Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Year Later - Carole McDonnell

Carole McDonnell is the author of WIND FOLLOWER, which was published by Juno Books last year. She also writes short stories and is an active Christian writer and blogger, and a blogging book reviewer. Here are her thoughts on what her life has been like since her novel was published.

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Hi Tia, thanks for inviting me back for a One Year Later post.

Well, things have definitely changed since I became a published writer. Imagine, a year ago I was waiting for my very first book to be published.

I'll tell you about my new work-in-progress a little later but first I'll tell you about what's happened in the aftermath of the WIND FOLLOWER publication. Well, let's see. A year later, I have made some good friends -- fellow write rs on Juno's list, writers who read my book, reviewers. Of those are, Sylvia Kelso, author of Amberlight, whom I email pretty much everyday. She is on the Juno list and I probably wouldn't have read her wonderful book if we hadn't met through Juno. That really is one of the great things about being published by a small press. I also got contacted by some great writers who have read Wind Follower. The great Charles R Saunders, author if the Imaro and Dossouye novels emailed me to say he loved WIND FOLLOWER. That just made me super-happy. He's so highly respected in the black community as one of the fathers of Black Fantasy. And to think he liked my book! I also felt a little more worthy of some of my fellow writers. Online one gets to know so many writers. Folks in The Carl Brandon Society the Black Speculative Fiction community, for instance. Folks in Christian Speculative Fiction communities. Writers from all over. But once one has gotten a book published, somehow one feels more real. And when one's fellow writers can see one's work, it really helps one's ego if they find the book worthy. Folks are always supportive but it's good to know that one's stuff is really liked or understood.

I also got to know some bloggers. That was neat too. You [as in the author of this blog -tn], Chris from Stuff as Dreams are Made On, Harry from Temple Library Reviews. Quite a few others.

There is also the respect and kindness from folks in the hood. People are happy for me and that makes me happy that they believe in me and see me as representing success.

On the whole it's been fun but there have been hurdles. When you send your baby out into the world, you and God alone know what you went through to write it. WIND FOLLOWER was written when I was in a very depressed suicidal mood and when someone gives it a bad review, the bad review really cuts deep. People don't know what writers go through. So although I have never been one to give a book a bad review, now more than eve r whenever I read a book, I aim not to give it a bad review.

WIND FOLLOWER was given some good reviews and was even presented in two workshops. Once at Wiscon and another at an Australian academic on science fiction and minorities and feminism. That was really nice!

My friend, Nick Wood, a South African YA spec fic writer, says that I and my stories tend to walk the borderlands. I liked that. And it's true. My stories tend to bring together issues about race, religion, etc. And they often lead to lively discussions. For instance, my alternate reality story Homecoming at the Borderlands Cafe was on a podcast at Escape Pod.

And wow! Talk about lively!

Right now I'm working on my work-in-progress, The Constant Tower. Most of my stories deal with interpretation of some kind. WIND FOLLOWER dealt with the interpretation of Scriptures and spiritual things. Constant Tower is about storytelling and the interpretation of text. The main story is about a world where living humans are transported every night to other regions. Most of them live in towers that can be steered if one understands how to steer them. There is a myth of a constant tower which never transports. People seek this tower. It's a story about science, specifically the science of towers and how to operate them. So it's really about technology and resources and how those who have greater technology tend to control most of the resources. (Okay, I've been watching too many stories about the World Bank.) Anyway, this story i s told inside a frame. Like the Thousand and One Nights. In this frame, we learn that the people of a particular planet have a history of the folklore of other planets. Their storytellers have built on these histories, for better or worse. When Constant Tower begins, an aged nameless master storyteller is telling the story of The Constant Tower to a young-also-nameless prince who has ascended the throne and who is intent on killing his murderous stepmother. The young prince wants the story to go in certain directions but the old storyteller has his own ideas. The young prince has heard the story before, though, but he has heard the story from another teller of tales, one the old man speaking to him doesn't respect. There's also the problem of the Studier of Worlds who wrote the written history. He apparently hated the main character of the story. So there is a problem of what to believe. It's fun.

After that, I'll shift gears entirely. It's a dark mystery about a succubus and a Black Christian lady in upstate New York. She meets a bi-racial Chinese-Caucasian man whom this succubi intends to take. It's a multi-culti may-september love story with religious and horror elements. And very erotic. It's actually working. I didn't think it would but it's been a surprise. I hope my Christian fans will accept it. So that's about it.

