Bookpleasures welcomes as our guest today, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Carla Neggers. Carla has authored more than sixty novels with translations in twenty-four languages. Her most recent novel Echo Lake has just been released.

Carla was born and raised on the western edge of the beautiful Quabbin Reservoir in rural Massachusetts. Carla grew up with tales of her father’s life as a Dutch sailor and her mother’s childhood in northwest Florida. She now lives with her family in Vermont, near Quechee Gorge. 

Norm: Good day Carla and thanks for participating in our interview.

How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going? 

Carla: Thanks, it’s great to be here! I started writing as a kid when I’d climb a tree with a pad and pen and spin stories. I’m happy to say that I love writing now as much as I did then. Every book is its own adventure. The characters and settings come to life for me. That doesn’t mean the writing is always easy, but when it does get tough, I’ll walk away for a bit and let the story simmer. Usually the story’s sorted itself out by the time I come back to it. 

What has been the best part about being published? 

Carla: I’d have to say the people. I’ve enjoyed getting to know so many great people —writers, editors, agents, booksellers, librarians and all the people who work so hard to get books into readers’ hands. I’ve especially enjoyed meeting readers, whether through emails, handwritten letters, social media or in person at events. I just got a handwritten letter from a 94-year-old reader in Canada. I could see by her handwriting that it wasn’t easy for her to write, but it was a joy to read. It made my day. I hear from readers young, old and in between, in all sorts of jobs and from all over the world. It’s amazing. 

Norm: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? 

Carla: It depends on what I need to know. I love to do research and learn new things. I’ve developed a body of knowledge about certain subjects. The internet is an obvious choice to find information, but there’s nothing like sitting across from a detective, judge, search-and-rescue expert or doctor and asking questions. I have a friend in Ireland who’s been very helpful with whiskey research! I tend to set books in places I know, but even then, there’s stuff to learn. For instance, although I grew up on the western edge of the Quabbin Reservoir, I learned more details once I set the Swift River Valley series there and started asking questions. 

Norm: Do you work from an outline and how do you stay focused?

Carla: I’ve come to realize (if not accept!) that I don’t have a set way to write a book. Each story is different, and each requires its own process. That said, I don’t write a long outline that I follow to a T, but I’m not completely seat-of-the-pants, either. Usually I have a strong premise that simmers until I finally have to sit down and start writing. I stay focused by being completely committed to finishing the story I’ve started. I like finishing things! 

Norm: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing and do you have a specific writing style?  As a follow up, are you a plot  or character writer? 

Carla: I grew up in a large family — I’m the third of seven siblings — and I think that helps me create a vivid “world” for my stories. I’m used to a lot of people and a lot of pots boiling, so to speak! I love creating plots and fitting all the pieces together, but they’re driven by the characters in the story. It’s a natural, organic process for me.  

Norm: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor and why?

Carla: I’ve had wonderful mentors but never another writer, maybe because I didn’t have access to the writing community until after I’d sold my first books. I have great writer friends, and we have such a good time together. I hung out with Cathy Maxwell not long ago at a library event in North Carolina. We talked about everything

Norm: Do you have any suggestions to help our readers become better writers? If so, what are they?  

Carla: My best advice these days is take time to turn everything off and be alone with our stories. With so much information available to writers and so many distractions, it’s easy to get lost in all that’s available to us as writers when what we need to do is get lost in the writing itself. The information and distractions will be there when we tune in again!  

Norm: Could you tell our audience a little about your most recent novel Echo Lake?

Carla: Ever think you’ve got your life figured out and then…wham…something happens that changes everything? That’s what happens in ECHO LAKE when Heather Sloan, who has always lived in her small hometown of Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, runs into Brody Hancock, who grew up in Knights Bridge and hoped never to return. To complicate matters, Brody left town after a feud with Heather’s five older brothers. And she and Brody meet during a puppy rescue in the snow. It’s fun…but there’s a lot at stake for Brody and Heather.

Norm: What purpose do you believe your story serves and what matters to you about the story? 

Carla: I’ll leave that to readers to decide for themselves. The characters, the setting, the transforming power of love, the humor, the adventure — I enjoyed writing this book and hope readers enjoy reading it. 

Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your novels?

Carla: I’d love for readers to visit my WEBSITE and sign up for my e-newsletter. We’re in the process of revamping my site and adding more content for readers. I also have a blog, and I’m on Facebook and Twitter.  

Norm: What is next for Carla Neggers?

Carla: I’ve just finished Keeper’s Reach, next up in my Sharpe & Donovan romantic suspense series featuring Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan. It’ll be out in September 2015. 

Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer. 

Carla: You’ve asked such great questions that I can’t think of anything! It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for having me here, and thanks for your time. 

Norm: Thanks again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

Follow Here To Purchase Echo Lake (Swift River Valley Novel)