Interview with Karen

Describe your work process.

I’m not an early riser and I can’t seem to “get creative” at sunrise.  I do try to start writing by 9:30 or 10:00.  My office is in my home and there’s a large window facing the outside world where I can see people coming and going, hear birds calling and generally stare at nothing while trying to come up with what’s next in the book.   I live alone, so there’s absolute quiet in my house.  No music, as I find it distracting.  I tend to zone out into songs.  I break for lunch.  I like to cook, so preparing lunch—usually a salad—is enjoyable.  I quit around 5:00 p.m. and don’t go back to the computer at night unless I’m on deadline.  And then you may find me writing near midnight. 

How do you develop a book?

Once I have the general idea for a story, I write a synopsis consisting of about 20 pages.  That gives me the skeleton of the plot–the beginning, several things that happen, the climax and ending.  There’s always a mystery and I spend a lot of time and thought developing that element. I edit as I write.  After completing several pages, the next day I’ll edit that and push on.  Some authors write the whole book as a rough draft and then go back and fill in or enrich scenes, etc.  That doesn’t work for me.  But by the time I’ve completed the book, I’ve probably gone through a dozen revisions.  Next, the manuscript goes to my editor, who will read and make revision suggestions.  I can accept or reject those.  If I agree, they’re incorporated into the final version. 

How do you get your ideas?

This is one of the most frequent questions asked of me (and I’m guessing of most authors).  Ideas come from every source—people I meet, news media, television, my life, events in my daughters’ lives and—somehow—out of my imagination with no recognizable source.  I’m very interested in human nature.  Everybody has a story and, surprisingly, people frequently tell me they’re certain “their story” would make a great book.  Okay…but usually those ideas are—I’m sorry—boring…or too bizarre to turn into a book. 

Do you have any help in writing a book?

I would have answered this question with a flat “No!” until several years ago when I joined with four other established authors to brainstorm. At an annual meeting (usually in January) to discuss/critique/brainstorm our current works in progress, a book is born. Each of us has different strengths and write in different genres, e.g., women’s fiction, paranormal, sophisticated cozy mysteries and romantic suspense.  This became the single most beneficial factor in helping me write my books.

What about the “business of the business of writing?”  

I’ve never been interested in the business end of a career as a writer. Some authors take to this important part of publishing and throw themselves into it. To me, it is boring and time consuming. It’s distracting from from what I love most: writing. Thinking up a story/plot and developing it into a book. Fortunately for me, I have a fabulous publicist and personal assistant to relieve me of those issues. She is the liaison between the marketing and publicity at my publisher, plus she’s aggressive in finding opportunities for me to speak to book clubs, media outlets, etc. In fact, after I hired a publicist, my career really took off. So I’m not recommending ignoring the business of the business of writing. I’m simply saying it was the least fulfilling part of my life as a writer. 

However, writing the book is a solitary endeavor. I have to decide the theme of a book, the characters, the mystery, what happens. Fortunately for me, I like that part of the creative process. What I don’t like is that pesky deadline. But I know it’s a necessary evil.  Funny thing, after it’s all over and the book is in and everybody’s happy with it, I forget about the trials and tribulations of writing it.  It takes me about nine months to write a book.  I think of it sort of like having a baby.  And, like childbirth, once you see that sweet little face–that book–you forget all the pain it took to get there.