Ever wanted to write as part of a team? It’s a completely different process, as Helen and Lorri Carpenter will tell you in this interview. Enjoy.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?
We’re Helen and Lorri Carpenter, a mother/daughter writing team. We write together as HL Carpenter.
We’ve lived in a lot of different states, and loved time spent in all of them, so we like to say we’re from everywhere. We live in Florida now. Though native Floridians believe you’re not a true southerner unless you were born here, we’ve been Sunshine State residents so long we figure we nearly qualify.
As for the writing, we’ve been doing that long enough that we think we’re almost natives in this strange land, too.
Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?
At heart, The SkyHorse is a story of the special love between a girl and a horse. We hope readers understand why our heroine makes the decision she did, and that love sometimes involves hard choices.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No. It’s another term for procrastination. Writers write, even if they think what they’re writing is unpublishable.
Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
More books! We’re nearly finished with the first draft of another young adult novel, and we have three other finished manuscripts cooling off and waiting for revision. We also have a completed series of cozies for adult readers, along with three novellas featuring the same character.
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
That’s a tough one, because we read so much, and we’re interested in so many different topics. The books we like best are the ones that teach us something new, or that capture our thoughts and experiences in a way we might not have been able to express ourselves.
And, of course, there’s the dictionary, which we actually do read. Should we admit that? Well, since the horse is out of the stall, we’ll just say you can find a really interesting article in the back of The American Heritage College Dictionary about Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans. Words and their origins – what could be more fascinating?
Book you’re currently reading?
A re-publication of Stephen King’s first novels, which he published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. He has a knack for sucking the reader in with his opening sentence.
What is one thing that frustrates you about being a writer?
Not being able to write fast enough. Those notebooks full of characters, settings, and ideas keep reaching out ghostly tentacles, moaning, When? When? When do we get our own life?
Any type of writing ritual you have?
We’re not superstitious, so there’s no sharpening of pencils or arranging of reference material or touching of lucky amulets, if that’s what you mean.
However, our favorite book – yay for the dictionary! – offers another meaning: A detailed method of procedure faithfully or regularly followed. So we actually do have a ritual, by that definition.
You could call it the graphic novel ritual, because it works the same way as books written in the comic-strip format. Here’s the routine: As co-authors, we take turns writing chapters. We go back and forth until we’re done with the book.
So how’s that like graphic novels? Because you always know there’s more coming, and though you’re not quite sure what the “more” is, you know it’s going to have an unexpected twist tying into what’s already happened, yet at the same time pointing the way to whatever exciting event will happen next.
What is one of the things you’re most thankful for as a writer?
Our partnership – and it’s not one of the things, it’s THE thing. Sharing words and ideas with someone who is so deeply into the same story is a great way to write. In fact, we did a post on the topic of writing together at LK Mitchell’s blog.
Where can we learn more about you?
At our virtual home on the web is Top Drawer Ink Corp. We write semi-monthly newsletters, and each issue contains a “Carpenter Country” essay. Since the essays date back to 2003, when we created the site, there’s probably more information available about us than we realize!
If that’s not enough to satisfy fans or the casually curious, we recently did an interview with Sharon Ledwith, a fellow Musa author.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We’d like to thank you for sharing your writing space with us, and for giving us this opportunity to talk about The SkyHorse. It’s our first published book, and we’re still bubbling over with joy. The delight we felt when we got the acceptance email from Kathy Teel, head editor at Musa Publishing – there’s no way to capture that in words, even for a team of writers.