Interview with Carol Mason
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Sometimes I’ll read an article that will trigger a concept for a book – as is the case with the book I am now working on. Other times it’s just something someone says, or I overhear, and I build on it, and ask myself “what if….”
Q: On your website, you talk a lot about your early failed attempts at writing. What kept you pushing through to achieve your goal of publishing a novel?
I think it was the realization that many ordinary people – people just like myself who have no connections in the publishing world, haven’t worked on glossy magazines etc – can make it as novelists. So I thought if they can, I can! But admittedly, when my bottom drawer started filling up with unpublished manuscripts (3 of them, if you don’t count the 2 I wrote 10 years earlier!), it became a matter of sheer determination – I had come this far, I had made some progress with each book I had written, so I had to push through a little harder to make it happen.
Q: What is your favorite part about writing?
My favorite part is when I have a manuscript drafted from start to finish, and it’s all essentially there but it needs more layers. And then I add them, and then I read the final thing, and think, Gosh it feels like a real book now! And I really love it! Another great moment for me is when something I have written moves me to either laugh or well up with tears. It’s an odd feeling having your own work do that to you, but is a sure sign for me that something I have done is really working!
Q: If you weren’t a writer, what do you think you would be doing for a profession?
I would have liked to be in the movie business. A director would be my ideal job, if I wasn’t a novelist. But then again, it’s another tough choice — one of those dream jobs that don’t seem to happen to ordinary people. But I like to aim high and go for the almost-impossible, so I’d have probably tried to work my way up into that.
Q: You have two books out right now, The Secrets of Married Women and Send me a Lover. Are you currently working on a third novel?
My third novel, The Love Market, hits stores in February, around Valentine’s Day actually, which is totally appropriate. It’s about a divorce that maybe should not have happened, and the return of a first love, to complicate matters. On another level, it’s about the dating/matchmaking world, and how a woman can be successful in helping others find love but be incapable of getting it right in her own life! The Love Market is actually a real place in Vietnam – a market square where young lovers used to go to find each other and old flames would come to reunite. The concept of it intrigued me and I thought it would be a good kick-off point for a novel.
Q: What are your favorite authors/books?
I like Rosie Thomas – especially her earlier books, Anita Shreve, Louise Candlish, Jonathan Tropper, Tony Parsons — anyone who explores characters really well, and can move me to tears or laughter. I’m not massively excited by plot driven books, and would rather have a slower-moving read that took me 100% into the heart and mind of the characters.
Q: What is the worst job you have ever held?
Oh, I’ve had loads! Trying to sell boxes for the Toronto Skydome wasn’t the best. I don’t think I sold any. Waitressing in a restaurant that was such a safety hazard that it should have been condemned — it’s a wonder I got out of there alive. Hotel receptionist working until midnight then having to be back on the desk at 7am – somehow getting home which was half way across London, showering then sleeping in between all that. Working in a small advertising agency for an extremely temperamental boss.
Q: Do you have a favorite TV show that you just can’t miss?
I am not massively into television, but I am quite addicted to Brothers and Sisters.
Q: What is or do you think would be your favorite place to travel?
Last April my husband and I went to Buenos Aires and I fell in love with it. I adore vibrant cities that never sleep, and BA was that! And more. Plus the food was fantastic – especially if you like beef. And the wine was wonderful and so cheap! I think the Greek Islands are spectacular and last year I spent a month on Paros trying to finish my novel. I had the time of my life! I’d love to go to Brazil, and, indeed, see a lot more of South America. But, hey, send me anywhere and I’ll get excited. Traveling is the best!
Q: Your website has great information and advice on how to get published. What do you think is the most important piece of advice you can give aspiring writers?
Don’t just focus on being a good writer. You have to understand how the publishing business works. You have to be a business person in a way — because publishers expect writers to be highly knowledgeable about the industry they are trying to get into. So research it like mad — find out what agents and publishers want to see, be professional, be realistic about your dreams. That doesn’t mean you can’t have them, it just means you can’t just have your head stuck in the clouds and expect to succeed! I am happy to answer any questions I can – so long as it’s not basic stuff you can find on the Internet – but if you have something that you’re having a hard time getting an answer to, email me through my website and I’ll do my best to tell you what I know.