In my conversation series Making It Up I talk to writers of all backgrounds in order to find out why they do what they do. My guests and I discuss childhood influences, roots of creativity, luck and loss, tools of the craft, and the highs and lows of publishing. At the end of our conversation, we pick a random sentence from a random book and use it to create an impromptu short story. Scroll down for all the episodes!
Full Episode List:
Ep 2: Julie Clark
Ep 3: Joe Clifford
Ep 4: David Bell
Ep 5: Sean Eads
Ep 6: K.J. Howe
Ep 7: Lynne Constantine
Ep 8: Mark Stevens
Ep 9: Steven James
Ep 10: Julia Heaberlin
Ep 11: Graham Hurley
Ep 12: Emily Bleeker
Ep 13: Erika Englehaupt
Ep 14: Mark Sullivan
Ep 15: Sabrina Jeffries
Ep 16: Clare Whitfield
Ep 17: Xio Axelrod
Ep 18: Brad Parks
Ep 19: Barb Webb
Ep 20: Adrian Goldsworthy
Ep 21: Stuart Turton
Ep 22: S.A. Cosby
Ep 23: Daniel Handler
Ep 24: Maureen Johnson
Ep 25: Sarah Fine
Ep 26: Matthew Fitzsimmons
Ep 27: Robert Dugoni
Ep 28: Farrah Rochon
Ep 29: Alverne Ball
Ep 30: Drew Magary
Ep 31: Dr. Ian Smith
Ep 32: Yasmin Angoe
Ep 33: Gabrielle St George
Ep 34: Amanda Kabak
Ep 35: Lynne Reeves Griffin
Ep 36: Allen Eskens
Ep 37: Daniel Jude Miller
Ep 38: Alex Finlay
Ep 39: Aaron Philip Clark
Ep 40: Lara Elena Donnelly
Ep 41: J.T. Ellison
Ep 42: Erica Ferencik
Ep 43: Katie Lattari
Ep 44: Katrina Monroe
Ep 45: Ananda Lima
Ep 46: D.P. Lyle
Ep 47: Jess Montgomery
Ep 48: Elle Marr
Ep 49: Hilde Lysiak
Ep 50: Hannah Mary McKinnon
Ep 51: Ashley Winstead
Ep 52: Joey Hartstone
Ep 53: Clare Mackintosh
Ep 54: Faye Snowden
Ep 55: Pip Drysdale
Ep 56: James Byrne
Ep 57: Russell James
Ep 58: David Ellis
Ep 59: Laurie R King
Ep 60: Leanne Sparks
Ep 61: Wendy Walker
Ep 62: Sam McAlister
Ep 63: Kelly J Ford
Ep 64: Jonathan Woods
Ep 65: Samuel Octavius
Ep 66: Jeffrey Wilson
Ep 67: Barbara Nickless
Episode 67 | November 18, 2022
Barbara Nickless is the #1 Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Sydney Parnell police procedural series. She promised her mother she’d be a novelist when she grew up, because what could be safer than sitting at a desk all day? Now she is an award-winning author and creative-writing instructor, and she spends her free time snowshoeing, caving, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies.
Among other things, Carter and Barbara discuss writing crime fiction while being sensitive to current political climates, how much attention to give to reviews and readers’ opinions, and all the adventures Barbara went through before landing on writing. At the end of their conversation, they make up an exciting yet chilling story, starting with a sentence from Forsaken Country by Allen Eskens.
Episode 66 | November 10, 2022
Jeffrey Wilson has at one time worked as an actor, a firefighter, a paramedic, a jet pilot, a diving instructor, a Naval Officer, and a Vascular and Trauma Surgeon. He is also the co-author, with Brian Andrews, of the Wall Street Journal and Amazon #1 Bestselling TIER ONE series of thrillers from Thomas & Mercer. He still works as a consultant for the Department of Defense when not hard at work on his next book.
Among other things, Carter and Jeffrey discuss the challenges of short versus long fiction, how Jeffrey used his experiences to fuel his writing, and the challenges of writing realistic violence. At the end of their conversation, they make up a gory tale from a sentence in Red Dragon by Thomas Harris.
