Carolyn Arnold was born in 1976 in the rural town of Picton, Ontario. Currently she lives with her husband of fifteen years and her two beagles in a city in Southwestern Ontario.
She has been an aspiring writer since her teen years when she began writing short romance novels. But as life has a way of doing, it can mute your dreams into the background and it wasn’t until 2007 when she was reunited with her love of the written word. Her drive to complete one novel, turned into several.
MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you. Now on to the good stuff (she says smiling)...aside from the main in your MADISON KNIGHT SERIES, who is your favorite and why?
Carolyn Arnold: Tough question as I become quite attached to all my characters. By the time you spend thousands of words with them they are real. However, with that said, if I were put on the spot I would have to say Terry. Although he’s quite distracted in TIES THAT BIND, he and Madison still have a good working chemistry. He’s a family man, devoted to his wife and he loves dogs – how can one go wrong there? Running a very close second is Cynthia Baxter, the head of the forensic lab. She’s easy going, and I love the friendship between her and Madison.
MWU: If Madison Knight could step out of the book and talk with you, what do you think would be the most pressing thing she would want to tell you?
Carolyn Arnold: Probably why I had to give her an unresolved case. Madison is a perfectionist and determined to find justice for the victims and bring closure to their families. For her to have a case that was never solved, even though she knows who the guilty party is, drives her crazy. The law still dictates that she proves the guilt beyond reasonable doubt. While this case is mentioned in TIES
MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes from each of your books and why is it your favorite?
Carolyn Arnold: This is a tough question because it’s hard to narrow in on one specifically and even harder to think of one that doesn’t include a spoiler. I’ll share ones from my released or recently released novels. It’s been a while since I’ve read the others.
TIES THAT BIND - It’s definitely the scene where the parents of the second victim come into the police department seeking to talk to Madison and get answers about their daughter. The couple was estranged from the daughter and it makes for an emotional scene.
ELEVEN - The discovery scenes would certainly be at the top of the list of my favorites without disclosing any details that may include spoilers. They’re among my favorites scenes because of the dark intrigue.
JUSTIFIED - Again, it’s hard to pick one that doesn’t include spoilers. However, one of my favorite scenes is when Madison Knight and her partner are trying to find a suspect who was reported missing by his wife. Let’s just say the wife is an interesting character.
MWU: Is there a character from any of your books that you feel like you could explore further and may like to go back to at another time and write about them again?
Carolyn Arnold: There is one character from my suspense novel, RESTITUTION. Although this novel hasn’t been published as of yet, there is an older woman in it named Berta. She’s a sweet soul who has been through so much in her life only to wind up alone. There’s huge potential for story in there should I wish to pursue this. The spin-off would be categorized romance or women’s fiction.
I also have to say I see great potential for the characters in ELEVEN to come back as part of a series. We’ll see if my readers agree.
MWU: How do you “stay in character” when writing?
Carolyn Arnold: I write as if I were watching a movie unfold which provides me with body language in addition to an inside mental knowledge of how they’re feeling. There have been times when I close my eyes and breathe in deeply to immerse myself completely into a certain scene.
MWU: Are any of your characters based on you or someone you know?
Carolyn Arnold: Most definitely. I believe any author would be lying if they said otherwise. It’s only natural to pull from those around us, from ourselves, from observations we make of people.
MWU: How do you choose the title for your books? Do you decide on it right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose?
Carolyn Arnold: My titles normally come to me before I write the first word.
MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from each of your books(you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….
TIES THAT BIND - The first case was ruled an isolated incident until the second victim. Madison Knight and her partner must work to stop a potential serial killer from striking again.
ELEVEN - New FBI Special Agent Brandon Fisher never expected this when he became FBI – eleven rooms, ten bodies and one empty grave.
JUSTIFIED - It’s Christmas Eve and the case has Madison Knight and her partner dealing with blood and lots of it. Everyone wanted the victim dead. In order obtain justice Madison Knight and her partner must find out who has the most motive and hold the guilty accountable.
MWU: I ask this question to every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?
Carolyn Arnold: I have never experienced it while trying to write a novel. I have, however, pegged a character wrong before setting out to write. I assumed he was more innocent than he was. Once I let the character tell me who he was, the novel brainstorming progressed rapidly. In fact, this novel was written in less than two months and came in at the highest word count for me to date.
MWU: I always ask a published author what advice he would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft?
Carolyn Arnold: Don’t give up. There are times it can feel very overwhelming but remember why you’re doing this.
MWU: What have you learned about writing and self-publishing and what advice would you give to someone just entering the self-publishing arena?
Carolyn Arnold: What have I learned about writing? That subject alone could take hours (maybe even days) to disclose and I’d probably still miss something. I’ve read a lot of books on the craft, on creating suspense, on dialogue, on the use of dialogue tags, on creating relatable characters…the list goes on. But I cannot stress enough the importance to keep writing. As you write you grow yourself, and as you read books on the craft, you can incorporate these jewels to strengthen your work. A word of caution, however, books on the craft should be viewed as guidelines not hard and fast rules of how things should be. You know your story best, and how it should be told. Application of craft guidelines will accentuate what you have going already.
As for advice when it comes to entering the self-publishing area – create a platform. You’ve likely heard this many times before but it cannot be underestimated. Do so long before you’ve even decided to self-publish. Share what you’re learning with others, encourage and connect with other writers. You’ll make true friends who will support you for the long road ahead.
Another piece of advice if you’re at the point of deciding to self-publish – create anticipation for your release. For example, months ago, I started sharing hook lines for my novel ELEVEN. I had a trailer produced to help promote it. I marketed it as ELEVEN coming 11.11.11. It makes it harder for people to forget.
