Shape Shifting A Book

An interview with Carrie Newberry
author of Pick Your Teeth With My Bones

As most of you know, I am part of a writing community at AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop. This has brought me exposure to a number of gifted writers, poets and authors. Carrie Newberry is one of the authors I met at a writing retreat. She has written a book titled Pick Your Teeth With My Bones, which might have one of the coolest covers I've seen in a while. I interviewed her to help you get a feel for what writers think and feel during the writing process.

Tell me a little about how you got into writing. Was it a lifelong love or more recent?  

Lifelong, definitely. When I was a kid, I loved to play pretend, to tell myself stories and pretend I was a character in those stories. Writing lets me play pretend as an adult.

Do you write longhand or computer? Why?  

Computer.  I do most of my writing on weekends in marathon sessions.  If I wrote longhand, my hand would give out long before my imagination did.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book Pick Your Teeth With My Bones?
It started when I went to see the Fellowship of the Ring, the first Lord of the Rings movie. The character of Strider really captured my imagination, so I started a story about a ranger who turned into Kellan, the main character of my book. I set the book in Madison, because I love the idea of this other supernatural world being right under our noses. But really, the heart of the story was born when my younger sister died. I think the currents of family, immortality and loss really all stem from that, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. It was the story I needed to write to help myself heal.

Where was your first piece of writing published? 

That’s easy. This is actually the first piece of writing I’ve ever had published. I got very lucky with my publisher.

If you could have dinner with one author, past or present, who would it be? 

Authors are like movie stars to me, so that’s a tough question. If I had to choose, I guess I’d go with Charles de Lint. He’s a master of urban fantasy, fantasy that’s set in the real world. His writing blows my mind, and I’d love to bask in his presence for a few hours.

Describe your experience working with your book publisher.  

It’s been completely surreal. The people at EDGE are amazing. They’re so patient with me. The editing process was so hard – Pick Your Teeth With My Bones was about 20,000 words longer than they wanted it to be. Cutting chunks of the book was like cutting chunks out of my flesh. Each one had to be debated, weighed, mourned. But my editor, Heather, was wonderful.  The woman who does marketing for EDGE, Janice, is a beautiful person. She’s the one I go to when I need a confidence boost. I still don’t really believe that this is happening. I’m so happy.

In one word, describe your experience as a student in AllWriters Workplace and Workshop?  

Humbling. In a good way. And empowering. Did you say just one word? You can see how my manuscript got to be so long.

I know you are also on staff at AllWriters. What would be your advice to anyone considering an online class as opposed to onsite?  

Well, the online classes are great because you can take them in your pajamas with your dogs lying on your lap. No, seriously, the onsite classes are wonderful. There’s nothing like sitting in a room full of writers. The energy follows you home. But that’s not an option for a lot of students, people who live too far away or who work too early in the morning to travel to Waukesha for an evening each week. So the online classes allow students in other states and even other countries to take AllWriters workshops. Plus, if you go with the online course, you can work with me.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what?  

Rock music. Pick Your Teeth With My Bones was written to disc one of Metallica’s S&M album. A lot of writers don’t like to write to music with lyrics, but I love it. The beat, the bass line, and the fact that if I get stuck, I can sing along for a while.

In your opinion, what is the hardest part/process of writing? 

Going all the way into an emotion. I find myself skimming the top of emotions sometimes, not wanting to dig all the way in and feel it completely. But that’s what you have to do if you want to put it on paper and make it real – you have to feel it. No turning away, no turning back.

Coffee or Tea?

Coffee, hands down.

What writing project(s) are you working on at the moment?  

I’m editing the sequel to Pick Your Teeth With My Bones, and I just started a new book. The main character is a retired hitman. He’s a lot of fun. I have no idea where it’s going, but I find myself excited to get back to it.

Ever get writers block? If so, how do you get past it? 

Yes, when I start worrying about the big picture, I get blocked.  The best way for me to get past it is to sit down and start writing.  Even if it’s just to describe what I’m feeling in that moment, or to vent my frustration with my favorite swear words – get something on the page, and keep going.  Even if it’s “blah, blah, blah-de-blah.”

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring writers, what would it be? 

Trust your writing. So often we get caught up in wondering what this piece is, where is it going, how will I get there, will it be worth anything to anyone? That’s a great way to drive yourself crazy. You have a drive to write what you’re writing. Trust that. Let go and enjoy the ride.

How can people get your book?

Get it here!

How can people contact you or follow your work?

Twitter: Carrie Newberry (@shifter979)

Thank you Carrie and continued success in your writing pursuits!

Thank you, Jim!!!

Blogging off...


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