 1873, but there was a light structure on that site during the war. Also woven in to Beaudry is a real “battle” called the “Chicamacomico Races” in which a band of Rebels ran down the Banks, taking out lighthouses along the way to foil Union ships trying to make landfall in the Carolinas. In my story Jared was washed ashore after his ship full of cavalry troops and horses went down; in reality, a troop ship headed for the Battle of Roanoke Island, loaded with horses, did sink, but they were artillery horses. So, while playing the writer’s mind game of “What If?” I stuck to the facts as much as possible. Fact is almost always better than fiction, anyway.

Please give an overview of your writing process. : Beaudry was born during a trip to the Outer Banks, where we also made a side trip to Appomattox Battlefield. Both places are stuffed with legends and ghosts, if you look hard enough. :) My love of history, of legends and ghost stories all sort of came together, and I started writing in the car on the way home. My current WIP was sparked by a single statement made by a guardian angel “expert” I saw in PBS. I thought, “Oh yeah? But what if...” and off I went from there. I will often write a synopsis that very generally sees a story through from beginning to end, but I don’t write from an outline. I tried it once, but honestly, it killed the creative process for me. So much discovery happens during the actual writing that I can’t stick to an outline. What I will do is write a few chapters, stop and go back and do an outline, just so I can get an idea what has happened and where the story seems to be going. For my current WIP, I sat down and did an “interview” with the two main characters, which is something I’ve never done before. I found it very helpful.

As for endings!! One reason Beaudry took 5 years to find a publisher was because the way it ended. Everyone who read it, hated it. It was Bonnee at Dreams Unlimited who gently but firmly convinced me to try to rewrite it, because if I didn’t, readers would feel cheated and maybe never pick up another book of mine. I hemmed and hawed, because, jeez, if I changed the end I’d have to change the beginning and the middle, too! But I did it. It was the hardest writing work I’d ever done in my life. And the best. Bonnee? (And Lisa, and... and...) Are you listening? You were right. :D

On average, how many drafts do you write before your work goes to the publisher? : On this book, I lost count how many times I rewrote it. The last two drafts were the hardest, and the real story finally came out in those final rewrites. Two new characters emerged (Yikes! Where had they been hiding for so long?) and the main characters came into their own. I hope the lessons I learned writing Beaudry will translate into fewer rewrites of future projects! I plan to do at least three drafts of my current WIP before sending it to the editor.

Please give an overview of your typical writing day : I tend to need long stretches of uninterrupted time in order to work, and those blocks are very hard to find these days. I also need silence—I can’t listen to music while I’m writing because, as a musician, my mind wanders into the music rather than the job at hand. While writing Beaudry I listened to a lot of Civil War era music, but not during the actual writing.

I’m horribly undisciplined and I’m working to try to change that. This is another reason why Beaudry took so long to write. I’d write only when the mood hit. Bad idea if you want to consider yourself a professional. I now try to write at least two pages a day. I read research material whenever I’ve got a spare minute. Ideas can come anytime and anywhere, which is why I carry a small notebook at all times. A lot of good ideas come when I’ve laid down to sleep and I’ve emptied my mind of everything else. When I’m deeply into writing a story and it’s going well, I can hear the characters constantly talking inside my head. (Did I mention my great-grandmother was certifiable?) Which is why I wander around in a daze, staring off into space, missing my mouth while trying to eat, etc.

I knew Beaudry was finally finished for good was when I’d sent the final draft off to Bonnee, sat down to dinner and suddenly realized there was a profound silence inside my head. It was one of the lonliest feelings I’d ever experienced! :)

What gives you the most satisfaction during the writing process? : It’s little things, like unravelling that stubborn plot knot; smoothing out that piece of dialog that’s been bugging me for days; finding that word or turn of phrase that’s perfect. Some days are gift days, where it all flows like spring water, and I go back the next day to re-read what I wrote and I don’t even remember writing half of it. If that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine as a writer, nothing will. Other days I’ll sweat and strain over a single sentence, but when it’s finally right, there’s no feeling like it in the world.

What gives you the greatest headache during the writing process? : Probably my tendency to use the backspace key too much. I have a hard time moving on until I’ve corrected every mispelled word or grammar glitch in the previous sentence. I’d be a lot better off if I could write a “true” first draft—just get the story down without regard to minor mistakes.

What’s the biggest problem in your own writing that you’ve had to overcome? : My first writing efforts were rife with ping-pong POV switches and adverb addiction. :) I still do periodic search-and-destroy missions on adverbs while I’m writing. Passive voice is also a recurring nightmare. I’m working to make my writing cleaner and forward-moving, if that makes any sense. Not less descriptive, but sharper. For example, not taking a whole page to describe a sunset, but nailing it in one sentence.

Do you achieve your finest/most productive work during the initial draft stage or the reediting/revision process? : For me it is the revision process. That’s the time I weed out all those trite phrases and cliches, those predictable plot twists. I believe that’s where a writer has to dig deep and be creative. Sure, great flashes of inspiration come during the first draft; after all, some spontaneous creative spark is what motivated you to write in the first place. But when you get down into the dreaded trenches of revision, that’s where the real blood, sweat and tears of writing takes place.

