Author Michaela Carter resided in Los Angeles during a tumultuous period in the city's dramatic history.
Carter, a graduate student at the time, found herself amidst the Rodney King riots. Her experiences during that time, which she called a mix of reality and illusion, remained with her for years afterward.
She chose that fiery period as the setting for her novel, "Further Out Than You Thought."
During the riots, Carter journaled and took notes to document her feelings. Around that same time, Carter became pregnant, and a close friend of hers contracted HIV. She combined many of these elements to tell an edgy fictional story of redemption and change amidst a town besieged by violence.
"Through writing you can relive and kind of unpack an experience," Carter said.
The final draft of the novel took three years to complete. During the long writing process, Carter worked with her agent and eventually landed a contract with Harper Collins.
"It's one of those stories I had to get right before I could move on to anything else," Carter said.
The novel is available now in bookstores everywhere - including Prescott's Peregrine Book Company, which Carter co-founded.
The Peregrine Book Company will hold a launch party 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9. In addition to a book signing, event organizers plan live music, door prizes, appetizers, wine and other beverages to celebrate the publication of her book.
A separate reading and book-signing event is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at the Peregrine.
Carter studied theater at UCLA and worked briefly as an actress, which included an appearance in a Coca-Cola commercial, before attending graduate school at Warren Wilson to study poetry. She studied modern literature
and poetry with Stephen Yenser, who she counts as one of her inspirations, along with James Merrill, Sharon Olds, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton.
"Read as much you can. Read what you love and read widely and let that seep into your brain. Write every day if you can. Being a writer is like running a marathon. There's no quick satisfaction," Carter said.
In addition to being an author and bookstore owner, Carter, who moved to the Prescott area 11 years ago, is a creative writing instructor at Yavapai College. She's also an accomplished artist whose oil paintings have appeared at The Raven in downtown Prescott and elsewhere. She's currently working on a series of Africa-related paintings and on her next novel, set in the 1930s, which explores the lives of surrealist artists.
For more information about Carter, visit her website at michaelacarter.com.
Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier.