Welcome to the four hundred and seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with fantasy short story author and spotlightee Mollie Carson-Vollath. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Mollie. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Morgen: Definitely harder and more focussing. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Mollie: Most of what I write is fantasy short stories. Most of what I read is fantasy or scifi, though I read everything. When I need to write something, I write it, and if I’m very lucky it has a plot. After that, I figure out what genre it is.
Morgen: Me too. With my daily shorts I have a prompt but often no title until after I’ve written it. What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Mollie: Terrence O’Ferret is my first published book. Apart from that, I’ve had assorted short stories, comics, and illustrations published all my life. Never a pseudonym, but my name’s been creatively misspelled an awful lot.
Morgen: I get MorgAn ALL the time. The Bailey bit is easy. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Mollie: I don’t have an agent yet because I want to see how far I can go on my own. I think a good agent would be an irreplaceable asset, and I’d like to see how that works. But for now, I am still seeing what it’s like without one.
Morgen: Agents have worked well for some authors, some haven’t so you’re probably wise seeing how things go. One may find you. 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Mollie: My books are available as eBooks, I am available by email. Terrence O’Ferret was illustrated with photos and an antique copy of Photoshop Elements, so in a way it was an eBook from the start. Also I wrote it on my even-more-antique Treo. I think eBooks are great, though I still chuckle and shake my head at the thought of books that need batteries.
Morgen: 🙂 I love technology so I’ve embraced them although it took me a while to get a Kindle but I love it now (just need the time to read). How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Mollie: I thought writing a book was the hard part, until I had to start marketing it. I still have a lot to learn!
Morgen: We all do. Things are changing all the time. Did you have any say in the title / covers of your book(s)? How important do you think they are?
Mollie: I had total control over everything except for the spine, where unfortunately I was not allowed to print anything. Covers are crucial – they’re the first thing you see!
Morgen: They are. I’m a big titles fan, which is why I love playing about with the ones I write, and try to go for something a bit different… intrigue the reader so they HAVE to read my story. 🙂 What are you working on at the moment / next?
Mollie: At the moment I’m mainly trying to get the word out about Terrence O’Ferret. The next book will be about my next two ferrets, Cucumber & Morocco.
Morgen: What wonderful names. 🙂 There must be a history there. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Mollie: When I was working on Terrence O’Ferret, I made myself do 4 hours or 2 pages every day. I get writer’s block all the time. In general I play Rock Band until I calm down, and then either read good books or write bad words until I get past it. Promising myself ice cream helps too.
Morgen: Writing bad words is no bad thing… I often say you can’t edit a blank page so a lousy one is often fixable. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Mollie: Characters and their names usually just pop into my head as if they are people I am suddenly remembering. If they’re believable, it’s because I always believe them.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Mollie: My writing is messy, but my editing is worse.
Morgen: <laughs> Do you have to do much research?
Mollie: No. That’s the good thing about fantasy – any corroboration is purely icing.
Morgen: I love that. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Mollie: I don’t know. I’m trying to think which way I write more often. Third maybe. As for second person, I’ve never read a choose-your-own-way book that was any good, but I keep trying. 🙂
Morgen: I used to love Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone books… I do wonder whether that’s why I love writing second person. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Mollie: Hell yes!
Morgen: Me too, although I’m hoping when I go back to my old stuff it won’t actually be that bad. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Mollie: Steep yourself in the experiences you want to write about. Read everything you can by beautiful writers. Have pushy friends.
Morgen: I especially love the latter. 🙂 If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Mollie: It’d be nice to have a reunion of the three future Mollie clones, and we all like Pizza Hut.
Morgen: Yep, you’re a fantasy writer. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Mollie: I read a book every day, and I live-illustrate our RPG gaming sessions. (Sample)
Morgen: A book a day, wow. I’m… (going to get boo’d here) lucky if I read one every six months. 😦 What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? 🙂
Mollie: Rock Band. Sleep. Read. Game. Charity. Did I say read? Doodle. I know the alphabet in order of usage. And I make more puns than you want to hear.
Morgen: I’d like to hear some. 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your work?
Mollie: I have a website in development (https://sites.google.com/site/mollielandbooks) and use http://www.facebook.com/MollielandBooks more often so would encourage readers of this interview to visit that page first. Terrence O’Ferret is available on Amazon.com.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Mollie: What are your favourite books?
Morgen: Collections of short stories or novellas mainly. I love reads I can do in one sitting (like the Quick Reads series) and as I’m rarely sitting long enough (without being attached to a keyboard). I write dark and light and read pretty much that; crime and humour. Thank you, Mollie, lovely to have you back.
Mollie Carson-Vollath was born in New York. She has owned dozens of ferrets over the past three decades, most of whom she adopted from rescue shelters. An avid reader, Mollie has been writing for most of her life. Terrence O’Ferret, her first book, tells the story of how she came to own her first ferret when she was a young girl, back when not many people even knew what ferrets were. A portion of the proceeds from Terrence O’Ferret go to benefit Father Nature’s Ferret Rescue.
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