Meghan: Hi, Carol. Welcome back to Halloween Extravaganza. It’s great having you, as I didn’t get a chance to interview the last time you were here. Let’s start with something… easy. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Carol Schaffer: I am about to celebrate my 55th birthday, and I look forward to at least 50 more. I am a wildly passionate intense person. I am forever fascinated and impressed by the raw unpredictable, sometimes ugly side of life. I am a huge fan of old movies, and an even bigger fan of classic horror flicks.
Meghan: What are five things that most people don’t know about you?
- From the ages of about seven, into my mid-twenties, I had the worst stutter. It was so bad that I rarely spoke to anyone that was not my immediate family. When I get upset or angry, I still stutter sometimes.
- I have a certified phobia of big dogs, specifically pit bulls and German shepherds.
- When I was growing up, many of the women, including my mom, practiced witchcraft. I was frequently involved in helping my mom with her spells.
- I tried cocaine when I was nineteen and loved it for about a year.
- I am painfully shy.
Meghan: What is the first bok you remember reading?
Carol Schaffer: Frog and Toad books, by Arnold Lobel.
Meghan: What are you reading now?
Carol Schaffer: Elevation by Stephen King. Trying to find time to read, is a much more accurate statement.
Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?
Carol Schaffer: The Scarlet Letter. I was surprised that I liked it.
Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?
Carol Schaffer: I don’t feel like it was ever that I made a decision to write. I come from a family that had more skeletons in our closets than Disney’s Haunted Mansion. My mom deemed every single thing about our household lives, to be private or a “secret.” I think writing things down became my lifeline to sanity.
I started writing at about the age of nine.
My writing prompts were words from the Encyclopedia Britannica. I started with Vol. one and I worked my way through every volume that my parents managed to purchase.
Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?
Carol Schaffer: I usually find myself writing in the kitchen, or a room close to it.
Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
Carol Schaffer: I think the only quirk I have noticed about when I write, is that I feel like my creativity flows when I have been prompted to a strong reaction from an argument, or circumstance that is not ideal in my life. I don’t love how cliché I am as a writer when it comes to inspiration, but I’ll take it however I can get it.
Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Carol Schaffer: The single most challenging thing for me about writing is, that I am almost always blasted with the most lyrical wording while driving, showering, or doing something involving other people, which makes it incredibly difficult to get my thoughts down quick enough to capture the way I first think them.
Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?
Carol Schaffer: I wrote a short story about nine years ago that is one of my favorites of all time, so far. The inspiration from this story came from a dark secret that my ex-boyfriend once shared with me. It was on the fringe of erotic, and I have still never heard anything like it. I have never shared it with anyone, and I am not sure if I ever will.
Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?
Carol Schaffer: The Canterbury Tales. A Christmas Carol. Romeo and Juliet. Tommy Knockers.
Authors who have inspired my writing style: Mark Twain. William Shakespeare. Stephen King. Charles Bukowski. Ernest Hemingway. Rod Serling (possibly once known as Sterling).
Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?
Carol Schaffer: What makes a good story is the author’s ability to make the reader believe that every word they are reading is entirely possible, even when the reader never would have normally believed that such a thing could take place.
Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?
Carol Schaffer: I love characters that allow aspects of myself, that I don’t let people see very often, come out to play on full blast.
Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?
Carol Schaffer: Book covers are moderately important if the author is unknown. I think the book’s title is much more important.
Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?
Carol Schaffer: The thing I learned from creating/writing, is that stories go on. There never really is an ending.
Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
Carol Schaffer: I am just recently preparing to go through the process of getting published, so I haven’t officially been placed in a writing genre; I have an idea where I would land. I think what sets me apart from many others in the genre that I could possibly fit is that my book is for me. It would probably be super cool to be published, but if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay too. My mission is to create the book that I am dying to read.
Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?
Carol Schaffer: I feel like book titles are as important as what is inside of the cover. I try not to judge the book by the cover, because sometimes the cover turns out to be so much more interesting than the book.
My book title has changed so many times I have lost count. If I am honest, I still only have half the title. I love the half I have, and I will keep it, but I’m not quite there yet.
Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?
Carol Schaffer: I love to write short stories because they put a cap on things, while still leaving room for more.
Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your book, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.
Carol Schaffer: My book is about providing a template, which provides a path for the continuation of a life story to take place. My book is a sort of “Permission slip” for people who find themselves a little lost in a place where it’s murky, and difficult to see and believe that there is anything of relevance left to do with their life.
I made the decision to leave out autobiographical childhood details from my book because this book is about, “what next.” It’s about what’s happening now in this new phase. How essential it is to learn how to be open to gaining unfamiliar, untapped clarity that is unique to someone who has done a lot of living, and wants to do a whole lot more, and be happy as hell while they’re doing it.
Meghan: What’s in your “trunk”?
Carol Schaffer: 😉 Well… I wrote, Deck the Halls with Blood and Bodies, for The Gal in the Blue Mask, in contribution to Christmas Take Over in 2016. Deck the Halls, has continued to float around and haunt me ever since. The story is begging to be told in deep vivid detail, with crashing crescendos.
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Carol Schaffer: My book! Continued development of my new website, where I will write and share and blog about many interesting things including: my book, all things food and eating, my plans for moving to a farm in Washington, and the life and times of still being a wild child at the age of fifty-five.
I have been asked to do a night-time radio interview with someone who was a close associate of the late great radio host, Art Bell. The interview will delve into my exposure to the occult through my mother’s practice of witchcraft, and the influence it continues to have in my life.
Meghan: Where can we find you?
Carol Schaffer: Website ** Instagram ** Twitter ** Pinterest
Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?
Carol Schaffer: I know it’s been said many times, but I would like to say it again: It really doesn’t matter who has done it before you, or how good they were at it, nobody can do it, or say it exactly like you.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and stayed there until after I was married and had my first baby in 1989. I have lived in Riverside California for almost thirty years now, and I am still surprised by how small it feels. I have been in sales for a long time, and I love it. I consider what I do an art form. I am a gifted writer of stories, poems, speeches. The time finally feels right to share my writing with the world, or other interested parties. I adore the ocean, and the forest. I have a son and two daughters who I love to the moon. I once had a close encounter with a real werewolf.