Saturday, June 13, 2015
Author Interview with Karen Witemeyer
Heidi here. One of my favorite historical authors, Karen Witemeyer is with us today! Her latest novel, A Worthy Pursuit, released at the beginning of June.
Christy Award finalist and winner of both the ACFW Carol Award and HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. You can connect with her on Facebook, the Petticoats and Pistols blog, and a group inspirational blog.
Karen, thank you for stopping by today and congratulations on your new novel, A Worthy Pursuit. I found the romance between Charlotte and Stone simply spell binding. How in the world were you able to keep them apart for over 300 pages?
Well, I started them off as enemies, so that helped for a while. Then I gave poor Charlotte serious trust issues when it comes to men. Betrayed by her father, a past beau, an employer – she had a lot of baggage to work through. Thankfully, Stone was tenacious and not about to let her past stand between them forever. His patient, steady wooing of her makes for some delicious romantic tension.
Well, the plan worked. As I read this novel, the romantic tension was what got me flipping and flipping the pages! Where do your story and character ideas come from?
There is usually a single spark that gets a book idea started. For A Worthy Pursuit, that spark was the idea of incorporating gifted children—child prodigies, each having a gift in a different field. And the one who doesn't consider himself gifted ends up being the one who saves the day, proving he is, in fact, remarkable.
I also wanted to play with the idea of opposites attracting. So I chose a refined, educated headmistress who doesn't trust men and paired her with a man of action and intrigue who practically walks off the pages of a dime novel. I couldn't wait to throw them together and challenge their preconceived notions of each other.
Yes, I loved the child prodigies in this novel. And how you showed characterization with the grandfather who used his granddaughter's abilities for his monetary gain. But, back to your writing journey. Who/What spurs you to write?
Since I'm under contract, my deadlines and professional obligations are the biggest spur to my writing. But what keeps me going day after day are the messages I get from readers sharing with me how my stories impacted them. There is nothing better than learning that something I wrote made a difference in someone's life.
Amen! What advice can you give to aspiring novelists to produce a sound novel that’ll sell?
Learn the craft. Don't rush the process. Everyone is in a hurry these days to get their books into the market, but for a book to sell well, it can't be rushed or thrown together. Put in the time. Find critique partners and/or editors to help you polish your manuscript until it shines. I wrote for 6 years before I signed my first contract. Finally, develop characters that tug on your own heartstrings, because if they don't affect you, they won't affect readers, either.
Great advice, thank you! For the writers out there, can you share how you plot a novel? And the million dollar question, how close to the final version does the first draft read?
OK . . . brace yourself. I only write one draft. (Gasp!) I know, it sounds crazy. The trick is that I write incredibly slowly. I write one polished chapter a week. I send each chapter off to my critique partners as I go. Then I self-edit, work in the critique comments, and move on to the next chapter. When I get to the end of the manuscript, I turn it in. Now, there are always edits that come back from my publisher, so in truth I do write two drafts, but I don't write like most people do by getting all their story ideas down in a big burst of creativity and then going back to edit and layer. I edit as I go. I'm too much of a perfectionist to turn off my internal editor, so I work with him instead. I'm an odd duck.
I do write out a detailed synopsis with all the major plot points included before I start writing, and for the most part, I stick to my road map pretty carefully. I take occasional detours and change things from the original synopsis, but most of these are minor changes. All the major things stay in place.
A woman after my own heart. Write it right, once! No wonder you stay on track with your contracts. Now, how about a fun question . . . You are headed to a deserted Island and can bring only two items with you, what do you bring?
My husband. So I won't get lonely. (Does that count as an item?) And . . . hmm . . . I can't decide between a jumbo box of matches and a gross of toilet paper. (Can you tell I have a strong practical streak?) Think I better go with the matches.
Okay, I never thought about the toilet paper angle. You make good points with the matches and tp. I would have brought chocolate, shows practicality isn't my number one character trait! Karen, this has been fun! Please tell us about your future books.
My next project will be a novella that carries over two of the characters from A Worthy Pursuit, Dan and Marietta. I just couldn't leave those two alone without giving them their own happy ending. Plus, I had so much fun writing snippets of dime novels in Stone and Charlotte's story that I decided to start each chapter of the novella with a short scene from a Dead-Eye Dan dime novel. So you'll end up getting two stories for the price of one! The individual novella is title The Husband Maneuver but it will release as part of a larger collection titled On Bended Knee: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry. I believe it comes out in January.
We'll be looking for them! Thank you for your time today, and congratulations again on the success of A Worthy Pursuit. Leave a comment for a free copy of A Worthy Pursuit, thanks for the copy Karen. I'll announce the winner on Monday!