Tom Carter is a renowned author who has co-written countless autobiographies for legendary artists such as Reba McEntire, Merle Haggard and George Jones. Carter has had a success career as an author with his first of seven books to appear on the New York Times best-sellers list. Cater’s autobiography titled, Memories: The Autobiography of Ralph Emery, climbed all the way to the number-two spot. Carter is also currently set to release an autobiography on Jason Aldean in 2017.
Cater has written a total of 18 books over the course of his career with more in the works. Carter’s latest book, Nashville: Music and Murder, is his first Fiction novel that tells the untold story of the music industry. Taking place in the heart of Nashville, the book covers the lifestyle of Maci, who is a major country star and tells the story behind all of the cameras. Maci barely escaped her death after an estranged fan targeted her during a live performance. The book draws you in as you will follow the mysterious murder attempts and dig deeper into the chaos that surrounds the life of Maci. The book will be sure to intrigue anyone who has interest in the Country music world and the glimpse into the life of a music star.
Nashville: Music & Murder is available for Pre-Order and will be out February 7, 2017!
We got to interview Carter about his experience as an author over his 46 years:
Variety Beat: What does the typical writing process consists of?
Tom Carter: IF THE BOOK IS NON-FICTION, THE WRITER MUST DISCOVER THEN ASSEMBLE THE TRUE FACTS IN COMPREHENSIVE AND APPEALING SENTENCES.IF THE BOOK IS FICTION, THE WRITER MUST CREATE “ARTIFICIAL FACTS,” THEN WEAVE THEM INTO ENTERTAINING SENTENCES WHICH USHER EACH INTO THE NEXT.
Variety Beat: Is this process different from writing a book that is not an autobiography?
Tom Carter: NASHVILLE: MUSIC & MURDER IS A NOVEL. A NOVEL IS FICTION. AS MENTIONED ABOVE, THE FORMAT OF A NOVEL IS MARKEDLY DIFFERENT FROM NON-FICTION. AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY IS NON-FICTION.
Variety Beat: How much research goes into the topic before you start to write the book?
Tom Carter: NASHVILLE: MUSIC & MURDER IS A MYSTERY THRILLER. I IMPLEMENTED THE FORMAT OF CREATING A HEINOUS CRIME IN THE FIRST CHAPTER, THEN SPRINKLED FICTIONAL FACTS THROUGHOUT THE BOOK TO HELP THE READER SURMISE WHO COMMITTED THE CRIME, AND ENSUING EQUALLY HORRIFIC CRIMES. ALL THE WHILE, I HAD TO LET THE STORY’S PROTAGONIST, “MACI WILLIS,” UNDERGO ANCILLARY YET RIVETING ORDEALS. THE READER NEEDED TO WONDER JUST WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NEXT, AND JUST WHAT CHARACTERS WERE BEHIND MS. WILLIS’ CONTINUOUS AND OFTEN FATAL MISFORTUNES.
Variety Beat: What was it like working with some of the most recognizable names in country music?
Tom Carter: I HAVE WRITTEN ELEVEN AUTOBIOGRAPHIES, NON-FICTION BOOKS ABOUT THE CHRONOLOGIES OF RONNIE MILSAP, RALPH EMERY, BUDDY KILLEN, GLEN CAMPBELL, REBA McENTIRE, GEORGE JONES, MERLE HAGGARD, TAMMY WYNETTE, THE REV. LARRY JONES (FOUNDER OF FEED THE CHILDREN), JASON ALDEAN AND, AN ANTHOLOGY OF SEVENTEEN WIVES, EACH OF WHOM ARE MARRIED TO THE BIGGEST STARS IN COUNTRY MUSIC. EACH CELEBRITY WIFE TRUSTED ME TO INTERVIEW THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES WHO’VE DOTTED THEIR LIVES. OBVIOUSLY, I HAD TO INTERVIEW EACH CELEBRITY AUTHOR. IN EACH AUTOBIOGRAPHY, THE CELEBRITY AUTHOR HAD CREATIVE AND CONTENT CONTROL. I WAS THE WRITER. EACH CELEBRITY’S MANUSCRIPT WAS RE-WRITTEN BY ME UNTIL THE PROSE PLEASED THEM. THE MAJORITY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AUTOBIOGRAPHERS WERE COOPERATIVE DURING THE RESEARCH AND WRITING PROCESS. WITH ONE EXCEPTION, EACH BOOK REQUIRED FROM ONE TO TWO YEARS TO WRITE AND PUBLISH.
