Interview With Author Caryn McGill
CJ: It’s so nice to talk with you Caryn. How are you doing? Tell our readers a little about yourself.
CM: Honestly, I’m exhausted. I offered to judge a writing contest and some confusion ensued regarding how many entries I received. Panic followed, and they asked me to help out and complete two more, which ate up the entire day. I think I’m suffering from writing hangover. But I was glad to help out new writers. We all started somewhere.
I currently write full-time, which my writer pals remind me is a true luxury. My kids are grown and launched and my responsibilities in daily life are minimum. I do try to get out of my pjs most days.
CJ: The good thing about being a full-time writer is that you don’t even need to put your pants on to work. Few jobs allow such a luxury. At least any respected professions, that is.
Judging a writing contest sounds pretty wicked. I’m sure the submissions add up fast. You bring up a good point and attitude about it, though. All writers do need to start somewhere. When did you first start writing? Is it something you’ve always been passionate about?
CM: I never planned on being a writer. I wrote my first book right after I retired from a career as a high school science teacher and assistant principal. When I was five, my four-year-old brother died. I became obsessed with death and often wondered where he went. This morbid fascination inspired THE WIVES OF LUCIFER. The story somehow possessed me and I wrote 300K words in about seven months. People told me it was like I was channeling it.
CJ: That’s a hell of a lot of writing! Pardon the pun. It’s good you were able to find a way to express your feelings after such a serious event. Writing does have the ability to help heal old wounds because it’s so therapeutic. I imagine your writing process was better crafted during that time? What is your process like now? Do you need to be distraction free, or are you the type who can write in noisier environments such as a coffee shop?
CM: I write without any idea of where I’m going. I don’t know the ending until I’m nearly there. I also write in no particular order, a scene here, a scene there. Then I put them in sequence and tweak the backstory and add teases of what’s to come. Once the creative phase is over I spend months editing it before I send it to my editor. He then beats me with the big writing stick and I rewrite again before it goes to my publisher.
Mostly, I go for a distraction free writing zone. When I first got serious about writing I researched the perfect writing space. All the tips confirmed that I already had it. I write on my laptop in my recliner.
CJ: Sounds like my writing process. You go about things very professionally it seems. That’s a good thing as many aspiring authors tend to take short cuts, which ultimately hurts their work.
A lot of amateur writers also seem to work around distractions like music instead of focusing on their work 100%. What’s your stance on listening to music while writing? Does it ruin your flow, or do you find it helps create a certain mood?
CM: When I’m in the creating stage I like it quiet. When I’m in the editing phase I either put on a Pandora station or I let reruns of Supernatural play on my TV. A word, a phrase, or setting often inspires me to change something up.
CJ: Inspiration can come from the most unlikeliest of places. But let’s change gears for a second and talk about your story. I loved how you told the story from the point of view of a “haunted house.” How did you come up with the idea?
CM: Most of my inspiration hits me like a lightning bolt, totally unexpected. I was challenged to write a horror story a while back and I immediately thought of a haunted house. My mind shifted into ‘what if” mode. How does a house become haunted? Must someone die there? Do ghosts or goblins seize it against its will? What if the house decides? Learning to focus its energy. Relentlessly practicing until able to slam shut doors and windows, control faucets and thermostats…ignite blazes in its fireplaces…or anywhere it chooses. And there it was. I wrote it in just a few hours.
CJ: It was a very clever take on the often told haunted house trope. We certainly enjoyed it. Using such a unique perspective, did you need to outline this before writing it? I imagine not since it only took a few hours to write.
CM: I never outline. I always write by the seat of my pants.
CJ: Well that probably answers my followup question, but do you ever outline other stories. Or are you a strict pantser?
CM: I’m a total pantser, or as you say, discovery writer. I awake with the question: What are my characters going to do today to get themselves in trouble? I’m often inspired by dreams or I muse while falling asleep or waking. I seem to be quite creative in the dark. I’m not sure what that says about me.
CJ: Hmmm, it’s hard to say haha. I’m sure we could come up with something creepy, though. Speaking of creepy, do you have any other projects in the works right now? Horror or otherwise?
CM: I’m in the editing phase for the second book in THE WIVES OF LUCIFER trilogy. My editor has identified several “fizzle points” and I’m currently reworking it.
I’m writing an erotic thriller series for a different publisher under the pen name Kendra Greenwood. The first book, UNSUB, has done extremely well and the second, UNABUSED, should be available soon.
I’m musing about writing a story called HIS DAUGHTER, the tale of what God’s daughter would do if she came to Earth. Could she stop all the madness, much of it centered around religion?
CJ: That sounds pretty cool in my opinion. I say go far it! The more original work out there the better. Even though it seems like you already have your hands full with writing projects. But I must ask, even as busy as you are, what are some of your ultimate writing goals for the future?
CM: More books! More readers!
CJ: Simple enough, yet a solid goal indeed. One final question: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who haven’t found their voice or style yet?
CM: Let your first draft just pour out of you, don’t get hung up on technique. Then work on craft. Go to conferences, join critique groups, put your work in front of as many eyes as possible. I’ve received good advice and bad, but all helped refine my voice and style. And don’t resist critique, if you become defensive you’ll never improve. When you get rejected, ask the agent or editor for feedback. Many big-time agents gave me great advice. We often cling to the notion that it’s our story and nobody should be telling us how to write it. It is, but listen to other opinions, open your mind to new possibilities. My very first draft of THE WIVES OF LUCIFER can’t compare to the published version, in story, voice, and style.
CJ: Very wise words. We always tell our followers to listen and learn from criticism. Don’t take things personally and don’t stop improving. You can always get better.
Since you’re so busy, we won’t take anymore of your time. Thank you so much for speaking with us. We love your work and can’t wait to see what else you put out in the future. It was a real pleasure talking with you.
CM: Thanks for having me. It’s always a thrill to talk to writers and readers. That’s why we do this, right? To share our stories and talk about things we are passionate about.
Caryn McGill has immersed herself in a lifelong study of religion, astrology, reincarnation, and past-life regressions. This otherworldly journey coupled with her decades spent teaching science produced her debut novel, THE WIVES OF LUCIFER, the first book in a New Adult paranormal trilogy.
Born on New York’s Long Island, Caryn McGill resided on its bucolic East End until a recent move to Richmond, Virginia.
If you want to check out more of Caryn’s work or just see what she’s up to, you can find her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, go to her Goodreads author profile, check out her official website, and read her past work on the Write On Sisters Blog.