Carter Seaton began writing in the ’90s, when she lived part time on Longboat Key.
As a child, Carter Seaton made her own library.
If her friends asked to borrow her books, she made them sign the books out. She added little triangle pockets to her books with sign-out slips.
But despite her love of reading — she was an English major in college — she never thought about becoming an author.
The idea for her first book sprang up while she was telling a friend about her grandfather. Her friend told her that his story would make a great book, and Seaton took that as a challenge.
With a background in marketing, writing wasn’t foreign to her, but writing books was a different task.
“I write press releases,” she said to her friend. “I don’t write novels.”
But in 2003, that book, “Father’s Troubles,” was published.
The book is about a man, based on Seaton’s grandfather, who gambles on the ability to leverage everything, Seaton said. He is a banker and owns a lot of real estate.
Seaton, who never met her grandfather, said she thinks he would be similar to John Ringling. Her grandfather drove a similar car to Ringling — a 1926 Pierce-Arrow touring car. And though the novel is set mostly in West Virginia, the man in the book often visits Sarasota, specifically during the time of the construction of the John Ringling Causeway and the development of the Longboat Key Club.
“To me, Longboat Key is a magical place that I gravitate to,” she said.
The first time Seaton visited Longboat Key was in 1964. The second time she visited, the family stayed at Land’s End. Eventually, her parents, who were involved with the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, bought a home on Norton Street, and in the 1990s, she rented a home on Linley Street, which is where her writing career began.
“I just feel like I sort of grew up on Longboat,” Seaton said. “I know it like the back of my hand.”
Today, Seaton lives in Huntington, W.Va. She comes back to Longboat Key at least once a year to visit her son, Jimmy, who owns Longboat Limousine.
Since her first novel, Carter has written numerous books, including one on the back-to-the-land movement in the ’60s and ’70s about hippies who fled metropolitan areas for rural lands. She also wrote a biography of Ken Hechler, formerly the oldest living congressman in the country whose life spanned from World War I in 1914 to his death in 2016 at the age of 102.
Currently, she is searching for a publisher for a novel she wrote about a farming woman in West Virginia who learns she has inherited an estate in Charlottesville, Va., from an uncle she didn’t know existed.
The woman has to move to the estate for nine months and decide whether to keep it.
“What is home? Is home where your ancestors came from, or is home where you live, where you grew up?” said Seaton of the questions her character struggles with in the book. “Do I want that kind of an upscale life where I feel out of place? Now that I’ve already lived a little bit of that, am I going to be accepted when I go back? So, she has to make a decision and all sorts of other things happen while she’s there.”
The 77-year-old has two ideas for future books, and she isn’t sure which one she’ll do first. One would be an “as told by” memoir of her husband, Richard Cobb. He was a manager of rock concert venues in the 1960s and ’70s. She said her husband has stories about Elvis Presley and various promoters and acts he met through his career.
Her other work is based on a true story about a man who was wrongly convicted of rape and murder. The man’s lawyer was a court-appointed attorney who was so distressed he couldn’t get the suspect off that he ran for state legislature to overturn the death penalty and succeeded.
While some stories are inspired by people and places, others involve incidents in Seaton’s life. Following a comment made by a friend, Seaton wrote “amo, amas, amat … an unconventional love story.”
The book follows a conservative Baptist woman who thinks she has found her Prince Charming. It isn’t until they are married and she is pregnant that she learns he is gay. She flees and finds herself in a new neighborhood with a new best friend. It isn’t until she gets close with her neighbor that she learns she is a lesbian.
“So then she has to confront (herself and ask), if I like this person this much how can I throw her under the bus just because she is gay?” Seaton said.
Though Seaton’s work hasn’t brought her to another story about Longboat Key and Sarasota, the idea is a possibility, she said.
“I never thought of a story that caught me here (Longboat), but that doesn’t mean it won’t,” she said.