Author Interview: Carolyn Gilpin

As I mentioned last week, once a month I will be interviewing other indie authors to discuss their journey and pass on their knowledge of self publishing; the good, the bad and the ugly. This month I would like to introduce you to Carolyn Gilpin.  Carolyn and I met after chatting on Twitter and discovering we lived in neighbouring suburbs; it’s a small, small world people, and we have struck up a friendship since. I loved Carolyn’s debut novel FACING UP and highly recommend you add it to your TBR pile. Without further ado, here is Carolyn.

CGilpin1Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a bleeding heart, soy-mocha-sipping, left-leaning vegetarian greenie with one husband, no kids but two cats, two dogs and four chickens. I work full time as a receptionist for an attendant care company that looks after people with brain and spinal injuries, but writing is my passion, hobby and hopefully one day my full-time job!


What is your writing style, what do you like to write?

Contemporary YA with drama and humour, set in Australia. Facing Up, my first YA novel, is about Carly, a rather angry teenager who one year on hasn’t recovered from the car accident that scarred her face, put her best friend Suzie in a wheelchair, killed Suzie’s boyfriend, put the driver (Carly’s crush) in jail, and killed the woman they ran into. Sounds like all drama and no humour, but Carly and Suzie have a pretty funny relationship, and Carly has a habit of finding herself in awkward situations.

Why did you self publish?

I worked on Facing Up on & off for over 12 years, with many rejections. Then finally I got my act together and got my m/s to a point where I was really happy with it and made lots of changes, but I couldn’t face going back to waiting for the rejections, and people kept pointing out how self-publishing was becoming easier and more successful. PLUS (a big plus!) a friend does formatting and cover design for a living, and offered to do mine for free. So I just decided to give it a go and see what happened.Facing Up_Cover.indd

What are the best and worst parts of self publishing?

The best: Freedom to do what you want, being able to achieve it more quickly than the slow turn of traditional publishing, not being one of a stable of authors fighting for attention, and having nothing to lose!

The worst: Having to publicize yourself, of course – most of us writers can be very internalised and self-doubting. I am not good at promoting myself at all! And the self-doubt is awful – that’s where writing buddies and beta-readers come in, also paying a good editor. Also, people often look down on indie authors – the usual thing is ‘wasn’t it good enough to be published traditionally?’ Well, to be really honest, I don’t know, because I changed the manuscript a lot in the years following my last rejection.

What are you currently working on?

My second YA novel, Inside Out, is about Allie, the clumsy, shy daughter of sports legends who walks out of PE, sick of being bullied. She is forced to take up drama instead, and finds herself exposed on stage.

What advice have you got for people who may be thinking of self publishing?

Make sure your manuscript is as ready as possible, to the point where you can argue every aspect of it if needed. Then pay a good editor, have lots of people (trusted friends but also strangers who read a lot in your genre) read it, don’t be afraid of their criticisms or feedback. Try to get other shorter things published, such as short stories or non-fiction pieces, and enter competitions & mentorship programs and attend writing courses (see your state or city writing centre). Try to build a website, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook following before you publish; get to know your genre ‘scene’ on social media and in real life (going to festivals, launches, events).

Book or eBook?

Paperback! I still love the feel and look of a book, plus the smell of the paper. But I have to admit that eBooks are handy and (usually) cheaper and easier to access in a hurry.

If you held a dinner party, which literary characters would you invite and why?

This is always a funny question for me, as I can never imagine all these people together, but here’s a few I’d like to talk to:

-Norah from The Billabong books. Funny, animal-loving, feisty but fair, and a practical horse-riding Aussie country girl from early last century.

-Hermione from Harry Potter. Independent, loyal, so smart, but a whiz with magic as well.

-Will from Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series – a teenager caught up in ancient magic long before Harry came on the scene. He’s a nice kid, family-orientated, but carrying a wise brain and old self alongside his boyishness.

-Hilary Mantel’s version of Thomas Cromwell – such a thinker, rather charming when he wanted to be, plus he adored his family AND loved cats, while manipulating England’s politics of the 16th century.


1) What was the last book you read? The Things I Didn’t Tell You, by Kylie Fornasier.

2) Who is your favourite author? I HATE this question, it’s so hard to have a favourite! Tim Winton (adult), Vikki Wakefield (YA) – both so Aussie & so unique.

3) What can’t you leave home without? Handbag, damn it (it’s so heavy!)

4) What was the last song you heard? Creep, by Radiohead, it’s on repeat in my head right now because I’m writing an essay about it.

5) What is your favourite word? (Can be in English or another language) Chocolate (it sounds great in French and Spanish too!)

One thought on “Author Interview: Carolyn Gilpin

  1. Thank you so much, Clare! I’ll return the compliment about your book Tumble, it was a pleasure to read despite a few teary bits towards the end 😉


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