Episode 65 | November 3, 2022
Samuel Octavius spent 24 years in the Marine Corps, being rewarded with tons of stories to share. He has pursued his passions for writing, technology, and the intersection of futurism and society. He retired at the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant, completed a B.S. and an M.S. and continues to pursue graduate studies while working on his first novel, The Echo Chamber.
Among other things, Carter and Samuel discuss the impact that speech and debate in high school had on Sam’s life, his experience in the military and the adjustment period afterwards, and the difference between having the idea for a story and being a storyteller. At the end of the conversation, they make up an intriguing story from a sentence out of The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine.
Episode 64 | October 27, 2022
Jonathan Woods holds multiple degrees and for many years he practiced law for a multi-national high-tech company. But writing is his real passion. His stories have appeared in 3:AM Magazine, Dogmatika, Plots with Guns, Pulp Pusher, Thuglit and other web-based literary magazines. His latest novel, Wild Hogs, released late August this year.
Among other things, Carter and Jonathan discuss childhood reading, Jonathan’s years in-between law and writing, and living the writer’s dream. At the end of their conversation, they tell a story quite fitting for Halloween weekend, starting with a sentence from Stephen Hunter’s Black Light.
Episode 63 | October 20, 2022
Kelly J. Ford is the author of Real Bad Things, and Cottonmouths, named one of 2017’s best books of the year by the Los Angeles Review and featured in the “52 Books in 52 Weeks” from the Los Angeles Times. An Arkansas native, Kelly writes crime fiction set in the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley. Kelly is also an occasional co-host with Daniel Ford on the Writer’s Bone podcast. She lives in Vermont with her wife, cat, and dog.
Among other things, Carter and Kelly discuss the best locations for thrillers, the influence social media can have on authors, and some advice to new authors. At the end of their conversation, they make up an intriguing scene starting with a sentence from Tell No Lies by Julie Compton.
Episode 62 | October 13, 2022
Sam McAlister was the first in her family to go to university, before training to be a criminal barrister. As a single mum, she decided her real passion was in news. Now BAFTA-nominated for her work with BBC Newsnight, Sam’s hard-won exclusives have shaped the public conversation. Most notably, she is the woman who clinched the 2019 interview with Prince Andrew, described as ‘a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion’. Sam’s new book, Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews, has recently been optioned for film.
Among other things, Carter and Sam discuss her experience as a barrister, her ability to connect with people, and jumping into a book deal without any experience writing. At the end of their conversation, they delve into the mind of a character starting with a sentence out of Lost Lake by Emily LittleJohn.
Episode 61 | October 6, 2022
Wendy Walker’s psychological suspense novels have been translated into 23 foreign languages, topped bestseller lists both nationally and abroad, and have been optioned for television and film. Prior to her writing career, Wendy practiced both corporate and family law and worked as a financial analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Her latest novel, What Remains, will be released in June, 2023.
Among other things, Carter and Wendy discuss the difference between writing and reading dark novels, how she applies her real-life knowledge to her characters, and their love for ambiguous endings. At the end of their conversation, they tell what could be the beginning of a new thriller novel, starting with a sentence from Just After Sunset by Stephen King.
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.
Episode 40 | March 23, 2022
Lara Elena Donnelly is the author of the Nebula, Lambda, and Locus-nominated trilogy The Amberlough Dossier, as well as short fiction and poetry. Lara has taught in the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College as well as the Catapult Workshop in New York. She is a graduate of the Clarion and Alpha writers’ workshops and has served as on-site staff at the latter, mentoring amazing teens who will someday take over the world of Science Fiction & Fantasy.
Among other things, Carter and Lara discuss writing competitions and workshops, the value of a critique group, and how different the editing and publishing process is between publishers. At the end of their conversation, they use a sentence from The Searcher by Tana French to craft a story about the last few seconds of life.
