1. What made you want to become a writer?
Well, my journey as a writer did not start because of a love for reading. I actually started writing very late. This is probably due to my severe lack of reading. The story I tell most often about what made me want to become a writer is as follows: I received an assignment in the 6th grade, our teacher challenged the class to write a small book of poems. Several, if not all, of my poems were mini works of fiction with line breaks. While working on this small collection I realized that I enjoyed creating stories and watching them appear on the page. I knew then that I wanted to write something! The reading did not take place until much later, my dream shifting to wanting to write something to wanting to write story lines for video games.
I initially enrolled in a screenwriting course but when that didn’t work I decided to try poetry again. I encountered the same problem with both, everything I tried to write was too long. You think it would be obvious, if my scripts were prose and my poems were prose then why not try writing prose? Once I started writing fiction I could not stop. So, what made me want to become a writer? The itch in my fingertips after binding that book in the 6th grade with a purple felt cover and ribbons. Searching through different genres in order to find the one that allowed me enough room to put the words on the page and the ridiculous, exhausted smile that emerges on my face after writing a scene and thinking “Yeah, now I’m writing something.”
2. What is your genre or writing style and has it changed over time?
I love writing historical fiction. I have always had a strong interest in the past (I mean I collect old camera’s from the 1940s, love old photos and listen to music from the 70s and 80s). You’d think I would have realized this sooner! Once I discovered a love for fiction I tried my hand at fantasy which…yikes. Those stories are hidden in a drawer somewhere never to see the light of day again. I turned to speculative fiction for comfort which helped with my descriptions and focus on two characters rather than several different characters from different worlds. Then, I wrote a “what if” piece dedicated to my mother about her relationship with her father which, I thought, would be a contemporary piece.
This piece did not materialize as a contemporary piece, which is what made the story so enjoyable to write. My mother’s father died in 1971, so the story would have to take place before the present. I believe if I fell into writing then I most certainly stumbled into historical fiction with guidance from my professors at West Chester University and Spalidng’s Low Residency MFA program.
3. What has helped you the most in the writing pursuit?
The what is easy: pencil, journal, planner, eraser, and school.
The who? My parents and mentors. My mother reads everything. My work, newspapers, dictionaries, romance novels, she devours books (except Dubliners). My Dad is more of an action man and likes to be in the midst of everything. We watch live videos together of publishers speaking about the industry, research conferences, retreats and make writing supply runs together.
My mentors have also played a large role in my pursuit as a writer. Without their assistance, I would not be working on my current project nor would I have taken the steps to earn my MFA. I have learned so much from each of my mentors, the various schools I have been fortunate enough to attend including their gentle nudges (I am a very stubborn person) in the right direction, proper terms to use in workshop or butchering my long, agonizing sentences (like this one). My mentors have provided critical analysis regarding what works and what should be revised, recommend books which I am slowly beginning to devour, taking after my mother, that will assist with developing my writing style. They also know how to bring me back from a panic and focus on the now when I have launched myself too far into the future. Without my parents and my mentors I would not be the writer I am today and doubt I would even have the opportunity to pursue writing.
4. How would you describe your writing practice?
Sporadic. They say writers should write every day, which I tried to do for a while but that process depends on what you consider to be writing. I think sitting at my desk for hours, thinking about a story idea and organizing the scenes counts as writing even though I am not putting words on the page. Of course, I have days when nothing seems to come together and I often just stare into space for hours or make list of things I would like to happen in hopes that those notes will spark an idea for the first line of a story.
When that doesn’t work, I go to sleep.
Sleep forces me to relax and when that moment happens, the story ideas transform into scenes and then I tell myself (stand in front of the mirror and talk) the first line of my story. Once that sentence is written, everything else falls into place.
5. What are you writing now?
Currently, I am working on a novel-in-stories, some of which will appear in my MFA thesis. The story takes place in the 1940s and depicts the beginnings of a romance between a Japanese man and an African American woman before and after Pearl Harbor. Or course, this event separates the couple from being together since the Japanese man is taken away to the internment camps.
6. Where can someone find out more about your work?
You can find my work on pennyshorts.com or sicklitmagazine.com. I also have a blog: foxwithquill.wordpress.com where I talk about my quirks as a writer or things that draw my attention in workshops, critiques or conferences. You can also find me on Twitter: @kbcarle or Instagram: k.b.carle.