Welcome to another installment of the Author Interview Series.
I have a very interesting and intelligent guest today, who has joined us to chat about her book that covers sensitive issues and deals with them in a positive way.
May I introduce you all to educator and author Dr E Carolyn Tucker and the gripping words that she has to say, which have touched and supported females from across the nation, a heartwarming tale if ever there was one.
Hey there Carolyn – thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.
Let’s start with your novel “House of Doors: Surviving Love in the Rural South”. This book is a creative work of non-fiction and covers sensitive topics such as child abuse and PTSD but ultimately culminates as a tale of triumph and survival. Please tell us more about the book, how you came to write it and how survivors of these topics mentioned above have responded positively after having read it, identifying with it to the point that it has been therapeutic for them and helped them to exorcise their demons.
You ask a very interesting set of questions. To answer your query about the genesis of the book, I wanted to tell the story of how the cultural value system in the Rural South (USA) facilitates the objectifying, degradation, and suppression of females (especially females). All of those things lead to the manipulation and abuse that many females experience. But it is the way that females are depersonalized, made subordinate and unworthy of respect and honor, not only by the males, but also by the females because they have been trained within the culture that suppression is proper behavior to force upon the female. And rural females are very responsive to what is deemed “proper.” Because I was caught up in the web of male supremacy and patriarchy that governs much of the family life, I experienced the manipulation of “love” and how it was expressed and/or withheld. Eventually, abuse was the result. Attendant to that abuse was the mandate, the tacit expectation, that nothing of activities within a family were to be exposed. NEVER told. “Ya don’ air yer dirty laundry in public.”
The story is told by Katie/Katelynn/Kate as she passes from one stage of her life to the next. She shares stories that are some of mine and some of the ladies I have interviewed for the research in my PhD work and in my 30+ years as an educator. She tells the stories from differing perspectives, depending on the age she is—and that seems mercurial or shifting because her psyche suffers in response to the abuse she suffers then has to cover. Otherwise, how could a child understand or cope with love that hurts and offered by the people who are supposed to love us the most? She survives through a set of strategies she invents: keeping a detailed journal with her so that she can keep track of what happens (truth despite what others tell her), she doesn’t speak until she is two or three, and she lives mostly in a pretend world in her head, so she can keep the secrets. As an adult, Kate becomes a teacher so her changes and lapses blend in with the normal chaos of a teacher’s day—and she can hide in plain sight. She becomes a perfectionist, a control freak, and driven by a passionate need to overcome as many tethers or restraints of forced secrecy as she could.
I have heard from so many survivor sisters, locally and from across the nation, who write or call to thank me for sharing their stories. They were voiceless because of the dictates of secrecy. The silence is almost as difficult as the abuse. The very first person who called made writing the book rewarding—worth all of the negative reaction from some about the exposure. The last contact asked me how I had gotten into her head. She tearfully thanked me profusely for telling the story that had kept her captive for over 60 years. She was an adult by the time she moved to CA from KY.
The only negative responses I received were those from the “proper” Southern ladies who resent anyone breaking rank to “air dirty laundry.” It is still a man’s world. And women still are honor bound to the Southern Rural value system.
The age old adage is to “write what you know.” You have a PHD in Philosophy, along with a very impressive teaching career and experience as an Education Consultant. Can you tell us how this has inspired/influenced your writing and how this has specifically driven you to crafting your “House of Doors” novel?
The major difficulty I had in crafting HOD was tied to my career as an educator. I needed to tell the story for myself and for other victims. But, the story is not a children’s literature manuscript. And some of the stories in the book are intense, “R” rated, relatively detailed scenarios of child abuse. I was acutely aware of the eventual audience of the book—beyond the initial audience of voiceless victims. My former students would read the book. Some of them have been inspired by the stories. Some of them have been aghast that I would dare repeat some of the words that I heard. So, my challenge was to craft a book that brought the characters to life and honored the story without becoming what could have been “X” rated material.
But the bottom line was: the story must be told so that light would shine on previously dark areas behind closed doors. She was, as I am, sincere and passionate about what happens to females and how they are compelled to keep their secrets.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
The most difficult thing, believe it or not, is “pretending” that I am someone else and telling the story that happened to the made up character. My dad would have punished me for lying in writing fiction. The easiest thing for me is relating true stories that have a message to be told. A recreation of an injustice to counter.
Who are some of the authors in general that inspire you?
