Today’s exclusive interview is with author and MTW2017 participant Anne Carmichael, who lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky. Her newest mystery/romance is titled, Elderhaus.
Here’s something to whet your literary appetite:
Gertrude spent the better part of her adult life scouring Europe for Helmut Klingenfelter, the father who vanished not only from her life and that of her mother’s, but had forsaken everyone in his past.
With midlife looming on the horizon, Gertie made the decision to stop chasing the ghosts of the past and return to her childhood home of Pitch Pine, where she purchased a century-old house at 1211 Castle Lane sight unseen.
Elderhaus, as it came to be known, had a mysterious past of its own, one that would threaten more than Gertrude’s desire to find happiness.
Tell us something(s) about the book that the blurb doesn’t reveal:
Gertie is a confirmed introvert. She would rather spend time with animals than people. When she finally has a fling with a gorgeous man, everyone warns her that becoming involved with the Haskell family could cost her everything.
What was your favorite or most surprising comment/review about the book?
There’s only one review for Elderhaus at this time; however only the e-book has only recently been released. Of my other six books, the 60+ five-star reviews for Magoo Who: Life Through My Eyes and the reader’s plea to make it a series (4 books) motivated me to keep pursuing writing as a career.
If given a chance, which author (living or dead) would you like to meet (have met)?
No contest – Ernest Hemingway. I like his writing. I love his devil-may-care attitude and lifestyle.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast as which characters?
Amanda Peet – Gertie Klingenfelter (our protagonist, Jewish heritage, late 30’s. Loved her in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’)
Lisa Kudrow – Sally Jaeger (no filter, loyal friend, innkeeper)
Trey Haskell – Stephen Amell (antagonist, contractor on Elderhaus remodel, son of steel mogul)
Noah Myers – James Franco (law school fail, veterinarian, has crushed on Gertie since grade school)
What is the main conflict in your book? Secondary conflicts?
1. Gertie’s father walked out when she was just five years old. She spent most of her adult life scouring Germany for him, since both her mother’s and father’s family had fled Germany during WWII. He’d never shown either her mother or her any affection and he’d never discussed his past. She wanted answers.
2. Gertie bought Elderhaus, (a century-old Victorian house in her hometown of Pitch Pine, PA) sight unseen while still in Europe. Her Realtor hired Trey Haskell, local contractor, to do the repairs on the house. Trey was rugged and drop-dead gorgeous, but when Gertie began an affair with him, everyone warned her of the dangers of becoming involved with his powerful family.
What is your favorite quote from the book and why?
John Lennon’s quote begins this story: ‘Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.’ The quote is applicable not only to the main character in the book, but to the book’s author as well. I had never given any thought whatsoever to writing books. It fell into my lap, as though it were my destiny.
I wanted badly to retire because all my friends were retiring, but knew that since my divorce, I really couldn’t financially manage it. Then I saw a blind cat (Magoo Who: The Blind Kitty Who Stole My Heart) on Facebook. Goo already had thousands of fans and I thought his story would make a great book. Goo was two years old and blind. He had been wandering the streets of South Philly since birth everyone wondered how he could possibly have survived. Something urged me to approach his owners and ask if they’d be interested in doing a book and the rest is history! I created characters from the other animals he encountered during those two lost years and ‘Magoo Who: Life Through My Eyes’ became the first book in what would be a series of four books that launched my writing career.
So Lennon’s quote was not only applicable to my heroine, but to me as well.
What are you working on next and when do you expect it to be on the shelves?
My next book is called The Manifest. I hope to have it out by the end of 2017.
What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of publishing today?
I would love to have begun my writing career when the big publishing houses paid upfront for a book, promoted it and the author and paid for everything. Today, unless you’re a Mary Higgins Clark, you pretty much do your own marketing, which leaves little time for writing.
Are you traditionally published or self-published and why?
My first two books were ‘traditionally’ published in that the publisher absorbed all the costs of editing, printing, etc. I still did my own promotions.
I am now considered ‘self-published’, but the same publisher still edits, proofs and formats and I still do all the marketing; the difference being that I pay for those services.
If you were going to dabble in a different genre, what would it be and why?
‘Elderhaus’ is my first foray away from all-ages, 150-page animal books. This is my first, full-length adult novel. I’ve spent two years writing and tweaking it.
I really felt the need to challenge myself, use my mind and write books with more depth. I did feel that I needed to gradually transition my current reader base, who are primarily animal-lovers. I touched on my original concept for ‘Elderhaus’, which was to be about senior dogs. Elderhaus means ‘old house’ in German, so it was to be a book about an old house dedicated to saving old dogs. I had done books about cats, horses and polar bears. There are several senior dogs that show up one at a time and are rescued by the heroine and they’re woven into the story in other ways, but they’re not the focus of the book.
Having now immersed myself in the mystery genre, I’m very excited about the freedoms I will have during the writing of The Manifest.
Anne was kind enough to share an excerpt of Elderhaus with us:
“This cannot be happening,” muttered Gertrude Klingenfelter to herself and any of the dozen FBI agents swarming throughout her home. “This stuff happens on cop shows or in some booming metropolis…certainly not in Pitch Pine, Pennsylvania and certainly not to me!
My plan was simple. I would move back to Pitch Pine, buy a house on the Historic Preservation List and spend the remaining half of my life puttering about and restoring the house to its original glory. Of course, I did it all backwards. I bought the house online and then went home to Pitch Pine for the big reveal. The ad said ‘as is’, but who knew that meant ‘uninhabitable’ as the contractor soon told me. I believe that was right before I fell through the front porch.
I’m forty-three years old for cripes sake. I foolishly squandered away the best part of my life searching for the father who abandoned us when I was five years old…five feckin years old.
She began to mutter a string of obscenities that her rigid upbringing should not have allowed her to use but use them she did, and with some regularity. “I’ve never had a relationship with anyone that lasted five years since then,” she said bitterly as she threw her clothes and makeup into suitcases.
She played the remainder of the soliloquy in her head. This is supposed to be my dream home. It was in shambles when I bought it. Now the house is finished…or it was before the Feds ripped out the walls and floors; but now my life is in shambles. I have no idea how I’m ever going to be able to step foot in this house again.
Gertie extended the handles on two large, gun-metal gray suitcases and dragged them bouncing from one step to the next, the wheels spinning the bags out of control. Undaunted, she just yanked on them ever more violently as if the clattering noise seemed to articulate the turbulence churning within her. Her overnight bag, which was intended to hang cross-body style, slid around onto her back and the wide strap threatened to choke the life out of her. The heavy suitcase slammed into the screen door, pulling her backwards and she collapsed onto the front porch. That’s when the dam burst and spewed forth thirty-eight years of backlogged tears that had been building since the night Helmut Klingenfelter drove away and left Gertie and her mother, Anyaleise, irrevocably alone.