Carolyn Ridder Aspenson
Carolyn Ridder Aspenson writes mysteries and contemporary romances featuring imperfect women with a flair for telling it like it is. Her stories focus on relationships whether they’re between friends, family members, couples, townspeople or strangers because ultimately, it’s relationships that make a story. She writes the Angela Panther Mystery Series, The Inn at Laurel Creek contemporary romance novella series and the Lily Sprayberry Realtor Cozy Mystery Series.
Carolyn is also the founder of the Facebook author and reader collective, Sleuthing Women—Read. Sleuth. Solve. Repeat. A place for readers to connect with an exclusive group of women authors of female sleuth mysteries.
Now an empty-nester, she lives in the Atlanta suburbs with her husband, two Pit Bull-Boxer mix dogs and two cantankerous cats, but you’ll often find her at a local coffee shop people watching (and listening), or as she likes to call it, plotting her next novel.
Getting to Know Carolyn Ridder Aspenson
Where did you grow up, and where do you live now? Tell us something a lot of people don’t know about your home town.
I’m an Indianapolis/Northwest Chicago suburbs mutt. I spent the first twelve years of my childhood in Indianapolis and then we packed up and moved to Vernon Hills, Illinois. Eventually I landed in Arlington Heights, Illinois but after thirty years of snow and ice and gray skies, I moved to the northwest Atlanta suburbs. I’ve been here since 1997 and haven’t looked back.
Indianapolis has a monument downtown called the Circle and every Christmas they drape lights down from the top of the monument in an angle, down to the ground. It looks like a massive, beautiful Christmas tree. The state claims it’s the largest decorated Christmas tree in the world, and I believe it just might be! As a kid we went every year for the lighting of the Circle monument.
What is your favorite part of writing Cozy Mysteries?
I love how the mystery comes together and how the characters all interact—their nosy, busybody tendencies and traits, their unique quirks and characteristics…I create pictures in my head and love how it all fits into a little picture screen on paper. Well, on a computer screen, but I pretend it’s paper like the old days.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I always expected I’d be an author, or a writer of some sort. I majored in journalism in college and then quickly changed my major because I didn’t actually like the industry. I worked on newspapers and did volunteer work and side jobs that included writing—anything that allowed me to use words, but as many novels as I’d started, I never finished one—until my mother died. One day shortly after that, I was sitting in a coffee shop watching everyone walk in and out, just going along with their day and I thought about how none of them would ever know my mother. I realized they’d all missed out on this wonderful woman, so in that moment, I decided to write a book about her. It was horribly depressing. When I read the first chapter, I scrapped it and started over and the next thing I knew, it was published with first Booktrope Editions and then Amazon Encore and now it’s the first in a series. Her character is a hit, and I know she’s proud. I’m sure she’s wondering why I waited until she died to give her her fifteen minutes of fame though. That would definitely be my mom!
If you weren’t an author, what would you be doing?
I had a wonderful and successful career in the ancillary health insurance services market for many years and then I stayed home with my kids. I’m not sure I’d do the sales thing again though. While I stayed home, I did a few other things, but ultimately, I think we’re given a passion and we seek out that passion one way or another. I have a feeling this is where I’d be, I’d just have found it a different way.
Do you have any pets? Please tell us about them!
Oh goodness. The hottie hubby (my pet name for my husband, no pun intended) and I are now empty-nesters, so our two dogs have become our children, but we’ve always had dogs and cats. Currently, we’ve got Cooper and Meatball, our dueling cats and Allie and Capone, our sibling Boxer-Pit Bull Mix dogs. We named them after Al Capone because I’m from an Italian family that had a bit of a relationship with the Al Capone. If you check out my Facebook author page (Carolyn Ridder Aspenson, Author) you’ll see videos and photos of them everywhere. We have a lot of fun with the puppies. We hike with them, take them to festivals, hang out at Starbucks and just take them places in general. They’re professionally trained and engage and interact well with people so we have a great time. The only problem is they’re 65 pounds each and think they’re lap dogs. Mostly my lap. At the same time.
Have you found your own real life happily ever after?
I have. I am blessed. I kissed a lot of frogs before I kissed my prince. He’s not always perfect, but neither am I. We met and married in nine months and raised his two daughters full time together. I have officially claimed them as mine for twenty years now and we’ve got a nineteen-year-old son together, too. Marriage is a lot of work and since we never had that time together without kids, we’ve had to work extra hard. Add in a parent living with us who ended up disabled, job losses, a child with an emotional disorder, one with a growth disorder, the death or my parent, the loss of a family dog, (she was eighteen—EIGHTEEN!) and a long list of other life happenings, and honestly, we are proud we’ve made it!
What is one book that impacted or changed your life that you think everybody should read? Tell us about it.
I can’t really name one book that changed my life, because not one single book has. The collective process of reading many books though, each individual story wrapped up into millions, no billions of words, has helped to create the person I am today. I’m not a self-help book person. I’m not a poetry gal or a deep thinker. Sure, I’ve bought a few of each of those kinds of books, but what really gets me thinking, what really takes me to a different place, shows me a new world, is a story. Give me a character with depth, weakness and an attitude to survive and you’ve got a best friend for life.
My favorite author is the late Robert B. Parker and my favorite books by him are the Spenser series. I cried when Parker passed, and though there is a new writer, who is excellent in his own right, writing the series, no one writes like Parker, and I feel as though I’m cheating on him by reading them—even though he approved the choice. Spenser was Parker’s creation, and much like Kinsey Milhone and Sue Grafton, for me, the series ended when Parker typed his last word.