Carol A. Park is the author of The Heretic Gods trilogy and the The Chronicles of the Lady Sar series. She lives in the Frederick, MD area with her husband and two young and active boys–which is another way of saying, “adorable vampires.” She loves reading (duh), writing fantasy novels (double-duh), music, movies, and other perfectly normal things like parsing Hebrew verbs and teaching herself new dead languages. She has two master’s degrees in the areas of ancient near eastern studies and languages.
CONNECT WITH CAROL
Welcome to SPFM, Carol! Since we already have your bio, describe yourself in three words.
Imaginative. Introverted. Intellectual. (Because who doesn’t love alliteration?)
Summarize your book, Banebringer, using one gif.
I don’t know if this really summarizes the book in one gif (I mean, really?? As if the back of the book blurb isn’t bad enough!), but after spending way too long on this question, I decided to go with the one that amused me most:
If you could recommend three self-published books, which would you choose and why?
I could generate a list ten times that many just off the top of my head, so I’ve tried to choose here three recommendations that hit across three of the many sub-genres of fantasy:
In progression fantasy, the entire Cradle series by Will Wight, for the cool magic and simply for keeping me engaged nine (nine!) books in, which is no small feat.
In romantic epic fantasy, Fortune’s Fool by Angela Boord, for the phenomenal world-building and deep character work.
In urban fantasy, the Ethereal Earth series by Josh Erikson, for making me realize that there are urban fantasy books that I can enjoy.
What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part of self-publishing?
My favorite part would have to be the amount of control that I have—from the deadlines to the cover art, to the decisions about what’s ultimately best for my work and my career.
My least favorite part would have to be that with that control comes a heck of a lot of work in areas I have to learn whether I want to or not—and on that note, I’m not a fan of marketing or advertising, two areas I need to improve in if I actually want to make a career of this (which I do).
Why did you decide to self-publish?
At first, it was because, from the query process to a book hitting the shelves, traditional publishing is too slow, with zero guarantee of any more success than self-publishing.
I believed (and still believe) my stories had an audience, and I wasn’t willing to wait on luck to strike to even start building my career. Ain’t no one got time for that.
Now, as a creator, I resent the idea of giving up virtually all control of something I’ve poured so much of myself into for little guaranteed reward. I’m open to a hybrid model, but only inasmuch as it would be beneficial to my overall career. There’s still a lot of luck involved in self-publishing, but at least I’m on the path forward now.
When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing tidbits of stories for as long as I can remember. I loved writing fiction in elementary school, and I was super bitter when I got to high school and they made me write papers rather than more imaginative works.
I returned to my roots and started writing fiction in earnest ten thousand papers later, after finishing grad school.
What’s your process for creating fully fleshed-out characters?
Fully fleshing out characters, for me, is all about feeling them. I lean into main characters as deeply as if I were an actress trying to get her character right. I have been known to rehearse scenes and dialogue in different ways, trying to nail down the right emotion for a scene. I also utilize music, which is so superb at capturing the breadth and depth of all human experience. I’ll hunt down just the right songs to characterize how a character is feeling at critical points in their arc. It makes for an eclectic playlist, that’s for sure!
In the end, for me, fleshing out characters is about empathy—trying to imagine myself in that character’s shoes and mirroring how they might feel—which leads to a lot of actual emotion on my part when I’m writing “in the zone,” I confess. Everything else seems to fall into place when I’m really doing this part well.
Tell us about the hardest scene you’ve written. What made it so difficult?
Sweetblade as a whole is the hardest book I’ve ever written, just because of the sheer amount of grief and pain I had to process on behalf of this very damaged character (see above about how I fully flesh out characters). But within that book, there is a scene where the character made a life-altering decision, one of those crossroad moments that she was actually aware of in the moment (as opposed to other stupid decisions she’d made where she wasn’t conscious of what the consequences would be), and she made the wrong choice, at a heartbreaking cost.
I didn’t want her to make that choice, but considering it was a backstory for a character I’d already written, I had no choice.
If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your MC(s)?
Oh! Oh! I know this! Visual references really help when I’m trying to describe…well, basically anything/anyone…so I have a whole file of pictures of actors for most of my characters.
For Vaughn, Eduardo Verastegui; for Ivana, Tanaya Beatty; for Driskell, Octavius J. Johnson. And I could go on with side characters, but since the instructions were “MC(s),” instead I’ll tell you about the time I was washing my hands in a public bathroom and someone walked in who looked JUST LIKE I imagine Ivana in my head, and I about went through the roof (I mean, she is kinda scary). Poor woman probably thought I had lost it. #authorproblems (or maybe it’s just me)
Do you ever take random writing breaks to dance or sing? If so, when do these breaks generally occur?
Dance, no, but I love to sing. Normally these sing-alongs occur when I’m driving, but occasionally at other times too. I put a Disney or show tune on full blast and belt it. I particularly enjoy songs where I have to sing multiple parts (sadly, I can’t manage multiple parts at the same time), such as “For the First Time” (Frozen) or “One Day More” (Les Miserables), or emotional songs that let me get into a role, such as “On My Own” (Les Miserables) or “Speechless” (Aladdin 2019). (I suppose that’s why I like musicals best for sing-alongs).
Tell us what lies ahead for you.
Right now, I’m finishing the first draft of the final book in the Heretic Gods trilogy. I hope to have that one out by June 2022. At that point (well, really, before) I have to juggle two projects: one is a character-driven progression-esque fantasy series that I plan to outline and write completely in advance. This is so I can have regular releases of those 5-6 books while working on larger epics. The second project is staring on Chronicles of the Lady Sar book 2—which would be one of those “larger epics.”
After Chronicles (or, who knows—perhaps in the middle if I need a break), I also have planned a steam-era fantasy loosely (I stress loosely; it’s still secondary-world)inspired by a conflation of the end of the Japanese Edo period and the Meiji Restoration. But I have a lot more research to do before I can really get started on that one, so as fun of a story as I think it will be, it’s on the backburner for now.
About Banebringer (The Heretic Gods #1)
BANEBRINGERS. Source of the bloodbane who stalk the land. Cause of a thousand wrongs. Despised. Cast out. Hunted.
Vaughn never asked for the powers of a long-forgotten moon goddess. But rarely do the gods give humans a choice when using them in their machinations. Now Vaughn is a Banebringer, loathed by all who discover his true identity—even his father, a man obsessed with his own power and bent on destroying Vaughn’s miserable life.
Vaughn is desperate to end his father before the madman ends him. But to do so he’ll need the skills of Ivana, a vindictive assassin with her own scores to settle. The only question is whether Vaughn can keep himself from becoming another of her targets long enough to see his father eliminated.