Jason Reynolds is pretty much guaranteed to write a memorable…
My name is Brooke Carter and I write young adult fiction. My first four novels are contemporary hi-lo books (high interest, low reading level), but now I’m writing a YA Fantasy series called Runecaster, and the first book, The Stone of Sorrow, comes out April 7!
3 Little Known or Interesting Things About You
- I am Icelandic and obsessed with runes and myths and Icelandic magic systems.
- My job as a writer has led me to do lots of interesting things, including learning to fly a helicopter—even though I am afraid of heights!
- Sharks are my favourite animal and I once swam with whale sharks and a documentary film crew in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.
I am a proud, confirmed Slytherin. Every time I have taken the sorting quiz I get Slytherin, which is the best house. My older sister (my book is dedicated to her), is also Slytherin and we hung out at Wizarding World together in early 2019—we just sat on some steps drinking butter beer and absorbing the magic of the place. We almost got into a scuffle with some Gryffindors but our wand skills were superior, of course.
My patronus is a fire salamander.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
In terms of what keeps me from writing? Definitely my kids. I would always rather hang out with them than do anything else. In terms of problems during the writing phase, I would say that staring down a blank page on a new novel-length project can be pretty paralyzing at times. But I’ve found ways to overcome that. I trick myself by pasting extensive notes into my working document, or even snippets from past work. That way, my word count will always say it’s at least 40k, and I won’t know the true number until I actually finish.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I met Paul Coccia, the author of a great #ownvoices hi-lo novel called Cub, during my MFA. We’ve kept in touch and will randomly email each other about our mutual obsessions (fashion, Dirty Dancing, etc.) and we will keep each other updated on what’s happening in our careers. Paul is a fantastic writer and cheerleader for others, and I expect great things from him.
Susan Juby was my teacher during the time I first developed the idea of my Runecaster series, and she has been incredibly generous and supportive. As a writer she is an inspiration, and as a teacher she asked all the right questions as I was getting started. I carry that with me every time I write a book.
Writing can be a lonely profession, and unless you have friends who have been through the process of publishing, and in my case writing an ongoing series, it’s quite difficult to talk to people about it. I have a wonderful partner, and amazing friends, but the problems of a novelist are a very particular blend of anxiety and obsession and craft that only other novelists truly understand. To that end, I am part of a group called The Roaring 20’s, and they’re all writers who have books launching in 2020. We’re there to cheer each other on when we have a cover reveal, or questions about marketing, or fears about writing book #2. If anything, being friends with other writers is reassuring. We have the same problems.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I don’t think it’s underappreciated at all, but my favourite book is The Outsiders. It had a huge impact on me. I remember stealing it from my sister’s room and reading it in one night. I was shocked to learn the author was a fifteen-year-old girl. That was eye-opening for me, and as a kid who dreamed of telling stories, it was so encouraging. I love it so much that I incorporated elements of it into my first book, Another Miserable Love Song. The main character is also an Outsiders superfan.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot or avatar?
Maybe a Valkyrie.
About Your Books
Tell us about your books-length of time it took to write, journey, publishing, release dates, etc.
My current project is called The Stone of Sorrow, and it is book #1 in my Runecaster YA Fantasy series. It follows seventeen-year-old Runa Unnursdóttir, a reluctant runecaster. She spends her days daydreaming of sailing away and exploring the world instead of studying the runes and learning her spells. She’s nothing like her talented sister, Sýr, keeper of the sacred moonstone that ensures the village’s continued survival. But when a rival clan led by an evil witch raids the village and kidnaps her sister, Runa is forced to act. With a fallen Valkyrie by her side, and the help of a gorgeous half-elf Runa is not quite sure she can trust, she must go on a perilous journey to win back the magical gem. But it will not be easy; the three unlikely companions encounter malevolent and supernatural creatures at every turn. Somehow, Runa must summon the courage and strength to face her destiny, a destiny she never wanted. Or die trying.
The idea was born over a decade ago in one of my creative writing classes, and it’s inspired by my family history and Icelandic heritage and working ideas that I’ve had in my back pocket for at least 20 years. I started writing for Orca and working with an amazing editor who encouraged me to pitch the idea back in 2017, but the timing ultimately wasn’t right. We tried again in 2018 and everyone was on board. Once the proposal was approved it took a few months to finish, but I had large portions of it already complete and had been working on it in bits and pieces for years. The Stone of Sorrow releases on April 7, 2020, and there will be two more books coming out in 2021 and 2022. Dream come true!
Favorite line or quote from one of your books.
Describe the character that is most like you.
I think all of my characters are a composite of qualities I possess, or wish I possessed, and yet few of them are like me at all. I definitely do not intend to write from my own POV, which is something I wish people understood a little better. Because I write quite often in the first-person, there is a tendency to think that I share the outlook of my characters. Usually, I don’t, but there might be something about that character’s journey that I am trying to explore, or some problem I’m trying to face. The book that hit closest to home in terms of content was The Unbroken Hearts Club, but the character whose voice was closest to my own as a teen was definitely Jane from Learning Seventeen. As for the series I am writing now, I would say that I share Runa’s self-doubt and anxiety, as well as her desire to live a thousand lifetimes.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
The old advice to read a lot and write a lot are the only things I can truly say are essential to being a better writer. Reading out loud helps you to understand the rhythm of language, and reading widely exposes you to new kinds of narratives. I do recommend learning about screenplay structure and the process of creating a dramatic arc, as once you truly understand that you can apply it to anything. If you want to write, then the most important thing is to finish. Everything can be fixed, even a garbage first draft, and if you’re very lucky (as I am), you will have a brilliant editor. I do ascribe to the belief that you have to write many books to get a feel for it, and that it takes a lifetime to master this craft. Maybe one day I will get there, maybe not. It’s fun to try.
Leave us with some wise words. What advice would you give the readers of this interview?
Do not give up. You just cannot quit. Keep going, shrug off the rejections, and if you’re ever able to wedge your little toe in the door of opportunity, then make sure you kick it wide open for the people coming up behind you.
Leave some links for us to follow you and buy your books:
http://www.brookecarter.com — A pre-order campaign will be up here soon. When you pre-order the book we will send you a signed copy and fun book swag!