10 Questions for Carolyne Aarsen
1. Tricia: First, I’m intrigued by your new book, “The Only Best Place.” Can you give me a one-paragraph description of the story?
Carolyne: The Only Best Place is about Leslie VandeKeere who has a good life; a happy family, a great career (even if it did pull her away from home) and all the energy of urban living. But all of that vanishes when her husband moves her and the kids back to his boyhood home in Montana to help his mother work the struggling family farm. Being a farmer’s wife was not in Leslie’s plan and now she finds herself dealing with dirty cows, chores and an extended family she doesn’t quite fit into. Leslie has never felt as alone as she does surrounded by so much family. And as she faced questions about her marriage, her future and her fledgling faith in God, she struggles to find the only best place for her heart.
2. Tricia: I think you’re the first “foreign” writer I’ve hosted on this blog. (Foreign as in not from the US, of course 🙂 Tell us a little about where you live.
Carolyne: The area we live in is classified as northern boreal forest and we are perched right on the edge, where farmland meets forest. As I look out my window I can look at poplar, spruce, tamarack and pine trees and that endlessly blue Alberta sky – much like the endlessly blue Montana sky!
3. Tricia: You wrote a humor column for many years. Can you share a little about the subjects of your column?
Carolyne: My children were always fair game as was my husband. The column was a wonderful place to pontificate on the joys a cardboard box can bring children, my frustration in learning to operate heavy equipment, the care and feeding of cows and kids, the surprises that melting snow gives a mother who is missing most of her cutlery, how four siblings playing croquet can turn the game from genteel to lethal with the tap of a ball. And junk drawers.
4. Tricia: How has your community reacted to your status as a published author?
Carolyne: The community’s reaction has been an interesting ride. Some people think of it as no big deal. Just this day, a woman asked me how many books I had written by now. Five? Six? Try twenty I said, laughing when her mouth fell to her waist. Some people are apologetic that they don’t read ‘those kind of books’ and others are avid fans. Mostly, though, its business as usual. I’m just Carolyne, Richard’s wife. I like it that way.
5. Tricia: What had been your most memorable fan encounter so far?
Carolyne: I don’t know if it was a fan encounter as much as an encounter with someone who had heard of my book. I wanted to come up with names for my hero and heroine that had the same initials. This was very intrinsic to the plot. I needed R. E. So I thought, Rick for the first name. I wanted something French sounding for the second name. Something with an ‘ier’ ending. What would go good with that? How about ‘Eth’? Sounded good. Rick Ethier. So the story got written, the cover copy drawn up, the information put on the web. One day I got an e-mail from a fellow who was a web developer for the Department of Defense. He asked me how I got the name of my hero so I told him. Turned out he was ragged on plenty by his fellow employees when a Google search of his name, Rick Ethier, turned up the following – “handsome but restless Rick Ethier . . .”
6. Tricia: I have personal knowledge of a special talent you have concerning a certain animal call. Care to elaborate?
Carolyne: The moose call is an elegant construct created when hands are cupped like a megaphone around the mouth and one nostril plugged. The head of the caller must begin in a low position, slowly moving upward as the caller creates a nasal resonance, with the mouth forming a delicate oval. Not as easy as it looks or sounds. I won first prize at the Alberta Trappers Association using my finely honed technique which I figured out about three seconds before I had to compete.
7. Tricia: When did you know you wanted to write professionally? What was the first step you took toward your dream?
Carolyne: I always thought I should, but didn’t know I could. I loved reading and making up stories. I would spend hours doing puzzles, locked in my room, my mind wandering all over North America and Europe with my heroine. This went on (except for the puzzles) for many years. But I had followed my husband out of the city and we lived on the edge of no and where. I didn’t know how to make my writing dream come true, living so far from New York, the hub of the publishing world. Then I saw an advertisement for a writing correspondence course. I took it and from it came my weekly column which paid for another romance writing correspondence course which helped me craft my first book, called Homecoming which I sold to Love Inspired in 1997. Yeah!
8. Tricia: Fresh garden salad or greasy cheeseburger?
Carolyne: Fresh garden salad.
9. Tricia: Looking back at your most recently finished novel, what surprises you most?
Carolyne: That it got done!
10. Tricia: If you had to compare yourself to one Disney character, who would you pick? Why?
Carolyne: The wicked witch in Snow White, because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to do in that smarmy little do-gooder, Snow White, with her flawless complexion and that fluty little laugh!!! OH NO! Did I really say that? (hand over mouth in surprise) Can I change that to Pinnochio?