While working on my first book, I considered myself an “accidental novelist.” Until then, I had never written more than college papers and
business documents. When a friend insisted I write about a long-kept family secret, I took up the challenge. I eventually wove the story into an award-winning debut novel, Father’s Troubles, (MidAtlantic Highlands Press, 2003.) Upon publication, the novel was named a ForeWord Magazine Finalist for Historical Fiction.
Father’s Troubles, a double time-frame period piece, is set in Depression-era West Virginia. It takes a thread from my family’s past and weaves it into a novel that explores the family damage caused by keeping secrets. In an attempt to overcome his humble beginnings, bank president and real estate tycoon Lawrence Burgher lets his greed and arrogance overrun his better judgment as he engages in financial corner cutting. His self-indulgence lands him in prison and his family in such disgrace that they develop a cloak of secrecy in which they shroud the next generation for over forty years. The truth about what caused Father’s troubles finally surfaces because his granddaughter, Maggie Malone, refuses to let drop a remark her mother makes one summer afternoon.
The novel interlaces Maggie’s search for the truth of the family myth with her grandfather’s rags-to-riches to tragic-death saga. The juxtaposition of the contemporary and period stories shows the powerful impact this well-kept secret had on the entire family, but more importantly on Maggie’s own troubled relationship with her mother. Told partially through the immediacy of letters, the tale carries the reader across the decades to an emotionally satisfying ending.
“I loved reading this novel. The author is a born story-teller, and her ability to establish place, create character, and maintain suspense…made this one of the best books I have read since my discovery of Paul Bowles some fifteen years ago. In my book, Father’s Troubles is a winner.”
— Virginia Spencer Carr, biographer of Carson McCullers, John Dos Passos, and Paul Bowles
“Carter Seaton’s Father’s Troubles is a rousing good story of the wildcatting days of the nineteen twenties in the Appalachian mountains. Fortunes were made overnight but often at the expense of honesty. Lawrence Burgher is the main character of this novel of four generations; he is a poor boy with that All-American zeal to succeed. He is determined to buy, sell, and cut corners on his way to a life with servants, big cars, and big deals. He is also the lifelong lover of one woman, his wife, and the story of their love affair is the most poignant part of the book. But, Lawrence’s personal ambition…leads him step by step to ruin. The remarkable thing about the book is that even details of finance are gripping as we trace Lawrence’s fall. There is a kind of magnificence in his story, but the novel also leads us to see the ever-widening circles of suffering that a man seduced by a predatory business culture can create.”
— Meredith Sue Willis, author of Oradell at Sea, and Their Houses.
“Carter Seaton’s Father’s Troubles is an engrossing, splendidly written story of family secrets played out against a background of time and change—a setting that has familiarity for everyone in various degrees of personal history. Richly peopled with memorable characters, this insightful book is a true accomplishment of craft and art. Epic in her scope, the author achieves something that few writers ever master—she stays on the theme-line in a manner that creates tension even though the reader pretty well knows what he/she is about to read in terms of outcome.”
― Terry Kay, author of To Dance with the White Dog, The Runaway, Taking Lottie Home, Bogmeadow’s Wish, and other books.
amo, amas, amat…an unconventional love story, (CreateSpace, 2011) set in Asheville and Atlanta during the mid-1980s relays the poignant story of Mary Cate Randolph, a southern gal who’s been looking for Prince Charming all her life. She thinks she’s found him in Nick Hamilton, the new tennis pro at her country club. The tangled web of love, deception, and discovery ultimately leads to Mary Cate’s transformation and realization that true love is far different from the fairy tale version.
amo, amas, amat … an unconventional love story is “a gay message in a straight envelope.” After living in Georgia for ten years, where many of her close friends were gay or lesbian, I returned to my home town to find homophobia alive and well. The book is my way of apologizing for the harms and slights members of the LGBT community suffer.
At thirty-three, the protagonist, Mary Cate Randolph still believes in fairy tales. She’s been searching for Prince Charming all her life, with consistently bad results – a married professor, an uncouth biker, and a man who date rapes her. When she meets tennis pro, Nick Hamilton, at her Asheville country club, the wary girl thinks she’s found the perfect man. He’s charming and intelligent, but not sexually aggressive. No wonder. It’s 1983 and unbeknownst to Mary Cate, a naïve homophobic, Nick is a closeted homosexual. Thus begins a tangled web of love, deception, and discovery that ultimately leads to Mary Cate’s transformation and realization that true love is far different from the fairy tale version.
This is is a brave and timely novel related to unconditional love and homosexuality. It opens in the south in the early 1980s, the murky period of AIDS hysteria and gay bashing, and follows an evolving love story for eight years. (read full review)
— Phyllis Wilson Moore, The Charleston Gazette Book Festival blog
The wonderful message of this story comes from how Mary Cate develops a rich life without romantic love. This is a story with a wonderfully satisfying happy ending – as good as any romance, but entirely different from what the younger Mary Cate could ever have imagined.
— Meredith Sue Willis, author of Oradell at Sea and Their Houses
amo, amas, amat: an unconventional love story is also an unconventional coming-of-age story. Carter Seaton’s well-crafted narrative—especially her incisive portrayals of the cruelty of everyday narrow-mindedness as well as of the friendly largess that is, thankfully, just as everyday—is true to our complex times. She treats controversial and important issues of sexual orientation both frankly and sensitively, suggesting, through this unconventional tale, how we might come of age as a society.
— Eddy Pendarvis, Poet, Professor Emeritus, Marshall University and former reviewer for Now and Then
For amo, amas, amat…an unconventional love story, I was named by Indie Lit as one of nine authors nationally who break boundaries.