FEBRUARY 24, 2003

From all the books you have written, do you have a favorite?

I have a feeling my first book, Blood Junction, may always be a favorite.  It was the first time I sat down with India Kane and watching her prickly character grow and develop was fascinating.  At the start of the book she is a deeply unhappy woman searching for her place in the world, and when she finds it, it is deeply fulfilling but not quite what she had expected.

At what point in time did you realize that writing was the "thing for you"?

I'd just completed a car rally, London to Saigon, when Autocar magazine asked me to write an article for them.  Slightly unnerved but willing to give it a go, I went ahead and not only did I thoroughly enjoy writing the feature, but to my amazement I got PAID!  Filled with enthusiasm I decided to go for broke and write a book.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a writer?

Don't give up, and keep writing.  I wrote three full-length novels before I cracked it with Blood Junction and it's only now I realise I had to learn my trade before publication, not unlike a doctor has to undergo training before being let loose on patients.  I also think being professional is incredibly important, from presenting perfectly printed manuscripts to enclosing an stamped addressed envelope for a reply from an agent or publisher.  Also growing a very thick skin and keeping that determined optimism at full throttle helps!

What is the name of your favorite mystery movie?

The Usual Suspects.  Which had me guessing all the way through and wow, what a finale.

What other authors do you enjoy reading?

I read as widely as I can, but have a huge weakness for action and
adventure, from Matthew Reilly to Lee Child, Harlen Coben, James Lee Burke and Lawrence Block.  I also adore real-life survival stories, and Adrift, seventy-six days lost at sea, has to be one of my favourites.

What other types of jobs have you had?

Hmm.  Well, one of my first was working as a clerk for a chicken company in London, but it didn't take long until chickens lost their appeal and I headed for Australia, where I worked as a book rep along the beaches of Sydney's north coast.  One of the best jobs I've ever had, I got to surf at the end of my working day.

Is there anyone, in particular, who influenced you?

I was brought up on Wilbur Smith, and on my first visit to Africa my
tracking guide was amazed at my knowledge of the African bush.  When he asked me how come I knew so much about the wildlife and animals' behaviour I answered, "Wilbur Smith."  Since my first three books are set in Australia, I try to make sure my books are as accurate and well researched.

What led you to write mysteries?

I started writing romances, but soon discovered I enjoyed writing car chases and shootouts far more.  Not that my books don't have an element of romance in them, but I took an editors advice and switched to crime, which is how Blood Junction came about.

Do you read reviews of your books?

Yes.  I've been very fortunate so far that I've been very kindly reviewed, but should I receive a less positive one I like to think it would be constructive critisism that I could learn from and use in the future.  My publisher sends them on to me, but I have to admit to feeling a sense of terror when I opened the first lot!

How would you like to be remembered?

As a good friend.  But since we're talking about writing, as an entertainer where people can enjoy a thumping good read to help that train, bus or plane journey fly by.

What do you believe is the highlight of your career so far?

Without doubt winning the Crime Writers' Association debut dagger for Blood Junction.

Do you write on a fixed schedule?

I didn't plan out a writing schedule, but within a few weeks I had settled on a routine which suited me and hasn't chanced since.

How do you come up with plots?

For me, plots grow from a single idea that fascinates and stimulates me. With Blood Junction, for example, I saw an article on the "stolen generation" where during the 1950's over 100,000 Aboriginal children were forcibly taken from their families and adopted by whites.  What would happen if a whole Aboriginal family went missing today?  Who would take up their cause if it wasn't a relative?  The police?  Which authorities, if any?  The more I delved, the more possibilities appeared, and that is how Blood Junction was born.

How do you spend your free time?

I am a complete movie addict, and a walkaholic.  Which means after hiking 7
to 10 miles with my dog around my home hills of Bath, I can sit down with a
big tub of popcorn and not have to worry about the calories!

Do you have a message you would like to give to all your readers out

Yes.  To everyone reading this, I just hope you enjoy my books, because
they're for you.  Best wishes, and hopefully we'll meet again!

                                        BOOKS BY CAROLINE CARVER:

                                                ABOUT THE AUTHOR

If Caroline Carver wanted to follow her parents into a career, she had two options. Become a fighter pilot or go motor racing.

Actually, she didn't do either but is forging her own niche by writing thrillers and participating in long-distance car rallies. She's driven London to Saigon, London to Cape Town and last year put 14,000 miles of South America's toughest rallying roads under her belt. Each rally was undertaken with an all-female crew.

"Writing thrillers is right up my street," Caroline says, "not just because of my love of adventure, but because I've been scared witless a few times and know exactly how it feels!"

Caroline was born and raised in the UK, but is half-Kiwi though her Wellington-born father who left to see the world via the Aussie Fleet Air Arm. In 1957 her mother set the land speed record in Australia, and with a pedigree like that it could be said Caroline wouldn't become a clerk, although she did try. She headed for London to work as a secretary and ended up as sales manager for a chicken company, but after six months even the best chickens in the world had lost their appeal and she headed for Sydney.

For the next ten years Caroline hitched, bused and backpacked her way around Australia and South-East Asia, holding down a variety of jobs from book repping to handling complaints for Kentucky Fried Chicken. She eventually returned to the UK to enter the London to Saigon Motoring Challenge. Sponsored by Lada Cars, the first hurdle was wearing all the Lada jokes. The second was getting lost in the desert.

"I was on my own, my co-driver was helping out in another car, and I was somewhere here on the Old Silk Route and there were tracks everywhere but trying to choose which one . . . I didn't have a GPS back then and my compass was broken. There was no sun to do the old SAS -shadow stick' trick to indicate which direction to go . . . I scrambled onto the roof of the Lada wiith my binoculars and scanning the horizon I saw this tiny puff of dust ... So I went like the clappers to catch it up, praying is wasn't a camel, and found another competitor. I might have lasted two days out there."

On her return  from Saigon, Caroline phoned
Autocar magazine in London who suggested putting her stories to print. She bought a book on travel writing and "kind of fell into writing professionally." Since then, her accidental career path has produced travel articles on various countries including Ethiopia, Namibia, Sikkim and Transylvania, and eventually, her first book, Blood Junction.

Set in the harsh Australian outback, Blood Junction won the 1999 Crime Writers' Association New Writers' Award and is published by Orion. Caroline's second novel, Dead Heat, will be out in September 2003. She is currently working on her third book and trying to avoid the temptation of the next rally in 2004, London to Sydney.

Dead Heat  is horribly overdue thanks so the Inca Trail. I was trying to plot the book and develop characters but my mind was overtaken with prepping the car, great lists of medical and survival equipment, piles of insurance and shipping forms.
…At one point my co-driver said, stop writing the book, it's driving you nuts. And when I got back she said, stop thinking about rallies, get on with the book. Which is what I'm doing!''