As some of you know, I’m also a member of The Swanky Seventeens, which is for authors whose debuts are scheduled to come out next year.
So today, I’m pleased to be joined by TE Carter, a fellow Swanky Seventeen, whose debut, I Stop Somewhere, is now scheduled to come out Winter of 2018 from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan
Hi, TE and thanks for joining us today.
Thanks for having me!
J: Before we begin, can you tell us a little bit about I Stop Somewhere and the impetus behind writing it?
TE: Well, the short version is that it’s a story about what happens to girls and how we let these things happen to them. Given the news of the last year, that was a huge factor in writing it. Sexual assault is too common and the punishment, especially for “good kids,” just doesn’t seem to fit the crime in this case. I was angry when I wrote the book and I’m still angry about the way things happen. Ideally the book makes other people a little angry, too.
J: With two daughters, that’s an issue that’s very important to me also. I agree with you wholeheartedly, that more needs to be done.
J: I read that you’re a big Walking Dead fan, so…who do you think Neegan killed?
TE: This is a tough one, because while I am a Walking Dead fan, I kind of hate the show. And the finale last season is an example of why I hate the show. They have this fabulous source material that they don’t really seem to know what to do with when writing the show. The story arcs on the show veer in all kinds of odd directions. I don’t mind making changes, because that keeps readers engaged in the show, too, but a lot of the choices don’t make sense. Why is everyone always roaming around by themselves? Why are the characters so stupid on the show? They make terrible choices constantly, but we’re supposed to believe they can build and maintain a civilization in Alexandria? AND defend themselves against the Saviors? I don’t see it on the show. Also, I’m bitter because Andrea is my favorite and the show ruined her. As they’re starting to ruin Carl. My answer, I guess, is the show will kill whomever will affect their ratings the least. If Norman Reedus decides to pursue his acting career elsewhere, they’ll kill him to accommodate. If they get enough backlash, they’ll kill Glenn, since he was supposed to be killed. If they want to play it safe, they’ll kill Abraham, since he’s been dead for a while anyway, or another side character. I don’t think it’ll be anyone major unless they follow the comic and kill Glenn or unless Norman Reedus wants out of his contract.
J: I just have to say that if they kill Norman Reedus, I’m done!
J: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing journey getting to this point?
TE: This is also a complex answer. Technically, this book took about a month to write, around another month to revise, and four days to land an agent (and Mandy was my first response to my first query batch), then three weeks for the book deal. Which sounds great and easy. Of course, it’s also the 18th (I think, since I’ve lost count now) book I’ve finished writing. I completed my first novel in 2002, I believe it was. I’ve queried several other books that went nowhere. About a year or two ago, I gave up completely. I actually stopped writing for about six months or so, because I just couldn’t take more rejections. I sent around 200-250 queries on the last MS I queried. I even had a decent number of requests for partials and fulls, but it didn’t work out. I had started to feel like it would never happen. And even while Mandy was reading in those four days, I regretted querying this one, because I was getting rejections from other queries. Then it all turned around when she offered. I had multiple offers, most of the outstanding queries turn into requests, and everything happened fast this time around. From the first query letter send to offer, it took exactly a month. Via 15 years.
J: That’s incredible. I hear of so many frustrating journeys like yours. You just have to think that it all happened for a reason and you were meant to be with the agent you got now.
J: What’s your writing process like?
TE: I’m a terrible writer, I admit it! I have no system or process. Sometimes, I write for 10-12 hours a day. And then I’ll go three months without writing anything. I’ve been trying lately to stick to a schedule more, but I don’t feel like the story is coming out with the same energy or passion I like to have when I write. Still, that’s not always possible. I’m going to be doing a great deal more revising with this, though, because it’s not full of the same enthusiasm I’ve had for past books. For I Stop Somewhere, I wrote it all, then opened a new Word document and wrote the book again from the start without using any of the first draft. Then I revised using both versions (although it’s mostly the second draft since the best stuff is the stuff I automatically knew to keep).
J: What’s your favorite book and who’s your favorite author?
TE: This is so hard! My favorite books (because I can’t pick one) change frequently because I often just list the first five I love that I can think of when asked. Right now, I will say Catcher in the Rye, Lovely Bones, 13 Reasons Why, Before I Fall, and Jellicoe Road. I also love most of the classics. My favorite author is probably Gillian Flynn, because I’ve loved everything I’ve read of hers.
J: And your favorite movie?
TE: These questions are so hard!! My favorite movies that I can think to name right now are Midnight in Paris, Atonement, Equilibrium, Before Sunrise, and Pitch Perfect.
J: With two daughters in the house, I think I’ve seen Pitch Perfect far more than I should’ve or wanted to.
J: Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
TE: It’s not really surprising, but I love comics. However, I only read series from Image (except for Harrow County), so it may not be obvious. I’m not a big fan of superhero stories.
J: Don’t know many from Image, I’ll have to check them out. I’ve always been a Marvel fan.
J: Do you do a lot of research when you write?
TE: Not a ton, but I write contemporary. I research what I need to, of course, like legal procedures or locations. But I write stories set in fictional versions of places I know and about topics that affect me personally one way or another, so I come into writing with some experience in the subject matter. However, I believe research is important and I would research anything I wasn’t sure on before adding it.
J: Here at the Tuesdays, a big part of our success and the purpose of this site, has been being involved in a critique group. Are you involved in one and if so, how has it helped you?
TE: Kind of. I have new critique partners thanks to my agency contacts and the Swanky 17s and Natalie Parker’s agented authors groups. Before sending out I Stop Somewhere, I had a few people look at some scenes. But only my agent, editor, husband, and one friend had seen the complete MS until just recently, when another Swanky read it. When I queried, only my husband had seen it. I wouldn’t recommend this to someone just starting out, but in the past, I was in a very active writers’ group, but I think it sometimes made my writing worse because I had a hard time filtering out so many voices and perspectives. I also majored in writing, so I’ve been in plenty of workshops and critique groups during my life. I’m definitely in a different place now writing-wise and I’ve sent my current WIP to multiple people, as well as my agent, to gather feedback for moving forward. I recommend feedback and critiques, but I think it’s important to find the right people and to learn how to identify what you agree with and what is subjective.
J: I agree with you. Finding the right group is very important, as well as filtering out what suggestions to keep and what to stick with your instincts.
J: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received and is there any advice you can give to writers looking to break in?
TE: Probably to just get words on the page. There are going to be so many times you won’t like what you’re writing or someone else won’t like it. You’ll want to give up. You may even think you are giving up for good. I went through that myself. But in the end, all the other stuff doesn’t matter, because if there aren’t words on the page, you can’t move forward as a writer.
J: I think that’s very good advice.
J: What are you working on next?
TE: Right now, I’m fighting through a WIP that isn’t coming together as I would like, but it’s only the first draft stage. It’s another YA contemporary about the way we try to hide our pasts, but how they shape us. It’s also about relationships with people and judgment of others. I’m also playing with ideas in a few other genres, notably a mystery and a science fiction story.
J: Is there anything else you want to share with our readers or perhaps tell them how they can follow you on social media?
TE: All my links can be found at http://tecarter.com, and I am most active on Twitter (@tecarter7).
J: Before we go, I always like to ask, who’s your favorite member of The Tuesdays?
TE: Faran, obviously.
Um…okay, that’s a little awkward. Can whoever’s turn it is for editing, please change the answer to that or delete the question before we publish this?
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