We welcome Joan Carney to our blog today. Though she and her five siblings were born in New York City, Ms. Carney and her family now enjoy living in the sunshine of Southern California. When not at her computer writing or revising a story, she can be found sipping espresso at the local coffee house or browsing her local bookstore’s shelves. For more about Ms. Carney, visit her website at joancarneyauthor.com
Fated Memories is the story of a beleaguered woman forced to field the curve balls life has thrown her, and to discover her hidden inner strength.
Burdened with the scars of a tortured childhood and a shattered romance, Kitty is being forced to resign from the dull, anonymous job she’s been hiding behind. With her life in shambles and her friends moving on without her, she jumps at her cousin, Maggie’s, invitation to visit. However, Maggie’s new boyfriend, Simon, has a secret that accidentally hurls the trio a hundred and fifty years into the past. Trapped in the midst of the bloodiest war in American history, the events that unfold will require more mettle than Kitty’s ever had.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
Fated Memories is a story of time travel, romance and one woman’s journey to self-realization. When I researched my father’s family tree, I was thrilled to find ancestors who had fought in the Civil War. After reading everything I could find on the daily lives of the soldiers and their families, I wondered how a woman of our time—albeit a neurotic, emotionally scarred one—would fare if dumped there, unprepared. Coming from a society of empowered women, could she survive in a world where women have no status? With a transport method devised, two companions to keep her on track, and a few opportunities for romance, a novel was born.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks)?
The window in my office faces a serene lake with ducks and seagulls squawking in the distance. When I’m stuck for the perfect word or phrase, I gaze out at the light sparkling on the water and allow the alpha brain waves to flow. If that doesn’t work, I do the opposite and munch on chips, crackers, anything chocolate or high in carbs to stimulate my creativity. The calories are balanced out with long walks around the lake or, if I’ve been especially brilliant, I reward myself with a couple hours trolling the department store racks.
The female protagonists in this novel are strong and outspoken. Did you take any of their characteristics from your own relatives or circle of friends?
Whether born that way or forced by circumstance, nearly all the women I know, including my two daughters, are strong and independent, with dynamic personalities. Those are the same traits I relate to the most in the books I read and the movies I watch. My characters are a conglomeration of all of them with a few quirks of my own thrown in for good measure.
What would your advice be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
Jot down every idea for a story that comes into your head so you don’t forget it. Your list will be invaluable when you come up dry or just need inspiration.
I wrote my first draft entirely by the seat of my pants and wound up having to slash off about a third of the manuscript. From this experience I can tell you to outline as much of the book as you can. It’s worth taking the time up front to ensure a well-developed and structured book in the end. Once the outline is complete and weak points and any areas where the pace lags are defined, the story practically writes itself.
What novel do you wish you had written?
I love to read. My favorites are mysteries, spy stories, and anything by Stephen King, although sometimes his endings frustrate me (So it was just a spider after all, really?). But “The Bridges of Madison County” by Robert Waller cultivated my appreciation for fine prose like no other. It is the most beautifully written book I’ve ever read. The words flow with such precision, I have to wonder if some divine intervention took place. That is the mastery I strive for.
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
It was important to get the circumstances of the era right, so I used a variety of resources. I read books and consulted old newspapers on the conditions of the camps and battle strategies as well as personal accounts from Civil War nurses and soldiers. The internet provided a wealth of material on medical practices, battle maps, uniforms and the exploits of the Bucktails unit that Simon joins. An excellent resource turned out to be the genealogy websites where people posted letters and newspaper accounts of their ancestors depicting their daily routines and special accomplishments.
We thank Ms. Carney for joining us on Virtual Cafe.
A transplant from the Bronx to San Diego, Joan’s lucky number is four. She has four children, four grandchildren, drinks about four cups of coffee a day, and is now enjoying her fourth career as a novelist. When not planted in front of the computer writing or doing genealogy research, Joan enjoys spending time with family and friends and volunteers at the local church.