Karen Fenech is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic suspense. When Karen’s not writing or spending time with her family, she loves to shop, watch movies, or just kick back in a comfortable chair and read.
Karen, I really appreciate that you have taken time to do this interview for my Blog. I’d like to talk about your writing career, so far.
My great pleasure, Ken. Thank you for inviting me.
Q. You’ve said, in your bio, that you wanted to write since you were eleven years old, and you actually wrote a book based on the Nancy Drew mysteries. What ever happened to that book?
A. Oh, boy. : ) I remember putting those pages in a binder but draw a blank after that. I can’t recall what happened to that binder. It would be fun to take a look at those pages now.
Q. I imagine, as a young girl of eleven, you were heavily influenced by the Nancy Drew mysteries, as is perhaps typical for many girls of that age. What was it about the Nancy Drew mysteries that interested YOU?
A. I loved solving the mysteries along with Nancy and her friends. I loved following the clues along with Nancy.
Q. Your first novel, Unholy Angels, was written over a two-year period and released in 2004. Has writing gotten any faster and easier for you since 2004?
A. Yes, writing a novel now does not take me two years. I’m not sure about writing becoming easier, however. I try to challenge myself with each new book, to push beyond my comfort zone. That makes things hairy at times.
Q. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? Do you have a fixed routine or do you wait for the muse to strike you, like many writers?
A. I have a work schedule to meet writing deadlines. I find that I need to get business work out of the way before I can write and so I do that first thing and then write in the afternoon. If I’m deep into a book, I will often return to write late at night, continuing into the early hours of the morning. There’s something I love about writing late at night.
Q. You’ve achieved an extensive oeuvre so far in your climb to publishing success. You’ve got three series on the go: The Malice Series, The Protector Series, The Surrender Series. In addition, there are stand-alone books and a Short Story Collection. How do you find the time to keep up with all of this?
A. I know what I’m going to write before I sit down to do the actual writing. I outline each book. I may veer in terms of scenes I’d envisioned in the outline, but I don’t veer from the plot points or when each needs to be presented / revealed in the story.
I know the number of words I need to write each day to meet my deadlines. Things don’t always go according to plan. Life sometimes changes things. I account for that in my writing schedule, just in case.
Q. Who decides whether a series has been tapped out and can go no more, and it’s time to start another—you or your publisher? Can you tell us what factors are employed in determining this?
A. The ones who ultimately decide the fate of a series are the readers. It’s reader interest and support that determine whether or not a series will continue. Fortunately for writers, our readers are awesome and very supportive of their beloved series.
Q. Do you think it will reach the point where ideas for new plots and books will start to tax your creativity? If not, can you share your secret in avoiding this? If you think you might reach that point in future, how do you plan on overcoming this?
A. I don’t think creativity will be taxed. It may seem that way, but I think as we mature as writers, we become more selective of the ideas we choose to turn into books. Life experience and the point we are at in our lives also play a factor, I think.
I love the planning process when all things are possible. I get my creative juices flowing by constantly asking “what if”. I like a nice quiet walk along a beach or a snow-covered path to help me plan.
Q. What kind of research did you do for your books and how much time does it take? What are your sources, typically?
A. Research depends on the plot and the time period in which a book is set. For my historical, I consulted non-fiction books for specific information such as medicines and healing practices of the day.
For every day life, I was fortunate to come across a book written as a journal by people who’d lived during the time period I was writing in. The day-to-day accountings of every day life provided good insight into what it was like to live at that time. I found these accountings lent authenticity to my characters.
For my contemporary books with FBI and other law enforcement characters, I usually consult directly with specific agencies. I also consult with professionals in a given area where a book is set. For example, I needed to know decomposition of a body over a certain time period in hot weather and reached out to a coroner in that area for that specific information.
Regarding the length of time spent on research, it varies, dependent upon how deeply I need to go into a subject. Sometimes, though, I do get carried away. I find research fascinating.
Q. How do you arrive at the names for your characters? Is there a science behind this or are names chosen randomly? Is there a connection between names and characters?
A. Other than not naming characters after anyone I know, I choose names at will. I feel like a new parent, taking a look at my newborn for the first time and considering what name would suit my child. : )
Q. What is the most difficult part of YOUR artistic process in completing the cycle for one of your books?
A. Declaring a book as finished, I think. I tend to go over the material many times before I’m satisfied with it.
Q. If you couldn’t be an author, what would your career be?
A. I can’t imagine doing anything else. : )
Q. Do you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
A. If I decided to also write in a different genre, I would introduce a pseudonym to distinguish the books.
Q. Did you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people would know of?
A. That sounds like fun, but, no. That might be something to ask my readers about going forward, to include them in a secret.
Q. There are actors who will not see a movie they’ve appeared in, after it’s completed. Do you ever read your books after they are published? If so, why? If not, why not?
A. I keep notes on happenings in each of the series books, but I always reread the last book in a series before I write the next book in that series.
I also reread the last book to regain the feel for the tone of the series. Each series has a different feel to it and I want to be sure to remain true to that tone.
Q. What do you think are the most important magazines/journals for aspiring writers to subscribe to?
A. When I began, I read Writers’ Digest and The Writer. Since the advent of self-publishing, I think a lot of good information can be found online at sites about writing and publishing. A Google search reveals many good sites to explore. It’s wonderful to have access to so much valuable information.
Q. What do you consider the mark of success for a writer? How does she know she’s been successful?
A. Success differs for everyone. I think happiness = success. If writers are happy when writing their stories, then they can count themselves a success.
Q. What’s the most difficult stumbling block for you in writing characters of the opposite sex?
A. I take time to consider outlook. Though faced with the same situation, people will not necessarily view it the same. I like to take time to put both my male and female characters in that same situation to find those differences.
Q. Is writing cathartic in any way for you? If so, how and why?
A. I’ve read of writers who deliberately write about things that frighten them as a way to work through that fear. I’ve been very fortunate and have never experienced anything that has frightened me to a point where it has stayed with me beyond that moment. That said, I do write through things that are troubling me, be they writing related or personal.
Q. Is there a central theme in your books? Is there a common message to the reader?
A. I hope when my readers close one of my books they feel they have read a story in which women are also heroes, each in her own way, each capable of courage, persistence, strong belief in her own abilities, and of giving great love and deserving of it.
Q. If it’s not giving away any trade secrets, what’s your next project / What are you working on now?
A. I’m currently working on the sixth book in my Protectors series.
Q. If you were to pass on one particular piece of advice to an upcoming writer of Historical Romance Fiction and suspense novels, what would it be?
A. I think to any writer, regardless of genre, I would say, be our own cheerleader. Celebrate each piece of our writing.
Q. Taking into account the massive changes in technology that are spearheading a move towards an electronic medium for books, where do you think the writing profession is heading?
A. It’s a wonderful time to be a writer. We have so many opportunities and outlets for our work. We have the great fortune to be in direct contact with our readers and build friendships. I think this close contact may pave the way for interactive books.
Q. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
A. I love to hear from readers. Please do reach out to me through my website email. Due to writing deadlines and the volume of incoming mail, it may take a while for a response. I appreciate your understanding and your patience. Thank you to all for writing
Karen, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Here’s wishing you all the best in your future writing and other endeavours.
Ken, thank you. It’s been so nice spending time with you and your readers.