Recently I read The White Raven by Carrie D. Miller. You can read my book review and the interview I did with the author below.
The White Raven
Blurb: In her thirteenth life, Aven has settled into the now witchcraft-friendly Salem where she has found true happiness and friendship, maybe even love. Despite her contentment, the truth of Aven’s existence haunts her. When she dies, her Spirit is forced from the Veil to live again in the body of a stranger.
Does the elusive white raven, who has shadowed Aven through each of her lives, hold the secret to her release–or is it the cause?
To make matters worse, an unrelenting, twisted evil from Aven’s past lurks closely behind her. Sustained by his hatred of the witch, he won’t give up until she’s paid for what she did to him.
When the truth of Aven’s connection to the white raven is revealed, it is more horrifying than she could ever have imagined.
Her freedom will come at a terrible price. And even then, will she truly be free?
- Paperback: 410 pages
- Publisher: FiveFold Press; First edition (April 28, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1947024019
- ISBN-13: 978-1947024014
Aven is living the happiest life she’s ever had, and she’s had twelve others before. She lives with memories from her past lives and unfortunately her deaths too, including the remembrance of her murderer-Morris Stiles.
“This is the happiest I’ve ever been. I have been through so much pain and suffering in my previous lives, but here I feel like I’ve finally found a place where I belong and can thrive. When the recurring dread and despair that this life will end too soon creep into my mind, I pack them back down tightly. I’ve set aside all thoughts of my curse for now. I will make this a good life.”
Aven’s been cursed to continue living on Earth no matter how many times she dies. In this life, she’s settled down in Salem and owns a little shop where she does readings and sells magickal items. She has Jo- her very close and supportive friend who accepts her for who she is and has true power herself, Cal- a man who’s just come into the picture and might be just what Aven needs, and the white raven- who seems to follow her wherever she goes, but she cannot see it.
“He’s always around you, you know,” she says absently, looking off behind me again. “I know.” I don’t turn around; he won’t be there. “But he never shows himself. This has been going on for several lifetimes. I think almost all of them.” I can’t remember a time when the bird wasn’t there.”
Everything seems to be perfect until suddenly something haunts Aven from her past. Will she overcome it? How will she ever break this curse of living over and over again?
This book is written well and I thought the character development was perfect. The characters are memorable and I must say, Aven ended up being my favorite character in the book. She’s so strong-minded and doesn’t let anything stop her from using her magick. She has a strong and important message to be who YOU want to be. I loved Maggie – her canine companion, Jo, and Sylvia as well. I cherished all the details, descriptions and imagery that really pull you in and make you feel like you’re living the story. The author managed to add a little bit of everything here–romance, magick, jealousy, friendship, evil, and love. This is the perfect book to read this time of year, especially with all the magick and Halloween elements. I’m hopeful there’s going to be a sequel and I’ll definitely be reading it if there is!
Q&A With Carrie D. Miller
Can you tell readers something interesting about yourself?
Many people have commented on how authentic the magick feels in The White Raven. Well, truth be told, that’s because I really am a witch. 🙂
Have you always wanted to be an author?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a published author.
Did you enjoy reading as a child? What are some of your childhood favorites?
I loved to read. And before I could read, I loved my mother reading to me before I went to sleep.
My favorite as a kid was C.S. Lewis. I read the Chronicles of Narnia over and over.
Do you enjoy reading now? Who are some of your favorite authors?
Are there any authors that have inspired your writing?
My tastes change all the time and I take away a little something from every author I read. Who has affected me more recently is Paula Brackston (The Silver Witch, The Witch’s Daughter). Her writing style is like a song in my head.
What have you written so far?
I’ve written many stories over the decades but only completed and published one, The White Raven.
What are some of your writing tactics? Do you outline?
I am a planner! I outline, research, and spreadsheet or diagram as much as I can about the story. I create character dossiers, also. The outline for TWR was 18 pages. I don’t treat the outline as gospel, though. I use it mostly as a guideline. If my writing veers off in other directions, I go with it. I scraped many pages of TWR’s outline because I loved the different directions it went.
Do you do all your own editing?
While I do revise and edit as much as I can, I know what my limitations are. I hire professionals for that kind of stuff.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do?
A year and a half ago, I quit my ‘day job’ to become a full-time writer. I was a vice president of a software company, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I decided that it was time to take the leap, to take a shot at the dream I’ve had since I was a kid. I have zero regrets.
What do you love most about writing?
I love seeing the story build and grow. I love seeing the characters come alive, watching their unique personalities and behaviors take shape. I love the tingling feeling, the excitement flitting around in my chest as an amazing scene flies out of my fingers.
How do you publish and market your books?
I decided early on that I would self-publish. I am a bit of a control freak, so it made sense for me to go that route in the beginning. I initially published exclusively on Amazon, but in July I expanded to everywhere else – Nook, iTunes, Kobo, etc. I’m running ads on Amazon and Kobo right now.
Do you have any advice for others on publishing and marketing?
One word: RESEARCH. Don’t just do things blindly. Don’t wing it. Research, research,
research. Follow and observe what other authors are doing, read articles on best practices and the mistakes made by others, and ask questions. That will save you heartache, headaches, and embarrassment in the future. And for heaven’s sake, don’t create your own book cover or rely on only your own editing skills. Hire professionals!
What do you consider literary success?
