Q&A With Karen White
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Q&A With Karen White
Today I have the honor of doing a Q&A with Karen White. Karen White is a New York Times bestselling author. She writes what some call “grit-lit southern women’s fiction” as well as contemporary paranormal mystery series, and historical fiction with two authors who she has collaborated with Lauren Willig (whom I did a Q&A with last month) & Beatriz Williams. Karen’s work includes The Tradd Street Series, The Shop on Royal Street, The Last Night in London, & The Lost Summers of Newport.
Q: When in your life did you realize that your calling was to be an author?
A: I’m actually still waiting for that realization! I never planned (or wanted) to be an author but have always been an avid devourer of books. It is because of this and a book hangover that made it impossible for me to pick up another book to read that in a desperate moment I reluctantly started to write my first book. I considered it a fluke when it was published and even after over thirty books I’m still waiting for someone to “call me out” and label me an imposter.
Q: What drew you into writing contemporary paranormal mystery series also categorized as “grit lit southern women’s fiction” and historical fiction?
A: From my very first book, In the Shadow of the Moon, a time—travel novel set in Civil War Georgia, my goal has always been the same: write the kind of book that I’d want to read. I never set out to write a particular genre. I create my characters first and let them lead the way. In the case of my first series, the protagonist, Melanie Middleton, walked into my head one day when I was in the shower. She told me that she was OCD, worked as a Realtor specializing in historic homes, but hated old houses because she could speak to dead people, and old houses always contained a restless spirit or two who needed her help. And from that encounter, an entire series was born. That was the Tradd Street series and now I’m in the middle of the new spin-off series set in New Orleans, The Royal Street series. I don’t refer to them as “paranormal mysteries” because just like my single title books, they are stories about a woman’s journey with a hearty dose of family drama, history, mystery, and a dash of romance.
Q: For your contemporary paranormal mystery series, would it be fair to say that the characters and places within those books are based off of people you know and places you’ve been? I love it when an author can use inspiration from real life to create different worlds.
A: I’ve never set out to base a fictional character on someone I know in real life, but that doesn’t mean I’m not influenced by the people I’ve known. I think all of my characters come to me with bits and pieces of real people and create wholly unique characters. The only exception is for secondary roles where I insert friends or raffle winners or my brother-in-law, Rich Kobylt, who has appeared in many incarnations in my various novels, most notably in the plumber/handyman in the Tradd Street series.
Q: I did a Q&A with your friend and co-author Lauren Willig last month. From your perspective, what’s it like co-writing novels with both Lauren Willig and Beatriz Williams?
A: Collaborating with Lauren and Beatriz is the most fun an author can have while writing a book. Instead of relying on one brain to plot and craft a novel, there are three! We call ourselves the Uni-brain for this reason. There’s something magical when the three of us get together to collaborate on a novel and we each agree that we don’t think we could replicate our partnership with anyone else. It truly is a unique thing and we’re so fortunate that we discovered each other and the “special sauce” that makes our books so seamless.
Q: What is your advice to anyone wanting to co-write a novel with someone else? Is there an author you would love to collaborate with in the future that you haven’t collaborated with yet?
A: My advice would be to make sure that your writing styles are in sync. That is crucial. And no large egos are welcome. Beatriz, Lauren and I approach each book and character as OURS—so from the very beginning we know we are collaborating and nobody is the star of the show.
And even though I have a lot of friends in the author community, I can’t imagine writing with anyone else. It truly is a unique thing we have created.
Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If so can you please share any details?
A: I am working on a new solo single-title, but it’s still in its infancy so can’t share anything yet. The third book in the Royal Street series will be out in 2025 (so plenty of time for readers to catch up with the first two books and even read the entire Tradd Street series!). Team W just turned in our next novel and it is scheduled to be published in September 2024. We have a title but can’t share it yet so stay tuned!
Q: If you deal with writer’s block, what’s your advice to aspiring authors on how to deal with it?
A: I don’t believe in writer’s block. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t days when I can’t get my head in the game and would rather be doing anything else besides writing. That’s when I give myself permission to get up and do something else. The trick is making yourself sit back down in the chair and try again after you clear your head. Writing is a job. Like any other job, if you only chose to work when you felt like it, you wouldn’t have that job for long.
My best advice: It is always easier to fix a bad page than face a blank page. Just write. The story will come if you just keep at it.
Q: If you were to write in a different genre that wasn’t paranormal mystery or historical fiction, which genre would it be and why?
A: I’ve pretty much already written in every genre from time-travel to contemporary southern women’s fiction. I just go where the story leads me.
Q: What is your advice to new authors on how to deal with negativity whether it’s due to online trolls, unsupportive family members and friends, or bad reviews?
A: I’ve turned off all notifications for social media. I schedule my online time so that I’m not sucked into the time-warp it offers, and I only follow accounts of author friends, dogs, funny memes, favorite cities and old houses. There is too much negativity out there and I can’t let it distract me. I ignore family members who don’t support me, and I don’t read reviews. It’s so much better for my mental health!
Q: Does Hollywood have any interest or the rights to any of your novels? Hollywood is long overdue for creativity.
A: This is an ongoing game. I have been paid for a TV series that never happened and have had several books optioned with nothing ever actually making it to the small or big screen. There is a current deal that’s in the works, but I won’t share anything until I’m walking the red carpet—if it ever gets that far!