An Interview with Margaret L. Carter

A few days ago, I interviewed author Margaret L. Carter. I came up with a few questions, and she obliged me with some amazing answers:

1. What event, if any, encouraged you to become a writer?

Reading DRACULA at the age of twelve. I became fascinated with vampires in particular and horror, fantasy, and “soft” SF in general. Thanks to DRACULA as the “gateway” work, I became a fan of Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, H. P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson, the early Bloch, Bradbury, and Sturgeon, and many other vintage horror and fantasy authors. The library and paperback book racks didn’t have enough of the kind of fiction I wanted to read, especially stories from the viewpoint of and sympathetic to the “monster.” So I started writing them, on a typewriter my aunt had left in her old bedroom at my grandmother’s house. Relationships between human and nonhuman characters always interested me the most. I was trying to create paranormal romance as a teenager in the 1960s, long before it was called that.

2. Does your family support your writing? Do they read/help to promote your books?

My husband has always been supportive of my writing. In fact, we started dating in our late teens when we discovered, upon meeting in a church youth group, that we were both trying to become writers. He hardly ever reads my material, though (since he’s not a horror or romance fan), aside from occasional sword-and-sorcery stories I ask him to critique (and of course the novels we’ve collaborated on, but he’s the first-draft writer of those), that being a genre interest we share. He helps to promote my books by telling everybody I’m an author and handing out business cards whenever a reasonable opportunity arises.

3. Tell me the story behind the "Wild Sorceress" series.

The first novel, WILD SORCERESS, began with a story my husband, retired naval officer Leslie Roy Carter, wrote to submit to one of the Marion Zimmer Bradley “Sword and Sorceress” anthologies. It featured a soldier and a sorceress on a covert mission escorting a disguised army general. The piece wasn’t accepted, probably in part because it pushed the upper word count limit. However, we started thinking about what must have happened before the first scene of the story and what complications would develop after the final scene. Les started filling in the action before and after the story, with the result that the tale grew outward in both directions until it turned into a novel. A young sorceress, Aetria, has recently returned to army service after being banished for retraining on account of a disaster she’d caused on the battlefield. While trying to prove herself, she gets entangled in a superior officer’s treacherous plot, discovers a long-lost sister, and becomes reacquainted with her childhood “imaginary friend,” a dragon. WILD SORCERESS is the first novel of a trilogy, followed by BESIEGED ADEPT and ROGUE MAGESS. A previous-generation prequel, LEGACY OF MAGIC, was published after the trilogy. Earlier this year, the publisher went out of business. Happily, Writers Exchange E-Publishing picked up the series and has just re-released WILD SORCERESS and BESIEGED ADEPT, lightly revised with beautiful new covers. ROGUE MAGESS and LEGACY OF MAGIC will follow soon.

4. Tell us about your current WIP.

I wanted to write a lighter paranormal romance than my usual fiction, with some touches of humor. Being a fan of supernatural-themed anime and manga, I decided it would be fun to center my story around Japanese yokai (spirits or demons, roughly, but mostly more capricious than “evil”). Since I’m a cat-lover, of course the yokai who moves into the heroine’s house has to be a cat. The heroine, sorting through the souvenirs her grandfather bought in Japan while serving in the Korean War, hopes to find documentation for his purchase of a pair of antique ivory figurines. She needs money to replace the roof of her late parents’ house before she can put it on the market, and it’s illegal to sell ivory unless you can prove ownership before the ban existed. Instead, she finds a magical scroll and a statuette of a white cat, which comes to life as a cat spirit who has the ability to take human form. Several other magical phenomena start infesting the heroine’s home. To free the cat spirit from her curse and the house from the “haunting,” the heroine has to accept help from her former high-school boyfriend, with whom she broke up right after graduation.

Thanks, Margaret, for a fascinating interview.

Margaret invites you to explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, ghosts, things with tentacles, and more! (Just the time of year to be exploring such fanciful creatures, by the way!)

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