Carmen Richter Interview Published on: 04, Jul 2019

At the age of 5, what would you tell people who asked you what you wanted to become when you grow up? How did it change over time?

Oh, wow. Um, I think I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was five. Or maybe an actress. I really can't remember. Haha. But, honestly, since the time I was able to tell a story, I think I knew I wanted to tell stories, in some way or another. The way I wanted to do that has changed a lot over the years. I've wanted to act, to sing, to be a journalist, and to write. But I love telling stories that people can connect with.

What is the best thing about being an independent author?

I really love the freedom to write what I want to write how I want to write it. I don't have editors or publishers breathing down my neck telling me to completely change my story to fit some cookie-cutter mold. I can tell a story the way I see it in my head.

Since how long have you been working in the claims department at an insurance company? Why did you choose this day job?

I just passed my 5-year anniversary with the company earlier this year. And really, the job kind of chose me. The company I was working for was getting ready to close their Kansas City office, and I needed to find another job quickly. Then this opportunity popped up, and I ended up in a much more stable job, with better pay and better benefits. But I love it. I like the feeling of taking someone's horrible day and making it just a little bit easier by walking them through a crisis like a car accident or a broken pipe in their kitchen.

How does writing work as an escape after talking to a lot of people who are having bad days every day?

Well, I work in the first notice of loss part of the claims department. That means when you get in a car accident or you come home to find a burst pipe and your kitchen flooded, I'm the person you're talking to when you call your insurance company. Like I said, I love being able to help people and make what seems like an impossible situation just a little bit easier, but it's stressful for sure, and I have to be the calm one in the stressful situation. So, when I get home, I like being able to just put on my headphones and put on my favorite music and escape into the world I've built and spend time with the characters I've created. Especially with the Sealed With a Kiss series, because I've known those characters for so long, they've really become almost like friends in a way.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?

When people ask me where I met my boyfriend, I don't really lie about it, but I also don't tell them the whole truth. I tell them we met online, which is true, but if they press me for more information, I lie about what website we met on. And no, I'm not telling. Haha.

How did you come up with the idea for My Fate Is Sealed? What quality of Elijah’s do you like the most?

When I was writing one of Zoe's books (I feel like it was My Future Is Sealed, but it might have been My Heart Is Sealed), there was one part where I really needed to know what Elijah was thinking when he was Zoe's teacher. I needed to know exactly what would possess a 22-year-old man to start dating his 17-year-old student. So, as a character-building exercise, I wrote chapter 2 of My Lips Are Sealed from his point of view. And just from writing that one chapter, I was hooked. I needed to know more about Elijah and I needed to get his side of the story, because I could tell that he had a very different story to tell than Zoe did. I think what I like the most about Elijah is that he's not perfect, and even he knows that. He knows what he's doing is immoral at best, illegal at worst. But he just can't stop himself, because you don't get to choose who you fall in love with. And while he's not perfect, his love for Zoe knows no bounds. He'd do anything for her. And, in the end, he did the most self-sacrificing thing that he could have done because he put her well-being ahead of what he wanted.

How did you come up with the title, "My Lips Are Sealed?" What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

I came up with the title for My Lips Are Sealed because of the secret Zoe's keeping. But it also goes deeper than that. A lot of people are keeping secrets in this book. Zoe, Elijah, Grant, Paisley, Jason. Even Brody had secrets he was keeping from the grave. However, I really think the key theme in this book is that you need to be true to yourself and who you are as a person. Because the weight of keeping secrets that are so fundamental to who you are can crush you. But you don't have to go it alone. There are people who will love and accept and support you no matter what, and sometimes that love and support comes from the most unexpected place.

What is the sweetest fan-mail/compliment that you have received for your writing? Which book was it for?

It's not really just one thing that sticks out, but just how my latest book, What Doesn't Kill You, has been received generally. What Doesn't Kill You wasn't even originally intended for publication. I've been going through some difficult medical treatments and was having a hard time writing the next Sealed With a Kiss book, so I decided to shelf it for a while and come back to it later. I started writing What Doesn't Kill You just as a project in my spare time. But then I let a couple of people read what I'd started and they all told me that I needed to polish it up and publish it, because it was too good a story not to share with the world. So I did that, and I'm just overwhelmed by how wonderfully it's been received. The reviews that I've gotten for the book have literally made me cry. It's truly heartwarming to see how many people are loving Ian and Kyler and their story.

