Saturday, May 19, 2018

0 Carrie Arcos, author of WE ARE ALL THAT'S LEFT, on associating writing with coffee

We're thrilled to have Carrie Arcos with us to share more about her latest novel, WE ARE ALL THAT'S LEFT.

Carrie, 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?

The scenes that take place in Bosnia, especially the ones in Visegrad. I wanted to capture Nadja as a regular 1990s teenager caught up in a night mare. She had dreams and was just like teens in the States. And then her world was destroyed. I cried many times through the scenes. Her story became very real to me because it was bits and pieces of the stories I had heard from refugees themselves. I didn't want to sentimentalize it or glorify it--just tell it straight. I feel the most proud of those scenes.

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

My writing ritual has changed a bit over the years. In the beginning, I was a straight, get up early, go to the coffee house and crank out 2 hours. That was when I had babies and really needed to work around their schedule. Now, I have an almost full time job, so I'm not as steady. I don't write every day. I have to block off specific chunks of time. I'm trying to find more of a steady rhythm, because that's how I work best. I just haven't wanted to wake up at 5 am yet. I usually listen to instrumental music when I write, more to drown out noise. It helps me focus. And coffee. I like coffee just to sip on every now and then. It's probably from when I wrote in the coffee shops. I always associate writing with coffee.

What are you working on now?

I just sold another novel to Philomel called SKYWATCHERS, coming summer 2020. It was pitched as IN THE WOODS meets STRANGER THINGS. In the early 1950s, under President Harry Truman, the program Operation Skywatch was created. Ordinary citizens around the country manned towers and acted as radar for potential atomic attack from Russia. My story centers around a group of teenagers from Monterey, CA who spy something strange in the sky in one such tower, a UFO. Looking like something has landed in the pines behind them, they decide to investigate. A couple of days later, all of them are found except one. I'm very excited about this one. I've wanted to write a UFO story forever.


We Are All That’s Left
by Carrie Arcos
Philomel Books
Released 5/15/2018

Two lives. Two worlds apart. One deeply compelling story set in both Bosnia and the United States, spanning decades and generations, about the brutality of war and the trauma of everyday life after war, about hope and the ties that bind us together.

Zara and her mother, Nadja, have a strained relationship. Nadja just doesn't understand Zara's creative passion for, and self-expression through, photography. And Zara doesn't know how to reach beyond their differences and connect to a closed-off mother who refuses to speak about her past in Bosnia. But when a bomb explodes as they're shopping in their local farmers' market in Rhode Island, Zara is left with PTSD--and her mother is left in a coma. Without the opportunity to get to know her mother, Zara is left with questions--not just about her mother, but about faith, religion, history, and her own path forward.

As Zara tries to sort through her confusion, she meets Joseph, whose grandmother is also in the hospital, and whose exploration of religion and philosophy offer comfort and insight into Zara's own line of thinking.

Told in chapters that alternate between Zara's present-day Providence, RI, and Nadja's own childhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, We Are All That's Left shows the ways in which, no matter the time and place, struggle and tragedy can give way to connection, healing and love.

Purchase We Are All That’s Left at Amazon
Purchase We Are All That’s Left at IndieBound
View We Are All That’s Left on Goodreads


Carrie Arcos ( was born in Albany, New York, and still mourns the day her family left for the West Coast. She earned an MA in creative writing and English literature and writes young adult fiction. She has taught English--both high school level and college. She is also the author of National Book Award finalist Out of Reach; There Will Come a Time; and, most recently, Crazy Messy Beautiful. Carrie lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children. Follow her on Twitter @carriearcos.


Have you had a chance to read WE ARE ALL THAT'S LEFT yet? Have you made yourself cry while writing? Do you have a steady rhythm for your writing time? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Charlotte, Anisaa, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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