This week’s interviewee is veteran lesbian fiction author Carsen Taite, who is best-known for her award-winning romantic suspense novels. She just published her twenty-second novel, Practice Makes Perfect, with Bold Strokes Books.
Carsen is giving away two ebook copies of her newest release, plus a signed paperback, and she’s willing to send it worldwide, so don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post!
Welcome, Carsen. Please tell us a little about Practice Makes Perfect.
Practice Makes Perfect is the first book in the Legal Affairs Series, a trio of contemporary romances centered around a group of friends who attended law school together. After a few years grinding away at big law firms, completely sacrificing their personal lives to line other people’s pockets, they decide to form their own firm in Austin, Texas.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Meet law school friends Campbell, Abby, and Grace, law partners at Austin’s premier boutique legal firm for young, hip entrepreneurs. Or, it will be as soon as they score a victory for their first big client.
Campbell Clark wins the big pitch, and lands the client, or so she thinks, until the internet start-up insists her firm work with the legal counsel Campbell thought they’d be replacing. Wynne Garrity has never been second best, and she’s not going to let anyone screw up her chance of making partner, but to do so she needs to hang onto her client and prove to everyone her firm isn’t stuck in the stone age.
Reluctant team players, Campbell and Wynne would risk everything by giving in to the attraction that flares between them. In the boardroom and the courtroom, only one can win, but the price of victory could mean losing at love.
Legal Affairs: one law firm, three best friends, three chances to fall in love.
Where did the inspiration for the main characters Campbell and Wynne come from? Did they surprise you during the writing process, and if yes, how?
I practiced law for many years before transitioning to a career as a writer. While I never personally worked in Big Law (the huge firms that rely on young associates to crank out tons of billable hours) like Campbell and Wynne, I have lots of friends who did, and I drew from their experience for perspective. Like Campbell, I was fortunate enough to be a partner in a small boutique firm where each of us had a say in the types of clients we represented and the work environment we wanted to cultivate.
As far as surprise, I definitely enjoy the process of figuring out who the characters are by putting them into particular situations and asking questions like “What would Campbell do?” The scene where Campbell uses donuts to illustrate her point to the Leaderboard board of directors was one of those instances that came to me while I was writing, and I remember thinking – “that’s so Campbell.” Plus, if you can fit donuts in a book, it’s always a good thing.
You mentioned that It Should Be A Crime is your most popular title. What do you think makes it so popular with readers?
A couple of things come to mind. First is the high-risk drama of the student-professor trope (Morgan is a law professor and Parker is her student). Bridging the lopsided power dynamic creates a threat to Morgan’s career and Parker’s education, but the chemistry that started between them before they knew their respective roles cannot be denied. Second, both are strong, complex women, and isn’t that always appealing?
If a reader has never read one of your novels, what can they expect? What sets your books apart from other lesbian fiction novels, and which book would you suggest they start with?
I write both romantic suspense and contemporary romance, and most of my novels feature a legal setting which, based on my personal experience, has a unique level of authenticity. If you like a dose of crime with your romance, I suggest you start with It Should be a Crime, but if you’d like your legal affairs on the lighter side, Practice Makes Perfect is a great place to begin.
If I counted correctly, Practice Makes Perfect is your twenty-second novel. How did your writing process change in between your first book, Truelesbianlove.com, and novel #22, Practice Makes Perfect?
Some things change, some things stay the same. I still figure out the plot as I go because the fun part of the process for me will always be putting together the puzzle of how to solve the crime or wrap up the case and find a happily ever after. But nowadays, I have a much better sense in advance of the beats I want to hit in the book, and it doesn’t take as long to hit my stride once I get going.
I know you’re a fellow fountain pen fanatic. Do you write your manuscripts or research notes longhand? And what pens would I find on your desk right now?
I type my manuscripts, but my notes are all in longhand. I find that I brainstorm better with a pen then by typing. By the time my manuscript is done, I have a notebook full of handwritten notes that often consist of me working out various plot and character issues. I save all of these in a box so someday someone can read my scribbles and wonder what in the world they mean!
On my desk right now I have a Visconti Rembrandt (purple), a Pilot Vanishing Point (orange), and several of my favorite Kaweco pens (AL sport in stone-washed blue, a Night Edition AL sport, which I had to order from Europe since they didn’t have it for sale here, and a Lilliput Fireblue).
If I’m not mistaken, you’re a writer who bakes. What was your biggest screw-up in the kitchen?
I’m much more adept at cooking then baking, but I do love to bake, or I should say, I love having homemade baked goods on hand. I don’t have any epic fails, but I do wind up with lots of not so great finished products, mostly because I apply my writing style of throw it all in and then go back and take out what doesn’t fit, which doesn’t usually work well with the precision required in baking.
Imagine you have been cryogenically frozen and wake up 200 years in the future. What’s your first question?
Has anyone invented a way to download story ideas directly from our brains onto the pages of a book? Seriously, I do wonder how technology will continue to change the way we read and write. I remember when we didn’t have the internet (yes, I’m dating myself), and had to physically go to the library to do research instead of sitting at home in pjs, typing search terms into Google. Now, I can sync my manuscript from my desktop computer to my iPad Pro using Dropbox, and use Scrivener writing software to both compose my story and track all my notes and research. There’s no telling what magical writing tools we’ll have 200 years from now.
Do you have time to read? Any favorite books you can recommend?
I always make time to read, not only because I enjoy reading, but because I think it’s one of the most important tools writers can use to improve their craft. I’ve learned so much about complex point of view (Gone Girl), fierce and compelling prose (Bastard Out of Carolina), and fantastic dialogue (anything by Melissa Brayden) by reading, which is a total bonus because while I’m learning, I’m also being entertained.
When’s your next book coming out, and what are you working on right now?
My next release is Leading the Witness, a romantic suspense novel, and it comes out in October. Right now, I’m working on the second book in the Legal Affairs series, Out of Practice, Abby’s story, which will be out in early 2020.
Where can your readers find out more about you and your books?
Carsen is giving away two e-book copies and a signed paperback copy of her latest novel, Practice Makes Perfect.
Since Carsen is willing to ship worldwide, anyone can enter. To be entered into the drawing, leave a comment on this blog.
Entries close on Thursday, July 4, 2019, 10 a.m. CET, when I’ll draw the winners using a random numbers generator. I’ll notify winners via email. Your email address won’t be used for any other purpose.
I’m posting several author interviews with giveaways and free books each month. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any of them, please subscribe to my blog.