I had the privilege of reviewing some of Hannah Carter’s work last week, and this week I was able to interview Carter. Carter is a strong Christian woman, and I feel honored to have her featured here on my blog.
In addition to being a talented author, Carter is a pharmacy technician and an online ESL teacher. Living in Kentucky, Carter enjoys reading, watching Disney+ and old Audrey Hepburn movies, singing and dancing with “varied amounts of talent,” playing Animal Crossing, and swimming. Fun fact, Carter has a swimmable mermaid tail! Keep reading below to learn more about Carter and her writing.
Q) How long have you been writing?
A) I’ve been writing things down since I was about 10 or so, but my first attempt was pretty terrible, as most first attempts are. I wrote a whole chapter about my heroine getting dressed, telling exactly the time it took her to brush her hair, her teeth, etc. Thankfully, that story is hidden in the back of my laptop, never to see the light of day again.
Although, if we’re honest, I’ve been creating stories in my head for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are the random stories I created! They mostly had to do with mermaids, Disney princesses, Scooby-Doo, and The Wiggles, so probably copyright—and lack of a coherent plot—will keep those from being released.
Nowadays, I’ve discarded my plots about talking dogs and colorful singers, but I’ve kept the mermaid bits.
Q) Why do you write?
A) I write for a two-fold reason. The first is that God has given me a passion, and I feel that if He has blessed me with such a huge desire to do something, then He must want me to serve Him in this way. I get such enjoyment out of writing, and it feels like where I am fulfilled.
The other part of this desire is that I want to influence people to follow God wholeheartedly. My writing is my mission, and I want to be able to touch people’s hearts as many other authors have often touched mine. My writing follows my motto that, whether we’re in Middle-Earth or Regular-Earth, our search and God’s love is the same.
Q) What inspired “Amir and the Moon?”
A) A few years ago, the author Anne Elisabeth Stengl was in the midst of running fairy-tale retelling contests. She picked 5 winners each year to get their work published in an anthology collection. Only, she took a year off in between contests, and I decided that it would be a great opportunity to get ahead of the curve and go ahead and write so I could enter when the contests started back. The only problem: I didn’t know the story she would pick, so I just kind of went with Little Mermaid because it’s my favorite (and there has already been a Beauty & the Beast collection).
I’ve always loved culture and myths around the world as well, and I frequently scour the internet to see if I can learn anything new. One day, I found that a Japanese folklore says that if you eat a mermaid, you’ll be granted eternal life…so wouldn’t it be interesting if there was a Little Mermaid story with this darker twist?
But I wanted more twists from the original! What if the Sea Witch wasn’t a Sea Witch at all…but a genie? All the sudden, Amir was born, and the rest of the story came with him.
The contest did not end up being a Little Mermaid retelling, so I couldn’t enter, but instead of letting Moon and Amir wallow in my computer, I decided to self-publish it and see what would happen!
Q) What inspired “Seashells?”
A) So, after I finished my novel-length trilogy, I hit a complete writing slump. I couldn’t write anything without faltering and losing enthusiasm a few chapters in. I had no idea which storyline I should do next in my canon universe because I had so many ideas, but every single one of them failed in execution.
One day, my writing friend and I were discussing characters and plot lines, and we got onto the fact that, in my universe, mermen are kept as slaves to the mermaids. We discussed what might happen if one of them escaped, and what would happen if they made their way to the surface world.
Something finally sparked! This was something I could go with. And I could make it work to where it could be connected to my original universe without having the pressure of keeping up the continuity of my main series. In the end, I didn’t even specify whether it was our world or the alternate dimension of my universe, because nobody else has read my canon books yet, and the details would just bog down the storyline.
That was absolutely freeing to me!
I also released the pressure of trying to write a full-length novel. I was still a little gun shy, since every other novel idea had died a few chapters in. I would write a short story, without trying to hit any specific word count.
So, with this decided, it wasn’t too long before Sariah came into my mind, wearing her white dress with the too-big hat she detests and desperate for adventure. And, of course, if Sariah was going to have an adventure, she would need proper supervision, so Nanny Eleanor barged in next and everything fell in place!
Q) Do you have any other works currently available for readers?
A) I just published “Seashells,” so I’m hoping to have a great launch with that! It’s available to read for free on blog and that won’t change, but if anyone would like to own a copy as well, it’s for sale on Amazon, too.
A few other short stories are available on my Reedsy profile, which hosts contests for authors. One of mine, “Lara,” ended up winning!
I also have several devotions published through my blog, and two connected Christmas and Easter church plays available on Amazon! I’m currently in the querying stage for my fantasy trilogy as well, so hopefully there will be news to share about that soon!
Q) What projects are you currently working on? Can you tell me a little about those?
A) I would love to! I also have a terrible habit of starting more projects than I can finish, so we’ll see if I can push this to fruition.
My current baby can best be described as Little Women meets steampunk (I hope that isn’t too odd ). I love the strong bonds of sisterhood that Louisa May Alcott’s book has (I’m an absolute sucker for the 2019 movie as well), so those kinds of familial relationships are at the forefront of my new work. Except, instead of writing or finding husbands, my girls tend to jump off airships, escape from jail, and cause a general ruckus as they try to rescue their abducted sister and steal back their inventions from rebels who want to use them to overthrow the government.
It’s my first attempt at steampunk and also the first manuscript that I’m trying to hand-write, so it’s a unique experience for me!
Q) Can you tell me about your hope and vision for your writing?
A) Right now, one of my biggest hopes is to actually get published soon. I would love to start my actual “job” as a writer and hold a published copy of my books in my hands.
But my overarching vision for my book is to start a community where people can come to be blessed and make friendships. Part of my ministry in my writing is helping girls who are lonely, depressed, anxious, and feeling alone. Growing up is hard, and, let’s face it: none of us are ever really grown up! I would love to form a place where girls can come together and have strong friendships and a place to ask questions about God. My book would be only one facet of that dream, part of a talking point or something that would bring them into the community.
My other vision, related solely to my book, is to get all the ideas down I have for this universe and actually finish them! My first trilogy was only my starting point: there are so many other people and so many other places to go in this world! So many things to do! And, unless I get started, nobody will know about them.
Q) Are there religious undertones to your writing?
A) There are definitely religious undertones in my writing! I consider that part of my mission as well. My short stories like “Amir” and “Seashells” aren’t too overtly religious, but my novels grapple more with faith issues. I love to tackle hard questions about faith—why do bad things happen to good people? How do we trust God when His ways don’t make sense?—and, over the course of my trilogy, my heroine goes on a faith journey as her struggles open her eyes to God’s heart and she begins to understand her worth in Him.
I also have God and Jesus “stand-ins” for my other world. The Composer is the name that my characters know God by in Gaia (my alternate dimension), because God is the composer and the universe is His song—He keeps everything in time and together.
And, of course, I want to keep my values and beliefs at the forefront of my writing. So, even if there aren’t any overt religious tones, all my work is clean (although I can’t promise there won’t be bloodshed and death).
Q) How has God impacted you and your writing?
A) I truly don’t think that I would be writing without God. I feel like God has given me the inspiration for my stories, as well as the words to say at crucial moments. There have been times when I’ve been lost as to the next step that I should take or how to deal with my characters’ emotions and questions. In every situation, God has come through and slowly revealed His heart. There have been so many times that I’ve started crying because the answer to my characters’ doubts, anger, and questions have been so perfect for them—but also for me. I feel like there are times when God is trying to talk to me, and I feel so honored that someday, someone else might be touched by His message through me.
Q) What advice do you have for other authors?
A) My biggest piece of advice for other authors kind of sounds like one of those inspirational cat posters, but it’s true: never give up. Writing a book, putting words to a blank piece of paper, is hard and it’s so much easier to abandon it. If you’re going to send it out to the world, querying and rejections can make you doubt your worth as an author and the value of your story. Not to mention that you’ve got to try and market it and get reviews, and then dealing with harsh reviews. . .there’s really not a single part of the writing process that I would call “easy.”
But: if God has called you to be a writer, if He’s planted this seed of creativity inside your heart, then He will see you through. Cling to Him and know that everybody has been where you were. J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Dr. Seuss, and Louisa May Alcott were all rejected at one point or another—multiple times! That’s been wildly comforting to me whenever I feel down. There’s great company here in the reject pile!
And, most importantly, my Heavenly Father will never reject me, and He sees the value in all my work.
Be sure to order your copies of “Amir and the Moon” and “Seashells” today! Also, follow Carter’s blog and her social media to stay up to date with her and her writing!
Reedsy Prompts profile (some of Carter’s short stories can be found here!)