Author Interview – Carol Plum-Ucci

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As far as titles go, I’m not sure there are many better than Carol Plum-Ucci’s The Body of Christopher Creed. It’s so simple, and so evocative–all the more because the body, in that story, is missing.

Image from Amazon


I first read The Body of Christopher Creed years ago, but the story has stuck with me. That’s why I was so excited to ask Carol these questions about writing and publishing. And, at the end of the post, you’ll find a number of different ways to connect with Carol and follow what she’s up to.


1. What is some of the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? 

The best advice was from Steven King’s book On Writing. It read something like, “Don’t listen to all the ta-do about how hard it is to get published. It may be hard. But there is always room for those who are talented.”


2. What is some of the worst advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? 

The worst advice was all, “Ooooooo…. you’re gonna have to work so hard. Oooooooo….it’s so hard. Ooooooo…you have to be a rocket scientist.” All that negative energy. It may be true that for every 10,000 manuscripts that enter New York, one will be bound.

However, I love to break that figure down: Eliminate the thousand people who don’t know how to follow directions and present manuscripts in fancy typefaces, single spaced. Eliminate another thousand who splice three commas on the first page. Eliminate the thousand who can’t use a search engine and don’t know how to find the right sort of agent. Eliminate the thousand who don’t know how to write a covering letter that hasn’t made them and their work sound like the center of the universe. Eliminate those who blow the story in the final third (that’s all the newbees who want to ‘wait to see if it sells’ before trying another). Eliminate all those people who think they have been abducted by aliens (not that maybe they haven’t, but the American psyche isn’t open to certain things, and you have to have a feel for what they are). Eliminate all those who haven’t read in their own market, so they don’t know where their work fits in. Eliminate all those who write a book and THEN ask “what market does this fit?” (Fiction writers are servants; we serve markets. The markets only serve us if we understand them and serve them first).

After eliminating all those who are not serious or who are given to massive brain farts, your chances are about one in 200. That’s not bad! Do it five times, and you’re in.


3. What is one resource that you think is valuable for writers that not everyone may know about?

I would say their own time. There is no teacher like doing. If someone is new, I say finding a good writers’ group will loan support, and with people all sitting behind screens to communicate lately, a biweekly face to face with live voices and hands on pages is invaluable. Just don’t get too many jollies from their head patting. You need the support. But keep in mind that an editor can still slay a work that has gotten a lot of head-patting from writers group. Keep a steady head, study the market on Amazon, and know your target audience and what they like.


4. What is something that surprised you about your career path?

That my first novel published won all sorts of awards. Here are some: I was not expecting anything except finally getting to see my name on the cover with some cool artwork. However, there was this other stat running around New York: If you write fiction, you will publish on your fifth. It WAS my fifth. I encourage writers, if they really love fiction and it’s really what they want to do, to keep going, no matter how many declines they get on their first works. Because you improve, like with any other skill. And also, once you publish, the publisher will ‘change his or her mind’ about those first ones. With some edits to get rid of first-time-novel syndrome, you’ve got three sales instead of one.


5. What is one book–fiction or nonfiction–that you would recommend writers pick up?

One of my faves is still SWAMPLANDIA by Karen Russell. I’ve never gotten over VIRGIN SUICIDES by Jeffrey Eugenides.

I’ve never read a book about writing that helped me write better. Only doing it did the trick. I encourage writers to watch the shows and movies their audiences like. It keeps the readers’ blood in our veins.


Here are the ways you can connect with Carol!

Visit her site.

Follow her on Goodreads.


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