What is one trick you use to stay motivated and write even during the gloomy days?

I write what comes to me, how it comes to me. I'm not very linear a lot of the time. I literally will write a book in bits and pieces, and write random scenes as they come to me, then go back and fill in the blanks. So, I guess I would say that if I'm not feeling motivated to write, it's more that I'm not motivated to write a particular part of a story. So sometimes I'll write a scene or two for another book that I have planned. Sometimes I'll write a later scene for the book I'm working on. Anything to get myself back in the zone, and then I'll go back and tackle the scene that was giving me trouble.

What are the details about Zoe’s character that you are personally fond of?

Oh, there's so much I love about Zoe. I love that she's probably more of a Broadway fan than I am (which is saying something, because I LOVE musical theater). I love that she tries to see the positive in every situation. I actually kind of wish I was more like her in that regard. And I love how fiercely she loves her friends and family. She'd do anything in the world for them.

Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? What are some goals you hope to accomplish by then?

I still see myself writing the stories that I want to write. I'd like to be making a little more as a writer, but I don't know that I'll ever want to write full-time. I think it would feel more like a job if I did that, and I don't think I'd enjoy it as much. I definitely want to get the rest of the Sealed With a Kiss series written by then. There is so much I have in store for those characters, and I'm really excited to write it, because it'll push my boundaries as a writer.

What are some things you wish someone had told you when you were still new to the writing world?

So much. Haha. I wish someone had told me how incredible and welcoming the indie romance community is. I wish someone had told me about the importance of having a newsletter. I wish someone had told me about doing takeovers and release parties and the importance of networking. And, now that I know all of these things, I'm doing everything I can to help new authors not make the same mistakes I did when I was starting out.

How did you come up with the idea for the Sealed With a Kiss series? Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?

Really, the story of this series is a little embarrassing. It started as a Pretty Little Liars fan fiction, and then I realized I could do so much more with the story if I wasn't tied down to those characters and the rules of that world. So I created my own characters and changed the plot a little to make it fit the new characters I'd created. And honestly, I think it's more challenging to write subsequent novels. Especially since, by now, I feel like these characters are a part of me and I feel so much pressure to stay true to them and their story. But I love it, and I love that they're still giving me new stories to tell.

What are you currently working on? When can we expect the release of your next book?

Well, Elijah's a persistent guy. He just won't shut up. LOL! He kept telling me that he had a very different story to tell about the events that take place in Zoe's second two books and he wouldn't shut up until I agreed to write it. So, right now, I'm working on his second book, called My Soul Is Sealed. And after I'm done with his second two books, five other supporting characters are getting their own books. You already got to see River's story in My Bonds Are Sealed. But the rest of the characters have great stories too. You'll get to hear from Maddie, Kelly, Abby, Megan, and Grant and find out about their love stories and the obstacles they had to overcome to get to their happily ever afters. I'm super excited to write those, because it turns out that each of those books falls into a different sub-genre and I'll get to expand my horizons a little. I get to write a F/F love story for Maddie, a domestic abuse survivor story with a good ol' Southern boy for Kelly, a surprise baby story for Abby, an age gap story for Megan, and a M/M story for Grant. I'm actually super nervous to write Grant's story because I have literally ZERO experience writing anything remotely like that, but it'll be a good challenge for me, and I'm so excited to get to know Grant better because he's my favorite supporting character. As far as when my next book is coming out, I've also started editing novels in addition to writing, so splitting my time is still a little bit of a challenge because I'm still getting into a rhythm with it. But I'm hoping to have My Soul Is Sealed done by either the end of summer or early fall.

What has your experience with AllAuthor been like so far? Is there anything that you believe could be done to better benefit the authors in this community?

I really need to take some more time and learn EVERYTHING I can do with this site, because you guys just have so much to offer! I love it! One thing I would suggest is for authors to be able to change their featured book during the six-month subscription period. Because I would have loved to have my new release featured when I released it in May, but since I'd already selected the featured book, unless I wanted to pay to have another book featured, I couldn't.

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