Friday, January 30, 2015

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Amazon UK Review
Stephanie Carroll has given us a truly amazing gift and I can't wait to see this one as a movie. A brilliant debut novel and I look forward to reading more of her writing. Thank you for a beautifully crafted tale.

A White Room Made No. 1!!!

Amazon US Review
I totally loved this book. It's been described as being similar to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, ... Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Though I concur that all that is true, I go further by being reminded of why the gothic writing work and home remind me of Nathaniel Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables ... and some of the works of V.C. Andrews, such as Flowers in the Attic. She gives us a gothic feel reminiscent of Daphne de Maurier's works.

 Goodreads Review
In the end, I just really loved this story. I enjoyed watching Emeline's transformation, and seeing her challenged. I really liked the progression of her and her husband John's relationship. Supporting characters like Lottie and Ethel were well-developed, and the characters who conspire against Emeline are creepy and self-serving, yet possibly redeemable.
Guys, if you want some realistic historical fiction that deals with difficult issues, that doesn't allow a love story to overcome the plot, and that has you really feeling for the characters involved, go and read this right now.

A White Room Won!

Shelf Unbound Magazine Notable Page Turners & Favorite Cover! Pg 36 & 40

“The best historical fiction makes you forget it’s fiction and forget it’s historical. Reminiscent of The Yellow Wallpaper, this book shows with alarming clarity what life was like for women before the modern age freed us of so many restraints … absolutely mesmerizing.”

—Eileen Walsh, Ph.D. U.S. Women’s History, University of San Diego

USA Book News 2013 Best Book Award Cross Genre Category

A novel of grit, independence, and determination ... Despite the consequences, Emeline defies society’s expectations in her endeavor to help others, risking not only her marriage, but her reputation—and ultimately, her freedom. An intelligent story, well told.”

—RenĂ©e Thompson, author of The Plume Hunter and The Bridge at Valentine

Q&A and Reading on Central Valley Talk

Barnes and Noble Review
Fans of The Yellow Wallpaper will love this debut from Stephanie Carroll because it's about a woman feeling her house is alive and that other people are living in it. I, for one, couldn't put the book down but was also reading with the covers up to my chin and all of the lights on. It's not because the book is scary but because I could absolutely understand why Emeline was losing it. I could have sworn that my own walls were watching me ...

Watch My Very First Book Reading!

Don't Forget to Check out the Fire Section!
Photo by Randy Enriquez

My Unexpected Sci-Fi Novel

"The Kissing Couple" by Richard Lam -  2011 Vancouver Riot 

In January 2014, I was completely surprised when an idea for a sci-fi novel took over my creative world and inspired me to write 50,000 new words in January.

You might be thinking, historical fiction to sci-fi . . . bit of a leap. Actually, I've always been a huge sci-fi fan, and was even raised in a romance/sci-fi family. My mother wrote romance, and my father and brother are sci-fi nuts. Not to mention the first book I tried to write was sci-fi. I had been thinking up the idea throughout college but when I finally got to start writing it, I only got up to chapter six before A White Room swept me off my feet. That's what it's been like with S0L-M8, which is texting lingo for Soul Mate.

I got the idea while washing dishes. My husband is what you call an uber techno geek, so I know about a lot of up-and-coming technology and I was thinking about how we are in the middle of technological revolution. Things are progressing at an incredible rate, and it occurred to me that in ten years, I might not be washing my dishes the same way that I do today. It occurred to me that we are on the cusp of living in the future, and the future is going to be a world where everything is at our fingertips. We will have such instant access, we won't even need to leave o
ur houses.

We can go to school online, we can have products airlifted to us from Amazon or just print them out on a 3D printer. We can socialize virtually and pretty much do or find anything online. Then the idea hit me. What if we never left our homes because we didn't have to? Then it exploded into hundreds of details that would turn that idea into a story and by the time I walked to the bedroom to tell my husband, I knew I had to write it.

Next step, research spree. That's my secret to turn an idea into a story. I was unsure at first how to research the future and then I found TED Talks, which are these 15 minute videos of innovators talking about amazing things that may define our future. Visit or watch them on Netflix Instant.

I determined that I really didn't want to write a book that predicts the future, but write a book that reflects the possibilities of today. Everything in this novel is going to be based on things happening today. Oh, and it's a love story.

You guys know how I like to use pictures for inspiration, and I just happened across this image taken in 2011 during the Vancouver riots. The feeling you have when you look at that photo is what I want to create with my novel. Love a midst chaos. Beautiful.

I had to share it with you because it will be the image I return to time and time again as I continue work on this, just as I returned to the image of the Doyle-Mounce House over and over for A White Room. So to the left is a preliminary blurb, but keep in mind, things may change, even the title. 

A Love Story

Google Glass by wilbertbaan
2153, the world is dead, the air toxic, the sun searing, terrestrial life wiped out. Humanity has survived by retreating to encapsulated houses, all of society geographically dispersed but electronically connected. The only time humans leave the safety of their homes is to be placed with their soul mates, chosen for them by the United Continents genome algorithm.

Caraway Pearman met her soul-mate JayBird when she was five years old, and there is no doubt in her mind that he is her one and only. That is until they meet Geyser and Chrysalis a couple who were matched but who are clearly not soul mates. The algorithm is not perfect and there is no mechanism for re-selection. Caraway and Jay’s arguing suddenly becomes a terrifying possibility.

Caraway seeks the assistance of her mother, but in the middle of their conversation, there is screaming and shouting and then the connection is gone. Caraway and JayBird learn the Human Operated Robot Network or HORNET authorities have placed her parents on informational lock down, and shockingly taken her twin siblings and her 17-year-old brother Carob out of their home. It's a consequence so severe it’s unheard of and no one will tell her why.

