Saturday, November 1, 2014

Get to Know April Rose Carter - My 2014 PitchWars Alternate - Author of WINTER ON BRIMSTONE HILL

With my second year as a mentor in Pitchwars, I entered the contest excited and hopeful and curious, oh so curious, about which manuscripts would claw their way into my heart and not let go.

The two that I found couldn't be more different in tone and writing style, but what they share is a common language of finding personal truths, love, hope, and a slathering of bittersweet despair.

April Rose's manuscript, WINTER ON BRIMSTONE HILL, is this spare lovely gift of a contemporary manuscript. Centered around Sarah, a homesteading farm girl from a stubbornly poor family, she has to deal with not only her need to hide the family's lack, but also her father's alcoholism. When the bright flame of potty-mouthed, red-headed Bonnie enters her world, Sarah starts to change. And eventually she falls in love and finds the courage to stand up for not only who she is, but for what she believes in. The story is crushing at times, so, so sad. But the slow unspooling of the romance makes it achingly sweet, too. I can't wait for agents to see this one.

Author April Rose Carter
So without further ado, here is my little question and answer with the fabulous, talented, and smart April Rose Carter (who may just kill me for embarrassing her like that ;)).

1.              Give us the Twitter pitch for your Pitchwars manuscript (140 characters or less)!

Sarah values three things: farm life, family, and keeping her bruises hidden. That last one's easy - until she meets Bonnie. #YA #LGBT

2.              Stephanie Perkins does this cool thing for her books called a Love List, explained here:, what is the love list for your novel?

red hair
farm life
wine lips
little sister

3.              Name a handful of writers whose work inspires you, along with a short explanation of why!

Ouch. Can I just take John Robert Lennon’s words and hack them to pieces in a horrible paraphrased version of something he said much better? He said something to the effect of, ‘Why do I need to have other people inspire me? Why can’t my work be my own and that be enough?’ Yep. I definitely slaughtered that. So, I know that’s not how this question is intended, but it’s better than admitting that I experience something negatively emotional when reading other’s writing (while I’m writing).

I remember, while writing WINTER ON BRIMSTONE HILL, I read Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. The entire time, I kept thinking, “I can’t do this. I can’t write. She’s already used all the good words. Everyone’s going to think I just took her words and tried to write them as my own!” I didn’t write for about a week after that. Then, eventually, I realized I was silly and I picked up my novel again. I also picked up another novel and immediately had a similar reaction, despite the fact that this new novel was nothing like mine. I guess what I’m trying to say, as unattractive as it is, is that I never feel inspired by other writers’ works. I feel…insufficient.

I can ramble off a list of writers whose novels I love, though. Rainbow Rowell. John Green. Veronica Rossi. Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte Bronte. (Actually, I really only love Jane Eyre.)

4.              Why PitchWars?

Well, why not? Why wouldn’t I want to get up at four a.m. for weeks on end? Why wouldn’t I want to work through my lunch break each day? Spend countless hours writing and rewriting, fixing, tweaking, scratching out entire scenes? Why wouldn’t I want professional help turning my novel into something beautiful and barren and heartbreaking? Something that makes me want to climb the tallest barn, and shout out above the chickens and pigs, “I did this! I did this! I. Did. This!”?

So yeah. I don’t think I understand your question.

5.              When you self-identify as a writer, what does that mean to you? How does it make you feel?

I wish I had a better response to this. Let me attempt a comparison. I have a master’s degree in mathematics, yet I don’t identify as a mathematician. My specialty is statistics, yet I always feel like I’m lying when I call myself a statistician. Writing is similar. I write—I love to write—and when I’m willing to admit it, I think I’m pretty good at it. Yet I don’t feel like a writer. I always feel a little guilty, a little false, when I say I’m a writer…which is completely unwarranted, I know. Say you’re a writer! they say. Be proud of what you do! Use too many exclamation points in blog interviews! And I get that. I do. And I am. And I do! It’s just something’s holding me back, but I’m not sure what it is at this moment.

That’s how identifying as a writer makes me feel.

6.              Next 3 books on your TBR pile, what liquid's in your cup, and what's playing on repeat!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Boys #3) by M. Stiefvater
Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) by Rachel Hartman
Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

I’m always drinking coffee. I had a rather…er…intense relationship with it a couple years back, the kind you have when you go away with your lover for your first weekend together and your hotel room is plush and outfitted with its own hot tub.  In other words, I drank two pots (as in 12-cup pots) a day. For the record, our relationship has simmered down to a comfortable 3 cups a day. We’re both happy with how our relationship has developed.

I can never get enough of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash’s The Girl from the North Country. Never. Something about that song grips my heart and leaves me breathless. I mean, listen to it! 


  1. I love this interview idea! Also, this MS was on my Pitch Wars mentee short list early on. Best wishes in the agent round.

  2. Let me just say, I have read this lovely (so so lovely) manuscript and it is just as Jaye says. I loved Bonnie, I cried, I metaphorically high-fived April when i read of the family attic. :) I am proud to call her my TeamGrit mate and can't wait to see this book in print.


Hey, do you ever wonder why they call it 'your two cents?'