We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Cheryl Carpinello a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Cheryl, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Can you open up about a risk you’ve taken – what it was like taking that risk, why you took the risk and how it turned out?
Writers take many risks from the beginning of an idea through the writing, editing, publishing, and marketing of that idea. And being a writer, I’m right there every time I start a new project.
My newest project is my 5-book series, Feathers of the Phoenix. Two teens summoned by another time face death and danger in their search for the Five Feathers of the Phoenix required to raise the lost island of Atlantis. Several factors make this series the biggest risk I’ve ever taken with my writing.
First: I’m using a character from a previous book I wrote. Because of her unique gift, Rosa—from Sons of the Sphinx—possesses the one quality needed. If you haven’t read Sons, then I’ll just give you a clue to Rosa: she walks in two worlds.
Second: I’m not a plotter/planner (a writer who knows each step their characters will take). However, to do this series I needed to layout where each book would take place. This wasn’t as hard as I imagined. I love the ancient worlds and mythology, so I imagined where I would want to go and what I would want to do if I was Rosa.
The books in the series:
Book 1 The Atlantean Horse is set in today’s world on the real Mediterranean island of Telendos. I poured over maps, websites, photos, and travel guides to help me bring my readers to this island. Since this is the beginning of the series, I also re-acquainted myself with certain ancient myths surrounding Atlantis, the Phoenix and the Book of Revelations from the Bible. The Atlantean Horse is finished and just awaiting a cover, maps, and final layout. I expect it to be out later this year.
Book 2 The Norse Star, while set in today’s Iceland, requires travel back through hundreds of years to the island in medieval times. I spent two weeks traveling Iceland’s Ring Road around the island in September and imagining the settings in the dead of winter. Research like this is fun and also exhausting as I concentrate on specific areas for my story, Icelandic myths, and how to blend those into an exciting but thrilling and dangerous story for readers and my characters!
Book 3 The Ashes of Pompeii is set amid the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii which was buried in the 76 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. I’ve researched the literature and history of this extensively but will need to travel there to get the real details and feelings of the devastation.
Book 4 will take place in Celtic times in Britain. No title for this book yet. Although I’ve toured extensively in England, I haven’t decided where and under what circumstances this story will take place.
Book 5 Festival of Poseidon will send Rosa back to ancient Egypt (Sons of the Sphinx) along with her cousin Jerome. The research for this was done several years ago when I was in Egypt. Since it is one of my favorite places, this will be the third book set in that mystical country.
Third: While I’ve finished The Atlantean Horse, I’m constantly rethinking the overall scope of the series. Will the momentum built in Book 1 be enough to carry the series to the end? Do I need to change the locations of any of the books? Will each of the Four Horsemen—one each in Books 1-4; all in Book 5—continue to be essential to the stories and up the stakes in each for Rosa and Jerome.
Fourth: The biggest question of them all. Have I taken on more than I can effectively deal with? A big fear: I don’t want to be known as someone who couldn’t carry through on an idea, in this case, a series. I’ve seen authors attempt to write a series only to fail to complete it after one or two books.
So, how do I face this risk? I’ll sit down, put the critical part of my brain behind closed doors, and let my characters do what they’ve always done: Tell their story. It’s that simple and that hard.
Writing all the stories will take about four more years. Be sure to follow me and see how I do!
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers.
An avid reader, I’m the one family member who always gives books for all occasions. And as a grandmother, I shower my four grandkids with books of all kinds! I’m a firm believer that all ideas should be encouraged so my grandkids have books ranging from mythology to ghosts to mysteries to the Titanic to space and everything in between!
I’m also a retired high school English teacher with a passion for reading and writing. Big surprise, right! I’m passionate about getting kids of all ages to read. When I retired, I decided to write books for kids who didn’t like to read or who struggled to read. I started with Arthurian Legend because this held the most appeal for my students through the years, even those who preferred not to pick up a book! My Guinevere trilogy—Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend, and Guinevere: The Legend—along with The King’s Ransom continue to entice young non-readers and readers alike. And, it’s not just for kids. The King Arthur Legend generates new movies, books, cartoons, and video games every year. Part of the reason for this is that Honor, Loyalty, and Friendship never lose their appeal.
My students also enjoyed the stories from the Ancient Worlds, like The Odyssey, Medea, The Trojan War, and The Orestia to name a few. These also continue fascinate me. I brought readers to Ancient Egypt with Sons of the Sphinx and Tutankhamen Speaks. My newest series Feathers of the Phoenix will continue to pull readers into the ancient worlds through portals from today’s world. Like Arthurian Legend, the appeal of the legend of Atlantis stays strong year after year.
I also reach out to the youngest readers just beginning to read as well as those young listeners. My Grandma/Grandpa’s Tales use repetitive phrasing, comprehension checks, literary conventions, and colorful pictures to keep these young ones engaged.
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
Most of my new readers come from craft fairs, period festivals, holiday fairs, school fairs, and from the writing workshops I do in schools. I meet my reading audience in person here, and I love that. I have repeat customers who come back to buy my new books or to purchase my books for previous readers who were too young at the time. Word-of-mouth is also a source of new readers. My on-line sales are okay, but my readers (ages 8-16) can’t buy online. The time I spend talking with parents, grandparents, and kids is the best!
What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?
Talking and working with kids and teens is the best part of my writing. I love when I meet someone who doesn’t know who King Arthur was. As I tell them the short version of the Legend, it’s exciting to see their eyes light up and turn to the adult with them and beg to get my books. Equally exciting is when I’m telling about the Legend and they realize that they do know about King Arthur. This usually comes I mention the many kid movies that feature Arthur in some respect, like Scooby-Doo or the Minions!
- Website: https://www.cherylcarpinello.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ccarpine1/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.carpinello1
- Linkedin: https://www.instagram.com/ccarpine1/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccarpinello
- Other: Silver Quill Publishing: https://www.silverquillpublishing.com/cheryl-carpinello
Cheryl Carpinello, Donald Carpinello