By Eileen Carr
A few years ago, I was at a writers’ conference and during one of those late night slightly boozy conversations, I mentioned an idea I had to another author. She thought it was a great idea and asked why I wasn’t actively working on it. I told her I wasn’t sure I could do it.
“Ah,” she said. “It scares you. Then that’s totally the book you should write.”
Her opinion was that if you had an idea that was big enough and important enough to you that it scared you to try to write it, then it absolutely had to be written.
Writing VEILED INTENTIONS has scared me more than writing any of my other books. I have written about serial killers and vampires and sociopaths and werewolves, but writing about the goings on in a northern California college town has kept me up at night and made me chew off more fingernails than all of the other books combined.
I was a little afraid of the subject matter. Part of the idea for the book came from my own ignorance. I got into a conversation about Islamophobia with someone. I found myself unable to support my opinion that an entire group of people should not be vilified based on their religious practices because I really didn’t know anything about Islam. I did a lot of reading and a lot of talking to people, but I’m still afraid I didn’t get my facts straight.
I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get the voices right. There are several teenaged characters in the books and while I’m kind of immature, I’m pretty far from being a teenager. Luckily, I had actual live teenagers in the house upon whom I could eavesdrop. They were also very patient with me asking what the kids are calling things these days. But slang changes quickly and book publication is slow. I’m afraid that what was au courant while I was writing might be old and busted now.
At one point, while I was searching for Islamic jihadi information and directions for how to make a pipe bomb on the Internet, I was afraid I was going to get a visit from the FBI. I backed up my computer a lot in case guys with windbreakers were to suddenly arrive and seize my laptop.
I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to maintain the structure I’d chosen for the novel. For my previous ten novels, I’ve started at the beginning of the story and followed it through to the end. This was the first time I’d started at the end, jumped back to the beginning, back to the end, and to various mid-points. I am not the most logical bulb in the chandelier so keeping who knew what when and what happened where was pretty challenging. We were still fixing chronology issues in copyedits. Terrifying!
But mostly, I’m afraid I didn’t carry it off. This book means a lot to me. Some of the ideas expressed in its pages are central to who I am and what I believe is good and right in the world. I challenged myself with its subject matter and structure to try to do those ideas service. The last time I read it in galley form, I felt like maybe I’d achieved the goals I’d set for myself. The second I hit send and sent it winging off to my editor, I started to doubt. Now that VEILED INTENTIONS is about to be released, that little ball of doubt has grown to a boulder of fear. My main solace right now is the wonderful Teddy Roosevelt quote about the man in the arena. If I have failed, at least I will have failed while daring greatly. Fingers crossed that I’ll know the triumph of high achievement instead.
Eileen Carr was born in Dayton, Ohio. She moved when she was four and only remembers that she was born across the street from Baskin-Robbins. Eileen remembers anything that has to do with ice cream. Or chocolate. Or champagne. Eileen’s alter ego, Eileen Rendahl, is the award-winning author the Messenger Series and four Chick Lit novels. She has had many jobs and lived in many cities and feels unbelievably lucky to be where she is now and to do what she’s doing.
To learn more about Eileen, please visit her website.