This month we have a native Texan first published at the age of sixteen. Since then she has since been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, journals, and reviews.
A Writer's Dream would like to welcome poet and award winning author Cairol "C.A." Dawson!
Cairol has taken home places in the General Edmond C. Lynch Memorial Award, The Holcomb College Award in the 'Poetry In the Schools' awards of the Poetry Society of Texas. She has also won both 1st and 2nd place in the Lu Spurlock Award (a feat no other has won before) in the Trinity Writer's Competition for her poems 'Vanishing' and 'Big Boned Woman' respectively. Her poetry has also been used in conjunction with the brilliant photography and painting of local artist Thuy Saliba in a media presentation of 'Poetry and Art' at the Community Arts Center in Fort Worth. Her poem 'Big Boned Woman' also won acknowledgment in at the Austin International Poetry Festival. Her latest win is for her poem 'When My Father Left' at the Halton City Library annual Poetry state-wide competition's Write Across Texas in 2008.
This year Cairol added a few more awards to her name and she has also moved into the realm of novel writing and publication. Her psychological thriller Mind on Fire, the first in a series, was published October 2008 and is available now. Her poetry has also been picked up for future publication later this year in various journals, ezines and magazines.
Cairol was awesome to share her writing process and a little bit about her work with us in an interview. She also had some very inspiring words for aspiring authors and poets out there.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
At a very young age I fell in love with words and lyrics. I was an only child and spent a lot of time listening to Classical music and the Blues. Poetry was a great escape and then I moved up to fiction. The words wrapped around and hung in my mind ultimately making me crave more. I was amazed how the emotion in the words drew visions of other people’s pain. I’ve always been an observer, taking notes of interesting people or things that bothered me.
Q: How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?
In Mind on Fire I wrote about what scares me the most, what I fear could be living next door, or happen to any of us at any time. I grew up on horror and monsters but the times we live in today give us the real horror, the real monsters. The guys we date, marry, think we know but how well can we really know someone? We only know what they allow us to know and how much of that is really them? My fiction is dark. Even my poetry I write slants to the dark side of the moon. I like working within the shadows and out of the light.
Q: Who is your target audience?
Anyone who can enjoy a psychological thriller, with more implied gore than graphic reading. I find that what a reader brings to the table, can imagine far worse than anything I could possible write so I take them to the edge of their seat reading with all the lights on.
I saw Psycho as a kid, big mistake. I never looked at a shower curtain the same way ever again to this day. I remember when Nightmare on Elm Street came out; I had trouble going to sleep for almost a year. It’s the man next door with fourteen bodies under his house that waves everyday on his way to the car that bothers me.
Q: What motivated you to start writing in this genre?
I enjoy scaring people as much as I enjoy being scared in a controlled environment that is. It’s an adrenalin rush not knowing for sure what’s around the corner or under the bed. It’s the safe fear we knew as a child and letting that child inside have moments even after growing up. It’s like when the circus used to come to town or the monster fest at the local Saturday afternoon matinee. The unknown of being a child and helpless to outside influences. I went from never wanting to lose that feeling to wanting to create it for others.
Q: Who would you say has influenced you the most?
It’s no so much a who, but a what, that influenced me the most. The fear of Hitchcock, the twists of Rod Serling, the horror of Stephen King, the story telling style of Hemmingway, the dark side of Rilke, and the tenderness of Pablo Neruda. They all intertwine together as I consumed them over a lifetime not to ignore the wonderful teachers I had which encouraged me to create.
Q: Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?
I’d say the confrontation towards the end. It was so complicated that it hurt my brain to even try to tie it up. I had to stop, put it down for about four to five months before I could finish it because it was so twisted that I had trouble writing it.
Q: Which did you enjoy most?
The characters. I love developing my characters and watch as they take on a life of their own. When I know who’s going to die I try not to get too attached. Weird but true.
Q: What will your next book be about?
It’s From the Ashes the second in the series following Mind on Fire. Then there’s Conversations with Death, a series of short stories which will be available at Mirror magazine online May 15, 2009. I always have many diverse projects in the works.
Q: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
Being acknowledged at Bass Hall in Fort Worth 2006 for my participation in a serial novel competition. It was absolutely incredible and surreal. I knew then without a doubt; I was hooked. I know one thing for sure and that is; if you stop trying you will miss the opportunity to succeed.
Q: How did you get there?
By never stopping. Collect the rejections and carry on because the acceptance is always just around the corner. If you stop trying you will miss the opportunity to succeed.
"The Vacuum" in the May/June 2009 issue of Mirror Magazine Online.
"Orange Socks", a memorial poem about a young unidentified woman murdered in
"Polka Dots" in All Things Girl Magazine May 2009 and "Empty Nest" in July 2009.