Welcome back to another week here at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we're kicking things off with a special post to celebrate the recent release of Legacy: An Anthology. It's a collection of 13 short stories all based on the theme of legacy and while I haven't read them yet myself, I have had the pleasure of reading one of the author's featured within its pages. Who you ask? Well, that would be Stephanie Carroll whose book, A White Room, was featured RIGHT HERE on the site a few years back. (Feel free to click for a reminder, but come right back, okay?) When she recently contacted me about this latest work, I was definitely interested and thought YOU might be too! Let's read a little more about it...
Features 14 Authors Writing on the Most Human of Questions . . .
What will you leave behind?
Long after we've left this world, our legacy remains. Or it doesn't. If you had a choice, what mark would you leave?
In January 2015, Velvet Morning Press and the The Book Wheel blogger Allison Hiltz challenged fourteen fiction and nonfiction authors to sit down, shut out distractions and write on this transcendent topic, all the while Tweeting about their efforts. The resulting fiction and nonfiction stories fill the pages of Legacy: An Anthology.
The book includes stories from Kristopher Jansma, winner of the 2014 Sherwood Anderson Award for Fiction, New York Times best-selling author Regina Calcaterra, 2013 USA Book News Best Book Award recipient Stephanie Carroll and Canadian best-selling author Marissa Stapley among others. Read about all the contributing authors on Velvet Morning Press.
Within these pages, there is laughter, pride and hope. There is romance and rock and roll. Certain messages are eerie, while others bestow a sense of peace. The collection, through the discerning lens of each writer, runs the gamut of the human experience.
Legacy: An Anthology debuted April 17 and is available on Amazon.
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Sounds good, right?
So, how about we learn a little more about it from one of the authors themselves? Hmm? Was that a resounding yes I heard? I thought you might agree! Without further ado, ladies and gents, please welcome author Stephanie Carroll!
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Interview with Historical Fiction Author
and Legacy Contributor Stephanie Carroll
I’m a historical fiction author. I write dark and magical stories set in turn of the century America. My work has elements of the Victorian Gothic and my writing has been compared to the classic authors Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier.
My novel A White Room was inspired by Charlotte Perkin’s Gilman’s 1890 short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” A White Room is the story of Emeline Evans, a woman who sacrifices her dreams of becoming a nurse to save her destitute family. She marries a stranger who can provide for them, but her resulting despair drives her to such depths, the doctor diagnoses hysteria. Her only relief comes from secretly nursing to the poor despite her new husband, whose law firm prosecutes unlicensed practitioners.
I’m also a former military spouse and founder of Unhinged & Empowered, the encouraging site for military wives and girlfriends.
Tell us about the anthology and the #30Authors challenge.
Legacy: An Anthology is the product of an intense writing challenge that took place in January 2015. Allison Hiltz, founder of the The Book Wheel and creator of #30Authors joined with Velvet Morning Press to challenge fourteen authors to write a piece of fiction or nonfiction on the theme of legacy in a period of 30 days. Authors shared their experience on social media using the #30Authors hash tag. I even created a Pinterest board with images from my research and images that inspired me.
The products of that challenge are what make up Legacy: An Anthology.
What’s this I hear about puppies?
Velvet Morning Press is donating proceeds from online sales to Paws for Reading, an adorable program that helps children improve their literacy and communication skills by reading out loud to a therapy dog, cat, or even a bunny.
Was the month-long writing challenge difficult?
I’m used to writing longer pieces, so creating a short story was a new, albeit, rewarding experience for me, but to make it ready for publication in only 30 days—that was the real challenge. I, like many writers, take breaks from my projects to gain perspective but with this, there wasn’t enough time. Yet, all of these authors dove into their creativity and produced stories that are heartfelt and inspiring.
What did you end up writing?
My short story “Forget Me Not” is set in turn of the century Colma, California, a place where the dead outnumber the living. Lauraline Rosland has three days left, three days to do something—anything—that will make her life worth remembering because the day after her thirtieth birthday she is going to die.
Wait, does she know she is going to die?
The third daughter in every Rosland family has dropped dead the day after her thirtieth birthday, blood dripping from eyes, ears, and nose.
Whoa, so is this like a family of witches? Is she cursed?
Not exactly. Lauraline’s grandmother passed this information down to her when she was eight years old, shortly after her parents died. The truth is somewhat ambiguous and left to the reader to decide.
Okay, piquing my interest, but what’s this place where the dead outnumber the living? Is that real?
