Carolyn Elizabeth is an enthusiastic writer of Sapphic stories where serious camp meets upbeat macabre. Her sarcasm and love of pop culture are sprinkled throughout her stories
Q You just put out Kiss Shot from Bells can you give our readers a run down on the story?
I love mashing genres, but Kiss Shot falls pretty solidly into the thriller genre, with a side of romance. By the way, this is my first effort at writing in first person. So far, no one has commented on that, so I guess I did a good job? It was way out of my skill set at first, but I did enjoy it once I got the hang of it. Not sure if I’ll do it again, though.
Anyhoo, it’s about Lucky Sorin, a sort of street-wise, renegade Street Crimes Detective whose career and life goes off the rails during an investigation into a local biker gang, the Rat Lords, running drugs and guns in her city. She loses her job, hits the skids, and gets into all kinds of trouble when she falls back on her pool-hustling skills and ends up at the Rat Lords’ pool hall.
She is both distracted and challenged by Mira Allen, the lover of the Rat Lords’ club president. Together they face some pretty harrowing situations and have to rely on each other despite not knowing if they can trust each other or not.
It’s not a particularly complex story, but I’ve hopefully made it a little twisty and fun. Oh, here is a snippet of a review that just cracks me up. I’m thinking about printing it on T-shirts because it just so fully encapsulates my brand.
“It was rough, messy, crass and a little out of my comfort zone…but I liked it.”
Q Do you have a set writing schedule? Do you plot out the books prior to sitting down to write them?
I have absolutely no schedule, no plot, and no idea what I am doing most of the time. I’ve recently asked a few buds to start a writing group with me to help keep me on track. We get together over Zoom once a month and discuss what we’re working on, seek advice, set writing goals for the next month and go from there. If I’m only ever accountable to myself nothing will get done. Ever. Deadlines from Bella are required.
I am a ‘pantser’ in every possible way. I often start a book with a title I think is clever or a cover image I think is cool and write a story around it. Kind of like buying the accessories first then sorting an outfit to go with it. I do that, too, by the way.
Every time I hear about someone’s writing ‘process’ I freak out a little inside. Am I doing this wrong? Likely.
My process is like the scene in Raising Arizona (1987)where H.I. is trying to snatch one of the quint babies and they’re all going in different directions and he’s trying to get them back under control, figure out which one is which and keep them quiet. It’s like that in my head most of the time. And I don’t just mean writing.
But I can’t argue with the end result. I’m pretty proud of the work I’ve turned out, so far, and I have some pretty big plans for the next few years.
Just don’t ask me for writing advice.
Q I saw you wanted to write at least one book among each of the sub-genres, what are the ones you are most excited about trying your hand at?
The question is, which ones am I most apprehensive about?
I’m always excited about writing in genres that I’m comfortable with–action, thriller, mystery, paranormal. Those are the genres that come more naturally to me. If I’m going to stick to my plan, the genres I’m waffling about are contemporary romance and Sci-fi, but for very different reasons. Although, I do actually have titles for them. See what I mean?
I have not found myself that interested in reading romance, at least without having the words ‘action’, ‘thriller’, ‘paranormal’ or ‘mystery’ attached to it. So, writing a compelling, engaging romance when I don’t have a lot of experience reading them is going to be a challenge. I will do it, though.
I love Sci-fi. It’s one of my favorite genres. I’m extremely reluctant to try my hand at writing it because I have the attention span of a gnat and proper world-building takes so much care and attention to detail. I’m just not sure I’m cut out for it. When I do it, it will likely be something in the near future, so I don’t have to invent an entire new universe or language or something like that. We’ll see.
Q What writers made you want to become an author?
I don’t know that it was a specific writer, but more the fact that I couldn’t quite find the book I wanted to read in the Sapphic fiction world. I’m a pretty hardcore ‘write the book you want to read’ gal. I grew up on Patricia Cornwell–who among us didn’t–and and later Kathy Reichs. Reading their books played a role in how I ended up going into pathology related fields.
I wanted to write autopsy/forensic centered wlw stories. And I am, with the Curtis and Reynolds series. Of course, it took me over a decade to actually do it after I decided I wanted to do it. I kept thinking someone was going to beat me to that little niche, but I finally got there.
Q Your books have serious and dangerous situations but mix in a lot of camp and sarcasm is it hard to keep those balanced?
Yes! And no.
I can crack wise in just about any situation. In fact, the more serious the encounter, the more likely I am to make jokes to break the tension (I have to be careful at work). I think, within reason, it’s normal and healthy to not take anything too seriously. Especially yourself.
The levity in my writing is really a reflection of me not taking myself or my writing too seriously. It also serves the purpose of giving the reader a break when things get really stressful. A little breathing room, if you will. Plus, I’m hilarious.
Sometimes I feel like I have to thread the needle and I’ve removed jokes that may be interpreted as making fun of serious situations–especially when it comes to dead bodies and autopsy scenes. I trained at the OCME in Baltimore, MD. And, oh my god, talk about dark humor. That crowd was hilariously creepy.
Q I know you just released Kiss shot from Bella Books, but do you have any idea what your next project will be working on?
Yes, I do. I’m working on so many things.
My manuscript for The Heart of the Banshee is due at Bella by June 1st for publication toward the end of this year, so that’s at the top of my to-do list.
I’m also working on a couple of independent projects for release in 2024, I hope.
Next in the queue for Bella, after more sexy pirate action, will be the fourth Curtis and Reynolds–sexy medical action–which I haven’t even pitched yet. I know it will be titled Grave Gifts. See? I’m not even lying, title first. I have the titles for the Curtis and Reynolds series planned out to eight books, I think.
Then I’d like to reunite with my characters from The Other Side of Forestlands Lake for another paranormal mystery. Yes, I have a title, but it’s too far away to share. I’ll say, though, it will take place in Ontario.
THEN, maybe I’ll hook back up with the boss bitches from Kiss Shot for another shoot ’em up. By the way, anyone familiar with pool may be able to guess what a sequel will be titled. It was really supposed to be a one-off, but the early positive reviews have got me thinking maybe I should dig a little deeper into their story.
Q} if people want more info about you or your books where should they go?
My website, which needs to be updated, carolynelizabethfiction.com.
My Bella Books author page https://www.bellabooks.com/category/bella-author-carolyn-elizabeth/
Final four questions –we ask everybody
Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
Probably folding laundry in front of the boob tube–just like my mother before me. I feel like that’s where I always am.
Q ) What is your favorite Fandom
Hmm, this deserves a thoughtful answer and I won’t go so far as to narrow it down to a specific ‘ship’. I grew up with Xena, Buffy and X-Files as favorites, but that was pre-internet, so ‘fandom’ as we know it was really just getting started. Many of the shows I’ve enjoyed recently barely got going before they were cancelled–too many to name.
The one enduring pop culture entertainment experience in my life–across space and time–has been Star Trek. I’ll pass on the OG, but from Next Generation on, Star Trek has been a part of my life. I’m not going to conventions or whiling away hours in chat rooms or anything, but I’ll never not watch a series. And ST:Strange New Worlds is just an outstanding show.
Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
I think everyone should have the opportunity to experience musical theater at least once. Many, many times if you can manage.
It’s probably my bougiest lifestyle extravagance, but I LOVE musical theater. Of the shows I’ve seen, Wicked is the one that shouldn’t be missed.
Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
Well, given the above answer, this may not seem so strange, but without other context folks may be surprised to know that I am an absolute sucker for dance movies. All of them. Any of them. I don’t even care, I’ll watch it delightedly.
I can’t dance, myself, but hit play on any Step Up and I’m there.