Q & A

You used to write up in a tree? Weren’t you afraid of falling?

Climbing trees was a fun pastime for my six brothers and sisters and me as kids. We built treehouses and put up tire swings. I’d climb a sugar maple on my own with pad and pen and read and spin stories. I could lean back and put my feet up. Perfect. It was pretty high up but I never was afraid. Climbing down and then swinging back to the ground with my stuff was the trickiest part.

Wait—you run half-marathons? When did that start?

I ran my first half-marathon in Vermont in 2015, with my daughter. My feet hurt so much at the end of those 13.1 miles I figured that was it, no more distance running. Then I signed up for another half, and then another, including on the stunning Dingle peninsula in Ireland. Turns out I enjoy running. We’ll see how many half-marathons are in my future. I’m open to change.

What’s your favorite whiskey? Scotch or Irish?

Redbreast 21 is my current favorite. It’s an Irish single pot-still whiskey that Joe and I enjoy at our favorite bar on the southwest Irish, with a view of the bay and surrounding hills. Atmosphere! I enjoy Auchentoshan, a fantastic non-peated Scotch. I love whiskey but a few sips and I’m good.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I can hardly remember not wanting to be a writer. I always wrote but getting published seemed like an unrealistic dream. I had encouragement early on from several high school teachers and then my boss at the library where I worked in college. It mattered, and I’m grateful.

How did you get published?

A supportive agent, a booming market for romance, hard work and perseverance. The first book I submitted to an agent eventually sold (thanks to her!) but in the meantime Bantam Books took me on. I wrote one of the launch books for their popular Loveswept series. The business has changed tremendously since then but I love to write as much as ever.

I’m planning a trip to Ireland. Where should I go?

What do you dream of seeing? Cities? Farms? Coastline? Famous sites? Do you want to see the entire country or focus on one area? Do you want to do walks and hikes? That will help focus your options. I’m most familiar with and love the southwest coast. Dingle, the Kerry Way (Iveragh Peninsula), the Beara Peninsula. Killarney National Park is popular for a reason. It’s gorgeous! We also love Connemara and the south coast (Ardmore appears in my Sharpe & Donovan series). It’s hard to go wrong. Most of all, have fun!

Your father was Dutch and Neggers is a Dutch name. Do you speak Dutch? Do you have family in the Netherlands?

I speak some Dutch and am learning more. It’s fun, and I love practicing with my Dutch cousins. I have lots of cousins in the Netherlands, mostly in Noord Brabant. My cousin Christine and I were pen-pals as kids. It was a treat when we finally got to meet in person. Can’t wait to go back.

Okay…have you tried smoked eel or raw herring, two Dutch favorites?

Yes, I have. On my first trip to the Netherlands, I tried herring from a stall in Den Bosch (featured in The Rapids), followed by the traditional shot of gin. Yay for gin! I did better with my sampling of smoked eel (gerookte paling in Dutch). My father often talked about herring and eel when I was growing up so it was great fun to try them.

Now that you no longer climb trees, where do you write? Do you write by hand or on computer?

I can write anytime, anywhere, but most of the time you’ll find me in my “office” on the lower level of our hilltop house in Vermont. In one direction, I look out on the backyard and woods. In the other, our rose garden. I see deer, wild turkeys and the occasional marauding woodchuck. I also love to write in Ireland, whether it’s in a hotel or a quiet getaway. I sketch out scenes and brainstorm with pen and paper but usually write on the computer. Usually.

Carla walking in the hills of Ireland. She is wearing a green shirt and cap. There is some water in the background. It is a sunny day.