We electronically chatted with Louise Carson—author of eleven books which include the binge-able cozy cat mystery series from Signature Editions—about influential writers, two types of rewarding moments, and what she's working on now.
All Lit Up: Do you have any rituals that you abide by when you’re writing?
Louise Carson: The ritual is: get up and feed the pets—two cats and a dog. Make a cup of Earl Grey tea. Sit on the sofa with one or both cats and a clipboard, and pick up what I left off with the previous day. It could be reading and revising poems, or adding a page or two to an ongoing novel.
After about an hour of this, the dog begins agitating. Walk the dog and/or jog. Home again, make a coffee, switch on the computer. Put out any little fires in my e-mail and return to writing. With any luck I can write until lunch in the early afternoon. Then the dog goes out again and the cats. Before supper I type what I’ve written.
This list of rituals is also the answer to the question: Describe your perfect writing day. When the world isn’t too insistent, I manage between three to five perfect days a week.
ALU: What was your most rewarding moment as a writer?
LC: Of course, there are two types of rewarding moments: the outer and the inner.
Where I intersect with the outer world are the firsts: first participation at a poetry slam (I have found my people!); first poetry workshop; first poem accepted by a magazine; first book published; first shortlisted novel; first prize.
In the world inside me are things like entering a period of intense creativity (which is only noticed when you exit it); re-reading old work and finding it good; the feeling (sometimes accompanied by tears) of solving and then writing down the ending of a book. I am grateful for all of the above.
ALU: What are you working on now?
LC: A mix of the practical and imaginative. And oh, how delightfully they blur.
For example, I’m having a book of poems—Dog Poems—published this month—May 2020—so as I write this [interview] in February I am editing with the editor; coming up with a cover design, which means liaising with an artist, a photographer and the publisher; and planning my publicity strategy, as well as writing blurbs for same.
I finished writing one mystery—The Last Unsuitable Man—in January; and started another, this one the fifth in my Maples Mysteries series for Signature Editions, entitled A Clutter of Cats. Oh yes, and I have probably by now finished editing with Signature’s editor Doug Whiteway the fourth in the series—The Cat Possessed—for fall 2020 publication. Whew! Busy, busy.
Louise's cozy writing quarters.
ALU: What is the toughest part about being a writer?
LC: When people don’t take it seriously as an occupation.
ALU: Which writers have influenced you or had the most impact on your own writing?
LC: For poetry, Bukowski, Merwin, Sexton, Plath, Birney, Patrick Lane and a whole lot more. For the mystery writing, all the oldies: Christie, Sayers, Marsh, James, Dexter, Mankele. All these writers seem to me to develop strong characters first that drive the plot, rather than thinking up a cool plot then plugging bland characters into it.
ALU: What’s one book you always recommend?
LC: So subjective, reading choices. Perhaps I recommend the best book most recently read. Right now that would be The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell. Anyone who’s been inside a bookstore will enjoy this; if you’ve worked in one, it’s even more hilarious. I read it in a weekend.
ALU: Why do you write?
LC: I dabbled for a long time. Then a switch was flicked and I couldn’t stop. Eleven books published in thirteen years. Time’s breath on the back of my neck, I suppose. I have no plans to slow down.
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Louise Carson lives in a bungalow surrounded by gardens in rural Québec. She paid it off by teaching music. Now she just writes. She loves Indian food and pain au chocolat.
Louise wonders why we want to know personal things about authors. She would love to ask Jane Austen if she ever tried chocolate and whether she liked it. Or whether P.D. James was a dog or cat person or, like Louise, embraced both.
All genres of music are acceptable to her if they’re excellent. (Though, a lifelong musician, these days she prefers silence.) Favourites include Earth, Wind & Fire, and Beethoven, rolling over or not.
She would live on Isla or Jura or any of the Western Isles of Scotland if it were possible.
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Thanks to Louise for answering our questions, and to Signature Editions for making the connection. Check out Louise's books on All Lit Up
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