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Author Spotlight! An Interview with Author - Carol Armbrust

Carol Armbrust, author of The Disinterment

Click on the picture to buy The Disinterment today!

I would like to introduce my colleague, editor and friend, Carol Armbrust.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Long Winter when Pa forced his friend to give him some seed grain because he was trying to feed his starving family—this powerful scene brought tears.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I feel energized by an idea and then exhausted once I have been writing for a few hours. When I wrote my novel, I had to take a nap every 3 to 4 hours.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

When I get an idea, I don’t think about my readers. I must put the idea into words as soon as I can. As long as I am being true to my own experience, I am being original. Once, while I was taking an undergrad creative writing course, I wrote a short story called, “A Page from Tommy Belcher’s Diary.” I based this bit of writing on a conversation I overheard while I was in high school between two boys who hated two girls who were thought of “outcasts” by the popular kids. My professor thought that my ending was incomplete. I agree. I didn’t know how to end the story because I had not had an authentic experience to draw from.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I am much more willing to spend time on writing and feel more guilt when I am not writing. For right now, I am cleaning up some poetry and short stories for publication. My process for writing The Disinterment involved doing an outline so that I could give it continuity and keep the names of my characters straight. I will still use that process for the novel I am working on now.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?

Keep a diary or at least keep track of your life experiences in a journal!

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

My sister, June, called me a “little rag on the floor” when I was about 7 years old—devastating!

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Although it is based on history, so it is virtually non-fiction, The Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif reads like a novel because he is a wonderful story teller.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

I think of writing as a compulsory exercise—the only way to get my story recorded. However, once I have written a piece, I feel like I have experienced a release, a kind of meditative purge of thought, an hour of discussion with freedom to say whatever I need to say even though I have changed my wording several times.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Example: in The Disinterment, there is a female lawyer who is quite sensible and intelligent. I named her Ms. Seinadalt which I pronounce “sane adult” and the opposing lawyer is called Mr. Dyer --pronounced “dire” as in dire (dreadful) circumstances. It was fun playing with their names. Otherwise, I try to make sure the names fit the characters. All the children in The Disinterment have names that would be names that parents were naming their children during the time period and fit my vision of how each one looks.

What period of your life do you find you write about most often (child, teenager, young adult)?

For The Disinterment, I drew from all three time-periods. For the novel I am writing now, I am drawing from my childhood and young adulthood.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

I will just say that my sisters and brothers will recognize some of the characters’ experiences as theirs and characteristics in themselves, regardless of the storyline being completely fictional.

What was your hardest scene in The Disinterment to write?

The scene where the father has his first stroke in the bathroom was difficult because this incident actually happened to my own dad and I wanted to be sensitive about it. However, I could not leave it out.

Where can we find The Disinterment for purchase?

I have a box of copies at home that I will be taking with me to sell at an upcoming book signing. However, The Disinterment is exclusively available to order as a paperback and in electronic form