Saturday, February 21, 2015

0 Carly Anne West, author of THE BARGAINING, on writing without a routine

What was your inspiration for writing THE BARGAINING?

When I started writing THE BARGAINING, I was in the midst of some pretty big transitions. We'd just moved from Oakland to Seattle, and I'd gone from living super close to my neighbors in an urban setting to living on a very quiet cul-de-sac in a very quiet suburb in a much quieter city. I was closer to family but much farther from friends and a writing community I'd spent years cultivating. I was fresh off of my debut author experience after THE MURMURINGS, and while being a debut author is thrilling in countless ways, it's also a shock to the system, and I can't say I was prepared for it. I was also working from home full time, my eldest son had just gone into daycare, and suddenly, I was very much alone, surrounded by trees and the sound of my own typing fingers, and that was pretty much it. Some pretty bleak material cropped out of that environment. I'd like to say I've moved through that, but as I sit here working on my next project, I think I'm still swimming in dark waters.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

Soooooooo many scenes were hard to write in this novel, I think just given the difficult subject matter. But I rewrote the opening scene probably fifty times. I think that's pretty standard - beginnings get revised more than any other part of the book, at least according to every author I know. But this one in particular gave me fits. It encapsulates so much of the characters' respective struggles; I just wanted to be sure it was right. That scene also moved around the novel several times before it landed in the beginning, and once it was there, I knew it'd found its home.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

At the moment, I'm working from home and caring for our six month-old son, Benny. Nothing is routine. Getting a daily shower has made its way to my task list. For now (and I keep telling myself it won't be like this forever so despair doesn't gobble up my sanity), I write when I can, and that often means jotting notes on a scrap of paper or in a moleskin (which my dear friend Laura just gifted me ... a pretty green one), or often in my phone on the notepad. When I have more than 30 minutes to string together, I cobble these writing bits together to see if they make a story morsel. When I'm not writing as a new mom, I'm not exactly a routine writer in that I don't have a specific setting or set of requirements. Mostly, I have a list of things I can't do while I'm writing. I can't listen to music (much as I love it, and much as it influences my writing, I can't actually listen while I write). I can't write in the same setting for too long or it starts to feel stale. And I can't keep my nails too long. That clickety-clack on the keys is unnerving. I often have coffee. I often eat. I often play with my hair. And I pet Brutus, my cat. A lot. He has a keen editorial eye.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

I like to pass along advice that I'm still struggling to accept myself. The hardest part of writing recently has been accepting the knowledge that not everyone is going to love everything I write. I want to connect lots of people through my writing, and I want to connect with them. But not everyone will want to be my writing's friend. It has nothing to do with me as a person, me as an author, and it may not have everything to do with my writing, hard as that is to believe. It may just not be a good match. And that's okay, because for every one person who doesn't think my writing is achingly cool, there are two people who might. And as long as I'm writing in a way that's genuine to me, those people will find me.

What are you working on now?

Oooooooooh! I'm SO EXCITED about my current project. It's too early to say too much, but it's a very intimate story, very close-up, and the tension and fear is almost claustrophobic. 


The Bargaining
by Carly Anne West
Simon Pulse
Released 2/17/2015

The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.

Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.

But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future….

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Carly Anne West is the author of the YA novels THE MURMURINGS and THE BARGAINING as well as several short stories of the odd and often dark variety. She is a freelance writer with an MFA in English and Writing from Mills College. Carly lives with her husband and sons in Seattle, Washington. Visit her at

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