Today I have something very special for you: a mother daughter novel writing team who have dazzled me for years. Maybe it’s just because I couldn’t imagine working that closely with anyone in my family–no offense guys–but I was impressed by them when I interviewed them two years ago and I’m even more impressed now.
Please give HL Carpenter a warm welcome and enjoy the wisdom this dynamic duo has to offer.
Can you tell us a bit about your books?
Hi, Dianna! We’re happy to be here, and thank you for inviting us!
Our books span genres, and can be hard to pin down. Yet they all have signature similarities: a strong, practical, intelligent female protagonist, a steadfast friend or two with a sense of humor, and a supportive if exasperating family or family substitute. They’re all “clean” too. You won’t find explicit sex, violence, or language in our stories. We strive to create a world where readers of any age are welcome.
You’ve written several books as a mother/daughter team. How has this partnership changed over the years?
Once upon a time… Helen wrote on her own for several years and had her work published in various magazines. She enjoyed her success, but felt something was missing. When Lorri got interested in writing, HL Carpenter was born. We started off with romance novels, but we really stunk at them—in fact, we had a story about our experience published in Chicken Soup for the Writer called “Going Where You Look.” When we realized writing romance was not our strong suit, we switched to mysteries and from there progressed into other genres.
How much preparation do you do before starting a new book?
If you were to watch us at the idea stage of the writing arc, you’d get the impression absolutely no preparation was going on. But we’re quite busy collecting disparate bits and pieces that feel connected by a common thread, and imagining what would happen if…
After the idea has melded with all those bits and pieces into a tangible, workable story, we set up a character sheet and create a summary. At that point we start putting words on the page.
What’s your take on writer’s block? Does it exist, and if it does, how can you cure it?
We’re in the no-such-thing camp. Writer’s block seems like a convenient description for a host of excuses, all of which come back to “I don’t feel like writing.”
You’ve written both short stories and novels. What advice would you give to a short story
writer about to start their first novel?
First, create a well-developed character. Second, be prepared to get discouraged in the middle. It’s going to sag no matter what you do.
Would either of you consider writing collaborative novels with anyone else? Why/why not?
No. For one thing, we’ve had a lifetime to develop a rhythm. We know the other person isn’t going to bail, no matter how difficult the story gets—and no matter how difficult the co-writer gets
How does the editing process look different when working with two authors?
All our books have been published as co-authors, so we’re not sure what would be different. We suspect not much, because of the way we write. That is, by the time we’ve submitted a manuscript, the story has only one voice—that of HL Carpenter, who is a whole different persona than either H or L Carpenter.
Who’s your favourite modern author and why?
We like Dean Koontz, for several reasons. First, he loves dogs. Then there’s his humor, both on the page and off. And, of course, the talent…we aspire to that level of talent.
If you could give an aspiring writer only one piece of advice, what would it be?
If you have a story to tell, tell it. Then put it in a drawer and go study authors whose books you love. Ask yourself what draws you to those stories. Write or type out passages that resonate with you. After a couple of months of immersing yourself in your favorite books, take your manuscript out of storage and read it with fresh eyes. Revise it based on what you’ve learned. Repeat the process at least once more.
And all the while, believe in the wisdom of Dr. Seuss. Oh, the places you’ll go.
What are you working on now that readers can look forward to?
Our latest young adult novel was released in May. Walled In is the story of Vandy Spencer, who discovers her entire life has been built on a heart-shattering deception when her father is accused of fraud. Walled In is available on the website of our publisher, Musa Publishing and on Amazon.
Our latest speculative fiction/sci-fi novella was released in June. Taxing Pecksniffery is the story of Ichann Count, an expert at accounting warfare. She spends her days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau and crushing on her really cute co-worker. When the Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 geysers to the surface, Ike finds herself—and her really cute co-worker—drowning in trouble. Taxing Pecksniffery is available at the Musa Publishing website and on Amazon.
Right now, we’re in the middle of writing the first draft of a themed collection of short stories. We have another young adult novel in the rough-draft stage, one more cooling off and waiting for revision, and a middle grade novel that’s in the final stage of revision.
We also have a couple of completed cozies for adult readers that we’re thinking of publishing as a series, along with some novellas featuring the same character.
To find out about what’s going on in Carpenter Country, visit HLCarpenter.com. We release excerpts of our work and weekly installments of our NewAdult novella, Jack and the Fountain of Youth, on our website.
HL Carpenter is a mother/daughter writing team. Their latest young adult novel is Walled In, the story of Vandy Spencer, who discovers her entire life has been built on a heart-shattering deception when her father is accused of fraud. Learn more about HL Carpenter on their website.