Variety Beat: Is there anything new that you learned while working with them?
Tom Carter: CELEBRITIES ARE OFTEN INSECURE AND PLAGUED WITH MOOD SWINGS. THEY AREN’T NECESSARILY MALICIOUS PEOPLE. THEY’RE JUST NORMAL FOLKS FACING ABNORMALLY HIGH STRESS LEVELS INHERENT TO TRAVELING, MEETING DEADLINES, DEPENDING ON UNDEPENDABLE PEOPLE, ROAD WEARY, LONELY AND OTHER TRAUMAS THAT DON’T FACE MOST PEOPLE. LITERARY WRITERS, SUCH AS MYSELF, FACE SIMILAR PERSONALITY NEUROSES THAT OFTEN COMBINE WITH THE PERSONALITY DEFICITS AMONG FAMOUS ENTERTAINERS. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, I HAVE MESHED WITH MY CELEBRITY AUTHOR CLIENTS.
Variety Beat: Is there anyone that you are hoping to work with on a new book? Why?
Tom Carter: I HAVE A FEW CELEBRITIES IN MIND. EACH HAS ENJOYED THE TRIUMPHANT OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT. BY THAT, I MEAN CELEBRITIES WHO HAVE OVERCOME HARDSHIPS SUCH AS POVERTY, REJECTION, THEFT FROM PEOPLE THEY TRUSTED, DIVORCES, DEATHS, ADDICTIONS AND PHYSICAL MALADIES THAT HAVE JEOPARDIZED OR OUTRIGHT ENDED THEIR CAREERS, AND SOMETIMES THEIR LIVES. THE COUNTRY MUSIC INDUSTRY IS LACED WITH MANY SUCH CELEBRITIES WHO’VE FACED LIFE ON LIFE’S TERMS, ONLY TO RISE TO THEIR CAREER PINNACLES AGAIN AND AGAIN.
Variety Beat: How do these particular books differ from other autobiographies?
Tom Carter: COUNTRY MUSIC AUTOBIOGRAPHIES ARE REAL BOOKS THAT I’VE CO-WRITTEN WITH REAL PEOPLE. MANY OTHER CELEBRITY AUTOBIOGAPHIES FOCUS ON TELEVISION, MOTION PICTURE OR POLITICAL CELEBRITIES. THE LATTER “STARS” ARE BORN IN WEALTH, ATTEND PRIVATE SCHOOLS, GET EXPENSIVE SPORTS CARS WHEN THEY’RE 16 AND GET A YEAR ROMPING ACROSS EUROPE AS A HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION PRESENT. THEY ATTEND PRIVATE COLLEGES WHERE THEY GRADUATE WITH STOCK IN THEIR DADDY’S EMPIRE WHERE THEY’RE GIVEN “TITLES” FOR JOBS THEY DON’T FILL. I DON’T CO-WRITE WITH PEOPLE WHO THINK THAT A BIRD DROPPING POOP ON THEIR MERCEDES’S IS A FATAL TRAGEDY.
Variety Beat: Can you tell us a little about your new project coming out in February and what was it like to work on a murder-mystery book?
Tom Carter: NASHVILLE: MUSIC & MURDER was written entirely by me for me. It was difficult to make the protagonist likable, although she was a mood-swinging, embittered, jaded country star whose childhood was rooted in domestic violence and paternal rape. She disliked her career and hated her life. I drew from personal observations of some country music female celebrities who were self-destructive as young women, and more so in mid-life. I also discovered the struggle of giving readers enough clues to keep them interested in the riveting plot, but not enough to project the story’s ending. Juggling the storyline, the back story, characters’ developments and suspicion of disbelief were challenging, exhaustive and fulfilling. I’m eager to see this book succeed, and proceed with a sequel.