An Interview with Carrie Anne Noble: Modern Fairytale Queen
July 13, 2020
In June 2017, I had the pleasure of meeting author Carrie Anne Noble at a writers’ conference. Her second novel, The Gold-Son, was released the week we met. I bought it at the conference, along with her first novel, The Mermaid’s Sister because I wanted to support her and thought her books would be perfect summertime reads for my then-sixth-grader and me.
I was right. I loved both books, particularly because of Carrie Anne’s deft ability to weave fairyworld elements with modern/futuristic ones. Her latest novel, Gretchen and the Bear, also possesses ancient yet modern flair. I had the pleasure of being on her Advance Reader Team for her latest book, which I devoured quickly.
What a thrill to present the first in a series of three interviews with three decidedly different female authors. I know each of these women personally and am grateful and humbled to have them in my writer friend circle. I hope you enjoy this interview with Carrie Anne Noble.
TGC:How and when did your “I’m a writer” moment happen? Was it a lifelong dream or something that evolved over time?
CAN: I’ve been making up stories for almost as long as I can remember. I always thought I’d write picture books or books for elementary-aged kids–but that’s something I have yet to try!
I first felt like a “real” writer when I was hired by a staff writer for a local newspaper after completing an online writing course. But the big dream-come-true moment was when two editors from Amazon Publishing called to tell me The Mermaid’s Sister had won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for the young adult category and that they were going to publish the book and pay me a good advance. That was the happy surprise of a lifetime!
TGC: Congratulations on the June 2020 release of your latest novel, Gretchen and the Bear. How was the story born? How long did your journey take from inception to bookshelves?
CAN: Thank you! I can’t remember exactly how or when I came up with the idea to write a twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but I’ve loved the tale since I was a wee bear myself. I wrote the first draft during 2017’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, also known as November). I rewrote and revised a couple of times before submitting it to the publisher in early 2020. I guess that means it went from first draft to printed book in a little over two years. I did write other stuff within that time period, as well. I always have to break up with my books for a while before we enter a committed relationship, ha ha.
TCG:Are you a discovery writer, or do you outline and plot your stories ahead? How (if at all) have you tweaked your preferred process over time? Why does this method work for you?
CAN: I’m mostly a discovery writer, but I keep trying to figure out a way to plan ahead that works for me. I like the freedom and adventure of making it up as I go, but I also think I waste time working that way. There has to be a happy middle ground between full-on outlining and flying by the seat of the pants. That’s where I think I’d work best.
TGC: Which authors have most influenced you as a reader and writer? Which of their works, in particular, have deeply impacted you and how?
CAN: Beatrix Potter, Catherine Cookson, Mervyn Peake, the Brothers Grimm, and Maggie Stiefvater have all left their marks on me. Beatrix Potter’s works taught me whimsy and wonderment, and Catherine Cookson’s British historical romances helped me learn character creation and scene-setting. Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Trilogy helped me fall in love with a lyrical style of fantasy, and the Grimms’ fairy tales are just good, raw storytelling. Maggie Stiefvater’s book, The Scorpio Races, taught me that what I love most is a tale set in the real world with some magical, fairy-tale elements thrown in, and helped inspire me to delve into that genre myself.
TGC: You’ve established yourself as a modern fairytale-teller, first with your debut, The Mermaid’s Sister. The Gold Son continued your magical worldbuilding, and now Gretchen and the Bear delivers more of your signature fairyworld charm. How did you choose this genre for your work?
CAN: When I started writing novels, I didn’t set out to write fairy tales. I thought I’d write historical fiction or inspirational romance. But at the start of NaNoWriMo in 2010, I had no story in mind. My mom told me about this weird dream she’d had, so I used it as inspiration, writing about a childless couple who received a strange baby in a basket from a witch-like stranger. The baby was two different people, depending on which magical hat the mother put on its head. Definitely fairy tale material. I fell in love with writing fantasy that month. I think we were made for each other.
TGC: Have you encountered any publishing obstacles or writing-related setbacks that ultimately helped you to grow in your journey as an author?
CAN: Last year, the publisher I had been with for five years decided not to take on any more YA fantasy–which was quite a shock. I don’t like change much! I ended up submitting to a small press recommended by a friend. They loved Gretchen and the Bear and scheduled it to be released within six months (instead of about a year, like I was used to). Their whole process was different (more change, yikes!). I think God used the experience to remind me to trust Him with my career and life. He worked everything out for good, in spite of my squirming and fretting.
TGC: As a Christian writer, how has your faith informed your work and decision-making as an author?
CAN: It must be terrifying to be a writer without a God in whom to trust, since the whole business is so changeable and unpredictable! My whole writing journey has been about putting the work in His hands and watching for what He’ll do next.
As far as content, I try to “keep it PG.” Someone once said that the goal is to portray sin without glorifying it. I think that’s good advice for Christians who write fiction.
TGC:If you could sit down for a cup of tea with any of the characters in Gretchen and the Bear for a heart to heart, who would it be and why?
CAN: I would love to have tea with Arthur. He has such a good, generous heart. I’d ask him to tell me more about life with the Bearfolk, how it feels to frolic in the moonlight as a bear, and what it feels like to shift from young man to bear when the magic beckons. I’d like to tell him how proud I am of his choices to do right even when it cost him dearly–and I’d thank him for reminding me to try to do the same.
Many thanks to Carrie for her participation in this interview and willingness to share her heart and thoughts about life as a writer. I hope you’ll check out her work. Looking forward to her next novel already!
A bit more about Carrie:
In the wake of her thrilling past as a theatre student, restaurant hostess, nurse aide, and newspaper writer, Carrie Anne Noble now crafts enchanting fiction for teens and adults.
Her award-winning debut novel The Mermaid’s Sister was called a “must read” by Publishers Weekly. Her work has appeared in Deep Magic E-zine and Splickety Magazine, as well as on the Folklore Thursday website. Carrie lives in rural Pennsylvania, where she enjoys taking walks, letting her imagination run wild, and hosting the occasional tea party.
Tracy is a New Jersey writer who loves Earl Grey tea, spending time outside, and painting. She lives with her husband and children in a home where birdsong and rainstorms provide the soundtrack for her creative life.