Q&A with author Carol Piner


A very warm welcome to author Carol Piner...

Name one book that made you think 'wow'? Why did it have such an effect on you?
Like many, my heart was taken when I read "Pride and Prejudice". When younger, I saw it as "poor girl does good" material. As I continued to read it and grew in maturity, I found the power of the writing could not be denied. Many women will always be in love with Mr. Darcy and wish they had the strength of will of Lizzie.
I cannot overlook "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt as a book that battles for my favorite. I could not put it down until I finished it. About ten times.

Who is your favourite author and why? 
I have to choose Jane Austen. Although her books had a common theme, the personalities of the women about whom she wrote did not. I also enjoyed her way of making fun of the people she knew by writing them into her books. I do that, but not in her style.

Name one of your all-time favourite book covers? 
How do I choose any cover other than mine? I painted it. I had always had trouble painting white skin with all its variations. However, I put together a composition that I never saw coming of two friends of mine who had hair the color of my Mama. After getting the hair right, I put in the blue highlights. I painted the eyes brown and it was jarring and didn't work. I started working my way into blue, but was very unhappy with it. I finally decided to paint them the color of the highlights. Suddenly, it struck me that I was looking right into my Mama's eyes. She is a powerful character in my book, although the book is not about her. When I saw her eyes, I sat and cried and decided "Raven" would be the cover of the book I hadn't finished. She motivated me to finish the final chapters.

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why? 
I prefer authors of today because I have so many questions I would like to ask them. Brad Metzger, Tim Green, John Katzenbach, Elizabeth George, Nancy Taylor Rosenberg and John Lescroart. They are artists when it comes to writing legal mysteries, my favorite genre. I desperately wanted to become a lawyer because I love to debate and I am able to see both sides of an argument, or so I have been told.

Who, or what, inspires you? 
Without doubt, my Mama inspires me even today. She was a complete hell-cat in a time where women were more inclined to "put up" with their men's doings. This is the dedication I wrote to my Mama in my book, "This book is dedicated to my Mama, also known as the hell-cat. The woman who taught me to laugh and to feel free to "have at it" if I felt the need to. At the same time, she allowed me to be the crazy ass fool I am." Mama faced every adversity that could come her way. Five kids in six years. A husband that took his women to church with him. Kids who deserted her to go to him because he had money; we had roaches.
Yet, she was the funniest woman I ever knew and I have loved and looked up to her every day of my life. Personally, I think it started in the womb when she rammed Daddy's Cadillac at Buff Chapman's Texaco because he had a woman with him. I distinctly remember cheering her on, "Git him, Mama! Git him!" while still in the womb. I knew even then that she was "the home team" and I never forgot it. Me? I came out with a slightly squashed head.

Where is your favourite place to write? 
Oddly enough, my office. A place where I got chapter by chapter editing and support. I would write a chapter, then take it to a lady who worked for me named Pauly Brown. She and I were avid readers and I trusted her to not only wield a nasty pen when it came to my errors, but she had a lively, out loud laugh that I could hear from my office. Once I took a chapter to her, I would return to my office and sit...and wait. Before long I could hear her start to chuckle, then that wonderful out loud laugh she had. I would smile and start another chapter because I knew I was on track.

What is your favourite film that was based on a book? 
I cannot deny that "Pride and Prejudice" with Keira Knightley is my all time favorite movie. Not just because it is my favorite book, but because Ms. Knightley's acting brought Lizzie to life for me in a way none of the other movie versions had. I think Jane Austen would have been thrilled to see her book so well done. I believe she was perfect for the part. I have probably seen it 15 or more times. I have all the different versions I could find, but I return to Keira's time after time. There is a good chance I identified with her in ways. As a female in a fishing village, I was not too excited about having few choices in life. At the time my Daddy refused to put the girls through college. I was fortunate to get two scholarships or my whole life would have been different.

What is your your book about? 
My book is a, as one of my readers said, " a jaw-dropping, full-speed-ahead romp through the life of one girl that took all that life could throw at her." My character has been described to me as enormously funny in seriously heart-warming ways. My Mama was a story-teller and she taught me how to tell funny stories. The stories I chose in my book are those that rose to the top, so to speak. The kitchen, where all hell broke loose often, mostly by Mama, with me cheering her on. Daddy shooting the family ghost in the bathroom. The awesome hurricanes and my unconditional love for them (as long as no one got hurt by the skates). All the stories are true although I embellished the endings for humor and impact. Altogether, it is a hysterically funny book that is very uplifting, or so my readers say. I didn't realize that when I wrote it. By the way, don't expect dialogue.

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the main characters? 
Personally, I would love Meg Ryan or any blonde that can sneer real well. The sneer is important. Not a "boo-boopy-doop" kind of girl, though. I was never silly, ever. Funny as hell, yes; silly-no. You have to understand, I have spent my whole life making fun of other people. Mostly those that deserved it. One of my readers very kindly suggeted that I should play the part because no one else could. If I weren't 64 years old, I'd do it.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
What is most interesting about me is my ability to bounce. Bounce back, bounce around...whatever, but bounce. I have gone up twice and come crashing down twice and it doesn't seem to bother me. That's that fighting adversity thing everybody likes so much in the book. Mama taught me to laugh. Two weeks after it has happened, I'll have you rolling on the floor. I have been called a stand-up comic and comedy writer. What I am is Mama's child.

Tell us something interesting about the area where you live. 
I live on a beach so far east of North Carolina that the highway actually falls right into the ocean. I loved growing up here and think I grew up in a special time and place. However, I also hated my home town because we were the talk of the town and when I returned here it was against my will. Now, twenty years later, you can't get me out of here. I will die here.

Sporty or couch potato? As a former tom-boy, I love all sports. Actually, I am a recluse. In spite of my funny and friendly ways, I have never been comfortable around people. I can gear myself up and do it, but it is harder for me than most people realize. I meet my commitments but it is unbearably difficult. If there is anything that lingers from my past, this is it.

Also, I love for people to contact me for a copy of my book. That way, I can sign it for them. I love doing that because I always loved getting signed books myself. They only have to email me at sunny@clis.com and it is very easy.

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