Caryn Gottlieb FitzGerald has a passion for writing and sharing her heart with others. After watching the manuscript from her first fiction novel, Tulips in the Sand – A Riley Matthews Mystery sit on a shelf at home for sixteen years, she set the goal of seeing her book published and on store shelves, reaching people around the world.
Her intention became reality when Tulips in the Sand – A Riley Matthews Mystery was published in July 2008 and has been intriguing fiction and mystery lovers ever since its release.
Shelagh: Please tell us about yourself, Caryn.
I hold a B.A. in Criminal Justice and a certificate in Women’s Studies from Florida Atlantic University in addition to a Masters degree in Professional Studies in Human Relations from NY Institute of Technology. I am a former LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) and I’ve worked within the criminal justice system with medium security inmates as well as in the community sector and with survivors of domestic violence.
Today, as a life coach and motivational speaker, I share my story of surviving and thriving after living with eating disorders, abusive relationships and being trapped within the corporate world.
Shelagh: When did you first begin writing, and in what genre?
Caryn: I have been writing since childhood and have always been primarily drawn to writing mysteries, thrillers and fiction. My writing style varies; I am comfortable in writing both fiction and non-fiction genres. I’ve been published in several arenas, including psychological journals, newspapers, blogs, compilations, fiction and self-help books. Over the past few years, I have been focusing on writing my memoir and sharing my personal story of triumph over tragedy, which is allowing me to step out of the fiction genre
Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Caryn: I started writing as an outlet for expressing my creative side. My goal was to be published. I first achieved that goal in 1995 and have received the honor again several times since then. I’d like my readers to grasp the message that life is something that we create for ourselves. Enjoying what we surround ourselves with is key. I use writing as a method of expression, consider myself a writer and an artist and surround myself with others who feel the same about their creations.
Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series?
Caryn: My latest release is entitled Tulips in the Sand: A Riley Matthews Mystery and it is the first in a series centering about a young woman named Riley Matthews who, as a result of life’s challenges finds herself wrapped up in the center of crime and mystery and of course romance and passion. This particular novel was written in the early 90s and having it published was a dream come true.
Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?
Caryn: My writing style has changed over the years, but mainly I enjoy creating characters that are easy to relate to and that I can sink myself into, becoming the character for the time period required to advance development. My writing is usual set in places I have personally spent time in and enjoy reliving within my writings.
Shelagh: Who is the most unusual or likeable character?
Caryn: I hope each reader will have a different feeling about this. I personally had a lot of fun creating the character of Taylor as he was modeled after a friend who, upon reading the book said “hey, I know this guy!” Riley was also a lot of fun to develop for the first book. Currently, I am working on another book in the series in which Riley has matured a bit and is going through some things that more adults will relate to and her changes are fun for me to develop as well.
Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Caryn: I have several techniques and am always open to trying new things. For example, my habit is to write each scene longhand and then type it up afterwards which leaves me with hundreds of these little seventy page count notebooks full of highlight marks and corner folds marking important information such as character descriptions. I do create an outline before I start a book and will talk it out as I go along. I have found over the years that my initial story is never what the end result is, because as I fall into the story I see things that the characters would be doing that I may have missed in the original outline. Being open to change and the creative process is key. I also make sure to write something every day as that keeps me in the thick of things as the work progresses.
Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?
Caryn: My favorite writing style is to write whatever comes to mind as I create the scene. I like to pretend I am in the scene and imagine what the characters are feeling and seeing as they interact. As for POV, I am grateful to have an editor who keeps me in line because if I had my way, my readers would be able to enter the minds of all of the characters simultaneously and experience the scene from all vantage points. Mainly I focus on the POV of the main character, in this case Riley, and will usually add a second POV from another key character.
Shelagh: How does your environment and upbringing color your writing?
Caryn: I don’t know that my childhood upbringing colors my writing, but my personal experiences as an adult certainly have. I was a therapist for many years working within a men’s prison and from working with inmates who have committed all types of unspeakable crimes, I have learned that the human mind is capable of anything and if written well, the reader can be lead to believe they are part of the experience, evoking all types of emotions, including new ones they may have never experienced before.
Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.
Caryn: This is my favorite as it is part of the feedback I received from my real-life friend who I modeled the character of Taylor:
Cool book … cool ending! That Taylor WAS a madman!!!
Shelagh: What are your current projects?
Caryn: I am always writing. Currently I am working on another book in the Riley Matthews Mystery series, my memoir (2010) and two self-help/non-fiction compilations.
I blog almost daily at: www.EmbracingMyJourney.com and also contribute to The Washington Times Communities – Life Online Section, where my column, “Changing Your Life, Living Your Passion” can be read daily.
Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Caryn: The best place to start is at: www.CarynFitzgerald.com as that will provide folks with information on my current projects and events. I love connecting with my readers and encourage people to drop me a note and introduce themselves.
Shelagh: Thanks for joining us today, Caryn.
Caryn: Thank you for the opportunity to be featured on your site.