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LP: TBL's Official Members Interview with Troy Matthew Carnes

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:42:17 GMT

Letters Administrator Since the publication of last month’s Tethered Tidings, we’ve received countless emails asking about Troy Matthew Carnes’ first novel, Rasputin’s Legacy (including where to get signed copies—which can be purchased directly from Carnes at tmattcarnes@gmail.com or through www.lemuriabooks.com). We are thrilled that Carnes has agreed to answer your questions directly in the Literary Sittery for the next two weeks. From writing tips to publishing tales, we are sure to learn a great deal from the author of the spellbinding, supernatural slant on WWII... So get posting, scribblers!

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:45:16 GMT

tmattcarnes Author David, The main one was "The Berkut" by Joseph Heywood. It's a great story! Also, "War of the Rats" by David L. Robbins; "Wildwood Boys" by James Carlos Blake; "Blcak Cross" by Greg Iles; and "First Blood" by David Morrell. Any novels by Robbins, Blake, or Morrell would have worked. Greg Iles books all appeal to me as well, but his first two were set in WWII and were more influencial.

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:45:29 GMT

SkyTy Author Hello Mr. Carnes, I was wondering about your main character, Giorgi. Was it really difficult developing his character since he is so young? How did you cope with that? Thanks! --Sky

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:46:04 GMT

DMHedlund Administrator Troy, Any chance you might spoil us with a little description of the book you are working on right now? Are you going to stay with the theme of weaving a supernatural thread into the Kennedy assassination? Dani

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:46:25 GMT

tmattcarnes Author Sky, Thank you for the question. Yes, it was difficult for me to write about Giorgi. I felt lost when attempting to place myself in the mind of a 9 year-old. I had no real feel for what he would be thinking at first. I soon just quit worrying about getting it perfect and just tried to listen to the voice of my inner child. I think that voice still exists in all of us, we have simply muted it out of necessity, and most of us override it so that we appear strong and mature. But if you think about it, somewhere deep inside our mind, a part of us always says or thinks as if we were still just a child. If you doubt it, just take the time acknowledge every thought that enters your mind the next time your alarm goes off early in the gloomy darkness of a miserably cold morning when you have to go to work. Your inner child has something to say, but we have to ignore it. when I was writing Giorgi, I just tried to listen. I doubt that everything I wrote about him fit the little boy I was going for, but I don't think it is too terribly noticeable.

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:46:48 GMT

tmattcarnes Author Dani, I will share, thank you. I am about 30,000 words in to my next book, and it does have a connection to the Kennedy assasination and to the death of Che Guevara. Some of the same shady figures are thought to have been involved in both events. I have done a great deal research, and I am also drawing on some minor personal experience from my service days in regard to the capture and execution of Guevara. There will not be nearly as much of the supernatural in this novel, but I am continuing the theme of uniquely gifted characters, some good and some diabolical. Like in Rasputin's Legacy, it is kind of a good vs. evil story, only there is not much good to be found in my world. Most of the villains in the story are committing horrific acts in the name of good. Most of the good characters have blood on their hands as well. I suppose I am caught up in the duality of man, the idea that all men are capable of the extremes of good and evil. I can find no other explanation for many of the most significant events of modern history. Whatever my obssess ion, I find it intriguing and frightening that as human beings, we have the capacity within us to do almost anything. My primary bad guy is one of the shooters at the Kennedy assasination, and he is a supremely gifted killer of men. The main character also possesses extraordinary capabilities in the art of killing other men, but he has chosen to use his abilities for what he believes are just and righteous causes. I am having fun writing those two characters, but the history to this story is a tangled mess of facts, lies, speculations and wild accusations. The conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination alone are mind-boggling. Trying to weave a story through all of that is a daunting task.

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:47:03 GMT

Mr.Darcy Author Dear Mr. Carnes, Great stuff so far and I look forward to reading more! Another question along the lines of Mr. Ty's about your methodology: I was wondering about your process, given that many of your locations are across vast tracts of war-torn Europe, and how you conceptualised them. Are they drawn from memory or pure imagination? Have you travelled much in Europe yourself? MD

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:47:36 GMT

tmattcarnes Author MD, Thank you and thanks for the question. I have never been to Europe. I am an avid reader and I watch a lot of the history channel. I've looked at everything I can find on Barbarossa, the battle of Stalingrad, Hitler, and Stalin. The novels' broad swatch of geography was pretty much dictated by the Soviet-German conflict. My descriptions of the places where fighting occurred come from numerous historical accounts and filmed documentaries. The few scenes in Himmler's bizarre Headquarters castle came from the same type of sources. One harrowing book, which I found incredibly disturbing, describes many of the places where the German Einsatzgruppen committed atrocities. Nearly all of my decriptions of towns, villages, killing events, and actual villains came from that book. I will be glad to share the title, but I recommend it only with a stern warning. You will not be able to purge your memory of some of the most grotesque images you will ever encounter. It inspired me to write a more reader friendly account of events like Babi Yar, which is what I hope my book is. If you study the history, you will find that there was not too much imagination necessary on my part. I just wrote my story accross the canvas of history like some photoshop nerd superimposing images over the top of actual photographs

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:48:05 GMT

MRemington Author Hey Troy, I've really been enjoying reading all of these questions and your answers. I especially thought your response to Sky to be inspiring. It's so cool that TBL gives us this opportunity to chat with published authors... Anyway, I was actually wondering something a little less profound: How do you find the time between teaching and your family to write? Do you have a very stringent writing schedule you follow? Do you find that your teaching gives you mental catalysts? Regards, Mark

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:48:37 GMT

Prucible99 User Carnes, Truly a pleasure to read the article about your process and novel on Tethered Tidings! Fantastic stuff and thrilled to begin my reading adventure! You mentioned about knowing your style as an author and how you must have an ear rather than an eye for it. I was curious, does your next historical fiction mirror a similar style as you have presented in "Rasputin's Legacy" or is your style more personal due to the recent era's happening events (I.E. the assassination of Kennedy)? As a writer, style is always in the back of my mind when writing, but I never know exactly what style I'm going for until after I've had multiple revisions. When you wrote your first novel did you find your style immediately after delving into your research or did you have to evolve your style until it came out right in the end? Thanks for answering all the questions! It's been a pleasure and extremely helpful to read about your process as a published writer! -Prudence

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:48:53 GMT

SkyTy Author Thanks Mr. Carnes, That was really insightful. Sky

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:49:06 GMT

HayesDance User Dear Troy, This might be a silly question, but how did you get TBL to write an article about your new book? Thanks, Chrissy

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:49:21 GMT

DAlden Author War of the Rats is one of my favorites! Vasily Zaytsev character is fascinating! What aspects of Robbins' style did you draw inspiration from? --David

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:50:07 GMT

tmattcarnes Author Mark, Finding time and being able to focus during that time are certainly my two greatest challenges. I was able to get about fifteen chapters going late this past summer while I was off, and that has allowed me to be somewhat productive during the school year. We had our second son in Sept., so there hasn't been much time or sleep lately. I do like to set a word goal on days that I get to write. I've found that the number of quality words I'm able to produce in a few hours has gone up dramatically when I am writing regularly. I was thrilled to get a thousand words a day written while I was working on Raputin's Legacy two summers ago. I was able to write the same amount in two hours last week. I was writing about two thousand words a day just before school started. While shool is in session and my two sons require constant attention, I find that I am too tired to write at night, but I do get up at 5:30 and write until they wake up. Usually it gives me an hour at best, but I just try to make a little progress each day. I strongly recommend a writ ing schedule, but mental preparation is essential for me. If I have not put some serious thought into what I'm going to write next, I struggle. I use my shower time or my drive to work. Often I'm to tired to write at night, but not too tired to give my story some thought. I think you just have to do whatever it takes to keep moving forward. A little progress every day is a great thing.

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:51:22 GMT

tmattcarnes Author Prudence, Great question. The style for my next book is very similar to my first. I received some very positive feedback on how the first was written, and I am in a comfortable groove with it, so I have no desire to try anything else at the moment. I really made no attempt to acheive a particular style. I did study several of my favorite novels to see what I could learn from the style they were written in, but none of them were the same. I liked certain things about each one and tried to accomplish some of the same things with my pacing, dialogue, and descriptive diction. I really just tried to follow my ear. If it sounded good to me when I read it back, I kept it, if not, I worked on it until I was pleased. After about a third of the book, I could see that each chapter was following a basic pattern, so I suppose that is my style. I don't really believe that style is something you strive for. I think style is something other people use to describe your writing. As authors, we strive to find what works for us in the telling of a story. I suppose t he result could be called our style, but telling the story in a way that rings true to us is all that matters. What do you think?