Southern writers inspire me most because they are of the “place” that is my home. Flannery O’Connor, Tennessee Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Carson McCullers, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Shirley Jackson, Georgella Lyon, Kate Larkin…
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
I want my information to be accurate; anyone who wants to teach a lesson or truth MUST convey accuracy or the truth suffers. So, I either write about my experiences, or I research the literature and the contemporary thinking of experts in the field. That information informs and directs the actions of the characters in the book—and they drive the direction of the story.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I write for the same reasons I breathe: it is automatic, it is an extension of thinking, it is a link to living—I doubt I could survive without it. I was born breathing; I was born writing—even before I talked. I feel naked without a pen and paper in my hand.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
As I said, my characters direct the story, so it is they who keep me motivated. And writing is as natural to me as breathing. So, I don’t really have Writers’ Block. One character or another finds a voice and I begin writing again.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
I have so many interests and things I want to learn, I sometimes do too many things at the expense of one that I need to be concentrating on. Horseback riding, painting, floral design, house decorating, reading, singing, foreign languages, Bible study, counseling, mentoring, photography, gardening, lawn design, holiday decorations, crafts, cooking, shopping…
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I’m always picking up more pipelines! I have a book of poetry almost ready to go to press (Door by Door, Darby Press), the first of a series of children’s books (A for Aidan and the Apples, Darby Press), another children’s book (Hula Horse, Darby Press). And I am working on a middle grades manuscript called The Blue Dragon. Also, I blog and FB daily, I write articles for a local paper, and I love to write letters to other entities about situations that I perceive as inequitable. I also have a book and two scripts I am co-writing.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers who want to try their hand at fiction or non-fiction?
The best piece of advice I could offer to any writer is to read, read, read and write, write, write. Start with what you are comfortable. Then begin reading/writing in an area of which you want to learn to write. The very specific advice is to have in mind the following elements that will construct your story almost for you: audience (clearly understand persons you are writing for), role (envision the part you play in the story—participant, main character, opponent, objective observer), mode (what is it you want to write—script, poem, song, short story…?), and purpose (do you want your audience to learn about something, desire to change concerning something, or be entertained by something—if so they must laugh when they read your work, or be afraid, or swoon, or cry, feel angry…) Finally, find an honest responder—someone who will read your work and tell you without reservation if your writing stinks or if the writing is successful, how to improve it, things to clarify or change, or major breaks in form, character, action—things that just don’t work.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for being a wonderful guest Carolyn.
Thanks for allowing me to participate!
Dr. E Carolyn B. Tucker believes that every child should have the opportunity and encouragement to excel. Her philosophy and the influence of her special needs sister guided her to the field of education. She has taught at almost every level, including kindergarten through college and post-graduate-service teachers. Working with a vast range of students, from homebound children with special needs, to gifted and talented children, to adults seeking professional development, Tucker has dedicated the last four decades to helping students succeed to the best of their ability. She has served as a member of and a consultant for the Webster County School Board, an interim principal, and an educational consultant. Dr. Tucker assists in developing procedures and curriculum.
Dr. Tucker’s expertise spans a variety of topics: education and religiosity, educational leadership, school transformation, rural education, and parental involvement. Living in the small town of Dixon, Ky., with a little more than 600 residents, she has always been faced with the obstacle of fostering change because rural residents are typically extremely resistant to change—be it positive or negative. Obtaining her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Murray State University, Tucker culminated her education with a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Louisville. The book generated from her doctoral work is entitled: The Interrelationships of Parent Rural Values, Parent Religiosity, Parent Involvement, and Student Outcomes in a Small, Southern Rural Middle School. She is proud to have been named one of the first Kentucky Distinguished Educators; however, she considers obtaining a Ph.D., and establishing a program that engaged 125 junior high school students and many of their parents in an annual production of the Nutcracker — a difficult task in today’s world — to be among her greatest achievements. Additionally, she is a Fellow of the Kentucky Education Reform Act, and holds membership in the Webster County Retired Teachers Association, the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association, the National Retired Teachers Association, and other social organizations. She has served in numerous capacities at local, state, and national levels to advance the field of equitable education: curriculum committees, standards committees, English-Language Arts Councils, School Councils, and the national committee to establish education standards for English-Language Arts. Married with two adult daughters, she delights especially in her six grandchildren.
You can find out more about Dr Tucker at her website here:-
You can buy her book here:-
US/Rest of the World:- Buy House of Doors: Surviving Love in the Rural South in US/Rest of the World
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
Still want more? Well as it so happens, there is a Daily Prompt over at The Daily Post that seems very relevant to Carolyn’s book. For more articles using the theme of the ‘South’, check out the links below:-
1. emily2jane – Mama.
