Interview and Giveaway with Carrie Stuart Parks

Time for a change to Suspense with the amazing Carrie Stuart Parks!

Ahhh, Carrie, what can I say…I met Carrie about a year ago at the ACFW conference. She critiqued a section of my manuscript and believe it or not, she liked it. ☺We had a great conversation and as they say, the rest is history. She is so generous with her time and willingness to help. I can’t thank her enough.

Please welcome Carrie Stuart Parks!

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Carrie Stuart Parks

Where did you get your ideas for your books? Lately I’ve been brainstorming with fellow writers—Colleen Coble, Lynette Eason, Robin Caroll, Pam Hillman, Voni Harris, and my agent, Karen Solem. Several others have joined us in the past. I get a rough idea of location and problem and we all run with it. We try to get together once a year. Can I just say I’m jealous!

Tell us about your “other” career. ☺  I’m a forensic artist—I use my art to work with law enforcement and the legal community on criminal and civil cases. This includes composite drawings of unknown subjects, image modification, unknown remains, crime scene sketches, demonstrative evidence, and courtroom illustrations. My husband, Rick, and I teach these topics to law enforcement personnel.

I’m also a professional artist with watercolor as my primary medium.

I’ve heard your mentor is quite an interesting character. Do tell! Frank Peretti, the “Dean of Christian Fiction,” mentored me for eight years. What a TOTAL blessing.

How long does it take you to write a novel? The idea floats around for a few months while I finish the previous book, then the plotting, character development, and research takes about 4 months. Writing takes 8 months—so a year. I’d probably be faster, but I have a “day job.”

Who’s your all-time favorite character? Of mine? Gwen Marcey, of course.

When is your next release? Shameless plug time! July 23 is the release day for Fragments of Fear. From the back cover:

Evelyn McTavish’s world came crashing down with the suicide of her fiancé. As she struggles to put her life back together and make a living from her art, she receives a call that her dog is about to be destroyed at the pound. Except she doesn’t own a dog. But the shelter is adamant that the microchip embedded in the canine with her name and address makes it hers.

Evelyn recognizes the dog as one owned by archaeologist John Coyote because she did a commissioned drawing of the two of them. The simple solution is to return the dog to his owner—but she arrives only to discover John’s murdered body.

As Evelyn herself becomes a target, her path crosses with undercover FBI agent Sawyer Price. But the more he gets to know her, the more personally invested he is in keeping her safe. They’re desperate to find the links between these disparate pieces. And the clock is ticking.

Tell us a little bit about your typical day. My “typical” day isn’t ever typical. I wake up between 5-6 AM (depending on dogs.) After putting them outside, then in, then out, then in until I am going nuts, I do my daily devotional with my first gallon of coffee. Then I answer emails and putter on the computer before starting on writing. I write a few hours every day if possible. I keep a spiral notebook open with the projects that need to be done—ordering art supplies for classes, bookkeeping, follow-up, art delivery, enrollment, and so on.

We travel to various locations about once a month to teach our week-long classes, so as the class approaches, the list will include packing, rosters, handouts, shipping books, airline tickets, dog care, and so many other things that I get tired just thinking about it… Rick (hubby) schedules the classes, does the newsletter, books the hotel and rental cars, and handles some correspondence.

In addition to the forensic classes, I’m a professional speaker. I talk on forensic art, signs of deception, and writing. I use Powerpoint extensively and customize it for each group, so preparing, timing, corresponding with the group, booking flights, hotels, and so on may take a chunk of the day. Whew. Now I am tired…

Then there are the dogs (I’ll answer a later question here.) I have six pooches: four Great Pyrenees and two bull terriers. I completed my Pyrenees permit judging license this year and am picking up the three provisional assignments to complete the final AKC requirements. I show several of the dogs, something I’ve been doing since I was nine. On that handy list I mentioned earlier are getting ready for the shows (showing locally, judging in Chicago, New Jersey, Washington State, and California.) Add grooming, training, kennel cleaning…I’m exhausted…

Finally, there’s the routine maintenance around here. We live on the family’s 685-acre ranch in the mountains of North Idaho. We have our home, guest house (used for classes in the summer,) the 20 x 30’ studio, and dog kennel. I’m going back to bed…

When did you start writing? Probably some time in the early 1990s. Non-fiction art books and books on signs of deception.

Tell us about your first book contract.  My first was for a non-fiction, illustrated Secrets to Drawing Realistic Faces. My first fiction contract came after eight years of being mentored by Frank, around ten writing conferences, numerous online classes, two critique groups, and over 80 books on the subject. The “learning” book didn’t sell originally, so I wrote a second. A partial of the second book (which became A Cry From the Dust) was sent to seven publishing houses. One didn’t answer, one said they weren’t doing fiction anymore, and five wanted the manuscript. It went to auction between two of the big five, with Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian signing me for a three book deal. That book won a Carol and finaled in the Christy’s. All of the books in that 4-book series won major awards. God is good.

What is the hardest part about being an author? Is there an easy part? Just sitting down with discipline and writing.

Who is your favorite author? Frank Peretti, of course. Dick Frances, Jonathan and Fay Kellerman, J.A. Jance, early Patricia Cornwell. Colleen Coble, Robin Caroll, Ronie Kendig, Lynette Eason, Cara Putman…oh my! So many books, so little time.

What is your favorite book? In terms of reading it the most times, the Bible.

I recall you have a big fluffy bear…oops, I mean dog. Do tell! I did mention the dogs earlier. I served as the president of the Great Pyrenees Club of America—something my mother did. I inherited the kennel and love of dogs from both my folks. They have since passed on, and I feel like I honor their memory by continuing to have them.

Anything you want to brag about? I think I’ve done enough damage….

Now for the important questions:

Pepsi or Coke?   Coke

Candy, cookies, or cake?    Have you seen me? Yes!

Favorite food?  More like what won’t I eat…

Coffee or Tea? Coffee in the am, iced tea in the afternoon.

Favorite vacation? All of them.

Favorite TV show?  Hmmmm. I binge watch different shows based on my mood.

Favorite Movie? Do I have to choose one?

Any hobbies? I guess the dogs count as a hobby—the writing, art, and teaching are wonderful jobs.

Carrie, thank you so much for joining us and for the fun giveaway.

Please join me next month for a giveaway and interview with Lynette Eason.