And now with my novel JUSTIFIED, the second in the Madison Knight series, I’m sharing hook lines and relating it to Christmas. The release is slated for December so I’m using lines including the following “This Christmas murder doesn’t take a holiday”, “When you think of Christmas think of Justified”, “This year Christmas is stained with blood.” I link from there to an excerpt available to read on my website.
MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?
Carolyn Arnold: New writers: Keep writing. Take constructive criticism and grow.
New readers and current fans of my work: Thank you. Without your readership my writing would hold no purpose. I thank you for not only buying my books, but thank you for reading them. I hope you enjoy each one you read and it has you reaching for another one I’ve written.
---Madison Knight Series by Carolyn Arnold
Synopsis for TIES THAT BIND
Detective Madison Knight concluded the case of a strangled woman an isolated incident. But when another woman’s body is found in a park killed by the same line of neckties, she realizes they’re dealing with something more serious.
Despite mounting pressure from the Sergeant and Chief to close the case even if it means putting an innocent man behind bars, and a partner who is more interested in saving his marriage than stopping a potential serial killer, Madison may have to go it alone if there's not going to be another victim.
Synopsis for JUSTIFIED
Madison Knight should have ignored the call. Now she is spending Christmas Eve dealing with her least favorite thing…blood and lots of it.
When a female victim is found in her home it has Madison and her partner tapping into the vic’s personal life. With a rash of former business partners and lovers, all of whom wanted her dead, there are not enough hours to question them all.
But trying to find the person who had the most motive isn't all that's on Madison's mind. As she struggles to establish balance in her own life, she knows she has to get her focus back. Justice requires it.
Synopsis for SACRIFICE
Scheduled for release in 2012
The Bradshaw River claims lives every year. But when the body of a young man washes up during a winter thaw, it’s obvious he wasn’t a victim of the high waters. Now it’s up to Homicide Detective Madison Knight and her partner to find out the truth. But things only get more complicated when his identity comes back as the son of Marcus Randall, business tycoon and founder of an investments firm worth billions.
With Marcus Randall already on the radar of the Secret Service for fraud and counterfeiting, the investigation sheds new light and they require the full co-operation of the Stiles PD. But with power and money to back him, Marcus has a reach that extends right inside the police department.
---Thrillers by Carolyn Arnold
Synopsis for ELEVEN
Brandon Fisher never expected this when he signed up as a Special Agent for the FBI. Working in the shadow of Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper of the Behavioral Analysis Unit his career seemed set. But when the team is called to a small rural town where the remains of ten victims are found in an underground bunker, buried in an unusual way, Brandon knows he'll never return to his normal life.
With one empty grave, and the case touching close to home, he fears he's become the target of a psychotic serial killer who wants to make him number eleven. Only thing is, everything Brandon thinks he knows is far from the truth.
Synopsis for ASSASSINATION OF A DIGNITARY
Scheduled for release in 2012
Raymond Hunter's past has returned and demands one final favor. Eighteen years ago he worked as a hitman for the Detroit-area Italian mafia.
Now settled as an accountant and family man, he assumed life would be calm. He thought wrong.
The directions are simple: Kill Governor Behler and be out for good. In order to protect his family and guard them from the truth, he has no choice but to accept the job. He picks the date and location – Niagara Falls, New York – two hundred and forty miles away. But by the time he returns home he finds out the assassination attempt failed, his family has been kidnapped and he has twenty-four hours to set things right if he ever wants to see them again.
With time running out, Raymond discovers the real reason they wanted Behler dead, and realizes he’s placed himself and his family right in the middle of a mafia power struggle. What he doesn’t know is law enforcement is getting closer, and a rogue FBI agent is after his life.
---Suspense by Carolyn Arnold
Synopsis for RESTITUTION
Scheduled for release in 2012
After a tragic car accident claims the life of his wife and six-year-old daughter, Ben Hammond becomes obsessed with finding the answer to why it had to happen. Motivated by a need to find the answers, and immobilized by grief, he fixates his attention on the one man he holds responsible – the man in the oncoming car. He survived, albeit it barely, but that’s not good enough. Ben lost everything that day.
Even with the man in a coma, Ben’s determined to get the answers he needs. But, the true test comes when the man awakes and claims amnesia blocked out his memory of the accident. Having sworn the oath to protect and serve, Ben needs to decide what is more important – his career or finding justice for his family.
---Romance by Carolyn Arnold
Synopsis for LIFE SENTENCE, ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Release schedule still to be determined
A defense attorney’s worst nightmare – a convicted client with a grudge.
Unfortunately for Bryan Lexan that nightmare is quickly becoming his reality. When he took Dimitre Petrov as a client he knew there would be risks. After all, the Russian Czar’s reach would extend beyond the walls of the prison and that alone should have been enough reason to take his warning more seriously: “If I pay with my life, you will pay with yours.”
When the guilty verdict is passed, his death threat is widened to encompass those Bryan loves. And that translates to one person - Jessica Pratt, his fiancée. With the vendetta coming to her doorstep, and the type of person Bryan is becoming, she's second-guessing her decision to marry him. She's not sure if she possesses the commitment required to endure the harassment long term. But can she leave him to fight his own battle? Maybe it wouldn't be such a struggle if it wasn't for her new client, Mason Freeman. The chemistry between them is irrefutable and to make matters worse he won't take no for an answer.
This post is part of a DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT ---->> Join CAROLYN ARNOLD and 9 of her author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!