An interview with Caryn Larrinaga

Caryn Larrinaga
DONN'S HILL   ~   release March 2017

Ms. Larrinaga,

Thank you for taking your time for me ~

Who are your influences? 
My biggest influences are the cozy mystery authors who got me addicted to the genre in the first place: Lilian Jackson Braun (whose book The Cat Who Played Post Office was the very first cozy mystery I ever read, and I was an addict by the end of the first chapter) and Rita Mae Brown (author of the Mrs. Murphy Mysteries).  I’m also heavily influenced by horror writers Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  I love the way that they can create characters who are so engaging that I am legitimately scared for them.

When did you begin writing?

Somewhere in my parents’ house, there are some old 3.5-inch floppies with my first stories on them. I started writing fiction when I was a kid, mostly stories about ghosts or the adventures I wished I was having.  When I was in the 6th grade, my teacher read one of my stories aloud to the class, which mortified me (probably because it named the boy I had a crush on… and was all about us running away together to get married).  I’ve since gotten over my fear of sharing my writing with other people, but it was a long road to recovery!

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc.?
Pull a lot from my own experiences, either how they went or how they could have gone.  I have an anxiety disorder and I’m pretty good at inventing stuff to be worried about.  It helps to transfer my fears and my worries into fiction, because then the events play out the way that I want them to (for the most part… sometimes my characters are stubborn and I end up surprising myself).  As for characters and their names, I collect character names the way most people collect baby names; I’ll hear a name that I like and I’ll file it away for later use, either as a character or a place.

If you could actually meet one of your characters, who would it be? Why?
I’d love to have a night out with Yuri, the creator and star of the Soul Searchers television show in Donn’s Hill.  He’s led a fascinating life, and has a talent for explaining the unexplainable in a way that’s easily understood.  I wish I could film an episode of Soul Searchers with him, helping out with the paranormal investigation and figuring out why a haunting is happening.

Do you work from an outline?
Yes, I find it’s helpful to have a loose outline of the main events in my story.  I make sure that there is an inciting event, increased stakes, crisis and climax, etc. before I sit down and start writing.  I don’t hold myself to the plot, though.  As my characters really start taking shape, sometimes I’ll find that a planned event or scene just doesn’t make sense anymore.  I think it’s important to give myself permission to go where the story takes me, sort of like running a D&D campaign.  Your question just prompted me to pull up the original outline for Donn’s Hill, and I’m actually shocked to see how closely the finished novel followed that plan! Ha!

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel(s).
My favorite scene in Donn’s Hill happens about 2/3 into the book.  My main character, Mac, is working on a paranormal investigation with the Soul Searchers and things get out of hand.  She has to deal with an extremely violent spirit, and it pushes her to her limits.  It’s an action-packed scene that was a lot of fun to write, and is hopefully just as fun to read!

Can you tell me a little about your writing philosophy?
Mostly, I write for myself.  I write to explore an idea or as an emotional outlet.  But it’s tricky, because I also love to share my writing with other people.  So while I’m writing for myself, I also have to keep in mind that I’m writing for other people, too.  I have to make sure that what’s in my head makes it onto the page in a clear enough way that an outside person can follow the narrative.  Thank goodness for editing, because I don’t think I’ve ever accomplished the second part of that in a first draft!

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
In addition to mysteries and horror, I’ve also tried to write epic fantasy.  So far I haven’t been able to finish any of my fantasy projects, but one of these days I’ll pull it off.  In the meantime, I tend to inject the fantastic into my stories in other genres, with a little bit of magic or ghosts or super powers.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
While I was writing Donn’s Hill, I had a spooky experience that too-closely mimicked the scene I was working on.  It was a rainy, gloomy day and I was sitting at my kitchen table, writing a scene where a poltergeist is throwing things around a character’s apartment.  Suddenly, a pen on the table moved on its own.  It rolled over, making a distinct click sound as the metal clip on the pen hit the table.  Then it rolled back.  I stared at the pen for several seconds before deciding I’d imagined it, but as soon as I turned my attention back to my laptop, the pen moved again.  Click.  I stood up, swore loudly, and was preparing to run outside when I noticed a puddle of water around the pen… and a matching spot of water dripping from the ceiling above me.  It turns out my roof was leaking from the rain.  I’m still not sure which would have been worse, having a leaky roof or having a poltergeist … I hate dealing with home improvement issues!

Do you listen to music as you write?
Sometimes. If it fits the scene I’m writing and helps me get into the mood, I’ll put something on. A lot of the songs I was listening to while writing Donn’s Hill made it into the book, actually. But for the most part, I find music too distracting. I like to be completely in my own head, and music (especially if it has lyrics) has a tendency to pull me in too strongly.

On the behalf of my reader's, again, I thank you Caryn for your time

About the author  ~

Caryn Larrinaga

Connect with Caryn

 Caryn Larrinaga is a writer living in Utah with her husband and their cats. Despite obtaining a degree in Anthropology (which is much cooler than you might think), she explored several career paths before deciding that she had to follow her passion. Suddenly, writing fiction was the only thing that made sense. When she’s not writing, Caryn likes to spend her time swearing at video games and guzzling chai tea.

✒ ✒ ✒    Also by Caryn Larrinaga   ✒ ✒ ✒ 

Agatha isn’t looking forward to Christmas. While other eight-year-olds are hoping for a pile of presents, she just wants her evil stepsisters to leave her alone. Summer and Rain have a cruel idea of what passes for fun, and it always involves tormenting Agatha.

When the three of them get stuck inside their house on Christmas Eve, the twins force Agatha to play a twisted version of Hide and Seek.  But they aren’t the only things hiding in the house, and someone is about to get more than they bargained for beneath the tree.


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