Mississippi Writers and Musicians
MISSISSIPPI WRITERS: Monica Carter


Monica CarterMonica Carter, Photo from Rootsky Publishing web site

Major Works

  • As If Nothing Happened  (RootSky Publishing 2002)
  • Sacrifice the One, paperback 2004 (2007)

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Monica Carter : A Biography
by Dominique Campbell (SHS)

Monica Carter was born in 1975 to Arnette and Clarence Carter in Jackson, Mississippi, where she became an active member of her family's church and spent most of her summers copying definitions out of a dictionary (under her parents command, of course).  In 1993 she graduated from Forrest Hill High School with an honors diploma.  In high school, Carter was a nerd, not because she wanted to be, but because her parents demanded and expected certain grades from her.  She went on to receive a degree in journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she worked on the student newspaper.

In the fourth grade, she and her class wrote a book and since then she has had a desire to write.  Carter's mother and teachers contributed to her inspiration to write by encouraging her.  She even entered school essay contests and won a couple.

Carter self published her first book, As If Nothing Happened, and plans to do the same with her second, Sacrifice the One, which is expected to be published in the spring of 2004.  She currently works for The Shreveport Times in Shreveport, Louisiana, as a columnist.

UPDATE: Sacrifice the One was published in 2007. She uses the name Monica Carter Tagore in her private life.

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A Review of As if Nothing Happened
by Dominique Campbell (SHS)

Friends all across the country have secrets they don't tell one another.  Whether it may be because of embarrassment, denial, or the need to keep it inside, it occurs often.  "It's hard to believe so much has happened in each of our lives, and none of us knew what was going on with the other." However, the foundation on which that friendship is based must never fail.  "Let's promise not to let that happen again."  Monica Carter, in As If Nothing Happened,  addresses real life situations with temptation and energy that will hold any reader's attention.

As If Nothing Happened is a story As if Nothing Happened by Monica Carterabout three friends who are just as much different as they are alike.  The women bonded in college and have been inseparable since.  Each character's weaknesses and strengths makes the story incredibly unique.  In addition, Carter uses insight that gradually makes the reader emotionally attached to her characters.  As each character is faced with difficult decisions, the reader is  able to put herself in that character's shoes.

The story takes place in Texas.  Jennifer, Joya and Yvonne are the remarkable main characters and friends.  Jennifer is a strong willed and sometimes too opinionated character.  Joya, on the other hand, is an intelligent and   independent woman who isn't afraid to take charge.  Lastly, Yvonne is a character who has always been spoiled by her parents, even as an adult.  She is also the weakest woman in the story when it comes to men.  These three women have trying times and without the support of the others, it is even harder to deal with the situations.  Jennifer goes through a divorce, Joya is raped, and Yvonne has a miscarriage; however, each woman acts As If Nothing Happened.

The novel has several possible themes: putting your problems aside for others, valuing  friendship enough to forgive, accepting friends as they are, and sticking together no matter what. Robyn Jackson, Features Editor of The Hattiesburg American says the book has "Believable characters, facing believable situations," and Mike Whitehead, Editor of SB Magazine, says "By the end of As If Nothing Happened, you will be begging for the sequel to find out what happened to the (three main characters)."

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E-mail Interview with Monica Carter
by Dominique Campbell (SHS)


Q.   Where and when were you born?  What are your parents' names?  What   are your childhood memories?  Where did you attend elementary school, high school, and college?

A   I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, graduating with honors from Forest Hill High School in 1993. My childhood memories are varied. They range from the fun--going on a church trip to Florida with my friends-- to the not-so fun--being made by my parents to copy words and definitions out of the dictionary as summer work. (That exercise has come in handy now, of course, with my writing career. But at the time, I thought my parents were pretty bad to make me read the dictionary.) My parents are Arnette Carter and Clarence Carter.Dominique Campbell (SHS)

Q.    Are you married?  Do you have children, if so how many?  What's your husband's name?

A.    I am not married, though I do have a boyfriend named Juan. I do not have any children.

Photo:  Dominique Campbell, student researcher

Q.    When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Was there something in particular that got you interested in writing?

A.    I knew in the fourth grade I wanted to be a writer. My teacher, Mrs. Pollard, had our class put together a book. (I can't remember if it actually ever got published, but it was a wonderful experience that made me fall in love with books and publishing.) I also credit school essay contests (and a win or two) with contributing to my desire to write. Parents and teachers put it in my head that I could do this.

Q.    How difficult was it to get your first book published?  How did you go about it?

A.    I self published As If Nothing Happened. That means I formed the publishing company and published it on my own, instead of going through an agent and a traditional publishing company. In the past seven or ten years, self publishing has really taken off as an opportunity for a lot of people to have their works in print. The reasons for self publishing are varied. Some choose it because they can't find a publisher to put their work out. Others do it because they wanted to control the process. Others do it just because they think they can - I am part of that last group.

    I wouldn't say self publishing was difficult, but it was (is) time consuming and takes a real zeal and dedication. It's not for everybody, but for those who choose it, I think many will tell you it's worthwhile. I am working on my second novel, Sacrifice the One. I don't know right now if I will self publish it or go with another publisher. It really depends on which would be the best option for me when I look at both choices. I want the book to come out spring 2004, so self publishing may give me more of a say so in that decision, but I don't know.

Sacrifice the One by Monica CarterQ.     Is As If Nothing Happened (although fiction) based on your life accounts and experiences?  Did you base the characters in As If Nothing Happened on people you actually knew or know?

