Carolyn Haley – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

The Mobius Striptease, an e-novel. Different sites are calling it paranormal; dark fantasy; New Age; romantic suspense. In truth, it’s all of them, but the main story is a metaphysical mystery wrapped around star-crossed love affairs where everyone has great sex (sorry, most is offstage — the book is not erotica, though the cover suggests otherwise!).

Tell us something about yourself.

I hail from suburban Connecticut and lived a middle-class life in a family half Celtic artists, half Teutonic businesspeople.

I began drawing and writing stories as soon as I could read and write. Initially, I aspired to be a commercial illustrator, but a year of art school killed that desire. Then adulthood — working full time in offices, living in small apartments with other people — took away the time and privacy I needed to create. I switched to writing because it was more portable, concealable, and dovetailed into my occupation (word processing/typesetting/copyediting). In moving around to find just the right job and place to live, I passed quickly through Connecticut and New York State metro areas and ended up in rural Vermont, self-employed as a copy editor and writer.

What inspired you to write this book?

Fascination with with the paranormal and an inability to believe in it. Two questions kept rolling around in my head: Do the phenomena really exist? and, What would I do if something supernatural actually happened to me?

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?

I wrote more than 20 iterations of the book and submitted each to conventional publishers and agents, dreaming of hardcover success. Eight billion rejections coupled with intense study of the marketplace showed me that I do not have a work of mass appeal that slots easily into a standard genre — also that I was writing the wrong story.

It didn’t come together until I switched the plot driver from the romantic conflicts to the metaphysical mystery. By then, the e-book market had emerged and was flinging open its doors while the print market was closing them. I realized that my audience is a small percentage of each genre rather than a concentration in any one, and e-books would expose the book to that eclectic audience.

I then combed through Piers Anthony’s listing of e-publishers and cross-referenced it to Predators & Editors and similar “warning” sites, to create a short list of well-regarded e-book producers. Top of my list was Club Lighthouse Publishing in Toronto, because of its genre mix; the art style and tastes of the publisher/editor; her openness to my subject; and the fact she takes electronic rights only. So I submitted to her first, and she snapped up the book.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I didn’t know until quite late in life; indeed, I consider myself a writer as part of being an overall word nerd. I came to it from two directions at the same time — copyediting, and writing my novel. Eventually I secured a job at a business newspaper, first in page production, then as one of their freelance contributors. With a bunch of interviews and articles under my belt, I started reaching out to magazines, then did a book-for-hire in a series. I’ve always kept diaries and journals, so it was a short step to articles and blogs and books. Writing comes more easily to me than anything else except, perhaps, reading.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

I don’t find writing itself to be hard. I do it constantly in some form or other. When it comes to writing with a purpose and/or earning a paycheck, however, the hard part is just plain doing it and following through. And not giving up when you have a dream.

How do you do research for your books?

These days, the Internet, then following leads to books; plus interviewing people where appropriate. Pre-Internet, it was all about libraries. Back in the early ’90s, when researching scenes in my e-novel that took place in on an island I would never visit, I got deep into college libraries and interlibrary loans and writing letters to strangers in order to learn the basics and obtain photographs (which are now available at my fingertips online).

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I learned how to craft a novel. The original story was a mishmash of fantasies scribbled in notebooks and sketchpads; I had to reverse-engineer it to render a commercial-quality book. The process took 28 years!

What are you reading now?

The latest installment in Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries: U is for Undertow.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I am a huge fan of series mysteries and romantic suspense. My favorite authors are too numerous to list, though I’d have to put Dick Francis at top of the list. Initially, because he wrote suspense novels based around horses; later, because I find his writing style to be almost Impressionistic, capturing just the details you truly need to set a scene and convey a character, while moving the story along with action and dialogue that I’ve always found realistic and compelling. As well, his heroes are all of an archetype I find attractive — and wish I could find in real life!

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’m not a prodigious storyteller who writes every day and will pound out a dozen-plus books in my life. So when I say I’m working on another book, nobody looking at me would think so. A new one has come alive in my head but is still in the what-if stage; I spend all my free mental time exercising scenarios and seeking ways to tie disparate ideas together, and won’t sit down and start typing until I’ve got the beginning, end, and main events nailed down. Because my first novel was written backwards and took half my life to get right, I’ve sworn to not waste so much time on the next one. Conversely, my nonfiction book (Open Your Heart with Gardens) sprang into my head intact and took a mere six months to compose.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Finish the book! Then get help revising it, and do your homework before launching it into the marketplace.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I’m spending a lot of time seeking out review sites and contests; e-mailing everyone I know; posting on Facebook, blogs, and forums. I’m also figuring out how to put together a website, which I also need to do for my editing business. It’s hard to sign or hand-sell a book when you don’t have anything to hold in your hand, so I’m investigating getting a POD version together for interested folks who don’t read electronic books. And taking advantage of opportunities like this one to do interviews and toot my horn!

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Visit the publisher’s website ( for a peek at the cover, a synopsis, and first-chapter teaser. It’s also available on Amazon through the Kindle program, and over time will build up reader reviews that will surely provide opinions about it. A Google search on the title will turn it up on other vendors’ sites, such as MobiPocket, which includes the same synopsis and excerpt.