Cindy: Welcome, Carlynn! I’d like to explore some of your biography information. You’ve been a dog trainer, humane investigator, racehorse rescuer and wildlife habitat creator. Obviously you love animals! Did you do all of these at the same time or just over time; can you fill my readers in on these interesting factors?
Carlynn: Cindy I’ve always had a passion for animals – and my parents let me indulge that as a kid. So these things I’ve done over my lifetime and as I was able. Right now I’m fostering a ‘famous’ pup who was hours from death – horribly abused – and now 3 months later looks like a different doggie! (Her story got picked up by stations all over the country, and we’re using her case to try and tighten animal cruelty laws here.) St. Francis – patron saint of animals – is definitely my favorite saint!
Cindy: You’re from South Carolina. Have you lived there all your life?
Carlynn: I’ve lived on my own since I was 14 – left home and went to Florida and worked as a hotel maid. Then I went to California – wanderlust – and had my daughter there. While I was married to a military man, we lived in Hawaii, DC, and Virginia too.
Cindy: You were on a radio show back in December! Impressive! What did you talk about and were you nervous?
Carlynn: Yes, I was blessed to be a guest on Talk LA Radio with Shirley Mitchell. I was a bit nervous, as they changed the questions on me at the last moment, but Shirley is so gracious she made it a fun interview – like this one!
Cindy: I’ve read your wonderful book and absolutely loved it. I laughed and I cried. It just really touched me. What motivated you to write this book?
Carlynn: I’d written short stories for a weekly paper in order to stay sane after my daughter’s murder. Most of those were light and humorous, but I needed to write about domestic violence and Carly’s murder – and the link between interpersonal violence and animal abuse (very high correlation) so I decided to delve deeper in my writing and put it all together in a book. Many of the stories in Angels in the Landfill were in print for the first time in the book.
Cindy: So sad about your daughter. I just can’t grasp the reality of what that must’ve been like for you. But you’re a survivor! How has your faith helped you endure such a tragedy?
Carlynn: Oh Cindy, I can’t imagine how people get through tragedies without their faith. But what I’ve learned is that life’s blessings and tragedies both, either bring us closer to, or farther from, God. But He loves us nonetheless, throughout them all.
Cindy: You’ve also had many other unique situations, more than any one person should ever have to experience. You were kidnapped and held hostage. What happened?
Carlynn: Yes, I was on a second date with a man in Florida (and I was young and naïve) and he knew I didn’t have family nearby. He held me, handcuffed, in a garage for a week. He fed and bathed me – and I won’t go into the unspeakable things he did to me. He took me driving one night after making me strip off my bathing suit. I saw a man in a field walking 2 dobermans and the man looked like an angel – the dogs his wings.
Something (the voice of God, probably), told me to run to them, which I did - just jumped out of the car naked and ran. And the man in the field grabbed me as if he’d been waiting there just for me – while the dogs went after my abductor. My rescuer and his wife fed, clothed and nursed me back to health. When they finally talked me into reporting the abduction, we walked into the police station and guess who sat at the detective’s desk?? I left town after that.
Cindy: You’ve also been injured by being hit by a vehicle. What injuries did you suffer and were you able to overcome those?
Carlynn: A young man was late for work, speeding through the grocery store parking lot and ran me down in the crosswalk - with his 350 cc diesel work truck. I was in a half cast and physical therapy for quite a while and had endless epidurals, nerve injections, and other therapies. This was just a year and a half after Carly was murdered, and I kept asking God how much more He expected me to endure.
The answer that kept coming to me was that life is indeed hard; He never promised that it wouldn’t be. But also that He was with me even when I was in hell. It was a real low point and I wanted to die. Now I feel blessed that I can still walk, that I wasn’t hurt worse, that the driver didn’t have to live with the fact of horribly injuring someone, for the rest of his young life. I had surgery early this month to have a spinal stimulator implanted.. It’s really cool, this remote control technology and it has helped a lot with the back pain. I’m still leery of pick up trucks though!
Cindy: Do you participate in any support groups?
Carlynn: I’m a member of a group I’d never wish on anyone: Parents of Murdered Children. We march to the statehouse every September and have small support groups. The stronger ones help those who are just beginning their journey of recovery from a terrible loss.
I’m also a member of the Arbor Day Foundation and the Animal Adoption League.
Cindy: I know you are also at Shoutlife! How has that experience helped you?
Carlynn: Oh I love ShoutLife! I like that it’s G-rated – no flaming or swearing - kind of a Christian, child-friendly version of FB and other social networking sites. Whenever I need a spiritual lift I get on friends’ sites there and just soak up the love – and the grace of our amazing Abba.
