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After growing up in Missouri and Ohio and spending many years in North Texas, I've developed a passion for mountains and oceans, particularly the ones in Scotland, which is heaven's front porch and which I visit as often as possible. In my youth I was lucky enough to travel to other parts of Europe, the Middle East, India, and Japan.
While I've worked a few "real" jobs, as an engineering aide, a librarian, a newspaper columnist, and a college history teacher, all along I was writing stories and critiques first for my desk drawer and then for fan magazines. My first professional fiction was published in the Amazons II anthology in 1982.
My husband is a retired geophysicist. Our two adult sons are in advertising and computers respectively. We have a cat, a thirteen-pound tabby, and an assortment of houseplants I view as rentals -- how long can I keep them before they die? Our home is a tract house cleverly disguised as a book-lined cloister.
My hobbies (or what I do when I'm trying to avoid working) include needlepoint and knitting, bread-baking, music (particularly Celtic folk/rock), gardening, public television, walking and yoga, and crossword puzzles.
Unlike more methodical writers, I never sat up one day and said, "I'm going to start writing now". I've always written, just as I've always read. Just as I've always breathed, for that matter. And I've been aided and abetted since the age of twelve by my best friend, science fiction writer Lois McMaster Bujold.
If I could be anything other than a writer (as if!) I'd probably be a librarian.
Over the years I've been inventing my own genre, mystery/romance with supernatural/ historical/ mythological underpinnings. And I've become a firm believer in the odd synchronies of the writing life. Soon after finishing Ashes to Ashes, for example, which is about a woman from Missouri named Rebecca working in a replica of a Scottish castle, I visited the real castle and discovered the tour guide was a woman from Oklahoma named Rebecca.
I am a member or former member of SFWA, MWA, Sisters in Crime, Novelists, Inc., and The Author's Guild.Interview with LILLIAN STEWART CARL
by Leena Hyat
Writerspace.com: Please tell us about your new release, LUCIFER'S CROWN.
Lillian Stewart Carl: Lucifer's Crown begins when a young woman finds a dead body in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey in England, on the morning of All Saint's Day. Another body turns up later on in the book, so it's a mystery novel, right? But wait -- both Rose and her older, more cynical teacher, Maggie, each find romance--in very different sorts of ways--so it's a romance novel, too. Also, two characters in Lucifer's Crown are immortal, and Maggie, Rose, and the others encounter paranormal events and places.
Writerspace.com: I have to honestly admit I've never read any other books you've previously written but LUCIFER'S CROWN has me ready to devour your backlist. What an absolutely fascinating novel! Please share with us your inspiration behind this story. How and why did the idea appeal to you so much?
Lillian Stewart Carl: This is the "big" book I always wanted to write. I started it in 1995, and took it through many different versions before publication. I've always been intrigued by the way the past lingers on into the present, how history and fantasy (legend and myth) affect our views of reality. Obviously I mean "fantasy" as a positive force, not in the disparaging meaning of "lies", as though fantasy exists only for immoral purposes!
Writerspace.com: I understand you've worked in a variety of different fields including Librarian, engineering aide and college history teacher. And while you worked these jobs, you also managed to find time to write your stories. LUCIFER'S CROWN is your eleventh novel. Could you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a published author?
Lillian Stewart Carl: I haven't held an actual paying job outside the home for many years. Most of my books were written while I was working as a "domestic engineer" and a mother. Being self-employed gave me the chance to do volunteer work at my kids' schools, such as putting out school newsletters and chaperoning field trips. Many field trips....
Writerspace.com: I was impressed with the way LUCIFER'S CROWN combines the elements of mystery, fantasy, history and mythology. It's very unique -- to me at least. I understand your previous books also weave together different genres and feature various paranormal themes. Did you deliberately set out to write your stories this way or did it just happen?
Lillian Stewart Carl: I've never written a "straight" novel, although a dozen or so of my twenty-one (so far) short stories have no fantasy element in them. I find it even harder to write a story without some sort of romantic element. I don't do this deliberately, no--I would never choose deliberately to restrict my sales! Marketing departments and booksellers are only now, I think, catching up with those readers who like genre-blending books. And you can see why. If it's your job to get a book into the hands of the public, you have to tell them what it is, you have to find a slot in the bookstore to put it in.
Writerspace: Are you a plotter? Do you know the whole story step by step before you sit down to the actual writing? Or do you basically fly with the bare basics in hand?
Lillian Stewart Carl: I have forced myself to become more of a plotter over the years, simply because it cuts down on the amount of re-writing. It's also easier to sell a book if you can describe what happens in it ahead of time. But I only know so much about the story before it begins -- the main characters, a broad outline of events, the setting. Many of the specific events and minor characters only come to me as I'm actually writing them down. I'm still trying to learn to trust myself in this, to go ahead and start writing it and know that it will come together in the end.
Writerspace.com: You must have done a lot of intriguing research for LUCIFER'S CROWN. Could you tell us one of the most interesting facts you've discovered during the writing/researching of this novel?
Lillian Stewart Carl: The background material for Lucifer's Crown is taken from material I've been reading my entire life. Specifically for the book, I spent hours walking around Canterbury Cathedral, notebook in hand. I bought several books about the archaeology of Glastonbury at the Abbey book shop--and then picked up some "alternative" booklets at a New Age bookstore across the street.
Writerspace.com: Please tell us more about the characters of Robin Fitzroy and Thomas Beckett. What drives them to be who they are?
Lillian Stewart Carl: I refer to Robin, the villain, as "a polished devil". In his first, original life he was Robert the Devil, the father of William the Conqueror, who killed his brother for power and wealth. In my story, he then sold his soul to the devil for more. He's smooth and handsome, a seducer in every sense of the word, who manipulates people to empower himself. He simply cannot see outside his own ego.
Writerspace.com: What are you working on currently and what can fans look forward to in the near future?
Lillian Stewart Carl: Among other things, I'm working on the second book of a mystery series set in Scotland. Each book will be a complete mystery, but the relationship between the main character, a burned-out American academic, and the police detective she meets in the first book, will play out over several books.
Writerspace.com: How may readers contact you?
Lillian Stewart Carl: I love to hear from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please, though, include one of my book titles or a mention of Writerspace in the subject heading, because I get piles of spam there every day and can easily get carried away with the "delete" key.
Writerspace.com: Lillian, thank you so much for your time. I've really had a great time interviewing you -- and I absolutely loved LUCIFER'S CROWN!
Lillian Stewart Carl: Thank you, Leena. It's been my pleasure!