Tonight I am bringing you such a wonderful interview with Karen Welch! Pleae enjoy it and be sure to check out the excerpt she shares with us on her blog! 🙂
What are you currently working on?
The title of my work in progress is Shannon’s Daughter. It’s actually the backstory of one of the “supporting” characters in my series. I’m hoping my readers are as intrigued by Peg Shannon as I became while writing about her and will want to know more about what made her the woman we first met in Hearts Unfold.
How many books do you have published and what are their titles?
Currently I have five titles on the market. Hearts Unfold, Entreat Me Not, Heart of My Own Heart and Offered for Love, Books One through Four of the Miracle at Valley Rise Series, and the holiday novella, Christmas at Valley Rise, which is a related title, bringing the series characters into the 21st century. All are available for Kindle and in paperback through Amazon.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I started writing as a teenager, the way a lot of us did. I was an English major during my brief college career, and fully intended to “be a writer.” Fast forward forty years, and I realized there was only another decade or two left to get that done! Hearts Unfold grew out of a short story I had written over forty years ago, but this time around it really took off! I was only writing for myself, so I just let it go where it wanted to take me. If there was an actual inspiration, it was the idea that without any specific goal of writing a “marketable” product, I could write the story that was not only in my head, but in my heart. Since no one would ever read it, I didn’t have to appeal to a certain audience or write according to any specific formula. That freed me to actually write in my own voice for the first time, and the result was surprising, to say the least!
Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer?
I’m not sure how to answer that except to say that everything I write sounds very much the same, so that must be my style. One reviewer paid me a compliment by saying that there is a nice “rhythm” to my prose. I have a strong musical background, so perhaps there is a musicality to my writing as well.
How did you come up with the title of your books?
The titles are all taken from either scripture passages or hymns which appear somewhere in the stories. Some are more direct than others, but I never had to really search for a title, they just sort of jumped out at me!
Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp?
It wasn’t intentional, but as the work progressed it became clear to me that the overriding theme in the series is the transforming power of love in all its incarnations.
How much of the book is realistic/true?
While the settings, characters and plot are pure fiction, I did research the time period (not relying on my memory of the 1970’s, although I was certainly there!) I wanted to create settings and situations readers would recognize as familiar parts of their own lives, so I admit there are a lot of details included for that reason. One reader told me how much she wanted to sit down in the farmhouse at Valley Rise with my heroine, Emily, and have one of her ham sandwiches, so I guess detail does grab some people!
Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
It varies. I’ve never known a Stani Moss, a musical genius/searching soul. He just “walked in the door” and revealed himself in the most amazing ways. But I’m sure there’s something of myself in Emily Haynes, and in a few of the other female characters, too, although I didn’t set out to write about myself. Some of my secondary characters are drawn from people I’ve known and loved, or maybe not loved quite so much! James McConnell, the returning Vietnam vet, is definitely inspired by boys I knew who were similarly scarred by war, and he is also a kind of tribute to a very special friend who didn’t return. At my age, past sixty, it’s fair to say everything I write is drawn to some degree from what I’ve learned from living.
What books have most influenced you life?
I plowed through the literary classics very early on. As a girl, I loved Alcott and Twain, moved on to duMaurier,
Hemingway and Steinbeck in my early teens, read everything written by Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse. Recently, I’ve especially enjoyed Maeve Binchey and Alexander McCall Smith. I read to feel good, and I probably write much the same way.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
That’s an easy question to answer. I was blessed with a wonderful teacher starting in the 6th grade who took a special interest in me and encouraged me to write. We worked together all through my school years and even beyond on my “scribblings”. She believed in what she called ‘my gift’ and I never forgot her faith in me, even when I lost it in myself for a time.
Do you see writing as a career or a hobby?
Neither, because I know from experience careers can be changed and hobbies can grow stale. Writing is an essential passion, an outlet without which I would be incomplete. Whether my work is published or stays in a file in my computer, the act of “putting words on paper” is the most rewarding and enjoyable thing I can think of doing. The added bonus of discovering that it entertains someone else is wonderful, and I admit a little extra income is nice too, but the fact is I write for myself the same way I breathe or eat.
If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. Once written, re-written, edited and polished, you have to walk away.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I think after devouring enough books as a child, I got the notion I could tell stories too. I had a wild imagination, according to my mother, and I was in love with words. The next natural step was to get a clean notebook and start writing!
Can you share a little of our current work with us?
Here’s a link to a sample of Shannon’s Daughter I recently put on my blog. http://valleyrise.blogspot.com/2013/06/shannons-daughter-look-inside.html
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It’s a little unexpected, but now that I have a readership who’ve told me what they like about my work so far, I find I worry about doing anything different. With Shannon’s Daughter, I’m leaving the “clean romance” of Miracle at Valley Rise for something a little more explicit. I’m caught between staying within my comfort zone and telling the story as it demands to be told. That tells me I need to stretch myself, difficult as it may be, and give myself permission to just write the book!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Give your readers the respect they deserve by producing a quality product, not just a good story. In this age of Indy publishing, it’s too easy to shoot something out there without taking the time to polish and that says to your reader that while you might have potential, you’re not taking this writing thing seriously. There have always been bad books, even some that made money. If you’re really a writer, yours shouldn’t be one of them.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you! From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate every sale, every review, every email and FB “Like”! I’m so gratified to see the sales of Books Two through Four in the series, because that says to me that you liked my first effort and took the time to come back for more. I never expected to have “readers,” and now I know you’re the very best part of this whole experience!
What character from your writing is your favorite and why?
Last question and one of my favorites! Stani Moss, the hunky little red-haired violinist and true hero of Miracle at Valley Rise, is by far the closest to my heart. He began as a lost soul, a genius with little knowledge of living who is given a second chance at learning to be a man, not just a musician. Watching Stani grow was such an adventure for me. He insisted on showing me the way, refused to be manipulated for the sake of a good plot, and in the end, I think he did a much better job of developing his character than I ever could.
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