Cindy: Are you working on any more books yet?
Carlynn: I’m focused on making life better for animals in SC right now. But I still write short stories and also encouraging articles for people who’ve lost a loved one. Recently I had one accepted for the Spring issue of Living with Loss magazine. And I write a lot about nature, and what we can learn from its lovely abundance, and how to be good stewards of what God gave us, while at the same time realizing that this earth was never meant to last forever.
Cindy: Will you be having any book signing events this year? Radio interviews? Or others?
Carlynn: I have a couple interviews lined up, but as for book-signings, I’m actually quite shy and private - and tend to steer away from those. Some bookstores require them and that’s okay, but I do get a bit anxious doing those! Then I think of Moses, repeatedly telling God: ‘I can’t’ and how God provided Aaron and Miriam for support. I try to remember that if I do what I can, God will do what I cannot.
Cindy: You’ve been published in a number magazines. What articles/stories did you write and how did you get them published?
Carlynn: I had always written stories – mostly about the irony and humor in life, or animal antics. Mark Twain once wrote that he’d wallpapered his office with rejection letters and that eased the sting of the many I got! And then one day I had articles accepted by two different national magazines; that was a day to remember!
Cindy: Thank you so much for this interview, Carlynn. I hope you sell millions of copies of your book, Angels in the Landfill. You have really given me a new perspective on life - to have read it and know you have survived everything with the grace of God.
About the author:
Carlynn lives a Walden-esque existence in South Carolina with her dog pack, Nadine, and Timothy Pavlov. Carlynn has been a mom, RN, dog trainer, humane investigator, racehorse rescuer, wildlife habitat creator, and a writer for fifteen years. She has been published in numerous magazines such as Horseplay, Skirt!, TheRunningHorse and The LowCountry Weekly. "Angels In The Landfill: Mixed Blessings and Saving Graces" is Carlynn's first book - a compilation of essays which are humorous, anecdotal and contemplative, addressing important issues such as parenting, learning from nature, and spiritual growth. She also ponders the difficult topics of domestic violence, poverty, theological dogmatism, and the tragedies and blessings of loving and losing.
About the book:
A compilation of essays sutured together with the gold and silver threads of hope and faith. These short stories are humorous, anecdotal, and contemplative. Carlynn addresses important issues such as parenting, learning from nature, and spiritual growth. She also ponders the difficult topics of domestic violence, poverty, theological dogmatism, and the tragedies and blessings of loving and losing, saving lives and saving graces. It’s a book for those walking dizzying circles around the eternal ‘why?'s of this world, as well as those already on the path to peace, grace and truth. The author’s life adventures motivated her to write for anyone who enjoys wildlife, dogs, horses, gardening, fishing, and environmental stewardship. The reader will find these true essays to be both amusing and sorrowful, yet profoundly hopeful. As you experience these stories you will find yourself joyfully basking in the love of an all-encompassing God who indeed catches every tear we cry, and cares for every sparrow that falls from the sky.
Though described as a collection of essays, I felt while reading this truly inspirational book that it is more along the lines of a memoir.
Through the well-written chapters, the reader is taken along for the journey the author has endured. It's a collection of memories and passions deeply felt by and/or experienced by the author.
Carlynn has been through so much in life already. Most of us will, in our lifetimes, experience only a small dose of what this author has and yet, each page, each story, reveals the uplifting soul of the heart behind the words.
Through sadness, joy, and a passion for the gifts the Lord has bestowed upon us, the author sheds light on the many areas of life we normally might walk by, unnoticed by the naked eye, and though not unscathed, she has miraculously risen above it all--triumphant with an even deeper faith.
I found this to be a truly inspirational and informative read, where not only are we shown the troubled life of the author, but a deeper, more passionate side of her insight into the wonders of the world, blessings given to us, and everything about the author which makes up her uniqueness.
I'd highly recommend this book, no matter the reader's preference, as it touches on so many areas of interest, tugging at our heartstrings, instilling a deeper faith, a broader vision and a defining realism and perspective.
reviewed by: Cindy Bauer - The Memory Box Trilogy
(Chasing Memories, Shades of Blue and Crystal Clear)
“Very few of us have walked the tragic road that Carlynn has…perhaps even fewer have come through it with the confidence and grace that underwrites this little book and shines… hers is a testimony not only to the goodness of God but also to the quiet voice of God, who speaks in the most remarkable ways…for those who have ears.” —Tim Perry, Author of Blessed is She: Living Lent with Mary, Morehouse Press/Continuum