Episode 60 | September 29, 2022
After a short career in law, Leanne Kale Sparks has returned to her first love—writing about murder, mayhem, and crime. Currently, she is an author with Crooked Lane Books and her current release is The Wrong Woman. Leanne is also working on a new series featuring an FBI agent hunting down her best friend’s murderer. She currently resides in Texas with her husband and German Shepherd, Zoe.
Among other things, Carter and Leanne discuss discovering the genre that fits their voice, what Leanne learned from self-publishing, and the pros and cons of a standalone vs. series. At the end of the conversation, they devise a chilling tale that will leave you wanting more, starting with a sentence from David Bell’s The Finalists.
Episode 59 | September 26, 2022
Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of 30 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories (The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was chosen as one of the “20th Century’s Best Crime Novels” by the IMBA.) She has won the Agatha, Anthony, Creasey, Edgar, Lambda, Macavity, Wolfe, and Romantic Times Career Achievement awards, has an honorary doctorate in theology, and is a Baker Street Irregular. Her recent release is the cold-case novel Back to the Garden.
Among other things, Laurie and Carter discuss friendships within the writing community, how to write a character’s emotions, and rereading in order to shut off your brain. At the end of their conversation, they make up a comedic tale of revenge, beginning with a sentence from The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark.
Episode 58 | September 8, 2022
David Ellis is a judge and an Edgar-award-winning author of ten novels of crime fiction, as well as eight bestselling books co-authored with James Patterson. His novels have been translated into more than ten languages worldwide. In December 2014, Dave was sworn in as the youngest-serving Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District.
Among other things, Carter and David discuss figuring out how to actually write, David’s experience as a co-author with James Patterson, and the never-ending plague of typos. At the end of the conversation, they devise a story with quite a cliffhanger, starting with a sentence from The Winner by David Baldacci.
Episode 57 | September 1, 2022
After flying helicopters with the U.S. Army and a career as a technical writer, Russell James now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. Russell has penned over twenty horror novels including Dark Inspiration, Q Island, and The Playing Card Killer. He also authored the Grant Coleman Adventures series starting with Cavern of the Damned and the Ranger Kathy West series starting with Claws.
Among other things, Carter and Russell discuss life before writing, finding success without an agent, and promoting books at horror and pop-culture conventions. At the end of their conversation, they craft the beginning of a mystery from a sentence out of The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall.
Episode 56 | August 25, 2022
James Byrne is the author of the recent thriller The Gatekeeper. He writes under various names and has published nine other novels in the realm of thrillers and mysteries. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Portland Tribune.
Among other things, Carter and James discuss publishing highs and lows, how the gender of an action-adventure protagonist greatly impacts sales, and writing in longhand. At the end of their conversation, they use a sentence out of Stephen King’s Joyland to spin a short tale about money and murder.
Episode 55 | August 18, 2022
Pip Drysdale is a writer, musician, and actor who grew up in Africa and Australia. Her debut novel, The Sunday Girl, was a bestseller and has been published in the United States, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The Strangers We Know was also a bestseller and is being developed for television and her most recent novel, The Next Girl, was published this year.
Among other things, Carter and Pip discuss her frequent moving as a child and adult, the things they will not write about, and how they balance both reading and writing. At the end of their conversation, they tell a story about a woman who went way overboard and dealing with those consequences, beginning with a sentence from Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney.
Episode 54 | August 11, 2022
Faye Snowden is the author of three standalone mysteries and a four-part series of which the first two, A Killing Fire and A Killing Rain, have been released. She also has published short stories and poems in various literary journals including The African American Review, Calliope, Red Ochre Lit, Bay Area Poets, and more. At eighteen, she left Louisiana to join the Navy and afterward worked as an information technology professional in various industries while on her way to a masters in English Literature.
Among other things, Carter and Faye discuss growing up with a love of reading and writing, how the Navy allowed her to receive her college education while supporting her career, and her journey into writing. At the end of the conversation, they tell a story about making quick decisions when it counts most, beginning with a sentence from Eleven Days by Donald Harstad.
Episode 53 | August 4, 2022
Clare Mackintosh has sold more than two million copies of her books worldwide and is the multi-award-winning author of the thriller I Let You Go, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. Together, her books have spent more than sixty weeks in The Sunday Times bestseller lists and have been translated into at least forty languages. Her new book, The Last Party, launches in the U.K. today!
Among other things, Carter and Clare discuss how working as a police officer influences her writing, how the pandemic impacted authors, and they compare writing routines (which may or may not include throwing away entire first drafts). At the end of the conversation, they craft a character from a sentence in John Case’s The Syndrome.
Episode 52 | July 28, 2022
Joey Hartstone is a film and television writer who has written two feature films, LBJ and Shock and Awe, both directed by Rob Reiner. He wrote for the first two seasons of the legal drama The Good Fight and is currently a writer on the Showtime series Your Honor. His debut legal thriller, The Local, was released in June 2022.
Among other things, Carter and Joey discuss the differences between the film and book industries, choosing what to include or not in a true story, and transitioning to novel writing from screenwriting. At the end of their conversation, they discover an unexpected crime scene while storytelling from a sentence out of The Innocent by Harlan Coben.
Episode 51 | July 21, 2022
Novelist Ashley Winstead holds a Ph.D. in contemporary American literature from Southern Methodist University and a B.A. in English and Art History from Vanderbilt University. Her 2021 thriller, In My Dreams I Hold a Knife, was a breakout hit, and is being followed up with her August 2022 release The Last Housewife.
Among other things, Carter and Ashley discuss getting her Ph.D. and the path back to writing, writing to leave a legacy, and how difficult it can be to find an agent. At the end of the conversation, they make up a comical scene with a dark twist from the book, Lie In Wait by Eric Rickstad.
Episode 50 | July 11, 2022
The 50th EPISODE (!) of Making It Up features Hannah Mary McKinnon, who led a successful career in recruitment before quitting the corporate world in favor of writing. Her debut, Time After Time, was a rom-com but she has since transitioned to suspense novels. Of five, four are bestsellers and her seventh book and sixth thriller is scheduled for spring next year. Hannah’s latest thriller, Never Coming Home, released in May 2022 and is a book that Carter dubs “masterful.”
Among other things, Carter and Hannah discuss the messages within novels, writing with incredible determination, and learning how to navigate the publishing industry. At the end of their conversation, they make up a thrilling scene beginning with a sentence from Carter’s own novel The Comfort of Black.
Episode 49 | June 27, 2022
Hilde Kate Lysiak founded the newspaper Orange Street News at the age of seven. Now, at fifteen, she’s written and published hundreds of stories, has been recognized for her work in the New York Times, The Today Show, GMA, and The Washington Post. Additionally, she has a book series with Schloastic and a TV mystery series inspired by her life, titled Home Before Dark, which premiered on Apple TV+ in April 2020.
Among other things, Carter and Hilde discuss why she wanted to start reporting at such a young age, writing in the family and learning how to utilize criticism at a young age, and handling negative responses and media pressures. At the end of the conversation, they start with a sentence out of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone and discuss where the story could go.
Episode 48 | June 20, 2022
Novelist Elle Marr strives to tell powerful and compelling stories of women who demonstrate resilience in the face of great obstacles. She is the author of three thrillers, The Missing Sister (2020), Lies We Bury (2021), and Strangers We Know (May 2022). The Missing Sister was the #24 Best Selling eBook of 2020 on Amazon, #1 in the entire Kindle Store, featured in Woman’s World, and named one of PopSugar’s 31 Thrillers of 2020. Her latest thriller, Strangers We Know, was an Audible Most Anticipated Listen of Spring 2022, featured by Goodreads during Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and reached #4 in the Kindle Store.
Among other things, Carter and Elle discuss writing her first novel for National Novel Writing Month, crafting characters and world-building in thrillers, and writing for yourself versus writing under deadline. At the end of the conversation, they make up a suspenseful scene from the book, The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens.