I have discovered that my definition of literary success has a few levels. My initial success was that I actually published a book! Now that people are buying it and giving it great reviews, that’s a whole new level of success to me. The way that feels in my heart, knowing that people are sitting down on their couches or curled up in their beds with my book in their hands, giving me their precious time, gives me such a feeling of success that I couldn’t have imagined before. My next success will be when I can make my car payment without having to dip into my savings. 😀
What made you decide to write this book?
The creation of this book sprang out of frustration. At the time, years ago, I couldn’t find any books featuring witches that weren’t annoyingly cliche or that didn’t perpetuate the Hollywood or Christian stereotype. I wanted to write the kind of book that I wanted to read. Since then, I’ve discovered several authors that pen wonderful stories featuring witches and magick that I just love, so I’m very happy with the shift that’s taken place over the years.
Can you tell us about the covers for The White Raven and who designed them?
The original book cover was designed by an artist, Helen Lloyd (http://www.helenlloyd.com), from England who specializes in animals. I had seen an amazing pencil drawing of a crow and knew she would be the one to bring Ren to life. I kept the original cover for about 3 months.
After doing some more research on how book covers should be done, I decided to go a different route with it. The new design was done by Damonza (http://www.damonza.com) and I’m thrilled with it.
Are you working on anything now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m 23k words into a story involving copper pennies, dead criminals, a bad guy wanting to do bad things involving demons, an old woman’s spirit held in a cracked crystal ball, and twin red-headed sisters who know nothing about magick but have to stop the bad guy from doing bad things with his own spell book they can’t read. It’s set mostly in modern-day Prague and Boston but will venture back into the 1930s. I foresee these sisters becoming a series. Two or three books, I think.
Do you think your writing will remain in the fantasy genre?
Probably but I do have a science fiction idea in my head. Maybe one day I’ll resurrect the high fantasy I started 15+ years ago. I even created a world map. It’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself.
Is Halloween a special time for you and an inspiration for writing this magickal book with Halloween elements?
I absolutely love Halloween. Not just because it’s my birthday either. If I could dress in costume all the time and have my home decorated for Halloween all year long and not be looked at like a crazy person, I would totally do it.
Do you have a special connection with Salem or have you visited there?
I’ve visited it twice. Once because I was in Boston on business and the second time as research for the book.
How much research did you do for The White Raven and how long did it take you to write it?
As they say, write what you know! I didn’t do that much research for the witchcraft aspects of the book. I am a witch myself, so I knew much of this already. I needed help from my sisters in the Craft when it came to the past life rituals, of which I knew nothing, and the selection of a stone to shield energy. And I’m not very good with auras so I researched online what colors are associated with deep negative emotions. Although I had been to Salem before, I went back there to specifically research the area for the book. All-in-all, it took me about 3 months to write the whole thing, minus the few chapters I’d written over the years, which got mostly rewritten.
Is there a book trailer for The White Raven or do you intend on making one?
I’ve considered it but no, it’s not in my plan. It’s a costly endeavor, especially since I want movie-quality awesomeness.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
The hardest part by far to write was the first sex scene, no pun intended. I ended up having to google how to do it! How much detail do I go into? How far do I go? What euphemisms do I use without sounding corny? I think that first one was rewritten three or four times, thanks to the help of my editor.
I loved the ending and have to ask, will there be a sequel to The White Raven and when can we expect it?
There will absolutely be a sequel. I hope to get it out sometime in late 2018.
Was anything edited out and did you have alternate endings for the book?
Honestly, I had the ending written years ago. I never had any other thoughts on how else it could end. It simply had to end like it did. As for what was edited out, the original manuscript was over 115k words. The final was about 107k. With the guidance of my amazing editor, she helped me streamline scenes and cull bits that did nothing to move the story along or build out a character.
If The White Raven were adapted into a movie, who would you see playing the main characters?
I see Eva Green as Aven, maybe even Kate Beckinsale or Charlize Theron.
Cal is absolutely Viggo Mortensen.
How do you feel about e-books?
Before I had considered self-publishing, I was anti-ebook. I love the feeling of a real book and I loved to collect them. The more books I had in my bookshelves, the better. However, once I decided that I was taking the self-publishing route, I had to jump on the e-book bandwagon. After I started using my Kindle, I ended up liking it very much. But it will never replace a physical book, nor my love for them.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Where can readers find you?
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
I want to share something I’ve learned in my journey that might help anyone else struggling with self-doubt. When self-doubt starts whispering in your ear, throat punch that bitch. Haha. But seriously, do not listen. I let my self-doubt cripple me for so long–decades. I kick myself when I look back at all the time I wasted listening to her. Identify what your doubts are and set about fixing them. I initially had two: I don’t remember squat about grammar and sentence structure from high school English, and, the big one, can I even write worth a darn? I did lots of research on the mechanics of writing and downloaded a program to help me with the problems I knew I had (and still have), and I hired outside professionals to critique my writing style. My fantastic editor has taught me a lot of the rules of writing, so I will keep learning as I go. Whatever it takes to get you moving forward, do it. And don’t give up.
I’d like to thank Carrie Miller for taking the time for this interview.
About the Author:
Carrie D. Miller was born in Kansas on October 31. She credits her vivid imagination, as well as her sugar addiction, to being a Halloween baby. In a former life, she was an executive in the software industry for many years. Her career in the technology world included software product management, website design, training, and technical writing just to name a few. Although Carrie’s written a great deal over the decades which has been read by thousands of people, software documentation allows for about as much creativity as pouring cement. At the age of 45, she decided to chuck it all to become an author which had been a life-long dream. – Goodreads