I recently completed a fast-paced thriller that kept me on my toes the entire time. From the first page to the last, I had a difficult time putting the book down. Every time I had to close up my Kindle, I was left dangling and thinking about what would happen next. The great thing about my frustration was that it lasted up to the end. I never had a chance to get bored or feel as though I had reached a spot to put the book down. Now that is a sign of a good story! I am pleased to say that I have Carolyn Arnold with me today, and she is the author of this great tale, Ties that Bind, an introductory novel for her series about Detective Madison Knight. Please join me in learning a bit more about Ties that Bind and the remainder of her series about this savvy female detective.
Collette: Thank you so much for joining me, Carolyn. I’m pleased to have you here. Can we start with the basics? When did you start writing?
Carolyn: I started writing novellas and poetry back in my teen years. I remember thinking then that it would be amazing to write a full-length novel and requested the submission guidelines from Harlequin. But life changed and writing was pushed to the background. It wasn’t until four years ago that I rediscovered my passion for writing.
Collette: Did you have any influences?
Carolyn: Influences as in other authors? Definitely. I love David Baldacci and Sandra Brown. While both take you into the darker mindset of their characters, they inspire me in different ways.
Baldacci’s character descriptions helped me realize how spending time on building a solid background is not only well worth it but necessary if you want your reader to feel the connection.
Brown dares to write things I would normally hold back. A combination of both of their influences challenge me to continually improve. In my personal life, my husband is my best friend and greatest influence in everything I do.
Collette: Where do you get your ideas?
Carolyn: I’d say a lot of them come while watching TV or movies. Hubby loves it when this happens (sense the sarcasm). It means everything must be paused while I run around for a notepad to jot the idea on, or have him pass me his laptop to email it to myself. LOL Other times ideas come to me when I hear news stories. And
recently a novel idea struck when I was at work. It might be the next thriller I write. Needless to say I have a lot of ideas stored up for future books.
Collette: That’s great news! I hope you write for many years to come! Were you inspired by someone to write the genre you’re writing in?
Carolyn: I suppose I would have to say Baldacci and Brown again. I also love to watch TV and movies in the crime genre.
Collette: What is your writing process like?
Carolyn: I’ve experimented with outlining, and panster-style and have concluded I’m definitely a panster. I love the free-flow of the story, following the characters through. I must add, however, that before starting I have a general idea as to where the story is heading and what I want to accomplish in a chapter, but sometimes the
characters take a detour. When that happens it’s always to the benefit of the novel.
I also find that by conducting character interviews before starting I have a rich foundation upon which to build. This also avoids the pitfall of backstory filler in the first draft – less to edit out.
Collette: I can’t do an outline and ever stick to it. Alas, my characters have a mind of their own. Do you write full-time?
Carolyn: I feel like I should say yes because any time I do have I’m either writing, editing, networking or marketing, but I know what you’re getting it, and the answer is not yet.
Collette: Not yet, maybe someday if you keep at it! So what do you do to pay your bills now?
Carolyn: I work in Accounts Receivable.
Collette: How did you come up with the idea of Ties that Bind?
Carolyn: Crime drama is my favorite thing to read and watch. It was natural to want to write in the
genre. For Ties that Bind the basic concept came from a conversation with a family member.
Collette: How long did it take you to complete?
Carolyn: If I remember right, it took six months to write the first draft. To get it to the point of publication it was two years.
Collette: Tell me a little about your background in your subject and where you completed your research?
Carolyn: My research came from books and the internet. On any subject, for example concluding TOD or time of death, I cross-compared my research to make sure I had a solid understanding. Of course this is only one small aspect I needed to research for TIES THAT BIND. It also involved research into police hierarchy and procedure, physical evidence that indicates strangulation as COD or cause of death, as well as other basic forensics knowledge – DNA and its preservation, fingerprinting – to name a few.
I suggest that any author who does research always cross-compares. This is not only to ensure accuracy but to
obtain a solid understanding of the subject.
Collette: I am all the more impressed now. I thought for sure it was something that you
saw on a day to day basis!
Collette: I found your lead, Madison Knight, a very human, very relatable character. Can you tell us a little bit about her?
Carolyn: Major Crimes Detective Madison Knight is a stubborn, tell you how it is type of woman, but she’s also got an empathic side. Her drive is to find justice for the victims, and she won’t let anyone or anything stop her from making sure that happens. At times this impulsive nature gets her into trouble with her superiors.
Collette: Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?
Carolyn: Most definitely but as the disclaimer states, “Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.” I thought I’d say that first. LOL. No, in all seriousness I don’t know how an author couldn’t pull from characteristics of those around them.
Collette: Haha, that’s true. So then, do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters?
Carolyn: Most definitely. While we immerse ourselves into our character’s worlds, their backgrounds and motivations, I believe it’s our human experiences as evidenced in such things as thought patterns, feelings and emotions that provide added depth to our characters.
Collette: With that being said, let’s move on to the story itself. This was a fast-paced yet methodical story into the depths of a murder investigation. Did you base it on a real-life experience or was it all your imagination?
Carolyn: All imagination.
Collette: Now what will your future projects with Madison entail?
Carolyn: The reader will see her character develop further – what makes her who she is. The series will also
follow her through a cold case she is determined to solve.
The next in the series, Justified, is coming out this December. You’ll find out more about what Madison fears as she investigates the murder of a female entrepreneur who was found slashed in her kitchen on Christmas Eve.
Collette: Oh great. I did have some questions about Madison and her relationships, especially at the end… a lot of suspense for the next installment.
Collette: Since you’ve been writing so much, do you ever have time to read?
Carolyn: Unfortunately not as much as I’d like to right now. I have a lot of catching up to do over the holidays.
Collette: I know exactly how you feel! What is your favorite genre to read?
Carolyn: Mysteries, thrillers and suspense.
Collette: I think we touched on this several times already, but do you have any favorite
Carolyn: David Baldacci and Sandra Brown.
Collette: Where can we find you online?
Carolyn, thank you so much for dropping by and telling us more about your great story, Ties that Bind. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, especially now that I know what else is coming! Best of luck with the series, and keep at it!
Detective Madison Knight concluded the case of a strangled woman an isolated incident. But when another woman’s body is found in a park killed by the same line of neckties, she realizes they’re dealing with something more serious.
Despite mounting pressure from the Sergeant and Chief to close the case even if it means putting an innocent man behind bars, and a partner who is more interested in saving his marriage than stopping a potential serial killer, Madison may have to go it alone if there's not going to be another victim.