Carolyn Aspenson – Q&A
Author of Unfinished Business.
Carolyn is the author of Unfinished Business and a freelance writer for Countyline Magazine. She also writes a column on health and fitness for Northside Woman’s Magazine and lives in Cumming with her Husband, cat and two dogs.
Hello Carolyn, nice to have you here today and can you explain what your book Unfinished Business is about?
The book is about the relationship between a mother and her daughter. It’s a very normal relationship…the mother can be a bit demanding and frustrating and at times drives the daughter crazy. Oh, and she’s dead. So really, the book is about the relationship between a mother and a daughter and the daughter’s ability to see ghosts.
What’s your typical writing day like?
My typical writing day is scattered. When I write, which lately, has been every day (except for my recent vacation), I focus on that and nothing else. I’m working now to find a little more balance. The problem is, once my mind starts rolling, it’s hard to stop.
Tell me the name of your favourite book of all time?
Oh gosh, that’s hard. I have so many different ones for different times in my life. It’s like naming my favorite song, almost impossible. I think the book that made me realize I could read something and it would take me to a different place, outside of my life, and made me realize how much I loved that was Forever by Judy Blume. I think I was in 7th or 8th grade when I read that. Since then I read so much half the time I can’t remember a book I’ve read and buy it again. I hate that!
What do you normally do for inspiration?
I don’t actually do anything for inspiration. I just write. I guess I’d say I get a wild hair up my butt and do it. Oh, that doesn’t sound right but hopefully you know what I mean!
Name your top 3 authors
My most favorite author is Robert Parker who wrote the Spenser novels. I love the way he writes. His dialog is tight and crisp and yet says so much. Both Harlan Coben and Robert Crais are my second favorites. I also love Lisa Scottoline.
What tips would you give for writing great dialogue?
Keep it brief and informal unless the characters are formal, of course. I’ve been told I have strong dialog. I write like people speak. I think it needs to sound real and often I read it out loud to see if it flows. If it doesn’t, I tighten it some more. Too much dialog is not a good thing.
How do you plot? Character first or do you come up with a plot?
I start in my head with a blank page. Literally. I see a blank page in my head and I start seeing the words pop on it. I don’t write a plot outline and I don’t define characters. I just write and they form themselves. It’s actually been very easy for me so I think I’m lucky. I hope that luck lasts!
Tell me what your book is about and what type of reader would it appeal to?
The book is a chick-lit paranormal book and I think it would appeal to women who are about 35 and up with kids. It’s very similar to the TV show Ghost Whisperer but the main character is older and not thrilled she can see ghosts.
What’s the best thing so far about being a self-published writer?
The fact that I’ve accomplished something so huge and that people are enjoying something I’ve accomplished. I used to think self-publishing wasn’t a credible way to publish but so much has changed in the world of publishing and it’s now a great way to reach a goal.
How long did it take you to finish your book?
It took me two years but only because I stopped for several months at a time. The book is very much about the death of my own mother. Fran, the mother character, is very much my mother and at times I had to step away and take an emotional break from it.
How do you deal with writers’ block?
I stop writing and do something else. It seems to work. Or I eat chocolate. That helps make everything better.
Thanks Carolyn for sharing your advice today and all the best with your new novel. Unfinished Business is out now.
Read chapter one from her book here.