Carrie was raised in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs. When her parents divorced and she was diagnosed with degenerative Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 14, the need to write developed in the days that she was kept from school. She attended the University of Colorado, majoring in English Literature. Her honors thesis “Addiction, Narcissism, and Psychopathology in Wuthering Heights,” examines Brontë’s motivations, pre-Freudian thought, current psychological practice, and asking if Wuthering Heights is the love story that the literary world has portrayed. She loves reading Shakespeare, Christopher Moore, Toni Morrison, Rilke, Wordsworth, Austen, and Romantic period literature. She is working on her second novel, Empire, and still resides in Colorado Springs with her husband and two young children.
Her blog – Dare I Eat a Peach
(From her website, http://www.carrienyman.com)
Who are your inspirations and idols? Who inspires you to write?
I have several favorite authors and musicians that are particularly inspiring to me like Toni Morrison, Austen, Neruda, Pat Conroy, Tennyson, Tom DeLonge, and Colin Meloy; however, I think I would most like to be like C.S. Lewis who wrote both remarkable fiction and nonfiction.
Surely the Rocky Mountains can be a beautiful, inspiring place. Do you find your location inspires or influences your writing?
My next book takes place in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, which is not only a beautiful backdrop, but the only home that I’ve ever really known. My entire life seems to have been spent on a 90 mile stretch of Colorado highway.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 10, I won the school’s poetry contest. I won another at 14, and a major one at 19. When I was 20, one of my poems was published in an anthology. I didn’t ever think that I could make a living at it (how many creative writing majors did I know in college who professed that they were the next Wordsworth? tons…). My plan was (and still is) to earn my doctorate in English Lit and teach at a university. So, I think I’ve always known that writing was my strong point and I loved doing it.
I’ve never delved too much into historical fiction. What aspects of it made you decide to write about it in Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me??
My novel is based on the stories that my grandmother told me when I was growing up. When I turned 25, Honey let me have the letters that my grandfather wrote to her before and during WWII, and so I was able to recreate the narrative from both perspectives. I was intimately connected with this story and had very vivid ideas of how things played out; it’s truly the history of the war that shaped their relationship and (by default) my family. The historical elements of this type of fiction seem to draw the reader in because it can establish a connection beyond character development and setting.
How different is it switching from historical fiction (Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me??), to YA fantasy (Empire)?
I think my voices for Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me?? had to be altered from what I initially anticipated because the diction and slang are so different. EMPIRE is set in the near future, and so the teenage speech is closer to my natural voice. The research element is still there; however, it’s just a different era.
You recently had your first book signing—Describe that experience.
It was ridiculously rewarding. All the hard work and creativity put into this crazy idea actually came back to me. I had a lot of people who doubted my abilities, and I probably would have been just as incredulous of a friend’s resolve had they told me that they were going to write a novel. I had entire families coming up to me, telling me how much my work meant to them, that they couldn’t put it down (my exact goal!) and that they just had to tell me. I can’t imagine a more pure sense of satisfaction than I felt at the signing.
Favorite movie and actor(ess)—Go.
“A River Runs Through It.” Daniel Craig.
What’s your favorite book and/or genre to read?
I am a Romantic/Victorian period student. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering Heights.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve received so far?
Don Maass’ The Fire in Fiction helped me to see that a villain is far more intimidating if he is right. This helped me to understand antagonists more and not simply hating them for the fact that I’m supposed to. Sympathize with the devil, make him righteous, and you can terrify your audience.
Thanks again for taking the time for this interview. Do you have any parting words for the readers?
Everyone gets bad feedback. You can’t please everyone, but if you remain true to your ideas and create a whole new world in your work, then everything will fall into place. You may even find yourself thanking them for driving you on in your darkest moments, pushing you to be better. Don’t write for others, but keep in mind that others will be reading it. Dedicate your work to those you love. Honor them through art.