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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 Good Goodbye, 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: From a variety of sources. I'm a Venus flytrap, ready to snatch anything that triggers my imagination. For example, when I read about a tragic accident that brought together two families through a chain of unbelievable circumstances, I couldn't help but wonder about those families and the challenges they faced, and my musings eventually formed the starting point for The Good Goodbye. 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 try to write a minimum of four continuous hours a day, longer if I can wrangle someone else into walking my dogs. Sometimes I work at home, but generally, I find I'm more productive at a nearby coffee shop or my local library. I need the peer pressure! How can I play online Scrabble if there's a chance someone could pass by and see?

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.