My Sister's Voice by Mary Carter l Q&A + Blog Tour + Giveaway

MARY CARTER is a freelance writer and novelist. My Sister’s Voice is her fourth novel with Kensington. Her other works include: She’ll Take It, Accidentally Engaged, Sunnyside Blues, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which is part of the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has just completed A Very Maui Christmas, a new novella for Kensington that will be included in a Christmas of 2010 anthology. She is currently working on a new novel, The Pub Across the Pond, about an American woman who swears off all Irish men only to learn she’s won a pub in Ireland. Readers are welcome to visit her at marycarterbooks.com.

Mary is here with us today to answer your questions and will be giving away a copy of her book, My Sister's Voice! Leave a comment or question in the comment section (making sure to leave your email address or you won't be eligible) to win. Or, simply write "I love My Sister's Voice!" You have until April 26 to enter and the winner will be announced on April 26. Good luck!

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Mary. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I am a novelist and freelance sign language interpreter living in Queens, New York. I’m originally from Ohio, but I’ve lived a lot of places, and currently this is my third stint back in New York City. I was a Manhattan girl up until a few years ago, but I have to say I like Queens too. I can still see Manhattan from my window, and she’s only a twelve-minute subway ride away, so it’s all good. My first novel was published in 2006, but I have been writing all my life—short stories, plays, poetry, essays, letters, diary entries—it all counts. My first story was called The Boy and the Mouse. I was four-years-old. Truthfully, the writing was kind of childish.


Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

My Sister’s Voice is about twin girls, one Deaf, the other hearing, who meet accidentally when they are twenty-eight-years-old. When the Deaf twin, Lacey, learns her sister Monica was raised by their biological parents, while she was left at a group home for disabled children, she sets out to answer the very painful and bewildering question of “Why?” Monica wants a sister, but Lacey wants nothing but answers.

I wrote this book after my editor said he’d like to see a book about sisters. He’d also been very interested in my life as a sign language interpreter, and encouraged me to write about that some day as well. It seemed like the perfect time to put the two together. And I’d always been fascinated with stories of twins being raised apart yet having eerie similarities and even parallel lives. It was the perfect way to combine all of my interests.

What kind of research was involved in writing?

Although I do not speak for the Deaf Community in my book, and it is a work of fiction, I have been in the field as an interpreter for the past twelve years, so I was completely comfortable writing a Deaf character. I researched the city of Philadelphia, and ate a lot of cheese steaks to get the descriptions just right. I also researched twins who had been raised separately and reunited as adults. It was all fun, but I’ll miss the cheese steaks most of all.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Getting my first book published was easier for me than it has been for many others. I was definitely lucky. But I also did my homework and didn’t submit the book until I felt it was ready. I don’t think I would have had the same reaction to the book if I had turned it in too early. So that helped smooth the waters. Living the life of a writer has been challenging, although well worth it. It’s challenging because I still have a day job. And sometimes, I’m writing one book, while editing, then publicizing the previous book. It’s definitely a lot of work, and you have to accept that as part of the lifestyle.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

I had about a year to write it, then the editing process began, followed by the cover art, the galley copies to be sent to reviewers, and finally the release date. All said and done, it’s about a year and a half before the book hits the shelves.
Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

My current agent is Evan Marshall with the Evan Marshall Agency. Before that I was with Jim McCarthy at Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency. I think they are both excellent agents.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Definitely. I am currently contracted for two more books with Kensington. The one I am working on now is currently titled, The Pub Across the Pond, and it will be released in 2011.
Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

I love to write in coffee shops. I like coffee. I like being surrounded by people. I have no problem shutting out ambient noise, in fact I find it comforting. When I need a little break, I eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. I consider it a job requirement, rather than a social faux pas. Sometimes, however, I get lazy and just write on my couch in my pajamas.


If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A bookstore. Okay, seriously. Money always helps, but I think books still sell the old-fashioned way. Word of mouth. Readers are lovers. If they love your book, they’ll tell a friend, and that friend will tell a friend. It’s innate, it’s human nature, it’s pre-Twittering. Sky-writing is transient, and Oprah can’t be bought. If you think of anything though, let me know. The Naked Cowboy does all right for himself, but I’ve never been comfortable standing in Times Square in my underwear.


How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

I think it’s necessary. So many new books come out every year, and then just disappear! It’s like we need to start putting their covers on milk cartons. But self-promotion is not a magic bullet, or even a guarantee that your books will sell. Do you Twitter? Do you blog? Do you Facebook? Do you Twitter about your blog on Facebook? I’m dizzy just thinking about it. The bottom line is—first you have to write a really good book. That said, I’ve tried book trailers, and blogs, and give-aways, and postcard mailings, and Facebook messages, and emails, and internet radio, and publicists, and chocolate. (The chocolate was for me by the way, just to make myself feel better). I’ll confess, I’ve never Twittered, but I do Google myself once in awhile. I try and throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks. But I won’t lie, it’s a full-time job, and not my favorite part of the process.
What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

I think they give up because it’s really, really, hard. Because self doubt can swoop down and scoop you up faster than Superman. Because they convince themselves that published writers have something they don’t. And because they let rejection dictate their life. I think anyone who truly wants to become published has a pretty good shot of it if they keep writing, keep learning, keep submitting. It’s a matter of doing the work and hanging in there no matter what. I feel blessed that my work was picked up so quickly. I suffered through rejection as an actress, and quite frankly, after a number of years I did give up on that dream. So I can’t honestly sit here and say I would’ve continued writing novels if I had been rejected year after year. I don’t know. I’m just glad that’s not the way it worked out.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Write every day, or close to it. Read books in your genre. Be open to feedback. Read books on writing, or join a writer’s group, or take a class. Just keep going, keep learning. Put your ego aside and welcome feedback. Write something that fascinates you, or makes you furious, or makes you fall in love. If you’re bored, your reader will be bored too. Don’t write as if your mother is going to read it. Write as if you’re telling all your secrets to your best friend. Learn to love re-writing. Take a lesson from visual artists, sometimes they will take the same photograph or sketch the same subject a hundred times, scrap the ones that don’t work, and build on the one that does. Why should writers be any different? Sketch your first draft as quick as you can, be wild and free. Reign yourself in on the second draft. Don’t be afraid to cut, cut, cut. And then write some more. It’s a craft, it can be learned.

Thank you for your interview, Mary. I wish you much success!

Thank you for the interview. Readers are welcome to visit me at marycarterbooks.com.


Mary Carter is on virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book throughout April and May 2010. If you'd like to see her official tour page to find out where she'll be touring next, click here!
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