by Sandra Murphy
This week we have a review of Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter. We also have an interview with Emily. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a signed copy of Until the Day I Die, and a link to purchase it from Amazon..
Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter
Review by Sandra Murphy
Erin Gaines, her husband, and a couple of good, really best, friends start their own company. It features an app that helps users stick to their budget. As you pass a store, it will tell you what’s on sale, if it fits your allotted budget, and it keeps track of all your expenses and savings. A great way for college kids to live within their means, for adults to save for retirement, and for retirees to plan trips or gifts for the grandkids. The plan is to ride the app’s success for a few years, then sell to the highest bidder, retire as millionaires.
Plans don’t always work out. Erin’s husband is killed in a car accident, and she’s working non-stop, although not accomplishing much. Her partners are worried about her, as well as her soon-to-be-a-college-student daughter Shorie and her in-laws.
When Shorie’s first day of college rolls around, Erin helps with the move. Shorie doesn’t want to go to college. She’d rather work for the company. Erin is such a helicopter mom at this point, she gets a hotel room and stays close, just “in case Shorie” needs her. A late night call sends Erin to Shorie’s rescue, although she’s foggy about what’s wrong. In fact, she’s foggy about everything and shows up at the dorm in her pajamas, frantic to find Shorie. What an embarrassment!
An intervention sends Erin to a tropical island to recuperate. It’s not a rehab although everybody thinks her drinking is out of control. It’s just a way to rest and reboot. Things are a little weird from the start, but it seems rest means early morning hikes, no coffee, no cell phone, no talking. Erin decides it’s only for a few weeks, but is it?
Nothing is as it seems. Cut off from everyone, how can she get help?
Meanwhile, Shorie finds irregularities at the company. Thousands of miles apart, they both must work to save themselves and the company, while knowing the enemy is within.
This is Carpenter’s fourth stand-alone book, the first I’ve read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a fast-paced page turner as readers will follow Erin through the humid jungle and Shorie through a maze of distrust and increasing anxiety about her mother’s safety. The mystery is a good one and had me guessing which of the limited number of suspects could be behind the plot—and is there a plot or all in Erin’s mind? The ending is satisfying and unpredictable—and then there’s a twist.
Carpenter’s other books are Every Single Secret, The Weight of Lies, and Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, not a series.
Interview with Emily Carpenter:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Emily: I started off writing screenplays back in the late nineties. I’ve been writing books since 2013.
KRL: When did your first novel come out and what was it called? Would you tell us a little about it?
Emily: Burying the Honeysuckle Girls came out in 2016. It’s about a young woman who is weeks away from her 30th birthday when she discovers a family secret: her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother all disappeared or died mysteriously on their 30th birthdays.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Emily: I wrote a “rom-com” that was never published, and I’m toying around with a supernatural suspense book now. But all four of my published books fall into that suspense/mystery/thriller category.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Emily: I’d written about a lot of young women and for Until the Day I Die I was excited to write from the POV of a woman in her forties and her college-age daughter. All of my books are set in Alabama or Georgia, so it was fun to write a story that took place on an isolated, fictional Caribbean island.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Emily: Both really. I aim to entertain, for sure. My favorite thing to hear is that someone read one of my books in a day or stayed up all night to finish because they could not put it down. I also have to entertain myself and so I’m always exploring issues that fascinate or disturb or bother me. Relationships and injustices and violence-they’re all questions we can’t ignore, and I’m compelled to scratch that itch.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Emily: I’m not super structured, but I do tend to work fast. I draft pretty quickly and edit pretty quickly, so I tend to allow myself breaks to just clear the head and be with family and friends. I also believe that time to think and daydream is so important to writing, and I never really know when that’s going to hit me, so I try not to hold myself too tight to a schedule. That said, I meet my deadlines.
?RL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Emily: For my past three books, I’ve had to pitch a proposal to my editor. That involves a three to four page synopsis and the first three chapters, which work as my outline going forward. I do usually end up veering slightly from the synopsis because as get deeper into the book, I realize characters need to take other paths or something doesn’t quite hang together. It is a guide for me to know where I am going and how to get there, in general. I love to leave a lot of daylight for inspiration that always hits in the process, though.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Emily: Late morning or afternoon is prime time for me. Early morning is just awful. I can’t think.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Emily: Oh, definitely. I can’t remember how long it was, but my agent submitted my first book for months and we got rejected from all the majors. I took the book back to try to figure out what wasn’t working. I revised for a few more months and we went out with it again and got an offer. It was a long road and that’s not even going into the whole story about how long it took to find my agent! That was a several year process…
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Emily: One agent told me if I wanted her to represent me, I’d have to rewrite my whole book because it was full of sentence fragments. I just kind of laughed because, huh? That’s how I write. I mean, frankly, that’s how most fiction writers write. I don’t know what her deal was, but I was pretty sure she and I were not going to be a good match.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Emily: My favorite appearance was at an assisted living home and the residents came to listen to me. They were so sweet, and one of them who had dementia was talking about how she wanted to write a book. Later, one of the workers told me that that woman had never sat still for any other event or expressed much interest. I was very touched.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Emily: I dream of writing a series and I’d also like to write supernatural suspense on the side. I’ve always wanted to co-write a book with another author too.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Emily: I love certain books, yeah, but I don’t tend to idolize authors I don’t know. My writing heroes really are my peers – my colleagues in the suspense community who support me and have my back and who I really respect. It’s a great group of people.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Emily: I always start with internet research because most of the time you can find what you need there, but a lot of times you have to go deeper. I’ve interviewed doctors, businessmen and women – entrepreneurs – and tech experts. I read novels and watch movies that were made in a certain time period so I can get the feel of certain settings that I want to learn about. For Until the Day I Die, I listened to a recording on YouTube of the St. Lucia jungle at night so I could get the sound right! Even though I’ve been to the islands, I couldn’t remember.
KRL: What do you read?
Emily: I like suspense, but I also like a range of other stuff. Romance, literary, horror, magical realism, YA.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Emily: I’m a huge TV/movie fan. I’ll inhale a TV show if I find something I like, most recently The Last Czars on Netflix. I’ve been obsessed with the Marvel universe movies ever since the first Iron Man movie came out, so I’m always first in line for that. Lately, two great movies were Rocket Man and Yesterday. Both fantastic.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Emily: Read in the genre you’re writing in. Ask for critique from trusted people and do not resist it, even though it’s painful. Persist, persist, persist. The best thing you can do (beside read and write) is work on your resilience. You’re going to get tons of rejection –even after being published there are always people who don’t like your stuff. It doesn’t have to drag you down though. Learn how to roll with it and move on. It’s the only way to keep your creative spirit intact.
KRL: Anything you would like to add and what is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Emily: When someone writes me a nice email about how much they enjoyed one of my books, the good feeling literally stays with me for days.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win a signed copy of Until the Day I Die, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “until,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 10, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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