Welcome to my MTMC Tours stop for Charlie Lavender And The Origin Of Everything by Carson Patrick Bowie!
There’s so much to love about this book, including the epic friendships, the ‘90s vibes, the mysterious and enigmatic magic, and — of course — the amazing and lovely Charlie herself. The story is split between following Charlie as she starts high school and realised she has unnameable power vs unravelling the mysteries behind a corrupt priestly order and the hidden and magical witchy society that surrounds Charlie’s life. Reading it felt like watching a TV series, with all the entwining POVs and omnipresent narration. Plus the book has a cool interactive element where you can follow QR codes while reading for extra content!
And shout out to the epic science lab partner trio 😩🙌🏻 Anxiety and gentle Charlie. Football star who is a secret soft nerd Josh. Tech and science genius Ichigo. Unlikely friendships are one of my favourite tropes.
“If Charlie Lavender is awakening, it will not be subtle.”
Basically pick this book up if you like mysteries, witches, secret societies, worlds within worlds, and loveable characters.
I have an epic interview with the author here today too 😍🙌🏻 so read on!
Thanks to MTMC Tours and the author for the copy.
Title: Charlie Lavender and the Origin of Everything (Volume One: Orientation)
Author: Carson Patrick Bowie
Publication Date: September 20, 2022
Genres: YA Fantasy
Purchase a copy: Amazon
Add on Goodreads
A bundle of awkwardness and social anxiety, Charlie Lavender isn’t sure about starting her freshman year in small-town Normal, Illinois. Little does she know her new best friend, a love triangle, and…a magical owl(?) are waiting for her in the Fall of 1993.
She definitely didn’t expect ominous priests, probable witches, and a secret, several-thousand-year-old war would also become part of everyday life.
Welcome to Normal, where nothing ever is.
As she and her newfound friends search for the truth about a world of magic just out of view, the real question is, can Charlie accept the last thing she ever expected to happen? For the first time ever, she’s fitting in.
Hi Carson! Thanks so much for chatting with me today about Charlie Lavender and the Origin Of Everything! Tell us a bit about your publishing journey and how your book went from first idea to finished novel on our shelves!
Hi! Thank you right back! As a writer I am better known for poetry than for fiction. I didn’t initially set out to write books, but after years of sharing poetry online and in a few publications I had accidentally developed a small but loyal base of readers who kept asking for me to publish a collection. During the early parts of the pandemic I decided I would finally do it. I figured I’d sell maybe a hundred copies, but that at least it was something I could give back to my readers while we were collectively going through a really hard time. Sales over three months entirely exceeded what I was prepared for as a response to the collection. I didn’t feel quite ready for another collection of poetry just yet so I turned my writing skills elsewhere. A good friend of mine Erin Van Vuren and I got an opening to pitch a show for Netflix, and while we bounced ideas around, a few short story ideas I’ve been playing with since I was a teenager (priests who realize they’re on the wrong side, white-haired witches who wipe minds, the quaint town of Normal where a young woman encounters things which are everything but) merged into one in a sudden rush into my brain…and Charlie Lavender was born.
She didn’t make it past the first round at Netflix, but by the time I had an outline down, I realized I had four books worth of story, with infinite spin off potential on my hands. I set to work typing every day after work in a google doc on my phone, and a month later I had a first draft of 100,000 words down. Erin proofread it, I let a few beta readers have a look and decided ok, this is something worth polishing and querying.
Querying is a soul sucking experience for me as an author, as it is for many, but I prepped a letter, did some deep research on who the top YA lit agents were and decided I would give myself six months of trying the traditional route. Inside 3 months I had two requests for the full manuscript out of my top 25 choices, but when we started talking about it further my flight or fight response kicked in the second we started discussing what could be changed to make things more marketable. I have full respect to anyone who goes through this process and learns from it and sells thousands of books they may not have otherwise, but by this point, for me, Charlie and her friends were my babies, and when I look at my work as art versus making it “marketable” and I decided I am not the kind of writer who could ever be comfortable giving up a shred of control. I will sell thousands of less books, I will not be paid up front, but every single part of me would rather Charlie find her niche and I build out slowly over time from there, instead of not being able to just feel my way through. I based these characters on people that I know and love, and especially with any of the LGBTQ+ characters, there is not a company I trust in the world to make them more buyable for the marketplace.