2. shame – A Southern wedding: part 1
3. shame – A Southern wedding: part 2
4. I can’t sit still! – SnoSouthernLife
5. Stories from A Closet of Errors – Vuelvo al Sur
6. A Sunken Thought – Uhm.. Hmm… Really?
7. A Texan’s View of Upstate New York – The Good Ol’ South
8. An Upturned Soul – I Was Thinking About What You Said
9. A Momma’s View – Heading South?
10. Purposive Writer – Looking Back At South Poblacion
11. Microwave generation – SnoSouthernLife
12. South in India – wordsonwingsblog
13. Theresa Barker – Lab Notes – A View from the South
14. Country Market – JulianneB
15. Margret’s Life Journey! – South!
16. COW PASTURE CHRONICLES – Flash Talk Pictorial: I’m a Southern Belle
17. Your Nibbled News (c) 2016 – Dad hopes for wind gusts from south
18. I’ve been drinking, I’ll drive – The South
19. La Tour Abolie – Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
20. I am heading south – A Beginner´s Blogger Diary
21. “The South” – A Pre-Published Indie Author
22. The Gad About Town – Getting By
23. dailylifedramas – South – Direction, State, and Movies
24. In The North – The Perceptions Square
25. The Daily Prompt-South – Topographical Heart
26. South-Bound – StrangeLander2015
27. Pen Pals… – When things head south
28. jenessicaleigh – When it all goes south
29. the grizzle grist mill – Southern Heart
30. Daily Prompt – South – timmo time.
31. May? – doghouse1623
32. The Daily Post – Progressing into Solitude – South
33. My Simple Blog – Gone South
34. Sacrificial Chain Breaker – SOUTH
35. Adriana Rambay FernÃ¡ndez – Books that fill the sky with color
36. South – superbounty
37. Daily Prompt-South – Risk Management
38. “South” – kristinsmithlc
39. Southern Girl @ Heart – Blessed Moments -n- Memories
40. Fear of Cold – Vivid Dreamer
41. Daily Prompt – South – Marcin’s Corner
42. Myammy! Moving in together at 50… – You want thighs with that? More “Brazilian Butt Lifts” happen in FLorida
43. Kristine’s Poetry Spot – Headed South
44. theintrovertmomblog – Southern And Charmed
45. sud – onthevirg
46. Le Drake Noir – Quiet, busy bird working
47. Suddenly Single… Minded – I met John Miller on Millionaire Match.com
48. South – From Sand to Gemstones
49. “South” – emmamadelineblog
50. Maydays: Poem – Lunes – “Risk” – Mandibelle16
51. Ouch!! My back hurts!! – The Southern Cross
52. coldhandswarmheartsblog – South of the River
53. Look North. It’s Strong. It’s Free. – along the side of the road
54. Apparently I’m Funny – South!.. No! North!. No! Wait!.. What?
55. Things Are Getting Better – Its Just Life
56. Fluffy Pool – The South
57. Getting Ready for Church – Live Your Life Not Your Age
58. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Heading South
59. South – jheart2hearty
60. He took me down South – Diary of fantastic discoveries
61. Faith Unlocked – Sinister Southpaw
62. charlesewaugh – South Carolina – Magnolia Plantation
63. Exploring the charming South of Sri Lanka – Journey of a Happy Girl
64. Emotional Fitness – THE FREEDOM TO STAY OR LEAVE YOUR HOME
65. Head Over Writing – Prompt for a post: South
66. Cancer Healed by Jesus. Angela McCauley – The North and South of Ireland.
67. I, Lioness – “South”
68. Microfiction: South – Jane Dougherty Writes
69. Daily Prompt: South – This Family Anderson – On the Refrigerated and the Grotesque
70. Musings of a Random Mind – top 10 reasons she went away
71. Playlist: South – The Christian Owl
72. Writer Sanctuary – Proper Ways to Accept Criticism as a Writer
73. konnexxion – South
74. Aye up South, from us up North! – Team Sequoia at Lifetree World
75. Prompt for the Day: “South” – Saint P. Blogging
76. Sprawly – DP-The Sweet South
77. South – Southern Fried Californian
78. hoosiersunshine13 – Boiled Peanuts
79. Prompt for the Day: “South” – saintpblogging BlogJob site
80. Don’t Go South Stay in Kudla – SCRIBBLES
81. Curious Thoughts Travel South – curiousitygotmecom
82. What Rhymes with Stanza? – Everywhere I Look
83. Prompt for the Day: “South” – Saint P. Blogging
84. Hope Filled Reads – The Hot South
85. Magnetic Attraction – Thirty by Thirty
