Drive-By Interview: Karen Rose!

It’s a real thrill for me to be interviewing one of my favorite people–who is also one of my favorite authors: Karen Rose. I first met Karen when she was the keynote speaker at my local chapter’s Silken Sands conference (we won’t mention the times earlier when I stalked her like a…stalker!). She was gracious and funny and not nearly as dark as her books would suggest! So, without further ado, I give you…Karen Rose!

Karen Rose

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing at the very beginning because I was seeing a scene roll through my mind, like a movie.  But I knew it was no movie I’d ever seen before.  This little clip seemed to be on an endless loop in my brain, distracting me from my engineering job, waking me up at night – essentially driving me crazy!  One day, while on vacation, I decided if I wrote it down, then it would go away.  It was July, 1993 and I was in Minneapolis in my friends’ basement, sitting on an ugly orange futon.  Hours later I was still sitting on that futon, writing like mad.  Four years and two-hundred-fifty thousand words later (yes, 250,000), that book became my very first novel.

I kept writing because I could wait to see what my characters would do next and because I was travelling a lot internationally for my job, couldn’t physically pack enough books in my luggage for the flight over, and couldn’t understand the TV when I got there.  I wrote to keep myself company, never expecting or even dreaming I’d be published.

Incidentally, my first book was released 10 years to the month that I started writing :).

What is it about romantic suspense that draws you to it as opposed to other sub-genres of romance?

I love the romance.  I’m a sucker for a happy ending!  Partially because when I started reading, I was in my twenties and my husband had just come out of chemotherapy (He’s fine now).  My life was terrifying and those happy endings really made things bearable.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also say I like the hotter aspects of romance :).

I didn’t start out writing suspense.  The first novel I shopped was more women’s fiction.  But someone who’d read my work said, “You have a suspenseful voice.  Have you ever considered writing suspense?”  I said, “No, but I’ll give it a try.”  It turned out to be my niche.

Suspense to me is one big puzzle.  The twists and turns keep it interesting for me and the humanity of the victims makes it very real. Putting romance and suspense together is like a Reece’s peanut butter cup, LOL.

Is there any particular subject or scenario that you won’t touch? Why or why not?

Gosh, I don’t know.  I’ve written a number of dark subjects. I try not to deal too much with animal torture in my books, at least not in the story itself (maybe in backstory).  It’s awfully painful for people to read.  

What do you think sets your writing apart from other romantic suspense authors? Or, if you had to name one thing that you’re shooting for when you write a book what would it be?

I’m trying to create a character that stays with my reader long after they finish the book, one you’d want to know yourself (or if the villain, one you DON’T want to know).  I want them to be real and the communities of characters in which they live to be genuine and warm.  I want you to want to come back and visit from time to time, and maybe wonder how they are.  If you want to know how a given character’s doing, just ask!  I know how many kids Dana and Ethan have now (two with one on the way), how old Tess and Aidan’s twins are, how Michael Ciccotelli’s heart condition is doing (he’s well, btw), what Susannah Vartanian’s up to (victim advocacy).  And I know how all my communities interact and will interact in the future.  For me, the characters are real people and that’s what I want you to feel, too.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? What is the easiest?

Hardest is the beginning, totally.  Where to start?!?  The easiest is the homestretch going into the end.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Hm.  Don’t think I’ve been asked that before.  I think it was after my first RWA National in 1999.  I decided, “Yeah, I can do this.”  It was a shift in my thinking.  Writing wasn’t a stolen pleasure anymore.  It was not quite a “job” yet, but there was some respectability and credibility that I gave my writing hours.

What do you like to read? Are you reading anything right now? Tell us about it.

I love paranormal romance with dark angsty heroes!  Next on my TBR list is TANGLE OF NEED by the fantastic Nalini Singh.  I’ve had the ARC on my desk for a few weeks, waiting until I’m done with my current book.  Looks like you guys will probably read it before me, though.  Also sitting on my e-reader is LOVER REBORN by JR Ward – Tohr’s story!  I can’t believe I’ve made myself wait this long.  Love those Black Dagger Brotherhood guys…

It’s no secret that Aidan Reagan from You Can’t Hide is one of my favorite heroes of all time. But, tell me, Karen, when will his partner, Todd Murphy get his HEA? *weeps*

Someday Murphy will get an HEA!  So many characters.  So little time.  I know who Murphy’s heroine will be, even.  I just have to have time to write the book.

*Fist Pump* Yesss!!!!! Uh, moving on…your new series is set in Baltimore—Why there?

YOU BELONG TO ME and NO ONE LEFT TO TELL are set in Baltimore.  Why there?  I was looking to start a new group and I grew up in the Baltimore-Washington area and thought it would be a lot of fun!  Maryland has a lot of great geography for settings, too.  Beaches are only a few hours’ drive from mountains. There is history, cultural diversity, and the potential for lots of crime, so it fit my needs to a T.

Tell us a bit about what’s up next for you.

I’m writing book 3 of the Baltimore series!  I initially planned the series to have 4 books – and yes, Stevie and Clay will be one of them :).   Of course once I start writing, all the new characters walk on screen and say PICK ME, PICK ME.  They can be quite insistent, LOL.  Thorne is the character that most comes to mind here, although there are a few in the book that I’m writing that are already demanding their own story.  So many characters, so little time :).

Thank you so much for being here with us today, Karen! You’re a rockstar!

So, you readers out there, talk to us! Got any burning questions for KR? Or maybe you’d like to talk about your favorite Karen Rose book. Or the romantic suspense you’re reading now! Comment, and one of you will win a copy of Karen’s latest No One Left to Tell.

