Monday, March 29, 2010

A visit with Carla Neggers

Carla Neggers is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including The Mist, The Angel and Cold River. Her work has been translated into two dozen languages. Carla is a founding member of the New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America and has served as president of Novelists, Inc. She is currently a vice president of International Thriller Writers.

Carla and her husband, Joe Jewell, live on a hilltop in Vermont, not far from picturesque Quechee Gorge.

DRose: Thank you for joining us, Carla. Let’s start by telling us a little about yourself. Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I grew up in rural western Massachusetts, with a Dutch father, a Southern mother and six brothers and sisters. I always wanted to be a writer and wrote my first stories up in a tree! But I also was a musician, and for a while I thought it'd be fun to be a plant pathologist.

DRose: How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

"How long" depends on when we decide to start the clock ticking! I submitted a manuscript to an agent a few months after my first child was born. The agent took me on, but I was writing first-person romantic suspense, which wasn't selling at the time. I tried my hand at category romance—which was hotter than hot!—and discovered I could write funny, sexy books with no murders. I ended up writing one of the launch books for the highly successful Bantam Loveswept series.

DRose: Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?

Yes. ;-) I do 'big picture' plotting before I write. Then I sit and let it flow—I still love to write longhand.

DRose: Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?

THE MIST, my 2009 hardcover, is just out now in paperback. It picks up where THE ANGEL leaves off—these two books are tightly connected, although the series starts with THE WIDOW. I was inspired to write THE ANGEL and THE MIST on trips to Ireland. Although primarily set in Boston, the stories also take us to the southwest Irish coast. I remember walking into a remote, ancient stone circle at dusk and just knowing I'd set a scene there at some point. THE MIST opens with Lizzie Rush, a hotelier and amateur spy, taking on a would-be killer in just such a stone circle!

DRose: Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

I'm very excited about THE WHISPER, my July hardcover, which picks up where THE MIST leaves off. Boston detective Scoop Wisdom has been in Ireland, recuperating from the injuries he sustained in the bomb blast in THE MIST. He wants to find out who planted the bomb, and he thinks it's another cop. Enter Celtic archaeologist Sophie Malone, who is fighting her own demons. And right now I'm finishing up COLD DAWN, the next book in my series set in the fictional northern New England town of Black Falls.

DRose: Musicians often note the musicians who influenced them. What authors have influenced you and your work?

I read and read and read as a kid—anything I could get my hands on, from Jane Austen to Alistair MacLean and The Hulk. I learned early on that I love adventure, action, romance and a satisfying (happy!) ending.

DRose: Most people see writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?

I'm disciplined but not regimented, and I have the good fortune of being able to write anytime, anywhere—which means I could write on a two-week personal retreat to Ireland last September. I'd write, walk, write, hit the pubs, write some more…it was a wonderful experience! My husband gets to go with me next trip, though. That'll be fun, too. ;-)

DRose: Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

Oh, how funny! Hm. No, I guess not. I do like having a lot of pens and pencils around me when I'm writing longhand. I once was hand-searched at the airport, and the TSA agent told me, "You have a lot of pens." I did—twelve!

DRose: Do you write to music or the TV?

I can do either, depending on where I am in the book. I particularly love to write to the Dropkick Murphys.

DRose: When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

Definitely—I love to hike, kayak, garden, travel. I'm thinking about going back to karate. I've been on hiatus since a neck strain. Probably a good idea!

DRose: They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

I write longhand on a project table by a window overlooking our backyard and woods. You can actually see the view on my photo blog—check out the Vermont sunrises.

DRose: Can you tell us about the workshop you’ll be doing for the Desert Rose Conference?

I'll be doing two workshops. One is on writing as work/writing as play…how to create synergy between "work" (craft) and "play" (inspiration). We'll have fun. The other is on romantic suspense—figuring out what it is, where you might fit on the continuum between romance with a touch of suspense to flat-out suspense with a touch of romance. We'll have fun there, too.

DRose: Is there anything we didn't cover that you'd like to mention?

I'm looking forward to being in Phoenix again. I'll never forget how incredibly warm and welcoming chapter members were when I was in town for a signing in 2007.

For more information, please visit Carla at her Web site, www.carlaneggers.com.


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