Life is good.

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Thanks, Carole!


J. M. Butler said...

Thanks so much for sharing, Carole! I loved Windfollower, and I can't wait to read your other works. Please keep us updated! Constant Tower sounds like a real winner.

daydream said...

Carole, you do these guest posts like a pro. *claps hands* I love your story, I so wanna read your projects and I am ever so grateful for linking my blog. *grin*

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Hi JM. Thanks! Hi Harry! Love you! Hi Tia! Thanks so much for this! -C

Daya said...

Tia, the "one year later" idea is very cool! I'm looking forward to reading more.

Carole, great post, it was so insightful!

Grayson Reyes-Cole said...

I agree... The one year later perspective is great. Carole from being on groups, reading your posts, I've a great deal of respect for the work you do and your approach to writing.

Grayson Reyes-Cole

ediFanoB said...

Good idea Tia.

Carole, a very impressive post.
This is the first time I read the term Black Fantasy. So far I know Dark Fantasy
but I think that is something different.
I'm not sure what does it mean.

Would be one of you so kind as to explain to me the meaning of Black Fantasy.

To be honest Idon't want to offend people. I just want an explanation.

Thank you

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Hi Daya and Grayson. Thanks so much. Hi Edifanob, actually I don't know if there's such a term. I was writing and I just kinda wrote that. But there is a term called Sword and Soul which was coined by Charles Saunders to define sword and sorcery flicks that take place in Africa. And I think Steven Barnes' Lion's Blood would be Sword and Soul alternate history. There are many Black writers who write Fantasy. Nnedi Okafor Mbuchu's Zahrah the Wind Seeker is wonderful. As are writings by Nalo Hopkinson, and Milton Davis. And Minister Faust and Tobias Buckell who both write afrocentric science fiction. And Tananarive Due, who writes horror. All these writers from the African diaspora write specfic of some kind. I'm just pleased that so many of them have been so kind to me this past year. I'm beginning to feel comfortable being listed among them.

Tia Nevitt said...

Thanks, everyone! And thank you, Carole!

David said...

I'm happy for you, and Grace and I really missed you on the 4th. There never was any question about your talent. I loved the way you created your social structure in WIND FOLLOWER, I just wish that there would have been less pain between us. In any event, you go, tell the world what God has laid upon your heart the way He tells you to do so with the gift He has given you. You are in our prayers and thoughts.

(David and the CFRB)

SciFiGuy said...

Tia this One Year Later idea is fabulous. I never had the opportunity to read your first interview a year ago and now because you are doing this I know about Ms. McDonnell.

Carole the book and both the upcoming projects sound fascinating (especially The Constant Tower). I have met Charles several times (although he wouldn't remember me from Adam) and he is indeed a great guy.

Tia Nevitt said...

Thanks, SciFiGuy! As soon as I thought of this idea I acted on it, and I got a great response (100% so far) from all the authors I've contacted. I believe I have enough interest to make this a weekly feature.

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Hi David! Thanks. Hi scifiguy, nice to meet you! Yes, I'm really having fun with Constant Tower. It's a playful book, with the story being changed before our eyes or important elements being simply removed from the story because of the war between the listener and the hearer. Think of it as a weird combination of Goldman's The Princess Bride and Nabokov's Pale Fire. It's been fun to write. -C

Chris said...

What a great post :) So good to hear that everything's been going so well for Carole this last year. I can hear happiness in her voice. I'm REALLY looking forward to her two works in progress. Wind Follower was certainly a favorite novel of mine last year!

Heather said...

Great piece, and what a superb cover! Carole, this sounds like a great story. Best of luck in your writing career. If you ever venture into science fiction romance, you know where to find me, lol!

ediFanoB said...

thank you very much for your answer.

To be honest for me it doesn't matter whether an author is BLACK, WHITe, YELLOW, GREEN or what color ever.

Most important forme is contents of a book.

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Thank you Heather, and congrats on the TOR gig!!! Actually, I do have a scifi novel. My first novel in a drawer somewhere. Great concept if I do say so myself. I just have to get the skills to actually work that concept.

No problem, Edifanob-C