Thursday, October 20, 2011

Meet and Greet with Carolyn Arnold, author of Ties that Bind

I recently completed a fast-paced thriller that kept me on my toes the entire time. From the first page to the last, I had a difficult time putting the book down. Every time I had to close up my Kindle, I was left dangling and thinking about what would happen next. The great thing about my frustration was that it lasted up to the end. I never had a chance to get bored or feel as though I had reached a spot to put the book down. Now that is a sign of a good story!
I am pleased to say that I have Carolyn Arnold with me today, and she is the author of this great tale, Ties that Bind, an introductory novel for her series about Detective Madison Knight. Please join me in learning a bit more about Ties that Bind and the remainder of her series about this savvy female detective.

Collette: Thank you so much for joining me, Carolyn. I’m pleased to have you here. Can we start with the basics? When did you start writing?
Carolyn: I started writing novellas and poetry back in my teen years.  I remember thinking then that it would be amazing to write a full-length novel and requested the submission guidelines from Harlequin.  But life changed and writing was pushed to the background.  It wasn’t until four years ago that I rediscovered my passion for writing.

Collette: Did you have any influences?

Carolyn: Influences as in other authors? Definitely. I love David Baldacci and Sandra Brown.  While both take you into the darker mindset of their characters, they inspire me in different ways.
Baldacci’s character descriptions helped me realize how spending time on building a solid background is not only well worth it but necessary if you want your reader to feel the connection.
Brown dares to write things I would normally hold back. 

A combination of both of their influences challenge me to continually improve.
In my personal life, my husband is my best friend and greatest influence in everything I do.

Collette: Where do you get your ideas?

Carolyn: I’d say a lot of them come while watching TV or movies.  Hubby loves it when this happens (sense the sarcasm).  It means everything must be paused while I run around for a notepad to jot the idea on, or have him pass me his laptop to email it to myself.  LOL
Other times ideas come to me when I hear news stories.  And recently a novel idea struck when I was at work.  It might be the next thriller I write.  Needless to say I have a lot of ideas stored up for future books.

Collette: That’s great news! I hope you write for many years to come! Were you inspired by someone to write the genre you’re writing in?

Carolyn: I suppose I would have to say Baldacci and Brown again.  I also love to watch TV and movies in the crime genre.

Collette: What is your writing process like?

Carolyn: I’ve experimented with outlining, and panster-style and have concluded I’m definitely a panster.  I love the free-flow of the story, following the characters through.  I must add, however, that before starting I have a general idea as to where the story is heading and what I want to accomplish in a chapter, but sometimes the characters take a detour.  When that happens it’s always to the benefit of the novel.

I also find that by conducting character interviews before starting I have a rich foundation upon which to build.  This also avoids the pitfall of backstory filler in the first draft – less to edit out.

Collette: I can’t do an outline and ever stick to it. My characters have minds of their own. Is that how you would describe yours?

Collette: Do you write full-time?
Carolyn: I feel like I should say yes because any time I do have I’m either writing, editing, networking or marketing, but I know what you’re getting it, and the answer is not yet.

Collette: Not yet, maybe someday if you keep at it! J So what do you do to pay your bills now?

Carolyn: I work in Accounts Receivable.

Blurb of Ties that Bind:

Detective Madison Knight concluded the case of a strangled woman an isolated incident. But when another woman’s body is found in a park killed by the same line of neckties, she realizes they’re dealing with something more serious.

Despite mounting pressure from the Sergeant and Chief to close the case even if it means putting an innocent man behind bars, and a partner who is more interested in saving his marriage than stopping a potential serial killer, Madison may have to go it alone if there's not going to be another victim.

Collette: How did you come up with the idea of Ties that Bind?
Carolyn: Crime drama is my favorite thing to read and watch.  It was natural to want to write in the genre.  For Ties that Bind the basic concept came from a conversation with a family member.

Collette: How long did it take you to complete?

Carolyn: If I remember right, it took six months to write the first draft.  To get it to the point of publication it was two years.

Collette: Tell me a little about your background in your subject and where you completed your research?

Carolyn: My research came from books and the internet.  On any subject, for example concluding TOD or time of death, I cross-compared my research to make sure I had a solid understanding.  Of course this is only one small aspect I needed to research for TIES THAT BIND.  It also involved research into police hierarchy and procedure, physical evidence that indicates strangulation as COD or cause of death, as well as other basic forensics knowledge – DNA and its preservation, fingerprinting – to name a few.

I suggest that any author who does research always cross-compares.  This is not only to ensure accuracy but to obtain a solid understanding of the subject.

Collette: I am all the more impressed now. I thought for sure it was something that you saw on a day to day basis!

Collette: I found your lead, Madison Knight, a very human, very relatable character. Can you tell us a little bit about her?

Carolyn: Major Crimes Detective Madison Knight is a stubborn, tell you how it is type of woman, but she’s also got an empathic side.  Her drive is to find justice for the victims, and she won’t let anyone or anything stop her from making sure that happens.  At times this impulsive nature gets her into trouble with her superiors.

Collette: Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?

Carolyn: Most definitely but as the disclaimer states, “Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.”

