I actually had the opportunity to interview Karen back in 2012, when Road Apples, her first release through Musa Publishing, was fairly new. Since then she’s published four more novels through Musa Publishing. So I thought I should get all caught up with her and see how things have changed–and how her approach to the writing process has grown.
Please give her a warm welcome.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your books?
The five novels released through Musa Publishing fall under the genre of Adult Fiction, which call “Fiction Noir.” The books were written stand-alone, with interconnected characters and events, and in the fictional setting of an actual rural town—Susanville, located in northeastern California. Many of my themes address religious dogma and interracial romantic relationships.
In Road Apples (the only novel written in first-person narration) Madeline Benités has a one-night stand with an older man, Wyatt McLain. The affair culminates in a romance, and in this case, a “Happily Ever After,” following some extreme social challenges.
The Curious Number was intended to be provocative. The novel encompasses events in the lives of three siblings—James, Rose, and Justine, now adults—who were raised by their grandmother, Marlene Burich. Marlene is suffering from early stage dementia, and commits a capital crime. The Curious Number addresses social mores and interracial taboos across three generations.
Death by Bitter Waters contains ten short stories, written as a study on Contemporary Red Power in California, specifically Lassen County, and an economy supported by the Ruby Mountain Indian Casino. Death by Bitter Waters discusses the change in dynamic between cultures, from mass genocide by whites against Indians in the latter part of the nineteenth century, to the newfound affluence of Indian Gaming, and the small tribe that essentially “owns” the town.
Big Lies in Small Town follows the family of Kate and Paul Sumner, beginning with daughter, Kristina, who is forced to kill a classmate who is about to carry out a high school shooting. Big Lies is written with an intensity that highlights the gun culture and conservatism in small town California, a polar opposite from the majority political stance in the Golden State.
In Small Town, Add Vice, peaceful and unassuming Susanville is quietly plagued with murder, mayhem, greed and self-serving political factions, artfully concealed behind its charming facade. With unrequited lust, avarice, and political favor, Small Town, Add Vice endures as a candid examination of the darker side of small-town life.
2. When did you decide you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?
Back in 2003, when I self-pubbed a debut novel, Green Earth. Though it sold modestly, I got a taste of the potential of writing for profit, while maintaining artistic integrity.
3. If you could attribute your writing success to one turning point in your life, what would it be and why?
Definitely the evolution of a conventional life spiced with quirky events that allowed me insight into the human psyche.
4. Can you give us a brief rundown of your writing process?
I develop an idea from a wide array of characters I’ve created in several fictional towns in California, hence the interconnected stories in the books published through Musa. Often I write a brief synopsis, and then write a bare bones outline, although I tend to write as a “panster,” as though the characters are relating the events as they unfold using me as a conduit.
5. What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?
The most difficult part is remaining focused while writing, and staying on point with the storyline. Often I sit in the back of a classroom while my husband conducts a music class. So, I’ve learned to shut out peripheral conversation.
6. How much planning do you do before you start a new book?
I estimate a good three weeks+ of thinking about a storyline, and developing characters in my head.
7. What’s your take on writer’s block? Does it exist, and if it does, how can you cure it?
Yes, the dreaded Block exists, and the only way to overcome its control is to switch my attention to a different manuscript. This definitely works wonders.
8. What methods have you found most successful for marketing your books?
Word of mouth, and Facebook.
9. If you could give an aspiring writer only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Watch out for scammers in the publishing field, which means do your homework and research a publishing house before sending out your queries.
10. What are you working on now that readers can look forward to?
I have an Erotic Romance coming out in July 2014 with Secret Cravings Publishing, entitled The Secret Life of Richard McCoy. The storyline involves a woman married for almost thirty years, who uncovers extensive financial and sexual hanky-panky when her husband dies suddenly on a business trip.
Author Bio: When not writing, Karen Kennedy Samoranos co-manages a music education business in the Bay Area with her husband, Clifford, focusing on jazz theory and live stage performance for children ages 5 through 18. She has four adult children, and four young grandchildren. In her off hours, she hikes, and is an avid fisherman, and motorcyclist (both dirt and street), and an advocate for regular exercise, red wine and whole foods.
Do you have thoughts you’d like to share with Karen? How about questions? Leave them in the comments below.