Author Interview: Carter Roy

Posted March 4, 2014 by Stormi in Author Interviews / 0 Comments

Author Interview: Carter Roy

Carter Roy grew up in Southern California, the youngest of five children. He was a reader starting early. He always had friends, but the friends he kept closest were the ones bound between covers. As a boy, his favorite books were The Mad Scientists Club by Bertrand R. Brinley and The Furious Flycycle by Jan Wahl, but also the novels of Beverly Cleary, Ruth Stiles Gannett, and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

His choice of storytelling medium changed after a claymation film he directed in sixth grade called “The Bionic Mouse” won the California Student Film Festival. Movies, he decided, were what he was most interested in. He made a half-dozen Super-8 films before enrolling at the film production school of the University of Southern California. 

He’d never stopped reading, of course, but it was at USC that he rediscovered the pleasures of writing fiction while taking creative writing classes with T.C. Boyle. And so, though he continued to shoot and produce films as part of his degree coursework, he began increasingly to think of himself as someone who was happiest working with the written word. 

After he left USC, he began working for a mid-size children's books publisher, then shifted to freelance editing while working on a master’s degree program at Hollins College (now Hollins University). During his time at Hollins, he won the Andrew James Purdy Award for Short Fiction and began publishing short stories for adult readers.

He returned to publishing, eventually ending up as editorial director for a major New York house before at last quitting and turning his attentions full-time to storytelling. A few more of his short stories and essays appeared, one of which won the Sherwood Anderson Short Fiction Award from Mid-American Review. He then sold his first novel and began working earnestly on what would become the first of The Blood Guard series.

 He lives with his wife in Brooklyn, New York, where he is writing the second novel in TheBlood Guard sequence and working as an editor for a company called the Inkhouse.

Please welcome Carter Roy to my blog today. He is the author of Blood Guard a new swashbuckling adventure series.

Tell us a something about yourself that is not in your author bio.

I am a huge fan of romantic comedies—old ones like Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, The Lady Eve and Holiday, as well as movies of a more recent vintage such as A Room with a View and Broadcast News. These latter two I’ve seen so many times (ten to twenty times each) that I can recite whole scenes from memory, capturing the intonations and rhythms of the actors. This is an entirely useless and unappealing skill, though it does make me quite happy.

Carter Roy workspaceDo you have a specific place you like to write/music you listen to, etc?

I am lucky, in that I have a space of my own in which to work. It is in a red, soundproof room in the basement of our apartment. (See attached photo, in which you can see that I am watched over by my patron saint, my Stinky Cheese Man bobble head.) The guy who used to own this apartment was a DJ, and he’d come home after work at three or four in the morning with ideas about song mixes he wanted to create. So he had a small soundproof room built. This way, he could play music as loudly as he wanted to without waking up his roommate. Turns out to be a perfect place to write. I wake early, shut out the very vocal cat, and make as much noise as I like without any fear of waking my wife upstairs.

I understand that some people are able to write even while music is playing, that the music doesn’t throw off their own inner voice. Sadly for me, I am not one of those people!

Do you have any authors that have influenced your writing?

I don’t know about “influence,” exactly, but the writers who most made me want to write The Blood Guard were the writers I read and loved as a kid, and as an adult who reads kid’s books. A lot of it was science fiction and fantasy, specifically Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, Roger Zelazny, Beverly Cleary, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury. Whether those writers influenced me, I can’t say. But they certainly made me love reading.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

I never really “decided” I wanted to be a writer; I just sort of started writing things. It was in college that I discovered I could have a lot of fun doing it.

That was a long time ago now, and between then and now were all sorts of wrong paths and oddball jobs, and while many of them revolved around books and reading, just as many didn’t (cruise ship videographer; house painter; drywall hanger; gas station attendant; projectionist; I could go on for a long while). The entire time, I wrote little things—book reviews for the local metropolitan newspaper, short stories and essays, and monologues to deliver in venues such as The Moth. After a while, I suddenly realized, Hey—I’m a writer now. How’d that happen?

How do you come by your ideas?

I wish I knew. So much stuff passes through my head that it’s hard to know why some stuff gets stuck in the drain while other things wash away. Sometimes a seed idea comes from experience, other times something I’ve read or misheard; still other times from some untold story that might have been hinted at in another book. Other times it comes from wanting to write little jokes.

The seed idea for The Blood Guard, for example, was briefly mentioned in a manuscript I read in the early nineties. That novel had nothing whatsoever to do with the Thirty-Six Pure, but the idea was mentioned by a character in passing and never returned to. Curious, I read a little more about it and concocted an idea.

That was twenty years ago. Between then and now, the idea gathered lots of other stuff until finally it looked like something worth working on.

What made you decide to write in your current genre?

I love middle grade fiction. I mean, I love teen fiction and adult and picture books, too, but it’s always seemed to me that the books I read between seven and thirteen were the books that have stuck with me, the books that turned me into a true reader. It is thanks to middle-grade fiction that I became who I am, and it felt like a natural fit for the story I had to tell.

Have you ever started writing something and then scrapped it?

Absolutely! I’m sure that this is true for most everyone who has ever tried to put a story together. But it’s okay; that material never goes to waste, that work is never pointless. For example, there is a car chase down a staircase in The Blood Guard. This was originally something I wrote for a screenplay that went nowhere back in the late nineties. When I needed a thrilling escape for my heroes, I remembered that screenplay and dug out the sequence. I was glad to have it in my files!

Blood Guard jacketTell us about your current release/or new release?

The Blood Guard is the story of Evelyn Ronan Truelove, a thirteen-year-old boy who, as the story begins, learns that his mother is one of a secret society of ancient protectors. Soon he is on the run for his life, evading the bad guys who his mother has dedicated her life to fighting.

He is joined in his flight by a former schoolmate named Greta Sustermann and a nineteen-year-old Blood Guard escort named Jack Dawkins. The three of them use every means at their disposal to evade capture while uncovering an ever-spiraling series of secrets about the Blood Guard and each other. Along the way Ronan gains his own character, but loses a parent; saves a friend, but is unable to save an innocent; and becomes somebody who if not quite a hero yet, certainly could be.


What made you decide to write about this particular subject?


Some of my favorites stories are those in which a character has to figure out the shape of the story he or she is in. North by Northwest is one of those—Roger O. Thornhill is being pursued and doesn’t know why, so even as he works to evade capture, he’s also unraveling a mystery. There is something purely exciting about dropping a person into a crazy situation like that. It is the kind of stress that forges a person’s character, reveals who he or she truly is. I wanted to do the same to Ronan Truelove.


Are you currently working on a new project? If so can you tell us what it will be about?


At the moment I am finishing the sequel to the Blood Guard, which finds our main characters dealing with the fallout from the first novel. Revealing what that entails would require some spoilers, so I’m going to skip over the specifics. Suffice to say the story is similarly packed with action, surprising twists, and revelations that will deepen the


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Twitter: @carterroybooks
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