Q&A with Carter Wilson, author of The New Neighbor

S.A. Cosby hails Carter Wilson's The New Neighbor as “a dizzying descent into a Byzantine maze of psychological suspense." Read on for J.B. Stevens's Q&A with Carter Wilson below.

Carter Wilson is a USA Today best-selling thriller author and all-around interesting guy. He grew up out west, went to school back east, and now lives in Colorado. He started writing in 2003 and his first novel, Final Crossing, was published in 2012. His most recent work, The New Neighborcomes out on April 12th from Source Books/Poison Pen Press. S.A. Cosby describes the novel as, “a dizzying descent into a Byzantine maze of psychological suspense.” Carter was kind enough to do a Q&A with me.

J.B. Stevens: Carter, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Can you tell me about yourself and a bit about your background?

Carter Wilson: Well, I’m certainly not a writer by background. I went to hotel school at Cornell and worked (and still do) in hospitality consulting. I began writing at the age of 33 as an exercise to stave off boredom during a continuing education class. That exercise turned into my first novel, which never sold (nor did the two after that). But now, nearly 20 years after that class, I’ve learned much about writing and the industry, and have been fortunate to have eight books published in that time.

Stevens: Eight books in twenty years, and eight for ten being published, are impressive stats. Speaking of novels, can you talk about your most recent, The New Neighbor?

Wilson: The New Neighbor began as most of my novels do—with an idea for an opening scene and me not really knowing anything about the rest of the book. The scene I imagined was of a young father and husband at the funeral of his wife, who died unexpectedly. He’s there with his 7-year-old twins and just struggling to keep things together. And I thought, what if, while at the funeral, he finds out he just won a $33 million lottery jackpot? I wanted to explore what direction this man’s life would take after these two extreme events.

The other thing that I wanted to do with this book was to revisit the house that was a central character in my previous book, The Dead Husband. A looming, sinister mansion located in the fictional town of Bury, NH. I was not done writing about this house and the things that had happened there in the past, so I decided to take my grieving father and his children, uproot them from Baltimore, and move them into that house. Then I thought, what if they started receiving notes on their driveway from an anonymous source saying they were watching them? That felt beautifully creepy to me, so that was the setup as I began writing this novel.

Stevens: That sounds creepy as can be. I love it. The “sinister mansion” theme. It seems to be a motif a few authors are exploring right now. It creates so many story questions. Anyway, back to the meat of the interview. I read that you wrote your first book in 2003, and it was published in 2012. “Never give up”, is a mantra many beginner fiction writers live by, but how did you keep your motivation through the rejections?

Wilson: I think “giving up” implies that you aren’t really enjoying what you’re doing and are just trying to make some money. I love storytelling, and as much as I wanted to be published and as frustrating as the rejections were, I never thought about giving up. I just wanted to write. So the question has never been “should I quit writing?”, but rather, “How do I ensure writing is a daily part of my already full life?” That takes serious discipline and dedication, but, like anything you love, if the passion is there, you’ll find a way of integrating it into your life.

Stevens: That is such a refreshing outlook. I love it, and hopefully, a few struggling authors can take inspiration from your words. Your new book’s main character’s last name is “Marlowe” was that a conscious choice?

Wilson: Indeed. Marlowe was named after Peter Marlowe in James Clavell’s King Rat, one of my all-time favorite books.

Stevens: When you said “indeed,” I thought Philip. Then you pivoted to Peter and I didn’t see it coming. Great stuff. Anyway, since James Clavell is visiting the great library in the sky, who are some of your favorite writers working (and living) today?

Wilson: Well, I’ll always read anything Stephen King puts out. But honestly, I tend to mostly read non-fiction. Right now, I’m reading Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli by Mark Seal, which is a terrific telling of the making of the first Godfather movie. Highly recommended.

I want to thank Carter for taking the time out of his busy life to speak with me, it was a treat. Also, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli is a delicious title (pun intended). I need to take a bite out of that book. Anyway, I want to thank Carter for speaking with me. He is a great writer. Make sure you check out his book The New Neighbor and swing by his website, carterwilson.com.

More: Read our review of  The New Neighbor

*Author Photo Credit: Elke Hope Photography

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    I was expecting a story about what this did to him and his family and with the ‘new neighbor’ giveaway title that he moved and all was not well…some of it happened, most didn’t, and it was a case of an enticing start that led to an ok middle and unsatisfying ending. Well, this started dark and tantalizingly different as our main character is at his wife’s funeral and receives a text that he has won the ‘double ball’ lottery.

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