Yes, it is a very real place. I found out about it while working on the first draft. I imagined Lauraline living in her grandmother’s old house, which I saw as being one of those tall rectangle Victorian houses you see in San Francisco, which are called Stick-Eastlake. I fashioned a very creepy an ornate house for Lauraline’s grandmother, but I was struggling to represent historic San Francisco accurately. I just didn’t feel like I had enough time to research it properly or enough space to describe it.
Setting plays a really important role in all of my work, so I couldn’t just not include it. I sent the story to a friend who lives in San Francisco, and he pointed me in the direction of Colma, a town of cemeteries. Inspired!
In 1900, around the time my story was set, San Francisco passed an ordinance preventing any more burials in the city limits for fear of running out of land, so people buried their dead a little bit south of the city, and one of the main locations was a town called Colma. At the time of my story, there were already ten cemeteries there, and several years later in 1914, San Francisco sent eviction notices to those with family members buried within the city limits, and guess where the graves were relocated?
You said setting plays an important role in all of your work. Can you elaborate?
I really like to create vivid images and deep moods through the use of setting. My characters tend to have strong attachments or peculiar perceptions of their homes. This is pretty obvious in A White Room, since the house and furniture actually come to life. However, my settings serve almost character-like roles even when they don’t have minds of their own. In “Forget Me Not” the house serves as a symbol of Lauraline Rosland’s life. In my next novel, the characters live in a turn of the century prison that was built to look much like a medieval fortress.
At first I was at a loss. When I heard legacy was the theme, I automatically thought of things like winning a prestigious award, writing something that will be remembered, or passing on life lessons to your children, but all of those happy things just didn’t inspire a story idea for me. I think it’s because my stories are bit dark.
So I got to thinking a little bit more about my darker feelings associated with legacy, my fears and doubts, and I asked, “What if you died without leaving a legacy and what if you knew that was going to happen?”
I knew this was the question I wanted my story to center on, because it’s a major fear for many people. What if you died and left nothing behind and were forgotten, as if you never existed at all. It’s a scary thought but it’s usually just a fear, not guaranteed knowledge. Still, I didn’t know what to do with it for several days, so I started listing things I wanted the story to have, such as time period, setting, etc. I listed these words: Dark, magical realism, strange, unexpected, subtle, bitter-sweet, sad, female main, turn of the century, Gothic, mysterious house.
I started to piece things together and finally wrote out several paragraphs about my character and what I thought would be her back story, i.e. her dilemma, family life, etc. This is usually how I start fleshing out an idea. At first, I thought the couple paragraphs I wrote would be something like a beginning, but after looking at it for a while, I realized I’d pretty much written the story in summary form, so from there I took the different pieces from this summary and expanded them into scenes.
What is the significance of the title, Forget Me Not?
While doing a little research I stumbled upon this three line poem that children and adults would often write in autograph albums, in letters, and on cards at the turn of the century. The poem is called “Forget Me Not” and when I read it, it fit with the story perfectly. I just had to find a way to incorporate it. In the end, it tied the story together so well, there was no question that it was the title.
I have multiple projects going on at the moment. I’ve been making a lot of progress on my next historical novel called The Binding of Saint Barbara, which is based on the true story of the first death by electrocution, which took place in 1890 Auburn Prison, Auburn, N.Y.
I also started writing a science fiction novel last year called S0L M8. It’s about a not-too-distant future when the environment is destroyed, but mankind has survived by retreating to isolated underground homes where they live and interact via virtual reality, except for their immediate family units and their soul mates, who are chosen during childhood via an algorithm.
Then this past October, inspired by Halloween and a research spree into the Victorian Gothic tradition, I started my own Gothic novella about a young woman who is sent to a depressed and out-of-work spinal specialist in order to receive treatment for her mysterious pain condition.
How can people find out when your other books come out?
I write about my experiences with authorship and publishing in my quarterly newsletter. Emails only go out four times a year. It’s also where I announce new books and special opportunities for those who want to become test readers. Sign up for Coming Unhinged with Stephanie Carroll today!
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Thanks so much, Ms. Carroll!
Now, this new collection hit virtual shelves just last week, so it's fresh off the presses for your reading enjoyment, but did you catch the other aspect of fun to be had beyond the wordy goodness? All proceeds from online sales benefit an amazing little program called Paws for Reading! I couldn't believe my paws, I mean eyes when I read that portion. So if it wasn't already on my wish list from the description and my previous reading encounter, it DEFINITELY was now!
Special thanks to author Stephanie Carroll for the heads up on this fun-tastic project and taking the time out to share a bit of herself with all of us. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the contributing authors, Paws for Reading, or other flights of fancy your mind may have created while reading this post, feel free to click through the links provided above.
Until next time...happy reading!