Interview With UK Author Carole Anne Carr
1. What type of books do you write? I write historically accurate adventure novels for children, covering the ages 9 to 11 and 12+, and include a great deal of humour, despite the sometimes dark, scary subjects. Children tell me that so much happens on every page that they can’t put the books down, and when shall I be writing the next one in the series. The books are aimed at a niche market. First Wolf, a quest, set during the first Viking attack of Lindisfarne, sells well on the island and in Bamburgh Castle further down the coast where some of the adventures take place. Candle Dark, the first in the Ironbridge Gorge series, is set in a Victorian mine in a open-air museum that had been built as a Victorian town and is a World Heritage Site. It is extremely popular with teachers and their pupils when on environmental visits. Thin Time, my first fantasy, is different in that the children are of the 21st century but move through thin time into Norse mythology - with the help of a five hundred year old tomb dog who is a life sized carving in Tong Church. This book was in answer to the requests from girl readers who wanted a girl as the hero instead of a boy! I have written one picture book for beginning readers, Little Boy Good-for-Nothing and the Shongololo. It is an African folk tale I invented whilst living in that country. A little boy saves his grandmother and the village from drought by finding the rain-cloud that is guarded by fierce crocodiles. I read the story to young children in an English school and they drew most of the pictures and I copied the children’s style and drew the remainder.
2. What is your latest or upcoming book about? My book to be published in September is River Dark, the second in my Ironbridge Gorge Series. I am negotiating with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust for permission to use an 18th century painting on the cover –a background to my little people and the dog in my story.
3. What inspired you to write it? As an only child growing up during the bombing of London, and with the adults around me too busy to notice me, I read my way through a Victorian library belonging to my Grandmother and often scared myself half to death with the contents! Being lonely, I wrote stories and plays and press-ganged the local children to act in them. Teaching literature to children aged 5 to 11 led me to write school plays, and after early retirement I wrote short stories for magazines and some of my poetry was read on the B.B.C. I have a great love of history, and during my teaching years I took numerous children on environmental study trips. These visits with the children later became the inspiration for my novels. The 14th century church of Tong, which is filled with life sized tomb figures of knights in armour, I used on summer evenings with children from my class as an extension to my classroom. We studied the history, made up music, painted and made clay models, wrote stories, poetry and plays, made mathematical models of the church, and mapped the village. This was my favourite study place and for many years I was making up a children’s story, connected with these visits, which I hoped one day to write. This story became Thin Time.
4. What did you do before you became an author? I began work in the Standard Bank of South Africa, returned to England at the beginning of the Rhodesian wars, became Deputy Head of a Primary School, and because my husband retired early from teaching due to ill health I gave up teaching to be with him. Then began the search for a career that would fit in with our life style. I set up my own art and craft business, selling my work locally and into Europe. but the travelling became too much for my husband. I then became a professional actress, but this involved long hours of rehearsal and so I undertook a three year training course to be a minister in the Church of England. I had previously studied to be a Third Order Franciscan and this was a natural progression. Taking services around fourteen parishes, sick visiting, and becoming Assistant Chaplain at the Cottage Hospital was too time consuming, and I eventually found that writing my books from home suited myself and my husband. This enables me to write, undertake school visits as visiting author, act as speaker to various groups, complete book signings, occasionally teach literature in adult colleges of further education, and have a happy home life.
5. How does it feel to be a published author? Wonderful! I miss teaching children very much indeed, and writing brings me into contact with them in the classroom once more. A bitter sweet experience. It is wonderful to see children reading my books and to hear how much they enjoy my stories and ask me for more. Even though I work alone as an independent author, and cannot reach a wide audience, I am slowly meeting more and more people, young and old. I love the fact that adults tell me I kept them up all night, finishing one of my books. And of course, we all need to feel valued, to feel we are of worth, have achieved something, and the praise I receive from my writing is priceless.