Episode 47 | June 6, 2022
Jess Montgomery is the author of the Kinship Historical Mysteries, set in 1920s Appalachian Ohio and inspired by Ohio’s true first female sheriff. Under her given name, she writes the “Level Up Your (Writing) Life” column for Writer’s Digest. She also hosts the “Tea with Jess: Chatting with Authors & Artists” in which creatives share their journeys and insights.
Among other things, Carter and Jess discuss her path and reasons for going into technical writing, how the genre you can’t stop reading is the genre you should be writing, and the magic of reading and writing and how it impacts people so differently. At the end of their conversation, they make up a little fantasy romance from Cat on the Edge by Shirley Rousseau Murphy.
Episode 46 | May 30, 2022
D.P. Lyle is the award-winning author of 22 books, both non-fiction and fiction. He is the International Thriller Writer’s VP for Education and runs CraftFest, Master CraftFest, and ITW’s online Thriller School. D.P has also written for television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Cold Case, House, Pretty Little Liars, and more.
Among other things, Carter and D.P. discuss the importance of confidence, the research that goes into writing and having too many books to write at once. At the end of their conversation, they tell a quirky little mystery based on a sentence from Hostile Witness by William Lashner.
Episode 45 | May 23, 2022
Ananda Lima is a poet whose most recent collection, Mother/land, is the winner of the Hudson Prize. She is also the author of Chapbooks Translation (winner of the Vella Chapbook Prize), Amblyopia, and Tropicália (winner of the Newfound Prose Prize). Her work has appeared in the American Poetry Review, Poets.com, Kenyon Review Online, and many more. She has an MA in Linguistics and an MFA in Creative Writing.
Among other things, Carter and Ananda talk about writing in various languages, constructing verse from abstract thoughts, and how the publishing industry works for poetry. At the end of their conversation, they make up a bizarre little tale beginning from a sentence out of The Institute by Stephen King.
Episode 44 | May 11, 2022
Katrina Monroe is a novelist whose debut title, They Drown Our Daughters releases in July 2022 from Sourcbooks. The book has been named one of CrimeReads’ 16 Horror Novels To Look Out For In 2022 and Tor Nightfire’s Horror Books We’re Excited About In 2022. Katrina lives in Minnesota with her wife, two children, and Eddie, the ghost who haunts their bedroom closets.
Carter and Katrina talk about what constitutes horror, how the switch from small publishing to a larger release is going and preparing to attend writer conferences for the first time. At the end of their conversation, they tell a story about unsuccessful therapy, from a sentence out of a Victorian Ghost Stories collection.
Episode 43 | May 4, 2022
Katie Lattari is the author of two novels, American Vaudeville, a small press work, and her recent thriller debut, Dark Things I Adore. Her short stories have appeared in such places as NOO Journal, The Bend, Cabildo Quarterly, and more.
Among other things, Carter and Katie discuss creepy small towns, the tumultuous journey to writing novels, and how to handle the editor’s first letter without panicking. At the end of their conversation, they make up a little tale about a dark plan, starting from a sentence from The Tourist, by Olen Steinhauer.
Episode 42 | April 20, 2022
Novelist Erica Ferencik is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boston University. Her most recent release, Girl In Ice, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Los Angeles Times Best Crime Novel of Winter 2022, and a Reader’s Digest Best Fiction Book of 2022.
Among other things, Carter and Erica discuss the benefit of travel for researching books, how writing comedy and thrillers are more similar than you might think, and what it looks like to define your own success. At the end of their conversation, they tell a quirky and brutal story from Mario Puzo’s The Last Don.
Episode 41 | April 6, 2022
J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels, and the EMMY® award winning co-host of the literary TV show A Word on Words. She also writes urban fantasy under the pen name Joss Walker. With millions of books in print, J.T. has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, been optioned for television, and has been published in 28 countries.
Among other things, Carter and J.T. discuss growing up surrounded by reading and writing, making every mistake in the book as a new writer, architect-vs.-gardener writing styles, and wanting your characters to really live. At the end of their conversation, they tell a story full of intrigue, stemming from a sentence out of They Drown Our Daughters by Katrina Monroe.