Interview with Carole Waterhouse, author of 'The Tapestry Baby'

A creative writing professor at California University of Pennsylvania, Carole Waterhouse is the author of two novels, The Tapestry Baby and Without Wings, and a collection of short stories, The Paradise Ranch.

Her fiction has appeared in Arnazella, Artful Dodge, Baybury Review, Ceilidh, Eureka Literary Magazine, Forum, Half Tones to Jubilee, Massachusetts Review, Minnetonka Review, Oracle: The Brewton-Parker College Review, Parting Gifts, Pointed Circle, Potpourri, Seems, Spout, The Armchair Aesthete, The Griffin, The Styles, Tucumari Literary Review, Turnrow, and X-Connect.

A previous newspaper reporter, she has published essays in an anthology, Horse Crazy: Women and the Horses They Love, and Equus Spirit Magazine. Her book reviews have appeared in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Pittsburgh Press, and The New York Times Book Review.

Her latest novel is The Tapestry Baby, a novel depicting a mother who believes her child is born to fulfill some special destiny and discovers her life is intertwined with six other people, raising the question of whether any of us really control our own decisions, and through the process learns that greatness can be defined in the simplest of gestures.

You can visit Carole’s website at www.Carolewaterhouse.com.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Carole. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The Tapestry Baby?

I’ve written my entire life, starting with stories about my pets as a child. I always loved books and wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I started publishing work in literary magazines when I was in graduate school and wrote for newspapers. The Tapestry Baby was largely a result of the high I felt after getting my fist novel, Without Wings, published. It may be my most spontaneous piece of work. Every detail I saw, every person I met and every conversation I heard seemed to work its way into this book. I completely immersed myself into this world I had created for a year while I wrote it and didn’t fully come back to my real life until it was complete.

I love your title. Can you tell us why you chose it?

The main character, Karin, becomes pregnant after a one-night stand with a mysterious tattooed man. All during her pregnancy she imagines her baby will be born with skin that is a mixture of colors. I used the word “tapestry” to describe the effect, because I wanted the image to be beautiful, something full of wonder and potential. The different colors suggest Karin’s hopes and dreams for her baby, the way every prospective parent imagines the unique life in store for their child, their hope that they achieve greatness in whatever way that ends up being defined.

Why did you believe your book should be published?

I think I succeeded in writing something that is entertaining and unique in structure, yet still accessible. I used to be a big figure-skating fan and always remember Dick Button saying that a great figure skater was one who in some way moved the sport forward, made a contribution that was unique and redefined what skating could be. That’s a pretty lofty goal and I’m not going to suggest that my novel even begins to do anything like that for literature. It is playful, though, and takes some risks, and wants to be a little different from what is already out there.

We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

I’m with a small press and realized from the start that I’d need to be heavily involved in promoting my work. Zumaya has been very good about sending out review copies, locating websites and blogs where work can be promoted and offering advice to authors. Because of my work at the university and my own past experience with newspapers, my books always receive a lot of local press coverage, and I am working with a publicist who has been organizing a virtual book tour. I’ve also relied extensively on all kinds of social media to connect with readers.

What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Rather than a book, the best comparison that comes to mind is a German film from the late 1980’s called Run, Lola Run. It shows the same sequence of events occurring over and over again in altered forms, focusing on how a slight difference here or there in our encounters with people can have a major impact on their outcome. This is the same general theme The Tapestry Baby addresses, how we end up affecting each other’s lives in ways we can never fully comprehend. Two random people sitting on a bus can have a conversation about an attractive building they pass that ends up influencing someone else to become an architect, or someone spilling a milkshake on a sidewalk can cause someone else to slip, then meet the love of their life in the emergency room. Both works approach this idea with a similar sense of humor. The Tapestry Baby is a little more complex because of the number of characters and the less obvious way their stories are intertwined. I like to compare the structure to the child’s game of gossip where a line is passed from person to person to the point where it becomes unrecognizable, only in this case, it’s a whole sequence of events.

Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Reggie is having his fortune told by Clarissa, but Lydia’s ghost is there in the room with them and keeps interrupting. Lydia is a younger version of Mrs. Brown, and while Reggie knows she isn’t really dead, he is still haunted by her in ghost form because of the way he inadvertently hurt her in the past.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I’m already working on my next novel, which is about a contemporary woman named Sylvia who becomes fascinated with the Empress Elisabeth of Austria and begins to see parallels between their lives. Sissi, as Elisabeth was called, appears before Sylvia and helps her to reassess her life. They take off on a journey together through Europe exploring Elisabeth’s past in hope of finding a solution to questions Sylvia is dealing with in her present.

Thank you for your interview, Carole. Do you have any final words?

I just want to thank you for taking the time to interview me. More information about me and my book is available at my website, http://www.carolewaterhouse.com and my book blog http://thetapestrybaby.wordpress.com

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