I’d like to welcome Carrie Turansky to the blog today. Carrie’s first novella, Wherever Love Takes Us, was published in 2005 as part of a Barbour four-in-one novella collection. Since then she has published a range of novellas and novels, and signed a three-book contract with Waterbrook Multnomah in October 2012.
First, congratulations on the publication of The Governess of Highland Hall, the first in your Edwardian Brides series. What was the inspiration behind that?
Thank you! Like many viewers, I fell in love with Edwardian culture when I watched the British series “Downton Abbey”. That prompted me to think about writing a novel set during that time period and also to visit England in 2012 as part of my research. The beautiful countryside and lovely historic homes captured my imagination, and the story and characters came to life in my mind.
And I’ve always admired the English missionary Amy Carmichael who travelled to India during that time same time period. Reading her biography gave me several ideas to help me create the background for my heroine, Julia Foster. My research led me to a beautiful country estate near Bristol called Tyntesfield, and I used that as my setting. Tyntesfield is actually pictured on the cover.
|Carrie at Highclere, better known as Downton Abbey|
Most of the books I’ve written in the past have been shorter contemporary novels or novellas, but I’ve always wanted to write a longer historical novel set in England. After I submerged myself in the research for a few months, the story seemed to pour out of my heart, and I felt like I found my writer’s voice as I typed out this novel. That is a wonderful feeling!
And what was the hardest part?
The hardest part was the rush to finish at the end. There was a bit of confusion about the date I needed to turn the book in, and it turned out that the editor needed it two weeks early to stay on schedule. So I was working long hours those last few weeks to finish it up so I could turn it in on time.
Some of your novels have been historical fiction, others have been contemporary. Which do you prefer to write? Why?
I enjoy writing both, but for now I am very happy to have the opportunity to write historical novels. At first I was hesitant to write a historical novel, especially one set in another country, but as I did the research I fell in love with the Edwardian Era, and the story and characters rose up out of the research.
I see from your website that you’ve moved from publishing novella, to Love Inspired romance, and now to a full-length novel series with Waterbrook Multnomah. Not all authors are able to be that versatile. What challenges have you had in moving from novella, to category romance, to full-length fiction?
I have written five novellas for Barbour, and each of those was about 20,000 words. I tend to “write long” so it was a real challenge to tell a complete story with a short word count like that, but those projects helped me learned to write tight and make every scene move the story forward. I wrote five contemporary category romances that were around 60,000 words. That gave me more room to develop my plot and characters more fully, still it was hard for me to tell the complete story I wanted to write.
Now my historical novels are about 100, 000 words. I like that longer length much better because it allows me to include more characters and subplots. There’s room for a bit more description and a time to build to a bigger climax. I think each type of writing has been a good building block for my writing career, and I am very grateful for each of these opportunities!
It was a long journey to publication. What were the highlights? Did you ever feel like giving up? What helped when you felt like giving up?
I started writing in 1997 after our family returned from spending a year in Kenya. I missed it so much I thought if I wrote a story set there I could relive some of my experiences. I had written articles, essays and devotions, but I didn’t know anything about writing fiction. I just typed out a story and thought it was great.
When I attended my first writers’ conference and showed an editor my chapter she was quite discouraging. I was deflated and almost gave up, but the Lord impressed on my heart that I could learn how to write if I would keep writing. I joined an online writers group, American Christian Fiction Writers, and through that organization I received the training, encouragement, and support to continue on. I got involved in a critique group and connected with a wonderful mentor. I met my agent through ACFW and also the editors who eventually contracted my books.
Since my first novella was published in 2005 I’ve had ten more novels and novellas published. There are still challenges that come your way after you’re published, but I’m very excited and grateful to be writing inspirational fiction. The emails and letters I receive from readers are very encouraging and confirm that God is using my stories to touches people’s hearts and draw them closer to Him.
You’ve also won or placed in several writing competitions. What effect has that had?
Placing and winning contests had been an encouragement to me, and I believe it helps add weight to your proposals. When I was unpublished, the feedback I received from judges was very helpful, and I am grateful for the time many took to give me helpful suggestions to improve my writing. With that in mind, I judge some contests each year and meet with aspiring authors at writers conferences.
What advice would you give to pre-published authors today?
I’d encourage them to read good books by authors who are award-winning in the genre they’d like to write, join a writer’s group, find critique partners, attend writers conferences, enter writing contests, and keep on writing. Perseverance pays off.
It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?
I agree! That’s great advice as I mentioned above. I enjoy reading both contemporary and historical novels. When I find an author I like, I don’t really care what genre it is, I will follow them and keep reading whatever they write. Some of my favorite historical authors are Cathy Gohlke (Promise Me This and Band of Sisters) Laura Frantz (The Colonel’s Lady, and Love’s Reckoning). Some of my favorite contemporary authors are Becky Wade (My Stubborn Heart and Undeniably Yours) and Katie Ganshert (Wishing on Willows).
I’ve read several of those book, but nothing from Cathy Gohlke. I’ll have to look out for her.
What was the last novel you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?
I just finished Burning Sky:, which is Lori Benton’s debut novel, and I loved it! She is such a gifted writer. I hated to see this book end. It’s one of the very best novels I’ve read all year and I highly recommend it! Thank you, Iola, for your help with The Governess of Highland Hall! I appreciate you being one of my early readers and your help catching some of the phrases that sounded too American.
It was a pleasure. I really enjoyed the story, and will be posting my review when the book officially launches.
I love to connect with reading friends on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!
Thank you for joining us, Carrie. I hope everyone else likes The Governess of Highland Hall as much as I did!
You can find out more about Carrie Turansky at her website.
Interview by Iola Goulton. I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website (www.christianediting.co.nz), or follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christianediting), Twitter (@IolaGoulton) or Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/iolasreads). I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog (www.christianreads.blogspot.com).