I am thrilled to have Carrie Hayes join us this month. I absolutely loved The Naked Truth and have to boast a bit and say I have read a draft of A Well Dressed Lie and it is awesome. I can't wait for the final draft and to see it in print! Carrie is also hilarious, fun, perceptive and a damn good writer. And she made me fall in love with Tennessee Claflin, because she knows how to write complicated, outrageous, vulnerable amazing characters.
Tell us about your latest book and when it releases.
I’ve just relaunched my debut novel, Naked Truth or Equality, the Forbidden Fruit. It takes place during Reconstruction and covers the New York years of spiritualist sisters Tennessee Claflin and Victoria Woodhull. In 1872, Victoria became the first woman to run for President of the United States. I’ve also begun releasing the prequel for Naked Truth, called Spirited Away, which is on Amazon Vella. Spirited Away takes place before and during the Civil War.
What is your writing process?
Thus far, it’s been organic. I’m a pretty voracious reader, and my tastes are varied when it comes to different historical periods and/or family stories. When I stumble across something completely unknown to me, which then begins repeating in my mind from many different angles that an idea starts to take hold. Once that occurs, I grab as much information as I can to begin immersing myself in the story’s historical context. The idea begins to sketch itself out, but it takes a lot of background reading for the thing to start to have legs. Then, once it begins coming together, it’s about putting in the work and the hours. That way, when the muse shows up, I’m ready for her (or him).
Are there themes you like to explore in your books?
There are. Family dynamics of course, and then, one’s sense of purpose in the world. The whole business of being a woman, is of course, an endless source of material. Relationships in terms of how we treat each other, and how we treat ourselves is also something that interests me. One aspect of Tennessee and Victoria that has so gripped me is that their story is a potent example of everything that was going on culturally at the time. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been in their thrall for what will become 3 books when it’s all said and done.
Do you listen to music when you write?
I did more so before the pandemic. Now, my days are often spent hopping from one zoom session to the next (I really dig writing with others on Zoom!), so I need quiet time when we turn our microphones and cameras off. If I’m writing without my zoom companions, the music invariably comes on. And what I enjoy most is the stuff my characters would have listened to- or performed in the evenings themselves. It’s incredibly helpful when immersing oneself in a scene.
What’s your favorite genre to read?
Probably historical fiction. I like thrillers, too. I’m a sucker for any kind of storytelling when the writer is an accomplished stylist. It’s the facility with language and ideas that really thrill me. Almost more than a setting, or the genre.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished a thriller called “Missing, Presumed” by a writer who passed away this summer named Susie Steiner. It’s excellent. The elegance of her writing and the compassion with which she treats her characters makes for a very singular read.
What’s the next project and when can we expect it?
It’s the sequel to Naked Truth or Equality, and it’s called A Well Dressed Lie. It’s going to be in the cooker another few months, and then I hope to get started on something which really took me surprise which is going to be about Benjamin Franklin, of all people.