Getting to know Carrie Dalby #author #historical #southerngothic #YA #novels #novellas
Please help me welcome author Carrie Dalby to the interview hot seat! First a glance at her bio and then we’ll dive right in…
Carrie Dalby, a California native, has lived in Mobile, Alabama, since 1996. Carrie has published eight novels (with more on the way), one novella, nine short stories, and several non-fiction articles in national and international magazines. Besides serving two terms as president of Mobile Writers Guild, Carrie worked as the Mobile area Local Liaison for SCBWI from 2012-2017, volunteers with Metro Mobile Literacy Council events whenever possible, and helps coordinate the Mobile Literary Festival. When Carrie’s not reading, writing, browsing bookstores/libraries, or homeschooling, she can often be found knitting or attending concerts.
Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?
Carrie: The Possession Chronicles started because the editor I worked with on my first two published novels (Fortitude and Corroded) encouraged me to try my hand at horror. Based on my descriptive style, he said I had “serious horror chops.” I went toward the Gothic end of the horror spectrum. While the whole series is “Southern Gothic family saga,” several of the books in the series could be labeled as “Gothic horror”—mainly Murmurs of Evil and Tendrils of Passion, which were written first. After completing those, I wrote what is now the first book in the series Perilous Confessions, which has horrific events like any good Southern Gothic does, playing upon class distinction, religious morals, debauchery, and “madness,” to name a few themes.
Betty: Which character was the hardest to get to know?
Carrie: Alexander Melling, one hundred percent! I had him planned out and wanted to keep him in his little box because I didn’t like him and he needed to fit my plans. Being the entitled man he was, he made his own choices beyond my outline and kept screwing up what I thought was the proper story for the series. He ended up having so many layers to his personality that surprised me and finally won me over—many manuscripts later. What I hear from readers is that they either love him or love to hate him, and I’ve felt both extremes with him.
Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?
Carrie: I thoroughly researched turn-of-the-century Mobile, Alabama, as well as the time period in general to capture the Ragtime/Edwardian Era and beyond. That included reading novels written during that time period (not historicals set then—but the actual authors alive and active in those years), digging through newspapers of those years, and basically spending hours at the local history library going through microfilm, maps, and files for the current events, property size, Mardi Gras happenings, and disasters. I used historic buildings and locations from the Mobile Bay area and based the masquerade gowns on actual dresses from those years.
Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?
Carrie: All my books go through at least two dozen drafts and some over fifty. I started the series thinking I was writing a stand-alone novel, but kept adding to it because the characters weren’t settling down. I kept thinking “one more.” Not until I was at the fifth novel did I realize it was going to take several more to complete the full story arc. After finishing the eighth novel, I went back and wrote a novella bridging the first and second novels.
Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?
Carrie: I like listening to music while I write and always have water to drink.
Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?
I’ll read and write anywhere, at any time—in the car, waiting rooms, in the kitchen, etc. For editing, I need quiet and as few interruptions as possible.
Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?
Carrie: So far, having Fortitude (my historical Southern Gothic teen novel) listed as a “Best History Book” for Kids by Grateful American Foundation is my greatest achievement. The list only includes about fifty titles, most of which are Newbery Award winners or other classics by authors like Maya Angelou and Harper Lee.
Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?
Carrie: Frances Parkinson Keyes. She was excellent with flawed characters and weaving real events into her historic novels. I call her my Southern Gothic soul sister, though she wrote more than just Southern Gothic. She brought so many characters/families to life through different tragedies and triumphs in her novels. And yes, her novels make me cry.
Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?
Carrie: Evoking feelings in readers is my ultimate success. Whether it’s love or loathing, if readers have a connection with the characters, it’s a win for me. The best is hearing that the story made someone cry. It’s all about a human connection.
The Possession Chronicles is a Southern Gothic family saga series with eight main novels, as well as a novella (#1.5), published by Bienvenue Press. The series is set in the Mobile Bay area on the Gulf Coast of Alabama between 1904 and 1929. Fans of period dramas and multi-generational sagas like The Thorn Birds, Peyton Place, Downton Abbey, Poldark, and Wuthering Heights will enjoy the lush historical descriptions, scandals, and characters.
Buy Links: Amazon
Sounds like an interesting read, Carrie! Thanks for sharing your writing process and inspiration with us.
P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!