TLDR: a stubborn old man had a good shot at going traditional, but was too prideful to let anyone play with his things, and might still have never gotten a deal.
In the space in between querying and deciding to stay independent one of the top YA agents on the planet called the writing “stellar” which felt pretty nice.
I reached out to an amazing cover artist, found someone who grasped my concept for the interior flawlessly, learned how to make a website, then set to work marketing. It has been a very educational year of prep, I don’t entirely know what I am going to do with all my free time after release day. Good thing I have three more volumes outlined.
Absolutely loved hearing about your publishing journey so far!! I just think it’s so fantastic how many ways there are to pursue getting our stories out into the world. 👌🏻 So glad Charlie Lavender exists. Speaking of! Can you tell us a little about Charlie? Who she is, and what inspired you to write her!
A good friend of mine was tutoring some kids on reading skills a few years back and would always tell me all about this little girl named Charlie with brilliant red hair and a little bit of mischief in her eyes. Charlie believed in ghosts and we used to joke about how she’d be the perfect character for a supernatural bedtime story book, Charlie and her best friend who everyone thinks is imaginary but was actually a ghost. When I started on the Netflix pitch I carried her over.
Charlie as a person is a little bit of the high school version of me whose words would stick in the back of his throat whenever someone he didn’t know would speak to him, mixed with one of the most important people in my life who also shares a healthy sense of social anxiety. Lavender is known for soothing anxiety so.. Charlie Lavender popped into my head and I was obsessed with it immediately. The rest of her personality just turned up as I was writing, she is a little piece of a lot of different people that I love.
Charlie’s social anxiety was also fiercely relatable 😂👌🏻 She’s such a dynamic and complex character, impossible not to love! Can we have a teaser about what you’re working on next?
Absolutely. Next up are Charlie Lavender volumes two through four. A second poetry collection. Then the first of two spin offs about characters in Charlie’s world whom she doesn’t meet in the first book. No one has read a word about them yet but when I drop the title for the first spin off I am confident a few of my readers are going to have one of those “screaming, crying, throwing up!” moments. On the side there are perpetually scripts being written, but my predominant focus for the next decade is everything Charlie.
You are busy 👀👀 Absolutely can’t wait to see what’s next for Charlie as the series progresses. Which is your favourite to write: beginnings, middles, or endings?
Endings. In poetry I like to always finish on a strong final line. Gut punch. Turns out I am the same in fiction.
And lastly! What are some of the best author moments you’ve had so far?
During the writing process it’s those moments when the characters just take over. When I have no idea what is going to happen in between point A and point B but the characters just arrive fully formed onto the page. It’s the closest thing I can think of to inspiration. Another thing I love is the way the characters just exist in my mind now, whole…like…they aren’t real…but I know what they’re up to. I think this would only make complete sense to other authors in a way. But my absolute favourite thing…as a poet turned author…every now and then an email or a DM turns up from some young writer who tells me I inspired them to write. I think that is hands down the best compliment feeling I can think of.
Thanks so much for the brilliant chat and look at your creative process and origin stories, Carson!! A pleasure to have you on the blog and all the best with Charlie’s release ✨📚💛
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carson currently resides in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada, along with his two teenage sons, and two rescued cats. He misses the Scholastic book fair and is passionate about great storytelling regardless of the medium. He’s a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a disappointment to his father, and believes with all of his heart that representation for all communities is vital. Carson is reasonably fond of Dungeons & Dragons, unreasonably fond of Dan Levy, and he has, when left unattended, been known to use run-on sentences. He is also incredibly proud of both of his sons. Website | Instagram | Goodreads
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