86. My Southern Belle – writealineblog
87. In Pictures: Driving to Somwarpet – Later Alligator
88. South a Point on the Compass – This Pilgrim’s Progress
89. Spot In The Road – Sometimes You have to Go Sideways to Go Up
90. SERENDIPITY – GRANDDAUGHTER. WITH PUPPY.
91. South – wordsareallihavesite
92. Sandmanjazz – Day Tripper
93. What’s Love Got to Do With It?…EVERYTHING! – My Little Bubble in the South
94. Jennifer Terry – Elixir
95. gudtowrite – Afterthoughts on Tithing
96. The happy Quitter! – An European Yankee in the South
97. Going South? – Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!
98. Neverywhere – A lot from Lydia
99. MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO – True North
100. A bit of a geeky mom – Southbound
101. 83 Unsung Heroes – Eating Poo And Other Non-South Pastimes
102. Tears for a lifetime – Metaphorically Living
103. People, Places, and Perspectives. – That Little-but Formidable-Red Dot Down South
104. ruminatorsite – The Celtic Southland
105. SouthFul of Success – SUCCESS STRATEGIES
106. Crossing Colorado – 7 Ways Exercising Helps When Things Go Awry
107. South – Her Snippets
108. Cornmeal Dumplings – Redhead Reflections
109. A tale of the South ⋆ Obsolete Childhood
110. Anonymous in Cali – broken english language arts
111. The Gnome – The rest starts here
112. Flowers and Breezes – Going South
113. Kimberlee K. – 10 Life Hacks I Learned the Hard Way
114. Throwback age 7ish! – When I thought I was fat
115. Georgia on My Mind – Peaceful Journey
116. Opposites Attract! – Hershey’s World
117. South of Alaska – the Hyacinth & the Rose
118. Southern Islands, SG – Simply TGIF
119. SOUTH MUMBAI CST(VT) – soul n spirit
120. Trip South – DisappearFromReality
121. Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored – In My Mind I’m Going to Carolina
122. The South Entrance – Barely Right of Center
123. To Wear A Rainbow – southern belle…tanka
124. South – Image & Word
125. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: The Feline South
126. South – GM1123
127. recovery to wellness
128. Amore Rocks – The South. The Cornish Pixie.
129. Mysteries of Life…You and Me – May 17: South
130. They, You and Me – i head back…haiku
131. Colder by the Lake – 100-Word Story: Wilted
132. Sh*t going South – elbowsandtongue
133. Life with Jess – Bless Your Heart
134. Random Brain Musings – Driving I95 South
135. Musings in the Middle… – South: Part Volunteer and Proud of It!
136. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – South
137. Relax – Directions I Have Loved
138. Mary 2.0 – Numbing everything, when life goes south
139. The Difference – Wandering Thoughts
140. Ru… – The Southernmost Place I have Ever Visited
141. South – nomdeplume
142. Coloring Outside the Lines – South
143. South coasts – Desertedroad
144. Journey South – whippetwisdom.com
145. a cooking pot and twistedtales – Heading South….
146. Do Not Annoy The Writer – Auntie Glad and the Gold Coast
147. Racing the Sun to Kankakee – HemmingPlay
148. South – The new-ness
149. Walk with me. Chapter 3 – Final – South – Singledust
150. Zombie Flamingos – My Monday walk
151. Sean Hogan – Chasing the Clouds
152. Hot White Snow – South of the Border
153. Finding Hope Ness – Choose the bright side
154. How cold can an office be? – Geek Ergo Sum
155. dancingsoul – Go South, Young Man
156. the FLAVORED word – What could be worse than fingernails on a chalkboard?
157. When Love Goes South – erhynireh
158. new2writing – Not For Girls
159. Bob’s Blog – Daily Prompt – South
160. thelonerose – OLD SOUTH
161. South in India – SheenDeQueen’s Blog
162. Let’s Go To the South – Let Me Stay Among The Stars
163. South #TheDailyPost – Of Glass & Paper
164. the15thday – headin’ south…
165. Designer Sophisticate – North Carolina branches, Illinois roots.
166. North and South – The Endless Story
167. Southern Pride – Just Writing!
168. The Energy It Takes to Hate a Person – M A S H
169. Science Traveler – Revisiting Patagonia
170. The Wandering Poet – DP Prompt ~ Don’t have anything
171. South – The Inkwell
172. Lantern Words – Life Goes South