Friday, January 8, 2016

Interview with Carly M. Duncan, Author of The Last Dinner Party

Carly M. Duncan is a television producer and writer. Working in television, she has prolifically created visual narratives for more than a decade for networks including TLC, Discovery Health, MTV, NatGeo, Travel Channel, FYI and more.

Her writing career officially began when one of her short stories, First Place, was published when she was a high school student in California. Her first two novels, Marcie and Behind You, are mysteries that touch on family bonds and the events that can strengthen or destroy them.

Her third novel, The Last Dinner Party, introduces a pair of female detectives who will return in future stories. In addition, she is a mentor and editor to other writers as well as an avid reader. Her favorite authors include Agatha Christie and Stephen King.

Carly lives in New York with her husband and two daughters.

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Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a wife, mom, television producer, writer, friend, aspiring yogi, avid reader, and at-home-dance-party enthusiast.

When did you begin writing?

I started writing in high school. I was part of a small writing group that would send comedic stories and anecdotes to each other from our days. It was essentially blogging to a highly specific audience before blogging was a thing.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I’m afraid I can’t commit myself to long writing sessions, as much as I would love to. I write any moment I have in between. Sometimes I have an extra twenty minutes in the morning. Sometimes when the kids are in bed, I take an hour or two to devote to my writing. Other times, I keep an e-mail draft open throughout the day at work and jot lines or ideas in it as I go. I have to seize every minute I have, and word by word I eventually get to the finish line. It’s tedious, but rewarding.

What is this book about?

The Last Dinner Party is about two detectives, Anna & Kristy, who are tasked with getting to the bottom of the death of Jeanie D’Alisa. There are many suspects with a variety of motives, which makes their job highly challenging and twisty.

What inspired you to write it?

Inspired by a family story, I initially wrote a short piece from the murderer’s perspective. I loved what came to the page, but it was ultimately too violent and aggressive for the kind of stories I usually tell. I realized I couldn’t tell a sympathetic story from the murderer’s perspective (no matter how legitimate their motive might be), and I started to play with the multiple views of Jeanie that her friends and neighbors might have.

Who is your biggest supporter?

I’m so lucky to have a network of supportive family and friends. I have a core “team” that I can turn to when I’m stuck with a story. I can send drafts to them and they’ll return with questions or comments that really help me continue to keep chugging along. I also have some very solid co-workers who helped with offering their opinions when I was struggling with cover design and who have been so wonderful with supporting the book now that it’s out.

Who is your favorite author?

I love Agatha Christie. She hardly ever fails, and there’s so much content to absorb. Patricia Highsmith is a master of suspense. No one does it like she can. Gillian Flynn is my favorite author for all of her twistiness. Wally Lamb is an incredible storyteller on an epic level. And Paulo Coelho is my favorite author for more spiritual and inspirational tales.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I don’t have an agent, but am looking for one. This is my third novel, and I have more up my sleeve, so I’m confident someone will pick me up eventually!

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The Last Dinner Party is available on Amazon.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

To connect with me, visit I’m also on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

The best advice I can offer to aspiring authors is merely to write. Just do it. Don’t think too hard about whether or not you will finish or succeed. If writing is what you love to do, than do it. Commit to yourself, and don’t be fearful of the outcome because the product will change so much through the course of your process. But start. Don’t procrastinate.

What is up next for you?
I have a chick lit novel in progress, but it’s been in progress for years and years, so I make no promises there. I also have two ideas for future Anna & Kristy mysteries. Lastly, I’m working on an outline for another mystery based on an incident that happens at a wedding when two couples reunite after having met at another event six months earlier.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I hope you enjoy The Last Dinner Party as much as I loved the journey in making it. I collect photos of the book in your hands and homes, so please sent my way! I’d love to see them.

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