Carol Fragale Brill: I have loved stories ever since my parents read me Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Black Beauty at bedtime when I was five or six. I know Grimm’s may not seem like the stuff sweet dreams are made of, but mostly they read the ones about princesses being rescued by the prince. I started dreaming about writing a book when I was 20-something. It took me another 20 years to finally get started after reading Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST WAY. The week after I finished the book’s twelve week course, I joined my first creative writing group. I often go back to the wonderful tools in THE ARTIST WAY—like morning pages, where you do a mind dump on paper to clear the cobwebs so the creative juices can flow, or an artist date, where you take yourself out to play to recharge your batteries.
I can’t remember if it is Julia Cameron, or Anne LaMott or Natalie Goldberg, but I heard one of them say writer’s block isn’t about being blocked, it’s about being empty. I try to remember that and do things that fill me up and rekindle my creativity—walking on the beach with my husband, reading women’s fiction, watching humming birds and dolphins.
One last tidbit about me as a writer. I keep a box of 96 crayons—a gift from my husband—on my desk. There’s a line in PEACE BY PIECE where the main character, Maggie says, “I never had a box of 64 crayons.” After reading that line in a very early draft, Jim bought me my box of 96—complete with the built-in sharpener. That green and yellow box is a constant reminder of his support, and I often skim through the box reciting the names of the colors when I need creative inspiration.
TDiS: What are you trying to accomplish as a writer?
Carol Fragale Brill: My goal when I stared writing creatively was to write a book. Amazingly, I have now written and published two, PEACE BY PIECE and CAPE MAYBE. Most of my writing time is devoted to my novels, blog, and book reviews for New York Journal of Books, with a little time left over to write and publish the occasional short story. After writing and rewriting my novels many times over a 15 year period, self-publishing both in less than a year is a huge accomplishment for me.
In addition to getting great reviews on my novels, my favourite successes regarding shorter works include an excerpt from my newest novel, CAPE MAYBE being recognized by Poets and Writers as the Maureen Egen Prize first runner-up for fiction—so close! One of my writer friends referred to the prize as my best rejection to date.
My short story “Violets”, a reimagined excerpt from PEACE BY PIECE, was published in The Best of Philadelphia Stories after being voted a reader favourite.
TDiS: When is your newest book available?
Carol Fragale Brill: Both PEACE BY PIECE and CAPE MAYBE are available now in paperback and e-book. Tuesday May 20th until Sunday May 25th I’m running a countdown sale on CAPE MAYBE. Sales starts Tuesday at just 99¢.
Both CAPE MAYBE and PEACE BY PIECE are great beach reads, so here’s a chance to sample CAPE MAYBE just in time for Memorial Day and summer beach reading.
I am thrilled— and a little intimated—that many PEACE BY PIECE and CAPE MAYBE readers want sequels. It’s funny because from the day I started writing PEACE BY PIECE and CAPE MAYBE, I was always sure the stories ended where I ended them. Now, readers have me wondering if there’s more in store for Maggie, Thomas, and Izzie in PEACE BY PIECE, and Katie and Dennis et al in CAPE MAYBE.
TDiS: What sets your stories apart?
Carol Fragale Brill: What readers tell me sets my stories apart are realistic, well-rounded characters that they care about and that feel like real people they know. One of the hardest parts of crafting my novels was finding a balance between my characters’ strengths and flaws so that readers would relate to them.
PEACE BY PIECE – Maggie’s story about love in all its many forms—friendship, family, unshakable first love, step-parenting—all overshadowed by anorexia and bulimia.
CAPE MAYBE - Set in Victorian Cape May, CAPE MAYBE is Katie’s story of love and loss—of the memories, addictions, and secrets that haunt mothers and daughters— and the power of hard-earned hope.
I would like to thank Carol Fragale Brill for taking the time for this interview. You can find Carol Fragale Brill at: