Emily Carpenter is the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of suspense novels, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, The Weight of Lies, Every Single Secret, Until the Day I Die and her most recent release Reviving The Hawthorn Sisters, published by Lake Union. After graduating from Auburn with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication, she moved to New York City. She’s worked as an actor, producer, screenwriter, and behind-the-scenes soap opera assistant for the CBS shows, As the World Turns and Guiding Light. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family.
Reviving The Hawthorn Sisters
Dove Jarrod was a renowned evangelist and faith healer. Only her granddaughter, Eve Candler, knows that Dove was a con artist. In the eight years since Dove’s death, Eve has maintained Dove’s charitable foundation—and her lies. But just as a documentary team wraps up a shoot about the miracle worker, Eve is assaulted by a vengeful stranger intent on exposing what could be Dove’s darkest secret: murder…
Now, to protect her family, Eve will join forces with an investigative filmmaker and one of Dove’s friends, risking everything to unravel the truth behind the accusations against her grandmother.
A Southern Gothic novel that floats effortlessly between past and present.
Author’s Corner – Interview with Emily Carpenter
Thanks so much for being on Author’s Corner! Can you tell us one funny, quirky thing about you, something most people might not know? An interesting hobby or funny habit, something so readers can get to know the person beneath the author.
Several years ago, I learned how to Argentine tango. I got really into it, and the local community in Atlanta. I went to Buenos Aires to the largest international tango festival in the world and took classes from the masters and it was dreamy.
There are special shoes just for tango dancing and they’re really gorgeous and sexy and I have WAY too many pairs. I haven’t danced in years sadly. But the first book I ever wrote but didn’t publish is a romance about a woman who uses Argentine tango to judge the guys she’s dating! Seriously, it’s the most romantic, mysterious, beautiful form of dancing and you can learn a lot about a person by dancing tango with them.
What was the very first thing—ever—that you remember writing?
I plagiarized a book called The Pokey Little Puppy when I was five years old. I’m not proud of it but there you go. Also, when I was fourteen, I started a book about a fourteen-year-old girl who, unlike me, had a horse. I didn’t finish that one because there really was no story. There was just a character who I wanted to be—a girl with a horse!
Choose one answer for each:
- Laundry or Dishes? Dishes
- Movies or TV? Movies
- iOS or Android? iOS
- Coffee or Tea? Coffee
- Ninjas or Pirates? Pirates
- Beach or Forest? Beach
What were some of the jobs you did before becoming an author, and how have they helped you?
I worked for two CBS soap operas in the 1990s—Guiding Light and As the World Turns—and my job was to read all the shooting scripts and summarize them for the AP for daily newspapers. I learned so much about good dialogue, A and B stories, cliffhangers, and how to find plot in the tangle of scenes. I didn’t realize at the time all the valuable lessons I was absorbing, but I do now.
What are some of the book(s) that you’ve read and loved recently?
At the start of the pandemic lockdown the first book I was able to concentrate enough to finish was Taylor Adams’ No Exit. It was a fabulous, nonstop thrill-ride. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of romance and it’s been a great escape. Beach Read was wonderful. The Bromance Book Club was a delight. Victoria Dahl’s Taking The Heat was also delicious.
What do you do to get the creative juices flowing?
If it’s in the budget, I’ll get a massage. I’m not lying, every single time I’ve gotten a massage I’ve gotten an idea for a new book. I think when I relax like that and turn off my conscious brain, my creative brain starts to play. Going for a walk while listening to music is a lower budget alternative.
If you could invite five people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
I’m an introvert so dinner parties stress me out! But I’d love to hover around a conversation between Daphne du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith, Mary Shelley, and Shirley Jackson. I’d just hang on to their every word while drinking wine.
Writing Reviving The Hawthorn Sisters
Let’s talk about your book Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters. Can you tell my readers a little about it?
It’s a story about a woman—Eve Candler—whose job is to run her faith-healing, tent evangelist grandmother’s foundation…only she knows the secret truth, that her grandmother Dove was a con woman. Then she learns that Dove also might’ve been a thief and a murderer. So she goes to Alabama and basically has three days to figure out what really happened and save the foundation and her family’s legacy.
Where did you come up with the idea?
Dove was a central character in my first novel Burying The Honeysuckle Girls, a young faith healer’s wife in the 1930s who saw a murder being committed and is racked with guilt over how it destroyed the family involved. I wanted to write her origin story, basically, and how she came to be in that situation, and explore the end of her life.
Describe Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters in three words.
Southern Gothic mystery!
What do you think readers will love about Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters?
The character of Dove, an orphan who escapes the mental asylum where she was born, lives by her street smarts and wits. She’s endearing and strong and has her reasons for what she does. She’s one of the most complex characters I’ve ever written. One of my favorites, actually, and I hope readers feel the same way.
What scene did you enjoy writing most?
The climax, when the Hawthorn Sisters put on their biggest show at the Alabama State Fair. It was so intense and dramatic and harrowing. And I got a bit emotional at what Dove went through to save herself and her friend.
What has drawn you to write Southern Gothic novels?
My ancestors settled in Alabama and Georgia hundreds of years ago so growing up there was a real sense of this was the land of “my people.” The landscapes and sounds and smells of the South were part of my DNA. When I’d read the Southern gothic canon in school—Faulkner, McCullers, O’Connor—there was an instant zing of recognition in my gut—of the intriguing mysterious parts of the South, but also the dark side. The sins of the South that we’ve never fully atoned for.
Part of me writing Southern stories is me edging around my personal role in this complex history. It’s complicated and it’s not like I’ve faced these issues head-on in a book, but they crop up—the subject of race, religion, rewriting history to present a more genteel past.
I love how Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters explores the devastation wrought by an evangelist who preys on others for personal gain. This seems so timely right now! Was this intentional from the beginning or did it develop organically as you wrote?
I knew this was who Dove was when I wrote Honeysuckle Girls. I knew she was a con woman and a liar, but a charming one who wanted to help people and at least make them believe they were being healed. At the bottom of it, she’s a survivor and everything she did was to stay alive. But yeah, there have been eerie similarities crop up as I wrote. The hucksters and snake oil salesmen never go away—sometimes they show up in church, sometimes in the government.
What’s next for Emily Carpenter?
Are you working on a new book? Can you tell my readers a little about it, a blurb, potential release date, etc? Where did you get the idea?
I wrote a book in the early months of lockdown, but I don’t have any news on when it’s going to be coming out yet. It’s a bit different from my other books as it has more of an element of magic in it. I had the idea years and years ago, but I just made myself sit down and write it when we had to stay home. I’m excited to see where it goes.
Get In Touch
Emily loves connecting with readers. You can get in touch with her at: