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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed Carrington Smith about her work, what inspires her, and the creative process that went into her new book, Blooming.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I am a single mom, and former trial lawyer turned executive search consultant. I am also the great-great granddaughter of the founder of International Paper Company. By the time I came along, the bulk of the wealth was gone but the high expectations remained. I was born on the East Coast but was raised in the Seattle area. I attended Washington State University before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin. I also graduated from Tulane Law School.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

Carrington Smith, author of Blooming, interview on The Table Read
Carrington Smith

I first wanted to write a book in 2001.

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When did you take a step to start writing?

In 2001, I took some time off to write a book, but it just never gelled. I wrote some short stories, but I was unsure how to knit them together. In 2020, during the pandemic, I suddenly felt compelled to write my book. I realized who my audience was and how to write it.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

I wrote the book in 3 months, but it took about nine months to edit and publish the book.

What made you want to write Blooming?

This book was birthed during the pandemic. During the shitstorm of a lifetime, I felt compelled to share how life has taught me to view times like these as full of growth and opportunity. You see, shit is quite literally fertilizer. It provides the nutrients needed for life to flourish and grow. It is in life’s messes, the failures, the difficulties—the shit—that we find what we need to grow and bloom into our greatness.

Carrington Smith, author of Blooming, interview on The Table Read

As I wrote, millions of people had lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands had lost their lives. Everywhere people have been struggling with the existential questions: Do I matter? Without a job, what do I base my self-worth on? If I die tomorrow, what will I be remembered for?

Over the twenty years of my career as an executive search professional, I’ve interviewed thousands of candidates. I’ve been blessed with an incredible track record. Most candidates stay in their jobs for years and regularly get promoted. What’s the secret sauce? I focus on character and values. My favorite question to ask to understand who someone is and what they value is: “We all have moments that define us; can you tell me about a moment that shaped you and how?” The answers to this question tell me more about a candidate than almost any other.

Based on their answers, I discover things like emotional resilience, authenticity, grit, courage, empathy, persistence, wisdom, creativity, integrity, curiosity, passion, self- discipline, perseverance, resourcefulness, reframing, hope, leadership, collaboration, positive attitude, strategic thinking, and problem-solving. For years, I’ve lived in fear that someone would turn the question around on me.

How would I answer? There have been so many defining moments—many of them raw and ugly. But, after decades of prying into the lives of others, I needed to uncover the answer for myself. Life-altering events, like a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, have a way of pushing you to face those deep truths.

This book was my answer to that question. It is my hope that through sharing my story, it will help you to discover your gifts.

What were your biggest challenges with writing Blooming?

I had people who wanted me to structure the book differently, but I had a clear vision of how I wanted to share my stories. I was grateful to have read Glennon Doyle’s Untamed, because her book is structured differently and got such an incredible response.  It gave the courage to structure the book the way that I wanted.

Carrington Smith, author of Blooming, interview on The Table Read
Carrington Smith

What was your research process for Blooming?

I went back and did research on my family, read old newspaper articles, located books to quote from, and even looked on Google Earth to verify where we lived as a child.

How did you plan the structure of Blooming?

I structured my book by topic instead of chronologically.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Blooming need?

My publisher, Scribe Media, helped me with editing the book. My book needed more editing than I realized. It wasn’t that I needed help with grammar or punctuation.

Carrington Smith, author of Blooming, interview on The Table Read
Carrington Smith

Rather, my editors pushed me to write more on certain topics and to give more information to the reader. I’m grateful for their help. My book was intensely personal so it took a skilled and professional editing team to hold my hand through the process. In the end, it produced a better book.

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What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write Blooming?

Know your voice. If you aren’t clear on what your voice is, it can get edited out in the process. Spend some time writing articles or short stories to develop your voice. Behind every successful book is an author who knows who they are and has a clear perspective on the message they want to deliver.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I haven’t decided just yet, but I’m considering writing a fictional novel, a book on careers, and a sequel to Blooming.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Yes, it was worth the effort. The response from people has been incredible. Touching one life would make it worth it, touching many is a gift.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Author website

Instagram: @carringtonatx

Facebook: @carringtonatx


Work website:

Foundation website:  

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