Carolyn Wilkins is an author, a healer, an intuitive counselor, a psychic medium, and a professor at Berklee College of Music Online. A Reiki Master since 1996, Carolyn has spent more than twenty years engaged in the study of spirituality, energy and healing. She has studied at the Arthur Findlay College of Psychic Arts in Stansted, England, and is a member of renowned English medium Mavis Pitilla’s Boston Mentorship Program.
As a musician, Carolyn has performed in the Pittsburgh Symphony and represented her country as a Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department. She is also the author of five books –Damn Near White and They Raised Me Up (published by the University of Missouri Press) Melody for Murder, Mojo for Murder and Death at a Séance (Pen-L Publishing), and Tips for Singing (Hal Leonard Press).
In addition to her private practice in healing and mediumship, Carolyn is the host of Carolyn’s Psychic Playroom, a New Age Talk Show, on Cambridge Community Television. Her new online class Magical Communication: How To Talk To Your Ancestors is now available on Udemy.com.
To find out more about Carolyn, visit her website: www.carolynwilkins.com
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do?
I have written stories since the first grade and have always loved the creative writing process. However when I went to college, I focused on my music. After becoming a professional musician, I wrote very little. It wasn’t until I was asked to write a singing textbook for Berklee Press that I began writing again. When I realized how much I loved the process, I went on to write five more books.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
I have written two memoirs about my family. They combine elements of African American History with my own personal story of being a single mother, struggling to discover my authentic power. The first book (Damn Near White: An African American Family’s Rise from Slavery to Bittersweet Success) is about my search to discover the truth about my Grandfather, J. Ernest Wilkins. He was the first black man to serve as a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor under president Eisenhower in 1954. The second memoir (They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her) is about the women on my mother’s side of the family, all of whom were musicians. My memoirs were published by the University of Missouri Press.
I’ve also written three murder mysteries, published by Pen-L Publishing. The first two (Melody For Murder and Mojo For Murder) feature the crime-fighting exploits of Bertie Bigelow, a college music teacher who becomes an amateur sleuth when one of her students is falsely accused of murder.
My most recent book, Death at a Séance, is set in Southern Indiana in 1920. It’s about Carrie McFarland, an African American girl who discovers that she is psychic. When she predicts the murder of a white woman at a Spiritualist seance, she is accused of the crime. To vindicate herself and escape the clutches of the KKK, Carrie must enlist the aid of a notoriously corrupt political boss as well as that of a handsome Methodist minister. This book is also on Pen-L Publishing.
All my books are available worldwide from Amazon. For more about me, visit http://www.carolynwilkins.com.
3) What projects are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished a new short story featuring the psychic Carrie McFarland. It’s called The New Year’s Hex, and will be coming out in a collection of short stories by authors of color. This e-book is called Festive Mayhem and is also available on Amazon.
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Like most writers, the book I love the most is the one I’m about to start. It will be another historical mystery featuring the psychic Carrie McFarland.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
Of course. My mystery series was rejected several times before I found my current publisher.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
I generally like to write in the morning. When I am really into it, however, I will write whenever I have the time. I do tend to outline at least the major plot points ahead of time. My last book took me about 9 months to write.
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
In this day and age, I would say no. First of all, it is up to us to determine how we will define “success.” For some, it’s a NYT best seller, but for others, it could simply mean finishing and self-publishing a book you’ve wanted to put out in the world for years. In writers, the more life experience you have, the better. It is never too late to start writing if that is your desire.
8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
Like most authors, I love reading. A book that really had a great impact on me was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I’ve been a huge Maya Angelou fan ever since. I am currently reading a fabulous collection of paranormal short stories by the African American writer Tananarive Due called Ghost Summer.
9) How has the current state of the world affected your writing? Because writing is an isolated practice, do you find it easier to deal with quarantine? Has it stifled your creativity or has it made you even more driven to get things done?
This is a great question! I would say the answer is that as a psychic and a sensitive, I find the current chaotic state of the world very difficult. That said, I also feel blessed that as a writer I can express myself in constructive ways. The best thing I can do to help the world right now is to share my gifts and talents in as clear, unequivocal and authentic a fashion as possible.
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?
My text book and memoirs were published by traditional publishers. Pen-L, the publisher for my mysteries, is more of a hybrid. They do publish in print and digital, but their distribution is limited, and I am responsible for much of the publicity. They are great folks, however, and I’m happy with our arrangement.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I lead by healing the wounds that separate us from our inner Sprit, from our ancestors, from each other. I do this through my writing, my music and my work as a psychic healer and medium. When I write, I bring all of me to the table. Through books that invite readers to empathize with characters they would otherwise never know, I educate, heal and inspire.