I’m overwhelmed and so happy at the responses I’ve had to my requests for writers to feature on my blog! Thank you to everyone who has volunteered to participate, and to everyone who’s reading. If you would like to be featured, please send me an email at email@example.com.
On this rainy Writer Wednesday, I’m introducing you to the inspiring writer and poet Audrey Carroll. Read on to learn about her writing, her platforms, and where to find her for more news about her upcoming publications.
Let’s start with a little bit about you. Where are you from? When and how did you first get into writing?
I’m from Flushing, Queens (just like Fran Fine!). I remember writing little things when I was in first grade, around the time I first read/obsessed over Charlotte’s Web. Then I entered a couple of picture book competitions where I wrote the words and drew the pictures. The books featured a lost cat and they were titled Come Back, Sylvia! and Come Back, Sylvia! 2. By the time I was 9 I wanted to be a writer/artist/ballerina.
Tell me about your writing process.
I write on whatever’s available. These days, I typically write on my computer. However, if I’ve got an hour between meetings and a pen, I take advantage and scribble a poem in a journal I keep in my purse or on the back of a receipt or whatever’s handy. Lately I’ve been writing/editing poetry in the mornings and writing my fiction late at night. I used to be a meticulous plotter, but I’ve tried to let go of my control freak tendencies a little bit. I try writing to about what feels like the midway point of a novel and then plot the rest from there. For novels, I’ll write 1,000 words of the first draft per day until it’s done. For short fiction, I’ll write it in one sitting, put it aside, maybe get some feedback, and then go back in to revise at least a week later. For poetry, I think it depends on what I’m working on. I recently took advantage of NaPoWriMo and wrote one poem every day. Usually I’ll do that in three week spurts at random points in the year.
Your poetry collection, Queen of Pentacles, is forthcoming from Choose the Sword Press. Tell me about your journey to publication and how you got connected with CSP. Is there a release date yet? How has the process been for you so far?
Queen of Pentacles is the first poetry collection I’ve ever written. I’ve been submitting novels since I was a naïve 15 year old. I’d never thought about putting together a poetry book. Then I wrote a bunch of poems to submit somewhere as a chapbook. It got rejected, but they gave me some really useful feedback. I reevaluated, wrote some new stuff, and then revised a whole lot. Once several of the poems were accepted by lit mags, I decided to start sending the book around—one publisher per day, starting during my winter break from my MFA program in 2015. Choose the Sword Press was one of the first I sent to. I was hopeful when I’d submitted to them. Their slogan, “read a fuckin’ book,” seemed to really jive with my personal aesthetic, and they wanted underrepresented narratives. As a queer woman who writes identity narratives, that was really important for me. They have been an absolute joy to work with, and have had total respect for my authorial intent. There isn’t a release date yet, but hopefully there will be soon!
What can readers expect from Queen of Pentacles? What are you trying to communicate with your poems?
Queen of Pentacles is an exploration of identity. Identity narratives are my obsession in poetry, both in my reading and writing. Queen of Pentacles struggles with identity as a woman, bisexuality, an abusive past, mental illness, and healing through a personal spirituality that draws on connection to the natural world. I’m trying to both convey a particular experience to those who might have a very different background, and to reach out to those who can relate to these aspects of identity and connect in a very fundamental way.
You have short stories coming out in a couple of anthologies. What can you tell me about your stories and those collections?
On May 1, 2016, the Mosaics Volume 2 anthology released, and it included my short story “Like Father.” I’d been trying for a couple of years to re-imagine my favorite fairytale, “Bluebeard.” When taking a Forms of Fiction course in my MFA, one of the stories we had to write was Gothic. I thought about the aspects of what is horrifying and what is claustrophobic. I came to the idea that one of the biggest risks the modern woman takes is going home with a man she doesn’t know. I’d been thinking, too, about how women in stories often commit the “sin” of curiosity, and this tied in with “Bluebeard.” All of these elements married in “Like Father.” Mosaics Volume 2 is a collection of feminist works. I’m really proud to be a part of it for lots of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the profits go to the Pixel Project.
The Deserts of Fire anthology is slotted to come out July 5, 2016. This anthology is a collection of war stories with speculative elements. My story “The People We Kill” is magical realism and follows the narrative of two young men and how war has changed them.
I know you’re currently querying an urban fantasy manuscript called Devils in the Valley. Can you give me your “elevator pitch” for this novel?
Amber’s college tuition is paid in full by bureaucratic Exercitus. In exchange, she uses her witch powers to fight demons. When she slips up and breaks one of Exercitus’ rules, Amber is put on probation. But she can’t shake this feeling that something is up with the rise in demon population. Amber teams up with rogue warlock James to covertly investigate the source of the demonic surge. But the deeper she gets, the more intoxicating her power becomes…
What are you working on now?
I’ve written the first draft of a second poetry collection. Where Queen of Pentacles explores identity, this collection claims solid footing in five aspects of identity and then additionally layers in intersectionality. Right now a friend of mine is reading that to give me feedback.
I’m working on notes for two new book ideas: One is a memoir about having fibromyalgia, in particular about my journey to diagnosis and re-contextualizing myself in the world as someone with invisible illness. The other is a YA contemporary romance that stars a bisexual girl and her girlfriend. I also have a currently shelved adult book about two goddesses who are in a relationship and on the run from a power-hungry god.
What inspires you to write poetry versus prose?
My poetry tends to be where my righteous fury goes: indignation at how women are treated, for instance, or frustration with bi-erasure. My fiction tends to be about how the external conflict helps us work through our internal conflict, typically from a female perspective. My nonfiction tends to be born out of wanting to make sense of something, to see the connections that might not make themselves obvious in everyday life.
You identify on Twitter as a #fibrowarrior. How has your diagnosis of fibromyalgia influenced your writing?
I was only diagnosed in March, so it’s all still new. I’d been having symptoms for months. At first, the doctor I was seeing wrote it off because it was simple enough to claim it was my anxiety or depression flaring up. I wasn’t taken seriously until I needed a cane to walk without falling over. Being chronically ill is one of the sections of my new poetry collection. I think there’s a frustration and futility that I really had to work through in my writing. It’s something I hope others with fibro and similar conditions can relate to, and it’s a way I’m trying to convey how radically the condition reshapes everyday life, from mobility to the ability to remember whether or not I’ve taken my medication. There is, of course, the book-length memoir I’m working on as well that centers around my diagnosis and how this lifelong condition has forced me to reimagine my life.
What book are you reading now?
Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century, edited by Michael Dumanis and Cate Marvin. And the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 10 comics—Christos Gage is my favorite comics writer.
I saw on your website that you’re a Ravenclaw. Can you tell me why?
I’m a Ravenclaw because I’m obsessed with knowledge. I’ve always loved school and reading and knowing things. Hermione was my favorite, and even if she’s a Gryffindor it’s her love of learning and of using her mind to solve issues that I admired and connected with.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m very involved in the Rooster Teeth community. I love organizing online charity streams on Twitch and doing positivity projects. Reading, obviously. Watching TV that really engages me, typically through its themes and character moments—Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and recently The Originals, Bitten, iZombie, and the US Being Human. Gaming—most recently Rise of the Tomb Raider. (I really like strong but still human and complex female characters.) And then domestic stuff, like baking and cooking and knitting.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to visit and follow Audrey on her social media pages for more news about her upcoming releases!
Lover of kittens, coffee, Supernatural, Buffy, and the Rooster Teeth community.
Queens, NYC native.
Questions for Audrey? Leave a comment below!