Episode 39 | March 7, 2022
Aaron Philip Clark is a novelist and screenwriter from Los Angeles, CA. In addition to his writing career, he has worked in the film industry and law enforcement. His most recent novel, Under Color of Law, which was inspired by his experience in the LAPD, was just named a 2022 Thriller Awards finalist (Best Paperback Original).
Among other things, Carter and Aaron discuss the world of screenwriting, eBooks versus hard copies, and what you can and can’t teach about writing. At the end of their conversation, their improvised story (beginning with a sentence from The Negotiator by Frederick Forsyth) will leave you wanting answers.
Episode 38 | February 21, 2022
Alex Finlay is the pseudonym of Anthony Franze, who launched his debut thriller the same year as me back in 2012. His 2021 breakout thriller as Alex Finlay, Every Last Fear, was an Indie Next pick, a LibraryReads selection, an Amazon Editor’s Best Thriller, as well as a CNN, Newsweek, E!, BuzzFeed, Business Week, Goodreads, Parade, PopSugar, and Reader’s Digest best or most anticipated thriller of the year. His recent release is The Night Shift.
Among other things, Carter and Alex discuss learning to write by clinically analyzing the books they love, how being a lawyer influenced his original Supreme Court thrillers under Anthony Franze, and how taking on a pen name not only is weird for your personal life but also can change your writing style and voice. At the end of their conversation, they make up a tale based on Robert Ludlum’s The Borne Ultimatum.
Episode 37 | February 14, 2022
Daniel Jude Miller is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book series Monsters in Manhattan, as well as Everybody Wake Up, Earclaw and Eddie, and Halloween Boy and the Christmas Kid. Growing up in Queens, NY and working in Manhattan inspired Daniel to write and draw all the creatures and goblins he came across on a daily basis. He now lives upstate, far from the clutches of those monsters.
Among other things, Carter and Daniel talk about Daniel’s decision to start his own publishing company after 12 years as an illustrator, the process of educational presentations for schools, and managing a publishing business through the pandemic. At the end of their conversation, they tell a creepy story starting from a sentence in Joyland by Stephen King.
Episode 36 | February 7, 2022
Allen Eskens is the bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another, The Heavens May Fall, The Deep Dark Descending, The Shadows We Hide, Nothing More Dangerous, and The Stolen Hours. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Minnesota Book Award, Rosebud Award (Left Coast Crime), and Silver Falchion Award and has been a finalist for the Edgar® Award, Thriller Award, and Anthony Award. His books have been translated into 26 languages.
Among other things, Carter and Allen discuss how his intensive outlines sometimes create more stories, the hero’s journey from an author’s perspective, and how to correctly write a huge plot twist. At the end of their conversation, they tell a story about things gone doubly wrong, starting from a sentence out of Tell Me No Lies by Shelly Noble.
Episode 35 | January 31, 2022
Lynne Reeves Griffin is an internationally recognized family counselor, public speaker, teacher, and writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in Parents, Psychology Today, Solstice Literary Magazine, Chautauqua Journal, Craft Literary, Fiction Writers Review, Brain, Child, and more. She writes novels of domestic suspense as Lynne Reeves, with The Dangers of an Ordinary Night published by Crooked Lane Books in November 2021.
Among other things, Carter and Lynne discuss how she approaches writing with a societal issue in mind, leaving a prescribed “message” out of the story allowing readers their own takeaways, and how to best approach editorial comments. At the end of their conversation, they tell a dark story about decisions and their outcomes, stemming from a sentence out of Harvard Yard by William Martin.
Episode 34 | January 24, 2022
Amanda Kabak is the author of The Mathematics of Change and her latest novel, Upended. Her stories have been published in The Massachusetts Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Sequestrum, The Laurel Review, and more. She’s also the recipient of the Lascaux Review fiction award, the Arcturus Review’s Al-Simāk award for fiction, and the Betty Gabehart prize from the Kentucky Women Writers’ Conference.
Among other things, Carter and Amanda discuss the messy nature of first drafts and how they lead to crying in coffee shops, working as a technical writer, and communicating trauma in a story. At the end of their conversation, they make up a thriller with a sweet ending from The Secret Next Door by Rebecca Taylor.
