What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Oh, a few! I’ve done a literary trek through Paris, one through Warsaw Poland and then I’ve done some local ones like reading books by local authors.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Probably Anne of Green Gables.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I have a new computer and I’m terrified of rebooting it….
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I am all over the place right now, but I am working on a family story which is non-fiction and I have a few ideas for some fiction books that would stem from it.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
My very first book was self-published, my second was with an Indie Press, and the third I’m aiming for Traditional Publishing, so my process has changed quite a bit. The real breakthrough I had was that I realized I could actually do it.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Maybe a falcon because they can travel vast distances and see the world from a different perspective.
What did you edit out of your books? (keep it family-friendly, please)
I’m going through that process right now. I specifically over wrote, so now I’m trying to trim down stories and events that don’t push the narrative forward.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Having a long term career and home base. I’ve kind of done this, I move frequently and to date I’ve had more jobs than I can count on one hand.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Growing up I read anything and everything I could get my hands on, but one of the books that impacted me the most was probably The Neverending Story.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
Staying confident when I hit a roadblock.
What is the easiest part of your writing process?
The actual writing part when I stop overthinking everything.
A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?
I think that is just a myth. While I do like my quiet private time, I’m actually very good in social situations. I took acting lessons and spent many years teaching (Pilates) so I can always hold my own when needed.
When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be an author?
Well I got my first rejection when I was eight, so I would say that around then.
Who are your biggest literary influences?
It’s funny, but they seem to change as I evolve. I would say that I often go back to Murakami, Camus and Kafka.
What’s your favorite movie which was based on a book? Why?
Hmm…. Well, it’s not exactly a movie but Unorthdox (a mini series on Netflix) was superb. I was completely absorbed by the story and the fact that it differed a bit from the book didn’t bother me at all. Then again, I always have a soft spot for The Princess Bride and yes, I’ve seen it about a million times.
How did it feel when your first book got published? How did you celebrate?
Funny enough, there wasn’t much fanfare for either of my books. I received the advanced reader copies of my second book while I was at a conference so I had a mini ‘yay’ moment by myself. It was very surreal, holding it for the first time.
What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about authors?
How much we agonize over every word that goes into our books.
When it comes to research for your books, are you a hunter or a gatherer? Talk about your research process.
My first book was an accumulation of 20+ years of working in the fitness industry. I had already written several hundred blog posts and articles on the subject, so that mainly involved gathering everything and putting it together. My second book, Tell Me What You See was more of a creative endeavour that came about during a really rough moment in my life. I was able to completely lose myself in the process. My current WIP is a family story which means hours of interviews and research and even some travel. I have piles of photo albums and letters that I take notes on and then add to my story.
Could you be housemates with your characters? Why or why not?
Currently no. I love my family but I don’t want to live with them.
What’s your typical writing routine or schedule?
I think about my book 24/7 and I write in bursts throughout the day. I’m also a freelance writer as well as the managing editor for a literary magazine, so my writing times are flexible.
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. How do you recharge?
Running and taking ballet classes before COVID and now, going for long walks with my husband and of course, reading everything I can get my hands on.
Do you prefer music or silence when you write? Do you have a writing playlist? What’s on it?
No music, but I often have the TV going in the background. I couldn’t tell you what is on but I like the noise. I’ve also started getting up and jogging on the spot every hour or so, that really helps me focus.
Which celebrity would you choose to narrate your audiobook?
What is your favorite of the six senses (touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, intuition) to write about, why?
Sight. I am a very visual person. I have a degree in screenwriting and I find that I often fall back on the techniques I learned in school. It was also the inspiration for my book, Tell Me What You See.
What is a favorite location you’ve written about? Have you visited that place? How did you choose which details to include?
It would have to be New York. I’ve been there several times over the years and it’s a city that is near and dear to my heart. There was one event in particular that involved a stalker and Louboutin heels which made for a great story.
Travel back in time (without negative effects for you or the timeline) what year do you visit? Why?
I recently re-watched Midnight In Paris so I would have to say Paris in the 20s. I would love to sit down with some of those writers and artists.
What is something about your hero or villain that drove their character, but you didn’t specifically tell your reader?
Since I am writing a nonfiction novel I have kept some of the more personal details out of the book. I don’t believe in airing dirty laundry and the story works without revealing everything.
Have you ever resuscitated a project you'd shelved? What helped it work better the second time around?
The book I’m currently working on is one that has had many iterations over the years. I took agent feedback seriously and decided to rewrite my book. Then I found an amazing editor who has been working tirelessly with me to take it to the next level.
What do the words “literary success” mean to you? How do you picture it?
That’s a tough one. I think it would be getting recognized by major festivals and national organizations.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
Other than the nonfiction family story, I’m also working on a series of short stories that are based on real events/observations from my travels.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring authors?
Don’t overthink your writing, don’t spend too much time agonizing over each sentence, just write. Also, try to get published, send out opinion pieces or articles, it does wonders for your self-esteem. For me, publishing thousands of blog posts led to writing articles for online publications which led to writing my first book.
Please provide links and/or instructions about how readers can purchase signed copies of your books.
The best place to find my book is on Amazon.com, I’m happy to send a handwritten note. Or get in touch with me through my website, carolinetopperman.com
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