Thursday, January 6, 2011

Interview Thursday -- Margaret Carter

Margaret is an on line friend and a great writer. She and her husband have collaborated on what is one of my favorite Fantasy trilogies. T;ve read the series three times. Though vampires are her chosen group of characters and not my favorites, I think you'll enjoy her stories.

My website is Carter's Crypt:


Margaret L. Carter

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I started in horror. Eventually, I added fantasy to my repertoire and now write predominantly paranormal romance. I have a special fondness for vampires. In addition to fiction, I've written literary criticism and bibliographic work on vampires in literature.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

A little of both. I read DRACULA at the age of twelve and was so enthralled I started reading all the vampire fiction I could find (not easy in the early 1960s), then horror, fantasy, and "soft" SF. I wrote the kind of vampire stories I wanted to read -- from the "monster's" viewpoint and focusing on relationships. Much later, when paranormal romance became a recognized market category, I realized that was the niche for me.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

I've thought I might someday like to write a mystery. Intricate plotting, however, is not my forte, so it would be a stretch. There are many genres I'm sure I would never write. LOL. Westerns. Spy thrillers. Nonsupernatural contemporary romance. While I might enjoy reading in those areas occasionally, they don't inspire me to create my own stories.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Paranormal romance, fantasy, vampire fiction in general, some favorite mystery authors. In addition to fiction, some nonfiction in the "soft" sciences; manga on fantasy and supernatural themes.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing.

I started writing at the age of thirteen, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. One of my earliest pieces was a thirty-plus-page, single-spaced story about a man inadvertently transforming into a vampire. Two characters from that story and its sequel survived to be included in my first vampire novel, DARK CHANGELING. I majored in English (on the theory that I could get a college teaching job and be paid to read) and earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. As a career Navy wife, I never lived in any one place long enough to get a full-time job, but I did teach a few classes here and there, and I have several academic publications on the supernatural in literature on my resume. I now work as a part-time legislative editor for the General Assembly of Maryland.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Psychiatrist Roger Darvell, a vampire-human hybrid who stars in DARK CHANGELING and CHILD OF TWILIGHT and has cameo appearances in a few other works.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

I try to create villains who will cause the protagonists the greatest amount of trouble, such as the rogue vampire in DARK CHANGELING who stalks Roger's patients and lover (who's also his partner in his psychiatric practice) and complicates the challenge Roger faces in trying to adjust to the truth about his nature as a vampire.

8. What are you working on now?

My husband and I are working on a sword-and-sorcery novel with romantic elements. I also have a paranormal romance novella out on submission, featuring a female vampire captured by a vampire hunter.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

My latest full-length book (spring 2010) is ROGUE MAGESS, the conclusion of a fantasy trilogy my husband and I collaborated on. Having created the world and the characters, he wrote the books with my input. The first novel, WILD SORCERESS, grew out of a story we unsuccessfully submitted to one of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress anthologies, about a young sorceress in her country's army who struggles with difficulty in controlling her magic. We realized the story had too much implied backstory to stand alone and needed to be expanded in both directions to explore how the heroine, Aetria, got to that point and what happened next. As she exposes traitors within the army, she also discovers a long-lost twin, secrets of how magic really works, and a hidden race of dragons manipulating her world. My most recent solo release (November 2010) is a Lovecraftian erotic romance novella from Ellora's Cave, "Song from the Abyss."

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

"Song from the Abyss" was inspired by Ellora's Cave's theme for the month of November, music. I'd previously had a Lovecraftian romance novella, a humorous piece called "Tentacles of Love," published by them. For the music theme month, I decided to try a darker story set against a Lovecraft-inspired background of eldritch entities trying to invade our world from another universe. The heroine's boyfriend disappeared without a trace when they were both eighteen. Now, seven years later, she inherits her late aunt's house and discovers a music CD that had been used in arcane rituals. Playing the music, she frees her boyfriend from the interdimensional portal where he has been trapped, only to find that he isn't quite human anymore.

Excerpt from opening scene:

Under the sound of surf wafting in through the open window, a voice seemed to whisper. It hissed words in a language Alyce didn’t recognize, yet it sounded all too familiar. Almost as if she’d heard those sounds before, maybe at the age of twenty, on the night before she’d left her Aunt Cora’s house for the last time.

Until today. Furthermore, it was her house now. It wasn’t a monster that would swallow Alyce whole and trap her like Pinocchio in the whale’s stomach. The waves did not sound like the hoarse breathing of a creature from an alien world.

“Shut up,” she ordered the imaginary voice. The phantom whispers fell silent. What was wrong with her, getting spooked in such a mundane setting? Sure, she was alone in a run-down oceanfront house built in the 1880s but nothing could look less haunted than her late aunt’s cluttered office. Books overflowed shelves and tottered in precarious towers on the floor. File drawers gaped half open. Papers heaped on the desk almost hid the polished wood surface. The humid air smelled like mundane dust, not the mold of ancient tomes. Yes, some of those volumes might almost qualify but Aunt Cora wouldn’t think of letting her tomes molder.

If she had magically foreseen dropping dead and leaving Alyce to rummage through the house, she would probably have tidied up the place and hidden or destroyed her most esoteric materials. Although much older than Alyce’s mother, Aunt Cora had seemed in excellent health, so the fatal stroke must have surprised her as much as it had her family. Actually, it was a wonder she hadn’t changed her will long ago. Why had she bequeathed her estate to the niece who’d fled from this house four years previously and refused to answer so much as a Christmas card ever since?

*Most likely because I’m her only relative except for Mom, and at least Aunt Cora and I used to be close. She and Mom hadn’t spoken face-to-face in a lot longer than four years.* Emails, phone calls, and holiday cards between the sisters hardly counted.

So she’d had a choice between leaving the house to Alyce, as originally planned, or willing it to some flaky cult. *I’m almost surprised she didn’t do that.* Such a choice would have been typical of the woman Alyce’s mother always referred to as “my crazy sister”. For the hundredth time in the past few weeks, Alyce tried to dredge up a proper portion of sadness. She felt she’d long ago lost the aunt she’d loved, the one who’d treated her like a younger colleague instead of an airheaded kid, the one who’d taken her on excursions to historic sites off the well-traveled tourist track and taught her to delve into research many layers deeper than the top page of a search engine. Alyce had lost that relative four years earlier, when she’d dragged Alyce into some kind of arcane ritual.

-end of excerpt-


Diane Craver said...

Great interview, Margaret and Jane!

I enjoyed learning more about you, Margaret and your writing. That's neat how you started writing vampire stories before paranormal romance became popular.

And what fun that you and your husband collaborated on some of your stories!

Diane Craver said...

Oops - meant Janet! Hey, I was close. LOL Have a great evening, ladies!

Margaret Carter said...

Thanks again for interviewing me, Janet, and I'm thrilled that you like the Aetria trilogy.

Shoshanna Evers said...

Great interview! Very cool that you write some stories with your hubby :)

Erin Aslin said...

It’s a wonderful interview. I was pleased to learn about your writing and your books, Margaret. Keep great work!