Interview with Carrie Jane Knowles, Author of Apricots in a Turkish Garden

Apricots in a Turkish GardenWhat is your book about?

Apricots in a Turkish Garden is a collection of ten short stories that focus on a moment in time when a character has an insight into their life and what has happened. And, that insight changes the character.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

I work hard to create “real” characters. I want the stories to be like a window or a mirror. Readers often tell me that they feel like I have written about them or their families.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I almost always start with a character rather than a situation.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

Whenever I sit down to write I close my eyes and spend a few minutes thinking about the characters in my story, trying to imagine what they are going to do next.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

Writing and coaching writing is my day job. I have an office and I go to work everyday, Monday through Friday. I usually go to the gym before work, so I’m generally in the office ready to work by 10 in the morning and leave sometime between 5 and 6.

Writing today is also about promoting and some days the promotion end of the business takes over, as does the coaching, and I don’t get a great deal of time to write.

Ideally, I try to get at least one page of my own work written each day. I’m really happy if I manage to write two polished pages, i.e. pages that work and I don’t throw out the next day. Three would be a personal best!

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Right now I’m working on two stories, one a short story and the other a novel I’ve been struggling with for the last two years. I’ve just had a real breakthrough with the novel, so hope to move ahead on that over the next couple of months.

The short story, like all short stories I write, will take several more months to draft then polish.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

A great character with an interesting dilemma/problem.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

I’m always on the lookout for character names. I keep note cards in my purse and jot names down whenever I discover a good one.

Names are really important to me. They have to fit the character, the time frame of the story, the location of the story, and the situation.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

I hope so! When I create a character, I do my best to listen to them and to let them be who they want to be.

I have this theory I call the bad parent/good parent theory of writing. The bad parent is always telling the child what they should do and be when they grow up. The good parent encourages the child to grow up and be whoever and whatever they want to be.

I want to be the good parent.

Describe your writing in three words.

Character driven, surprising.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Apricots in a Turkish Garden is published by Second Wind Publishing. You can purchase it through Second Wind and also at Quail Ridge Books and through Amazon and Smashwords. You can learn more about me as well as my work on my website: carrieknowles.com

Anton, Hero of the story “Color Me Baby Blue” by Kaye George

What is your story?

I found my true calling as a retailer. My niche is color. Ask anyone, I can pick the hot new color for next season’s clothing, almost better that a colorist.

Who are you?

My name is Anton, but I’d rather be called Tony. Anton sounds too stuffy.

Are you the hero of your own story?

Not hardly. Nothing ever goes right for me.

What is your problem in the story?

My problem is that Miss Manning, Mandy, doesn’t know how much I love her.

How do you see yourself?

I’d be the ideal person to run Uncle Leo’s business, Hardi Couture. Leo Hardiman, Hardi, get it? He’s just like all my other bosses, though. They’re all out to get me. I can’t understand it. I could do their jobs so much better than they can.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

I’m not sure even she appreciates my finer qualities. She seems to have glossed over my virtues.

What do you think of yourself?

I think a lot of myself. I have to–no one else does. Even my own parents kicked me out and changed the locks. Who does that to their own flesh and blood, I ask you?

Do you have a goal?

My goal right now is to live through my latest ordeal. Since I’m in a short story and not a novel, I can’t give away too much here or that author would kill me. Really. She’s tough.

Do you have any skills?

Skills! I sure do. I can pick the next hot trend like nobody else in the clothing biz. I’m a natural.

Do you have money troubles?

Do I ever! I’ve lost every job I’ve ever had so far.

Has anyone ever betrayed you?

Story of my life. If you read “Color Me Baby Blue” in the anthology ALL THINGS DARK AND DASTARDLY, you’ll see how people treat me.

Who is your true love?

Miss Manning. I still love her in spite of everything. Those Passion Periwinkle eyes, those luscious lips.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

The one I shared with Miss Manning. Big mistake.

What are the last five entries in your check registry?

Ha! You think someone like me, who sometimes lives under a bridge, has a checking account?

How do you envision your future?

I have to admit, at this point it looks bleak.

Where can we learn more about “Color Me Baby Blue” and the anthology ALL THINGS DARK AND DASTARDLY?

More info and some links are at http://www.allthingsdarkanddastardly.blogspot.com/