Of all the books you’ve written, which one would you say is your greatest achievement, and why? : I think each manuscript is a step in the learning process. Beaudry is the best work I was capable of at that time, and the first book I’ve published, so in that respect it is my “greatest achievment.” And I’ve very proud of the book! But it isn’t the best writing I’ll ever do. At least I hope so.

Which character you’ve created gave you the most pleasure, and why? : I enjoy all my characters, even the evil ones. In fact, the evil ones are the most fun to write! But Jared Beaudry gave me the most joy. He started out as just enraged and single-minded about regaining his lost honor, but he evolved into a complex and compelling character who changed and grew throughout the book. Taylor went though her changes, too, but Beaudry had the biggest obstacles to overcome.

Have any of your characters tried to “take over the book” by developing a mind of their own? If so, do you let them go where they may, or do you rein them in? And how? : This book had a wealth of secondary characters who could easily have had subplots of their own. Zachariah Harris was such a fun character to write, he could have horned in on every scene if I’d let him. I kept him in check by reminding myself that for this book, the focus had to remain on Jared and Taylor in order to make it work. The basic plot was complex enough without muddying up the waters with too many secondary characters yelling for equal time. Bloody Zach will be back, though, in another book. If I ignore him, it will be at my peril. :)

In your opinion, how healthy is today’s market for historical fiction? : I’m not seeing as much straight historical fiction on the shelves as in years past. I see tons of fantasy historicals, like the myriad quasi-Arthurian tales on the SF/Fantasy shelves. Romance historicals are still there, but not as numerous as in the past because of so many lines and houses merging. And the ones that are out there are heavy in Scotland/England settings. Civil War romance historicals used to be published by the dozen, but they’re almost non-existent now. You don’t see the big American historical blockbusters anymore, like the John Jakes series or Allan W. Eckert. That’s a shame.

Do you see the overall industry changing now that E-Publishing is gaining momentum? And if so, how? : Beaudry would never have seen the light of day if not for e-publishing. Beaudry is a contemporary/historical Civil War story and a paranormal; it crossed too many genre lines to make it palatable to a print publisher, who wouldn’t know how market it. One review magazine labeled my book a time travel, which it definitely is NOT. My point is, e-publishing is the venue for all those wonderful books that cross genre lines, or create new genres, that don’t fit into New York’s neat little molds. E-pubbing is where you’ll find what you’ve been missing!

Even established print authors are turning to e-publishing to find a home for those quirky stories their print houses won’t touch. I think this will happen more and more as authors find that e-publishers in general offer a much better royalty deal than the print pubs dole out. The technology is growing, prices are coming down. In a few years, my children and grandchildren may carry all their school textbooks on an e-reader instead of a heavy backpack. You’ll be able to plug your portable e-reader into your home PC, log into a web site, and download a dozen novels in a flash—and not one tree had to die to make this possible. I don’t think print books will ever go away (who would want them to?) but e-publishing is going to explode very soon. E-publishing is environmentally friendly and the possibilities are limitless.

If you could alter one thing about the publishing industry/process in general, what would it be? : I want to see the big publisher pay a fair royalty rate to its authors, for both print and electronically published books. Right now, the big print houses are buying up an author’s e-rights for a pittance. Authors must stand up and demand their fair share.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? : My youngest will be 12 and no longer needing “Mom” every minute of the day. My oldest will be 18, through those turbulent teen years and off to college. “Mom” will be working on her third or fourth published novel. RWA will finally accept e-published authors as “real” writers. Well, one can dream, can’t one? :)

How do you stay connected to the “real” world with a “real” life happening around you? : I think most of my problems as writer stem from being too connected to the real world! I admire those writers who can produce book after book no matter what turmoil is going on in their lives. I’m working on that elusive ability to close the door, sit down and disappear into my work, be it for a few minutes at a time or a few hours. I’m too much of a worrywart.

What advice would you give to unpublished historical authors? : We are told all the time—study the market, study the market, study the market. OK, that’s fine, but keep in mind that what seems to be hot trend now was written maybe two years ago and bought a year ago, and is only now hitting the shelves. That hot trend is already gone. Editors say to just write the very best book you can, and I agree with that (though I wonder why print editors say this then don’t buy those books...). It is always better to write the book of your heart and look for fresh angles, unique plots and characters, than to follow a trend or try to predict what the next trend will be.

Author Bibliography
Beaudry’s Ghost, a contemporary/historical/paranormal/romance. And it’s not a time travel. :) The story: The angry spirit of Union Cavalry soldier Jared Beaudry has been wandering the Outer Banks of North Carolina for more than 130 years, seeking the one thing he cannot have. Revenge. During the Battle of Roanoke Island in 1862, Jared was dismembered and, worse, dishonored by a mad Confederate officer. Now, more than a century later, a re-enactment of the battle gives him his chance. He takes a desperate leap of faith, and sets in motion a deadly chain of events nothing can stop. Taylor Brannon, re-enacting as a memorial to her dead brother, can only stand by, helpless, as her entire re-enacting unit is taken over by spirits of dead Civil War soldiers—an event triggered by a ghost hell-bent on revenge and self-destruction. She can run, or she can use her own special power to try to save her friends, and somehow help Jared Beaudry find peace. The cost could be her soul.

November, 1999

Author Of The Month Archives Home/Index