Monday, December 8, 2014

Carol Browne Visits

Carol Browne writes speculative fiction for Musa Publishing and is doing me a huge favor with an interview today. I made her do all the work so I had more time to write. It's been a joy getting to know her.

What writers inspired you to take on the epic fantasy genre?

Till now, it hadn’t occurred to me I had written epic fantasy, and to be honest I’m not a great reader of the genre. I prefer horror and the paranormal. The idea for my book came to me in a day-dream when I was listening to music. I had recently read Lord of the Rings, and it had the kind of magical setting I thought my newly created characters would feel at home in, so I guess if any writer inspired me, it must have been Tolkien.

Can you tell us about the setting and time period of The Exile of Elindel? Did you do research on the historical details you used?

I completed an English degree the year before I wrote the book and I had studied Anglo-Saxon as part of the course. The early Anglo-Saxon period seems to me very well suited to the sword-and-sorcery genre. I chose the year 500CE hoping to give King Arthur a walk-on part at some point, but many rewrites later he ended up on the cutting-room floor, so to speak. I wish I had done more research but I wanted to get stuck into the writing! If the facts aren’t completely accurate I don’t think it matters, however; it’s the essential atmosphere and the interaction between the characters I hope I’ve got right so the reader can get drawn into the story. It’s pure fantasy, after all.

What is your writing day like? Every day? Favorite writing spot? Plotter or seat-of-your pants writer? Tea, coffee, or wine?

I’m forced to go out every morning to earn a living and I also work from home as a proofreader when I have the clients, but I try to do some form of authory stuff in the afternoons and at weekends. I write in longhand at my kitchen table and type it up once the first draft is finished.

I started as a pantser which is why in the early days Exile ended up as epic fail rather than epic fantasy: a huge rambling manuscript that needed interminable rewrites. I’ll never write that way again. I always have a plot outline before I write now.

Tea, coffee, and gin!

How long did it take you to write Exile and what are you working on now?

It took half a year to write the first draft of Exile, but more than thirty years before I found a publisher, by which time it had morphed into a trilogy. Books II and III will be published by Musa Publishing in 2015.

A manuscript I wrote before Exile came to light last year when I was clearing out some cupboards. This summer I sat down and reworked it. It’s a paranormal thriller entitled The Curse of Cankerfret Castle. Looks like it will be a novella. For this book I came forward in time to 1985.

Do you have other works published?

I have a self-published Kindle eBook called An Elf’s Lament upon Leaving & Other Tales. It’s a small anthology of poems and short stories. I published it just to see if I could do it.

What are your most and least favorite parts of writing? Plotting? First Draft? Editing? Promotion?

I mostly enjoy playing with words and trying to come up with unusual similes and metaphors. It’s great when you lose yourself in the process and your characters come alive. I don’t enjoy how time-consuming writing is.

I like plotting when I can engineer a twist or do something that will surprise the reader: at heart I think all writers are really entertainers. What I don’t like is not being able to get a plot to work. It can take days of frustration to get the machinery of the story to run smoothly rather than clank along in a contrived fashion.

The First Draft is the start of the adventure and writing in longhand I love the way the manuscript grows organically: the ever-deepening pile of paper with my jolly hieroglyphics dancing across the pages, weaving their magical spell. At least that’s the dream but very often the reality is the crumpled paper on the floor and writer’s cramp!

Editing is just hard, intense work and yet I have learnt a great deal about writing in the process.

Promotion? A wretched business, especially for shy, retiring folk like me! But I have also enjoyed the connections I have made with new and very interesting people and I get to help them with their self-promo too, which I prefer to blowing my own trumpet.

Thank you for having me on your blog, Susan. I enjoyed answering your questions and they certainly made me think!

Carol Browne first appeared on the planet in 1954. She regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky, when she’s not writing fiction, Carol spends her time as a housekeeper, proofreader, and ghost writer in order to pay the bills. Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.

Find The Exile of Elindel At:
Carol's Blog
Carol on FB  on Twitter

Thank you, Carol, for appearing here today. Would you call promotion a 'wretched business' like Carol does? I think it's a perfect description. Did you ever cut a person as famous as King Arthur from your second draft?


  1. Someone else who wrote their first book thirty years ago! Cool it will be a trilogy.

  2. I can't imagine writing a fantasy without an outline.

  3. Interesting that you didn't realise the genre, I had written a couple of books before I realised I was writing for a niche genre, Carol.

  4. Great interview, Carol. It's always nice learning more about you as a writer. Congrats again on the trilogy. You deserve it!

  5. I've done the not realizing the genre thing a time or two. And yeah, promotion can be wretched lol

  6. So glad to have you here, Carol. Thanks for being my guest.

  7. I'm always impressed by people who can write trilogies. Heck I'm impressed if I find a sequel writer. Neither is an easy task.

  8. Thank you all for your kind comments. And many thanks, Susan, for having me here today!

  9. Editing really is just hard work! I'm learning to like it more myself :)
    Great interview and the book sounds like fun!

  10. Wonderful interview. Amazing story of your book. I love writing the first draft too.

  11. So many author still write a first draft in longhand. I'm afraid I've mostly lost the ability as I use a computer for everything now. Tolkien is an excellent muse :)

  12. Congratulations, Carol!! What a long road - but it ends so well :) Great interview, both of you. Susan, I hope you are able to get a lot done!

  13. Excellent interview! I can't wait for books two and three of the trilogy!

  14. Holy cow, Carol, 30 years. You beat me! Took me 27 years before my first book was published. Love the cover.

  15. Just got my payment for $500.

    Many times people don't believe me when I tell them about how much you can earn by taking paid surveys online...

    So I took a video of myself getting paid $500 for participating in paid surveys to set the record straight.