Friday, February 3, 2012

Author Interview - Jeff Carlson

Today, we sit down with Jeff Carlson. Author of Shrike, a crime-fighting novel about rising above life's challenges, Jeff Carlson is an east coast hockey fan with a lifelong passion for storytelling.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.  

I’m 52 years old (but don’t act it) and live in North Carolina's Triad. When I'm not thinking about writing, I like ice hockey and traveling. I've tried stand-up comedy too. A cat owns me; in fact, she has helped me pen three picture books featuring her and her friends and the compilation thereof has just been published.

Q: How long have you been writing?

I’ve been creating different worlds via words since my grade-school days. 

Q: What is Shrike about?

Set in present-day Raleigh, North Carolina, Shrike is the story of one young woman's overcoming tremendous physical, emotional and logistical adversity to defeat evil incarnate. When Taryn Spire and her best friend learn that some banking executives plan a cyber-crime to embezzle funds from the North Carolina State Fair, the adventure begins. A botched attempt by the perpetrators to silence them permanently leads to a dramatic transformation for Taryn - watching a television program featuring a video clip of a shrike with its prey destines her to become a crime fighter. With the help and the love of an unlikely ally (a motorcycle salesman), Taryn, as her alter ego, dispenses a unique type of justice.

Q: How did you come up with the plot?

For over three decades, I had in me the idea for a story about someone who is one person by day and another by night.  With the encouragement of the young lady to whom I dedicated the book, I came up with Shrike. 

Q: Tell us about Taryn Spire. 

Taryn is a twenty-something career-minded woman who has lived in the shadows of her parents and what is expected of her all her life.  To an extent, she lives in the shadow of her best friend Miranda, although she is less resentful of that.  Only when she is presented with life-changing challenges does she reach her full potential. 

Q:  Did you have any specific goals when writing Shrike?  Any themes or ideas or concepts that you wanted to get across to the audience?

I HAD to tell the story.  It had burned in me too long; I had to share the vision with the world.  If there is a theme of Shrike, it would be that we can all rise above. 

Q: What do you feel are the most important aspects of a great book?

To me (and I know I may sound arrogant here), a great book should not reassure me that I can write better than the way in which it was written.  In addition (and I know that many Masters of Fine Arts will disagree), it has to be free of nagging spelling, usage and grammatical errors.  If you have been chosen to be published, you should be a shining example of how English should be written so that the language does not degrade anymore than it has. 

Q: Describe your ideal protagonist.  What traits do he or she embody?  

You should want to be them.  You should want to be the “good guy,” the hero/heroine, the champion of the day (or eternity).  It helps if she/he is an “regular” person, someone you might know or be.

Q: Can you tell me about the first thing you ever wrote?  Was it a short story?  Book?  Magazine article?

The first thing was a children’s story in the same vein as the Uncle Wiggly stories of ages past.  Reading those as a child compelled me to come up with an adventure just like those of that wise old rabbit.  Sadly, I have no idea where that first book is. 

Q: As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like facebook and twitter.  Do you have any social network links you'd like to share?

Find me on Facebook at  Follow me on Twitter at @SwedeSeason

Q: What do you think of the changes taking place in the publishing industry?  With authors gaining more control over the creation and distribution of their work, what do you think readers stand to gain/lose?

I think the advent of e-books and e-publishing is a godsend.  Readers can get to books that otherwise may be buried by literary agents so desperately wanting to find the next teen vampire saga.  Meeeeeowwwwww.

Q: Were there any other authors in particular that inspired you to pen your own novel?

Howard Garis, the author of the Uncle Wiggly stories, started me on my path. 

Q: And just for fun, favorite movie or television series?

In Movies – anything with The Marx Brothers.  I’ll watch the CSI’s and Law & Order:  SVU.  Of course, NHL hockey when it’s on.

Thanks so much for stopping by to share your work!  It's been a pleasure.

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