Episode 33 | December 21, 2021
Gabrielle St George is a Canadian screenwriter and story editor with credits on over 100 produced television shows, both in the USA and Canada. Her feature film scripts have been optioned in Hollywood. She also writes humorous mysteries and domestic noir about subjects of which she is an expert– mostly failed relationships, hence her début soft-boiled series, The Ex-Whisperer Files, which recently launched with its first title How to Murder a Marriage.
Among other things, Carter and Gabrielle discuss how childhood can influence creativity, being envious of other writers’ successes, and the confoundedness of mean reviews. At the end of their conversation, they make up a horror story inspired by a sentence from Love and War by John Jakes.
Episode 32 | December 13, 2021
Yasmin Angoe recently released her debut novel, Her Name Is Knight. She taught English in middle and high schools for years, served as an instructional coach for virtual teachers, and spent time as a freelance copy editor. Angoe recently received the Eleanor Taylor Bland Award for emerging writers of color from Sisters of Crime, of which she’s a proud member.
Among other things, Carter and Yasmin discuss Yasmin’s “first” book that she wrote in middle school, why you should always check your junk mail, and what events or topics deserve a trigger warning. At the end of their conversation, they delve into the emotions of someone who had just committed a crime, stemming from a sentence out of The Nines by Sam Anderson.
Episode 31 | December 6, 2021
Dr. Ian Smith is the author of 15 books, both novels, and multiple #1 New York Times bestselling non-fiction health and diet books. He is currently the medical contributor and co-host of the nationally syndicated television show The Rachael Ray Show and a former co-host of the Emmy award-winning syndicated daytime talk show, The Doctors. Among many more noteworthy achievements (too many to list here) Dr. Ian was appointed by President Obama to a second term on the prestigious President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.
Among other things, Carter and Dr. Ian discuss the huge differences between writing fiction and non-fiction, the importance of emotional attachment to characters, and how enjoyable and freeing a career in writing can be. At the end of their conversation, they make up a visceral tale of mystery and impulse stemming from a sentence out of Every Deadly Kiss by Steven James.
Episode 30 | November 29, 2021
Drew Magary is a co-founder of the employee-owned sports and culture website Defector, as well as a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle online and the author of three novels. Drew’s life changed forever at a company holiday party in 2018 when he suffered a mysterious fall that caused him to smash his head so hard on a cement floor that he cracked his skull in three places and suffered a catastrophic brain hemorrhage. His latest work—The Night the Lights Went Out—chronicles his recovery from his injury, including understanding what his family and friends went through as he lay there dying, coming to terms with his now permanent disabilities, and trying to find some lesson in this cosmic accident.
Among other things, Drew and Carter discuss Drew’s experience co-founding a media company, how his life-altering accident impacted both his professional and personal mindset, and writing as a form of acceptance and outreach to others. At the end of their conversation, they tell a story of insight from a sentence out of The Rule of Four by Dustin Thomason and Ian Caldwell.
Episode 29 | November 22, 2021
Alverne Ball’s creativity is seemingly boundless. His writing has been featured in literary magazines, he’s crafted award-winning comic and graphic novel material for various production studios, and he’s written and produced a short film himself. Oh, yeah, he’s also a novelist. His latest book is Blue Religion, a sequel to his earlier work Only The Holy Remain.
Among other things, Carter and Alverne discuss the moment of clarity when he knew he wanted to be a writer, how difficult it can be to find a publisher who will work with underrepresented language and characters and the real-life crimes that inspired his novels. At the end of their conversation, they create a gripping story about beginnings and endings, using a sentence from J.R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar.
Episode 28 | November 15, 2021
Farrah Rochon is a USA Today bestselling author who has garnered much acclaim for her popular Holmes Brothers and New York Sabers series. More recently, The Boyfriend Project and The Dating Playbook. When she’s not writing in her favorite coffee shop, Farrah enjoys reading, cooking, traveling the world, visiting Walt Disney World, and Broadway shows.