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:51:47 GMT

tmattcarnes Author Chrissy, I was very fortunate. My wife, Courtney, is a physical therapist, and she had the great pleasure of working with the grandfather of one of TBL's founders. Courtney and the founder happened to meet during one of his therapy sessions. They got into a discussion about writing, and my wife gave them a copy of my book, and I soon joined TBL. Evidently, the founder read my book and liked it and the review and story were initiated from there. I consider it an honor to have been featured by TBL. I would love to tell you that the story came as a result of shrewd self-marketing on my part or as a result of my endearing charm, but I assume it came about because the staff at TBL found my novel appealing. However it happened, I am thankful and honored.

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:52:03 GMT

LKScribbler Author Hey Troy, So I read about your study of books to develop your style, but that seems like a final step in developing as a writer to me. What about all the steps before hand? How did you learn to write in the first place? Did you have an editor? One or two very wise friends that gave you good feedback? College classes? Thanks so much, Lauren

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:52:33 GMT

tmattcarnes Author David, If you have not read the rest of Robbins work, I strongly recommend it. "The End of War" is about the fall of Berlin and there is another one set at the battle of Kursk that is equally captivating. I suppose the thing I like most about Robbins is how he weaves a compelling story into a monumental moment in history. The story and the history are equally interesting. He also writes his stories from what I call the grunt's the point of view. It's not written from an observer's eye like history. He makes you feel as though it is all happening to you. I certainly try to emulate that quality in my writing.

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:52:52 GMT

Hughes Author Dear Mr. Carnes, I loved the Tethered Tidings article about your book...It's one of the best about-the-book articles I've read and instantly inspired me to order it. I especially loved the part about you joing the armed foreces to learn to "swallow the pill." Though it got me to wondering, what was the moment when you finally decided that you just couldn't do it? When you turned your back on your accounting degree and just said "screw it. I'm going to do what makes me happy?" If you could do it all over again, would you have studied something different? Not join the Green Berets? (Though I fear this would injure your very readable military moments in Rasputin's Legacy. With warm regards, Hughes

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:53:23 GMT

Sphere23 Author Posts: 115 Hey Troy, So my question builds off of Lauren's and Hughes (which I'm hoping won't be made redundant when you answer them): As a young writers, we seem to be singularly focused on what college/grad school degree to pursue to create the foundation of becoming a novelist. You are very educated, but not in the traditional literary paths. Do you find this ideal? Would you have started out studying lit/writing if you knew at 18 that you would be about to "swallow the pill?" What career advice do you have for all us young writers out there? And building off of Hughes comment about your military sections...is the best path for a young writer just to experience as much of life as possible so we can translate it into prose? (cause my mom is not going to find that amusing.) :) Janet

Tethered by Letters
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 07:53:55 GMT

tmattcarnes Author Lauren, I really don’t think anyone can teach you how to write. I believe it is a gift that begins with a love for the written word and turns into a deep-rooted passion. I feel that writing is both a wonderful gift and a wretched curse, a burning desire and an empty dream. It is a gift that can be developed, nurtured, perhaps even perfected, but it can’t be conjured where there is none. I could never be an artist or a musician, because I have no ability, no talent, and only enough desire to cause me to daydream about it. I would love to be able to paint, play an instrument, or even draw, and I could work hard at it the rest of my life, but I would still be terrible at it. You write because you must, and you learn to write by reading good writing, by hearing beautifully crafted sentences in your head, and by seeing brilliantly wrought images in your mind. There is a book about the painter Walter Anderson, written by his widow Agnes Grinstead Anderson, that is the best explanation of the artistic mind that I’ve ever come across. It is titled Ap proaching the Magic Hour. When I finished it, I knew I would never be an artist, but I started believing that I could become a writer. My advice to you is to JUST WRITE! Write what you love. Write what moves you. Write the kind of book that you like to read, but write. If you have the burning desire, don’t let anything stop you. Once you’ve written something, let people you trust read it. I had three editors. My wife read each chapter as I finished it. She was very helpful, but she is my wife. She tells me I’m good-looking and a great lover which, I suspect, are both lies, or at least biased responses. So I sent every few chapters to a good friend who is a teacher. I asked her to read the chapters critically and to look for errors and other problems. I also asked her to tell me what she thought about the story and characters. She helped me to correct my manuscript and to be sure the story was compelling and the characters interesting. Once it was finished, I hired a professional to edit it for me. I also had two friends read it in blocks of 5-10 chapters as I wrote them. I asked them not to edit, but just to read it like a book they had bought. I wanted them to tell me if it read well and if they wanted to read more. The feedback I got from all of them was critical to my confidence in the novel, and it is what kept me writing. Lauren, if you want to be a writer, then WRITE! Then, let some people you trust to tell you the truth decide whether or not it is any good, just be sure to choose those people carefully. Troy

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