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Carla Buckley

Carla Buckley was born in Washington, D.C. She has worked as an assistant press secretary for a U.S. senator, an analyst with the Smithsonian Institution, and a technical writer for a defense contractor. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, an environmental scientist, and their three children. She is the author of The Deepest Secret, Invisible, and The Things That Keep Us Here, which was nominated for a Thriller Award as a Best First novel and the Ohioana Book Award for fiction. She is currently at work on her next novel.

Q & A

Where do you get your ideas?

A: The inspiration for The Deepest Secret came from my deep-rooted desire to explore the bittersweet relationship between mother and son. As parents, our job is to raise our sons to be men, but in so doing, we have to let them go. In Invisible, I wanted to talk about the complicated, rich, and sometimes turbulent relationships between sisters. The Things That Keep Us Here was launched by a nightmare I had about an avian influenza pandemic in which I made a terrible decision. I woke up the next morning and began writing.

Could you talk a little about your writing process? When do you find time to write, do you outline, that sort of thing?

A: I write while my children are at school (even if this requires me to give them a little push to get them on the school bus.) This generally gives me six hours, minus the time needed to separate the dogs and make sure they're not rummaging through the trash. Summer pretty much follows the same routine. I get up early and write until my children wake up and need something. Since they're teenagers, that's usually mid-afternoon.

I used to write without any sort of plot, which was fun, because I never knew where I was going until I got there, but it also made for a pretty incoherent story. It wasn't until I started outlining, working toward key plot points while leaving some wiggle room for inspiration, that I found my best writing method.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

A: Never give up. I wrote eight novels (all traditional mysteries) before The Things That Keep Us Here, and received my share of rejection letters in the process. Join a writers critique group; not only will your work improve but you'll have a built-in support group. After all, who else understands the highs and lows of writing but another writer? Go to book signings and writers conferences to hear authors talk about their process and to learn about the ever-changing publishing industry. Most importantly, read. Read everything.