Desperate to help her family, Caraway and JayBird decide to risk criminal charges and their lives to travel to her parent’s home and help them resolve what can only be a terrible misunderstanding. Their journey will not just determine who they are to one another. It will change everything . . .

The First Book I used to Research my Novel

This is the first book I used to research A White Room. I have a degree in history with  a specialty in women's history, but I had not studied any time enough to possibly write a novel about it.

You have to know facts about everyday life in order to write a historical novel, and once I realized that, I headed to my local library in Churchill County and skimmed the stacks for books on the time period. This one was the first and only title I found that day and it was the beginning of a six-month research spree.

This book in particular is very important because it's focus on home life fueled much of the home scenes in A White Room, like Emeline's chore routine, cooking, laundry, meal times, and the dinner party details.

A lot of people are curious about how much research I did for a historical novel. In addition to the sixth month spree in the beginning, I continued to research as I wrote and edited all the way up until the final copy editing when I double checked facts.

For me research is an extremely important part of my creative process. When I get an idea for a story that's all it is, an idea. I can't build on it from nothing. I have to research the subject, and as I research I get ideas for where the story is going to go. I had no idea that Emeline would become an underground nurse until I started reading about the history of it.

That would be my #1 advice to anyone who asks how to take an idea and turn it into a full fledged story: research. Even if you aren't writing historical fiction research is so important.

If you are following me on Facebook or Twitter, you've heard me talk about my new science fiction novel. After I got the idea, I immediately started researching advanced technology, evolution, and bizarre natural landscapes in addition to the The Quest plotline from which I plan to build my story.

Getting to Know Mr. John Dorr

Thursday, January 29, 2015

If you haven't read my novel A White Room yet, John Dorr is the man our heroine Emeline is pressured to marry. Her relationship with his is rocky and being that the novel is from her perspective, the reader only knows what Emeline does and she doesn't know much about John for the majority of the book. So here's a close look at this - at times - misunderstood character.
This is the actual photo I used as my inspiration for John Dorr. I oftentimes use photos of real people or places to figure out how to describe characters and settings. 
John's character was also inspired by the character Walter Fane in The Painted Veil and let’s not forget Mr. Darcy. He is cold and distant, and we don’t know what he is thinking until we discover that there was so much behind that sophisticated and distant facade.

I have to admit that many of my readers have expressed that they just don't get him, so that's why I thought we should sit down and get to know Mr. John Dorr.

I had many intentions with John's character. First, I wanted to play with a very intoxicating type of relationship, the kind that takes you on a roller coaster of vulnerability and ultimately revenge, at least in my personal experience. I'm referring to the situation of wanting someone who doesn’t want you back, and when you finally decide to stop pining after that person, he suddenly wants you. You have the power. What do you do with that power? Exactly what he did to you. ;-)

I have something of a fixation with this type of relationship because (uhumm, feel free to laugh) it’s what my now husband of 10 years and I had when we first met as teenagers. Yes our ignoring and revenge cycle turned into love, awwww. Honestly, the experience of it was very intense and kind of thrilling, and I don’t think I did it enough justice on this first go, so don't be surprised if you see it come up in some type of future work. 

Wait! Important side note. Even though the relationship between my characters was inspired by my own, John is not supposed to be my husband and Emeline is not supposed to be me. Okay, let's carry on.

Another big point with John was to reveal that things aren’t always what we assume, which was combined with my take on feminism. The majority of this book is very woman oriented and could almost be seen as biased against men. As a women’s history major, I know that is often how women’s history and feminism are perceived because it's difficult to focus on women without ignoring men. When you really look at both sides, however, men were going through their own sexist and historical struggles too. I intentionally wrote John as a mystery, but the reveal of his side at the end was really supposed to help people see who he was and what his previous actions actually meant. 

He shows up to console Emeline the day her father dies. He was there to see her, but shy about telling her directly. Instead he suggests his parents sent him to check on the family. At the funeral, he helps her get out of the party before she gets sick, and before that, he is trying to offer himself as a shoulder for her to cry on. If you go back through the book, you can see how all his actions were really misunderstood by Emeline.

He liked her, but then his father informs him that he will marry her to save the Evans family. Even though John had feelings for Emeline, he wasn't yet in love with her, and he was told to marry her. Naturally, he felt resistant emotionally and even though he liked her, he subconsciously rejected her to rebel against his father. His father  also insisted he go to Lebellum to work under a shark of a lawyer because John was acting like a guppy. He felt like a failure.

We are only seeing things from Emeline’s perspective and in many ways her perspective is very flawed. She doesn’t know what it’s like to be poor, or to be married, or to be a mother, or to have an unwanted pregnancy, or to be a man. She has her judgments and her grudges, but in the end all of those things are stripped away.  She realizes John was going through almost the exact same thing she was. He was struggling with an arranged marriage, a lack of purpose in his life, and an emotional rebellion that prevents him from becoming a husband or a lover. 

Some readers weren’t very happy that I had Emeline and John come together in the end. In fact one of my test readers and a dear friend used some pretty shocking language to describe her objection of this ending. =)

Some test readers thought I should have given Emeline a secret lover, but that just seemed too easy. Plus, my intention with this novel was to reveal what life was like for women and to some extent for men, during this time, and turning it into a romance would not create an accurate portrayal. Plus, it's just such a popular way to go, and as I continue to publish books, you might notice that I don’t like to do the popular thing, at least not in my novels.