Spotlight on Author Carole McDonnell

ISBN-10: 0809557797
ISBN-13: 978-0809557790
348 pages, $12.95

I first met author Carole McDonnell in a mutual yahoo group we both belong to which soon turned out to be three yahoo groups (and so on and so on :-)). She is the grand idea maker behind the Writers of Color Blog tour which is a great support group for authors of color getting the word out about their works. I had a chance to read Carole's work and, I must say, if ever there was a contemporary author who has a distinct, unique voice it is her. Very lyrical and prose-like, her words read with a classical feeling you don't see much of in today's books.

That is why I am happy to spotlight Carole this month as she celebrates the recent release of her novel Wind Follower published by Juno Books.

I recently had a Q & A with Carole to learn more about Wind Follower as well as her journey and life as a writer.

Q: What are your main concerns as a writer?

CM: My first concern is that I want to do what God wants me to do. I want to write what I am supposed to write. The world is full of racism, and I feel he made me a black woman in order that I should write about race…and about women. But primarily about race. I am also a Christian and I believe that the world is separated from God so I write in order to bring people closer to the truth of God’s goodness, holiness, and love.

I want to do six great works. For posterity and for now. Some writers aim for quantity and try to be prolific. I just want to do some great stories that become classics – classics of Christian writing, and classics of multicultural writing. I think that comes from being a literature major. So that’s my major, major concern.

Q: How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

CM: To me, writing is literally my life. I honestly feel that if I do not write, I will not be doing the work God told me to do, so then why should he continue to give life to me? I know that sounds a bit flaky and a bit odd-ball but I really believe one’s life depends on doing what one is supposed to be doing in the world.

I suspect that if my life had been a little more normal I wouldn’t be so flaky but that’s the way it is. I’ve had to battle fibromyalgia, a child diagnosed with autism, really bad money issues, and other stuff. That kind of thing makes a person way serious. I can’t write about light stuff, really. And even when I write a light piece there’s a lot of existentialist stuff in it.

In addition, I tend to write about illness, mental and physical. I write about alienated folks and folks who are a bit on the edge of reality. For me, the world is full of such people. Modern Christian writing so often concerns itself with normalcy. I think I was created to write Christian novels that deal with the dark side of life, about characters crying out of the depths.

Q: What sets the book apart from the other things you have written?

CM: The first thing is that Wind Follower is very folkloric, and although I love folklore it’s the first truly folkloric story I have ever written. It’s also blatantly Christian. I generally don’t write blatantly Christian stories. My stories tend have Christian issues woven thematically through them but I’ve never actually written a story that is so obvious.

Q: In what way is it similar?

CM: It’s about married folks. That’s one. I seem to write a lot about married folks. I just tend to think that marriage is more romantic and full of drama than stories about non-married folks.

It’s written in an odd little style. I really like fooling around with narrative. Standard third person past tense doesn’t really interest me and so many of my short stories play around with the narrative style. I think this has to do with being a literature major in college but also with my love of poetry. Whatever the form, poems are usually written in a very conscious yet restrained style. As a child I really loved the different “voices” and personas I encountered in poetry. The short stories I loved were also very dramatic and often played with narration and point of view. Dorothy Parker’s “But the one on my right,” for instance. Or Lord Dunsany’s “Ghost.” Or Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tell-tale Heart” and other of his stories.

Q: What will your next book be about?

CM: I’m trying to finish two novels right now. One of them is a YA children’s story called The Gleaners, about doomed child-ghosts who return to visit the land they used to live in two hundred years before. Janet Lorimer, a fellow author at Juno Books, and the author of Master of Shadows, is also a great children’s book writer. She gave me some very good pointers so I’ll be trying to get this story done. I don’t want to finish it though before I finish my urban lit story, Inheritance, because I don’t really know if I want to become a children’s book writer. Too many adult issues, although I do feel I have a great YA juvenile novel in me.

Inheritance is about a May-July love story between a twenty-seven year old bi-racial Chinese guy and a forty-year old Black woman. I’m still not sure how mainstream it’ll be. Sometimes it wants to be a psychological horror novel. Sometimes it wants to be more mainstream. I really have to see what works. I hate horror but as a Christian there is this heritage we have: stories about demons etc, and a part of me wants to turn this novel into a kind of modern version of The Exorcist. Will see.

Q: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

CM: Writing Wind Follower. It is so blatantly religious and yet so unblatantly so. That kind of walking on the edge kind of storytelling is very hard to do well. In addition, it got published by a secular publishing company. But maybe it’s not my achievement at all. Maybe God did it all. That is what I tend to believe.

Check out Carole's website and blog links!

About Wind Follower:
A fourth tribe has come to the land of the three tribes; the light-skinned newcomers are fated to change the tribes' way of life and religion. Satha, a dark-skinned woman from a poor Theseni clan, and Loic, her wealthy young Doreni husband, are too busy forging their new life together to pay much heed. But when Satha is dishonored and Loic must avenge her, they find themselves drawn into a cultural battle. Kidnapped and enslaved, Satha strives to retain her autonomy. Loic struggles against the Arkhai, spirits who fear his his quest will lead him to the true god whose place they have usurped. With the Creator's aid there remains hope they will be reunited and find their mutual destiny, even if it means losing the love and respect of their comrades, families, clans, and tribes.

Available now at Juno, Amazon and wherever books are sold.
Read an excerpt

Other blogs spotlighting Carole on the Writers of Color blog tour

East of Mars
Greg Banks
Moondancer Drake


six blocks east of mars said...

Good interview, Rae. I like this version of the cover rather the version I have on the front cover of my copy--her arm down and on her hip. They say never judge a book by it's cover, but this cover would have definitely caught my eye in the book stores. Nice vibrant colors.

Rae Lori said...

Thanks! It is a stunning cover indeed. :-) The artist did a great job and this pose does give more of an impact visually.