BLOG TOUR: Author Interview with Carrie Mac

Perpetual New Girls are delighted to host Carrie Mac today! Especially since TODAY is the day you can get her newest novel and US debut, 10 Things I Can See From Here.

Maeve comes across just like us here. We're an anxious bunch at this blog and related one-to-one with many of the feelings Mac's character unleashes in her search to be accepted. Such an amazing, diverse character who truly captures how uniquely expressive a rambling, anxious mind can be.

And oh the quirks! While we're fans of the variations of "Keep Calm", we get what drives Maeve's contempt of them. We are definite haters of the "Just Chill" quips. There's way too much meaning behind someone saying that to us for us to be "chill" with them. And I suppose that's why we were curious as to what drove Maeve's dislike of the "Keep Calm" sayings. Was it something Mac had given her character or something she herself felt and wrote into Maeve's story to make her unique?

We read that the cover started as a rift on the Keep Calm sayings and given Maeve's propensity to dislike them... is that based in reality? How do you feel about the Keep Calm and Carry On variants? Which one is your favorite? (We're partial to the Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake.)

I love the original. And only the original. That hasn’t always been the case, though. At first I thought the variations on the theme were pretty funny, but then the idea was gnawed to the quick and now the bazillion different versions irk me as much as they irk Maeve. I love the history behind the original, and how it was such a simple message, and even simpler design, meant to be applied to the very real human horror that is war. Now it’s no better than the overused and beat-up it is what it is saying. Both sayings are simple and true, and both of them have been flattened beyond all applicable recognition.

How do you put a character's life into perspective when you begin to write them? Do you do psychological analyses? What is your favorite way to mold their psyche, their voice as you go along? Do you do character outlines?

I am constantly shopping for characters. On the bus, at the park, in the grocery store – absolutely everywhere. The idea for a character comes along with the nubbin of the story, and so I build the character from that moment when I know the story is big enough to float a fully-realized character. At that point I dig into the personality and mind-set. What do they want? What do they love? Who do they love? What are they afraid of? What is at stake in this story? Why will we like them enough to read an entire book about them? What are their flaws?
After that I move on to the nuts and bolts of assigning them a personality from the collection of bits and bobs that I amass out in the world. The bus, the store, etc. What do they look like? What mannerisms set them apart from everyone else? How are they different from the people in their community? How are they the same?
Lastly, I struggle to give them a name. I have named thousands of characters over the years, and I cannot re-use a name, and now that I’ve used up all my favorite names, I truly have to look beyond my own head for this one. I collect names from the same places that I collect character traits, and also from author appearances too. When I sign books and am writing someone’s name, I ask if I can steal it and put it on my name list. So, I shop from there, and that usually works.
Once my character is named, then they come to life. This whole character-building process sounds like it would take a long time, but this happens quickly, perhaps over a few days. Once the character is as whole as they can be before a full first draft, I start writing. I get to know them better as I write, because who they truly are can only be solidified as the story takes shape.

You also work as an illustrator. How does this talent, if any, of being a working artist hinder/help your writerly development?

Sadly, my eyeballs don’t work very well anymore, and so I’m not doing as much illustration as I’d like. I still do custom illustrations of children’s favorite toys or stuffed animals, but not often. I do still draw and sketch for myself, and that does help my writing process in that it is another way to interpret the world and integrate images or feelings into the story that I’m working on.

Self-deprecating, nuanced, and real, 10 THINGS I CAN SEE FROM HERE (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers | on sale February 28, 2017 | Ages 14 and up | $17.99) by award-winning author Carrie Mac explores the complexities of mental illness with wit, honesty, and sincerity. At once both profound and humorous, this  coming of age novel deftly explores anxiety and falling in love for the first time.

Think positive. Don't worry, be happy. Keep calm and carry on. Maeve has heard it all before. She's been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it's not. When Maeve is sent to Vancouver to live with her dad, her very pregnant stepmom, and her twin six-year-old half brothers, she struggles to rise to the challenge.

Vancouver brings a wide array of new worries, but Maeve finds brief respites—as well as even more worries—in Salix, a local girl who doesn't seem to worry about anything. Though the summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could ever have foreseen, she is able to reach inside herself to find the courage to be there for the ones she loves.

With an exciting love story, and a raw, emotional core, 10 THINGS I CAN SEE FROM HERE
is a poingant and uplifting novel perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Sophie Kinsella

CARRIE MAC is an award-winning Canadian novelist making her US debut. She lives in East Vancouver, where this story takes place. Check out her website at and follow her on twitter at @CarrieMacWrites.


10 Things I Can See From Here
by Carrie Mac

"With Maeve, Mac delivers a character who's heartwarmingly real and sympathetic, and her story provides a much needed mirror for anxious queer girls everywhere."—Kirkus, Starred review

"This is a 
good companion book for other anxiety-riddled stories, such as The Shattering by Karen Healey, and Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella."—Booklist

"Mac is good at showing how a dread-filled mind works... [An] affecting story.''—Publishers Weekly


  1. I loved Carrie's description of how she builds a character for her stories - it's so interesting to see how in-depth it goes when developing a new character and story to go along with it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. We really enjoyed the book! Maeve was definitely a character that we felt offered up a healthy awareness of what generalized anxiety disorder is like and at the same time showed how sweet, sensitive humans dealing with the struggles from it can be and yearn to connect with other people.


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