Monday, 12 November 2012

Musa Monday with HL Carpenter

Today, I have mother-daughter writing team, HL Carpenter in the Taverna. Welcome ladies!

Your current release is The SkyHorse, published by Musa. Can you describe your book for us?
The SkyHorse is narrated by Tovi Taggert, a teenager who lives in Honeysuckle Hollow, Florida. She finds an egg from which a flying horse hatches, and all sorts of strange things start happening. Tovi asked us to help her make her adventure sound like a novel, though it’s really a how-to manual on flying horses. She says everyone needs to read the book, because you never know when a SkyHorse will canter into your life, and it’s best to be prepared. She’s a good salesperson, that girl.

How did you come to write fantasy YA? What attracted you to the genre?
We wanted to write a girl-and-horse story that was both traditional and yet not quite traditional, and the flying horse idea resonated with us. We like YA, because that’s the time of life when anything and everything is possible, emotions are intense, and there’s so much to figure out. Exploring the universal questions of “who am I?” and “what will my life be like?” is challenging and fun.

Please tell us a little about your road to publication.
We started out writing tips and short features for women’s magazines while trying to break into the romance market. Unfortunately, though the sales of tips and features went well, we really stink at writing about romance. Dead bodies and assorted mysterious goings-on kept popping up and stealing our heroine’s attention away from her love life. So we switched from mysteries of the heart to murder and crime. With that focus, our writing got better, and we had several stories featuring a septuagenarian sleuth published in anthologies. Ours is not an overnight success story (or even a novella), though we guess it could be if you think of the night as especially long and dark, with a booming thunderstorm, flashes of wicked lightning, eerie, flitting shadows, and a few treacherous turns on a slippery road designed to discourage the tenacious wayfarer. Hmmm. That could be an opening scene...

You work as a mother/daughter writing team. How do you co-write your books? I’m assuming you would have to plot? We start with the bones, then build a skeleton, sketching the entire story to make sure it will hang correctly. Once the frame is in place, we tag-team, with one of us writing to a natural stopping point, and the other picking up at that point and going forward. We swap back and forth until the story or book is finished.

What is your favorite part of the process of writing?
Besides the thrill of an acceptance? We love those! Another fave is the “YES!” feeling we get the very first time we read one of our stories after the cooling off period. That sense of accomplishment, of “we did this, and it’s good”, is pure pleasure.

What are you currently working on?
We’ll be publishing a New Adult novella, Jack and the Fountain of Youth, in time for the 500th anniversary of the arrival in Florida of Juan Ponce de Leon, so that’s exciting! We recently finished the first draft of a new YA novel, and we have three finished manuscripts cooling off and waiting for revision. We also have a cozy mystery for adult readers that’s in the final stage of revisions, and three completed novellas featuring the same character.

You have a writing web site called Top Drawer Ink Corp. Can you tell us how this came about and what you feature on this site?
We enjoy many types of writing, including poetry, essays, satire, and nonfiction, and Top Drawer Ink gives us a place to showcase those other works. We’ve put the first chapter of The SkyHorse there, along with a free reader’s guide, and we plan to post Jack and the Fountain of Youth on the site in free installments. So you might say is a one-stop shop for all things HL! Stop by and say hi. We’ll be happy to meet you!

Thank you for giving us this opportunity to talk about The SkyHorse, and about writing in general. It’s been a pleasure!

Thanks, ladies. Loved learning more about you. 

The SkyHorse, a young adult novel by HL Carpenter

When fourteen year old Tovi Taggert moves to Honeysuckle Hollow to take care of her grandmother, she has a hard time fitting in. For one thing, she’s been tagged with the hated nickname Too-Tall Tovi. For another, everyone at Honeysuckle Hollow High believes Tovi played the Choking Game with someone else’s boyfriend – and made out with him besides.

As if she doesn’t have enough problems, after the latest standoff in the school hallway, Tovi finds a gorgeous speckled egg nestled in a feather lined nest.

She takes the egg home – and mysterious visitors begin appearing almost immediately. Even more worrisome, whatever is inside the egg starts chipping its way out.

When the egg hatches, revealing a winged horse, Tovi’s troubles multiply.

As she struggles to return the horse to the magical land where he belongs, Tovi must make a courageous decision – and accept what that decision will cost her.

HL Carpenter is the pen name of a Florida-based mother/daughter duo who writes of flying horses and other fabulous creatures from their home in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Their multi-genre collaborative work includes mysteries, short stories, essays, and non-fiction articles, and is featured in the bi-monthly newsletter Top Drawer Ink. Their most recent book is The SkyHorse, a young adult e-novel published by Musa Publishing. Their home on the web is


Patricia said...

I always like reading about writing teams because it's unusual and sounds fun. The tag-team thing has to work really well and yours obviously does. Good luck with your books.

Sloane Taylor said...

Wonderful interview! You ladies are terrific and I love your style. Looking forward to your new releases.:)

Sharon Ledwith said...

Hey, Helen and Lorri, love your interview! Sounds like you two will be busy writing for a long time to come with all your solid plans in place! Wishing you both much success in all your publishing ventures! Cheers!

HL Carpenter said...

Patricia, we've been surprised at the number of writing teams we've learned about, and we agree - it's important to avoid the at-your-throat moments!

Sloane, thanks! We are huge fans of yours, and appreciate all the work you do promoting Musa authors.

Sharon, you are the absolute best! Success right back atcha!

Helen - thank you again for this opportunity!

Helen & Lorri

Eleni Konstantine said...

Patricia, Sloane, and Sharon, thanks for making Helen and Lorri feel welcome.

Helen & Lorri - thanks for joining me on my blog :)

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