It's the first time she's worked with continuing characters and she is having a great time.
"Emma and Colin are an intriguing couple—she's an art crimes expert from a family of renowned art detectives and was briefly a nun; he's from a cop and lobstering family," she explained. "They grew up on the Maine coast a few miles and a world apart from each other."
I asked Carla to describe her writing space.
"Well, I just escorted a couple of spiders out to the adjoining screen porch! I work on the lower level of our hilltop house in Vermont. My main window looks out on a very old sugar maple. My desktop computer is on an L-shaped workspace, at least for the moment. I'm always rearranging furniture. I have Ireland art on the walls—including silly Thomas Joseph sheep pictures—and I have a craft table where I do most of my actual writing. It's countertop height; I write by hand there and type on my MacBook Air."
Carla often writes by hand and changes pens frequently, sometimes on the same page.
"I have a lot of pens," she admitted. "Once I got searched by airport security. They didn't tell me outright my pens were the reason, but they did say, 'You have a lot of pens.' I counted them. Twelve. I didn't think that was too many. You should see how many I left at home!"
If Carla's taking a substantial break from her writing (two or more days), she loves to get away—to visit family and friends, take off for Maine, pop down to Boston to visit her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson (not to mention getting her hair cut at her favorite salon), or fly to Ireland. Some of her other things to do when she's not writing include hiking, kayaking, or spend an evening listening to traditional music in an Irish pub and having dinners with friends and family.
"I also love to learn new things. For Saint's Gate and now Heron's Cove, I've had a great time learning about whiskey/whisky," she told me. "Fascinating!"
Carla has always wanted to be a writer, however she didn't think it was a practical career, so she figured she would need a day job.
"I debated becoming a plant pathologist (so I could cure Dutch elm disease) and I started college as a music major," she said. "For reasons unbeknownst to me, being a musician seemed more practical than being a writer!"
Carla almost always reads non-fiction and fiction at the same time. She's currently reading The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry and said, "This is must reading for anyone working in a creative field! His explanation of the rhythms of a creative life is both practical and inspirational."
She's also re-reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
"I must have skimmed it the first time, because I'm seeing all sorts of nuances that I missed," she told me. "Either that or my eye is different now than it was in my early twenties."
For fun, I asked Carla, "Have you ever eaten a crayon?"
"No. I've never even been tempted to eat a crayon, but I love to peel the paper off crayons. I guess that's not as dramatic as eating one, though. As a kid, I loved to color. I have a box of crayons in my desk drawer. The big one—64? I've had it for several years and have yet to color anything. I think I'll go out and buy a coloring book now."
FBI art crimes specialist Emma Sharpe is summoned to the Sisters of the Joyful Heart, a convent in her hometown of Heron’s Cove, Maine, that specializes in art restoration, to look at a previously unknown painting by a famous local artist. Before she can look at the canvas, though, the nun who sent for her is murdered and the work of art in question is stolen. Emma quickly realizes that catching the killer depends on solving the enigma of the missing work of art.
Emma is a woman of many lives—former novice nun, a family member of renowned art theft and recovery experts, and now FBI agent assigned to use her private art detective skills in an international crimes unit. So when a distressed nun from her former order asks for her covert help, Emma answers the call only to find herself thrust into a murder investigation.
Colin Donovan is an undercover FBI agent who’s believed dead by a lot of bad people and he wants to keep it that way. He’s back home in Maine recovering from his last, harrowing mission and recharging his batteries camping out and kayaking along the coast. But when his friend (and local village priest), Father Bracken, presents him with an intrigue of murder, art theft and a convent’s long-held secrets, Colin can hardly refuse. As the danger seems to lurk closer and closer, Colin is certain of only one thing – the very intriguing Emma Sharpe is at the center of it all.
It soon becomes apparent that as Emma and Colin are drawn further into this deadly legacy of betrayal and deceit, the killer plans on making sure neither of them will be around to solve the twisted puzzle.