I thought I’d say that first.  LOL No, in all seriousness I don’t know how an author couldn’t pull from characteristics of those around them.

Collette: Haha, that’s true. So then, do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters?

Carolyn: Most definitely.  While we immerse ourselves into our character’s worlds, their backgrounds and motivations, I believe it’s our human experiences as evidenced in such things as thought patterns, feelings and emotions that provide added depth to our characters.

Collette: With that being said, let’s move on to the story itself. This was a fast-paced yet methodical story into the depths of a murder investigation. Did you base it on a real-life experience or was it all your imagination?

Carolyn: All imagination.

Collette: Wow, that’s very intriguing considering the depth in the story. Way to go!

Collette: Now what will your future projects with Madison entail?

Carolyn: The reader will see her character develop further – what makes her who she is.  The series will also follow her through a cold case she is determined to solve.

The next in the series, Justified, is coming out this December.  You’ll find out more about what Madison fears as she investigates the murder of a female entrepreneur who was found slashed in her kitchen on Christmas Eve.

Collette: I can’t wait. I did have some questions about Madison and her relationships, especially at the end… a lot of suspense for the next installment  J.  Love it!

Collette: Since you’ve been writing so much, do you ever have time to read?

Carolyn: Unfortunately not as much as I’d like to right now.  I have a lot of catching up to do over the holidays.

Collette: I can completely relate to that! Haha. What is your favorite genre to read?

Carolyn: Mysteries, thrillers and suspense.

Collette: I think we touched on this several times already, but do you have any favorite authors?

Carolyn: David Baldacci and Sandra Brown.

Collette: Where can we find you online?


Carolyn, thank you so much for dropping by and telling us more about your great story, Ties that Bind. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, especially now that I know what else is coming! Best of luck with the series, and keep at it!

My review of Ties that Bind:

From the first page to the very last, you will be on your toes.
For someone not too familiar with the workings of a police homicide investigation, this story will give you a whole new perspective on what goes on in the real world. No easy answers, not always a direct lead, oftentimes our police officials must sift through numerous lies and misleading information in what many of us would not have the patience to tackle. Ties that Bind tells a story in a methodically paced tale that you will find hard to put down, turning page after page as you wait breathlessly for the next twist. It is realistic yet entertaining, an honest look at human nature and individuals from all walks of life. Nothing is as it seems...

Carolyn Arnold has written a nitty gritty story of a murderer’s revenge. Through the various twists and turns, you will never be able to figure out whodunit until the shocking end. I’ve always considered myself fairly good at picking out the villain, but I will tell you I was surprised at the ‘ties’ that led up to an arrest. Way to go, Carolyn!

A well-written piece with all-too-human characters, I was sucked in from the first page when Madison reached for her chocolate-fix. This was a nicely paced story that was not over the top or unrealistic; in fact, I loved every minute of it. It was entertaining without being too dark or depressing, and I can’t wait to read more, Carolyn. Keep them coming!


Carolyn Arnold said...

Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog, Collette.

Collette said...

Thank you for joining me. I had a blast :). We'll have to do it again soon!!

Rosie Cochran said...

Carolyn, say "thanks" to Collette for a review that made me want to pop over to Amazon and buy the Kindle edition of your book. I love suspense, mystery...and a book that you don't want to put down. I have one book in line before reading yours. :-)

Dr. Niamh Clune said...

Another really interesting and informative interview. Collette, your questions really stimulate an author to 'open up.' I know because I have been lucky enough to be interviewed by you. I really thought Carolyn did a great, and well-written job of talking about her books and the background to writing them.

Carolyn Arnold said...

Rosie, very pleased to hear it! I hope you enjoy "Ties that Bind" :)

Niamh,thank you for your comment.

Janice Horton said...

Great author interview and this sounds like a great book! Glad to have discovered your blog, Collette.

Carolyn Arnold said...

Hi Janice, thank you for coming by Collette's site :) Pleased to hear you like the sound of my book.

Collette said...

Dear Niamh, Janice, Rosie, and Carolyn,

Thank you all so very much for coming by.

Niamh, you are always so thoughtful - I thank you very much, my dear friend. Rosie and Janice, I think you'll enjoy it very much. It was a great story.

It's great to see everyone here, and I hope we can see Carolyn visit again when her new books come out!

LM Preston said...

Carolyn you write exciting books! I can't wait to check them out. Writing books with constant excitement, and mysteries.

Carolyn Arnold said...

Thank you LM :)

Ken Hoss said...

Great interview, Carolyn.

Carolyn Arnold said...

Thank you Ken. :)

George W said...

Thank you Collette, first for your generosity in allowing your excellent blog to be the venue for this exciting new Novelist, Carolyn Arnold ... and secondly for being such a thoughtful interviewer.

Carolyn, it was indeed a pleasure to learn about the genesis of "Ties That Bind". You've given enough (but just enough) insight into your protagonist and her quest, that I simply have to read it -- and soon.


Carolyn Arnold said...

Thank you very much for your kind comment Jay. I do hope you enjoy Ties that Bind once you're able to read it. :)

Collette said...

George, thank you so much for your kind comments, and thank you everyone for stopping by. I do hope you all enjoy Ties that Bind as much as I did!