Among other things, Carter and Farrah discuss her mom’s influence as an English teacher, pursuing psychology to end up writing Romance, and how self-publishing is sometimes the best decision. At the end of their conversation they take a sentence from The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens and craft a story about a man brought to justice by a goat.
Episode 27 | November 8, 2021
Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite series, which has sold over 8 million copies worldwide. In addition, he has two other series, several standalone novels, and numerous short stories. His latest book, The World Played Chess, is the emotionally arresting follow-up to The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.
Among other things, Carter and Robert discuss their love for storytelling and where it comes from, how Robert went from practicing law to theater to writing, and how he sought war stories from Vietnam veterans in order to write books honoring them. At the end of their conversation they craft a darkly compelling story beginning with a sentence from John Grisham’s A Painted House.
Episode 26 | November 3, 2021
Matthew Fitzsimmons nearly abandoned writing forever. Thankfully he persevered and is now the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Gibson Vaughn series. His most recent release is Constance, a mind-bending thriller about human cloning.
Among other things, the two discuss Matthew’s long and sometimes painful path to success, which included being a playwright in New York, a long stint of teaching, becoming homeless, and finally taking salvation in novel writing. At the end of their conversation, they create a thrilling tale about the consequences of decisions made long ago, using a sentence from The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall.
Episode 25 | October 25, 2021
Sarah Fine, writing under the name SF Kosa, is a psychologist by training and a writer by passion. Though The Quiet Girl was her debut psychological suspense novel, she is the author of over two dozen fantasy, urban fantasy, sci-fi, and romance novels, some of which have been translated into other languages.
Among other things, Carter and Sarah discuss how she went from wanting to be a surgeon to writing novels, being internally focused while writing her first book, and writing to feel the emotions of characters. At the end of their conversation, a sentence from David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle spurs a story about the post-trauma psyche.
Episode 24 | October 18, 2021
Maureen Johnson is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle (now on Netflix), and several works in the Shadowhunter universe with Cassandra Clare.
Among other things, Carter and Maureen discuss attending a Catholic high school as a non-Catholic, getting her MFA from Columbia, and how she writes mysteries by outlining and stress-testing her crime scene. At the end of their conversation, a sentence from A Column of Fire by Ken Follet sparks an in-depth conversation about old court schemes.
Episode 23 | October 11, 2021
Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, became a cultural phenomenon with his 13-volume A Series of Unfortunate Events. His books have sold more than 70 million copies, won Peabody and Writers Guild of America awards, and have been made into box-office and streaming movies. His latest release, the standalone novel Poison for Breakfast, is self-described as a “book about bewilderment.”
Among other things, Carter and Daniel discuss the education of writing, how to read like a writer, and the benefits of putting your work away for a whole year. At the end of their conversation, they spin a tale of mystery beginning with a random sentence from Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.
Episode 22 | October 4, 2021
S.A. Cosby, thriller-writer extraordinaire. Shawn (S.A.) struck oil with his breakout 2019 novel Blacktop Wasteland, a Los Angeles Times book winner and the ITW Thriller Award winner for best hardcover (a big goddamned deal). He followed that up with his 2021 book Razorblade Tears, which was an instant New York Times bestseller.
Among other things, Carter and Shawn discuss writing for a purpose and expanding perspectives, the role luck and timing play in success after publishing, and accepting valuable help from industry experts and editors. At the end of their conversation, they tell a story, beginning from a sentence out of Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King, about being driven into a snap decision to find a long-lost love.
Episode 21 | September 21, 2021
Stuart Turton lives in West London with his wife and daughter writing murder mysteries after years spent as a journalist. He is the author of the international bestsellers The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle which got picked up to be a Netflix series, and The Devil and the Dark Water.
Among other things, Carter and Stuart discuss finding work as a writer after traveling for five years straight out of college, remembering a childhood conversation that may have foretold a future career as an author, and plotting vs pantsing. At the end of their conversation, they pull a random sentence from The War of the Rats by David L. Robbins and make up a story about shady experiments.