Posted on June 5, 2012, in Author Interview, Manda Collins. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Thanks for coming today, Karen. You Can’t Hide is one of my favorite books and I can’t wait for the next books in your Baltimore series! I too have Tohr’s book waiting for me–I’m also a secret BDB fan but I’m waiting to read it when I go on vacation.

  2. Welcome Karen! Terrific Drive-by, Manda!
    Karen, what craft book or workshop presenter made the most impact on you in your career and why?

    • Thank you, Sarah! Hmmm. I think it was a workshop Lisa Gardner gave in 1999 at my first RWA conference on “How to write a Big Book.” It made me think about suspense writing a different way, made me notice different things about plot construction and POV. Kind of got me started.

      And, after the workshop, I had the good fortune to meet Lisa and she was her characteristic gracious self. She gave me more info, encouragement, and later a quote for my first book! So the workshop and the followup had an amazing start to my career.

      • mandacollinsauthor

        Ooh–butting in here–I discovered Lisa Gardner this year and was blown away. That doesn’t happen to me too often anymore, but I immediately started glommong her backlist. Wish she’d add a teensy bit more romance, but what’s there is cool too. –Carry on!

        • Lisa Gardner has LONG been one of my favs! I did take an online Suspense class with her in 2008 and saw her at a Murder By The Book booksigning this spring. I agree, she has class and grace! Great role model.

  3. mandacollinsauthor

    Yay! So glad to have Karen Rose with us! If you guys haven’t read NO ONE LEFT TO TELL, you are missing out. I really love this Baltimore world she’s created. And the hero of this one is mega hot!

  4. Great interview. Good job to both. Covers on the books are terrific. I’m going to check out the Baltimore series right now!

  5. mandacollinsauthor

    They’re great, Patrice. Longer than her previous books, which lets her give more depth to the characters and the mystery. And the romance! 😉

  6. Thanks, Sharon – (oh, I’ve snuck and read a little of the new BDB book. You’ll like it. Yep.)

  7. Thank you for having me here today, Manda!

  8. I “found “Karen about a year ago… Needless to say, I had to get everything she’s ever written. I love the suspense and of course the HEA. Do you listen to music when you write, if so, what are some of the songs/artists. And do you get to pick your titles? They seem to set the story before you even open the vol. I would love to win a copy of No One To Tell.

    • Thank you, Trish! Yes, I listen to music – NOLTT was Barry Manilow on an infinite playlist. This is true. The Vartanian trilogy was Josh Groban. But usually Manilow.

      I just want the background music and I’m less likely to sing along – unless it’s COPA-COPACABANA. Had to take that one out of my writing playlist, LOL.

      I also listened to a string quartet version of Albinoni’s Adagio as this is Lucy’s song.

  9. Karen thank you so much for joining us today! You are one of my favorite authors and I have to say it probably is because your characters feel real and alive. I think you put it so well when you spoke of wanting to know how they are doing long after the novel is closed. I haven’t started your Baltimore series yet and here it is time for the release of the second book in the series!
    Manda, great interview, and so glad to be reminded there’s a new Karen Rose series waiting out there for me. Hooray!

  10. Great interview, ladies. Karen, thanks for joining us on K&T today!

  11. I’m just starting to dip a toe into the romantic suspense genre and am looking forward to reading your books! I usually read straight up mysteries, so this will be slightly different. What is your favorite movie that you would classify as romantic suspense?

    • My favorite RS movie … I don’t know. I don’t think I watch RS movies. My movie taste runs a little more lowbrow. Like Will Ferrell in Taladega Nights.

  12. I love Karen Rose Novels… my fave would be “don’t tell” because it was my first book by her and i got hooked.
    The book I’m currently reading is The gamble by kristen ashely. Not a lotof suspense like Karen rose but still good.

  13. Rachel Grant

    Great interview, Manda and Karen! Karen, thanks so much for joining us today.

  14. Loved learning more about you, Karen. And also that your characters are as insistent as mine are. That “pick me, pick me” raucous is hard to ignore.

    Please come back and visit with us again!

    Diana Belchase

  15. Happy Release Day, Karen. The Reagan brothers are my favorite. Happy to hear that there will be more books to look forward to in the Baltimore series.

    • Thanks, Jane – I love the Reagan boys, too. Their mother’s kitchen is based on my husband’s aunt’s kitchen. I’ve always felt at home there 🙂

  16. I happen to be reading a suspense book right now by Kay Hooper. Not only am I enjoying it but it’s my first book by this author so, double score!

    As a reader I can relate to stories opening up like a movie and the scenes simply unfolding. It’s thrilling with romance suspense because I get the action and the happy ending. Those that end up being favorites are often because they do stay with me. Sometimes their fears become mine but the good thing is that so will their joy. Congrats on your latest release. I’m looking forward to it.

  17. I’m a total RS ‘ho… my Kindle TBR queue currently has 252 books, most of which are RS (plus the ~120 RS books on my ‘already-read’ pile). It’s chock-full of Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, Karen Rose (yes, I know, I’m way behind :P), Beverly Barton, Linda Howard, Karen Robards, etc. I think getting caught up on that should be my full-time job… who really needs postgraduate education, anyway?

    Currently reading CJ Lyons’s ‘Blind Faith’–I finished a contemporary literally 10 minutes ago & this one happened to be the first one on my TBR queue. Clearly, I have a great system for prioritizing my reads, haha.

  18. Very nice interview. I’m reading Jade Island by Elizabeth Lowell.

  19. sale before they can bring anyone in – with Lionel Messis new contract said to be tying their hands.

  20. The 19-year-old striker was the player of the tournament at 2016 Sao Paulo Youth Cup 鈥?and scored five goals in 15 first team appearances for Flamengo last season.

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