A.     I get this question a lot. As If Nothing Happened is a fiction work, but your question is on point. It includes some real life experiences - either of myself or of people I know. But there is no character I can look at and say, "Oh, that's me, or that's so-and-so." The work is fiction, with real-life situations. I think that's why so many people have told me they can relate to it. I hope I've been able to capture somebody's emotions or thoughts or choices in the characters.

Q.     Who is your favorite author/authors?  Why?

A.      I don't have one particular favorite author, but I can list several that I admire and truly like. I love Maya Angelou's work. It speaks to such a wide range of emotions and circumstances. I like John Grisham, who, as you probably know, is a Mississippi native. I also like Zora Neale Hurston.

Q.    What author do you think has influenced you the most?

A.     Wow, Dominique, that's a hard question. I don't know that I have the answer to that. But let me give you a different answer. The author who has inspired me the most in recent months is Stephen King. I don't like scary books or movies, but I've recently read his memoir, On Writing, and was simply in awe of his turns of phrase. The book is so motivating and energizing. I would also say Maya Angelou has influenced me, and countless other authors.

Q.    Why did you decide to write about the life, love, joy and pain of three women in As If Nothing Happened?  How long did it take you to write As If  Nothing Happened?  What inspired you to write this book?

A.     I wrote the book, quite simply, because in order to get the 10th book out, I had to get the first one done. Remember when I said I knew in the fourth grade I wanted to be an author? Well, I figured I had put it off long enough, so one day I sat down to start the book. I wanted to have my first novel out by the time I was 25. I missed that by two years. I was 27.

    I wrote the story of best friends just because that's what came out. I didn't sit there and plan what story I would write. It came as I typed. As it came, I realized I wanted to tell a story of best friends and their trials and tribulations. I wanted it to be real.

Q.    How would you describe yourself as a high school student?

A.    In a word: nerd. I was a nerd. Period. I made good grades, mostly As, though there were some that weren't. It wasn't necessarily because that's what I wanted to be and do, but because I didn't have a choice. My parents would have gotten onto me otherwise.

Q.   What is Sacrifice the One about?  Where did your inspiration come from for Sacrifice the One?  Would you describe it as being very different or very much the same compared to As If Nothing Happened?

A.     Sacrifice the One will be quite different from As If Nothing Happened. It's the story of a girl who struggles with the rejection of her father after her mother-- his wife-- dies as a result of her birth. Her father blames her for the loss of his wife, and so shuts the girl out of his life. She searches desperately for that acceptance, but it doesn't come. As a result, she goes through a lot of heart ache, bad decisions and self discovery.

    The idea for the book came actually, as  a result of watching TV (who said TV was bad for you?). I don't remember all the details of the show, but in one scene, the husband has to choose between saving the life of his wife and of his child because the house is on fire or falling down or some other dire situation and he can't save them both. Anyway, I think (if I recall correctly) both the wife and child ended up dying. So I thought, "What if the wife in essence gives her life for her child because of a decision she makes?" In Sacrifice the One, the wife gets pregnant with a baby because she wants one so badly, even though the doctor advises her not to. But she chooses to take the risk, thinking that maybe she can live and have her baby too. But in essence she had to sacrifice her life for her child's. And the result is this book.

Q.     Have you received any awards?

A.      It's funny you should ask this question. I write a weekly column in my daily newspaper, The Times in Shreveport, that covers a variety of topics. Some are serious, some are not. It just depends on what's going on in this head of mine. Anyway,  I received a writing award last week for work I did last year. I won first place in the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press Managing Editors newspaper contest for my columns. That was kind of neat. And I received an honorable mention type award last year, also for my column. I also received something called the Editor's Special Award, which is an annual award the editor at my paper gives out for some journalistic effort. I received the award in 2001, also for my column.

 Q.    How has Mississippi or living in Mississippi influenced your writing?

A.     I'd have to say living in Mississippi gave me my roots. I received my foundation there, from being taught in Mississippi schools, to learning about Mississippi writers like Eudora Welty and William Faulkner. I read Richard Wright and many others.

 Q.    Besides writing, what else do you like to do?

A.     I like to do probably, what you like to do. Hang out with my friends (which I don't get a chance to do a lot of because I'm quite busy), spend time with my boyfriend and my family, go running. Well, I used to go running, I haven't done that lately, but hopefully I'll get back to it. Oh, and I like to go out to eat - can't leave that out :-)

 Q.    Do you have any advise for future writers?

A.      Advice for future  writers? Just do it. I know that's the Nike slogan, but it's true here to. I meet so many people who tell me they want to write a book, but that's all it is. A want. Until you actually do it, all you'll have is wishful thinking.

Q.    Do you have any advice for students today?

A.     Advice for students? The usual, stay in school, don't do drugs. Beyond that, I would tell students to tune out the negativity. There are so many people who will tell them that they can't achieve what they want. I would tell them to ignore the naysayers. But if they must listen to them, to use their words for motivation to try harder to beat the odds.

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Related Websites

Information about Carter on Rootsky Publishing.

Curled Up provides summary of Sacrifice the One.

Contact information for Carter.

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Bibliography

"About the Author."  Monica P. Carter.  22 April 2003.  <http://www.rootsypublishing.com/about_author.htm>
Carter, Monica.  "As If Nothing Happened."  Kearny: Rootsky Publishing Company, 2002.
Carter, Monica.  E-mail interview.  20 May 2003.

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Last updated in January 2008
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