Author Interview: Karen S. Bell
About the author:
All my work is inspired by social issues to which we all can relate. Issues such as, work/family stresses, the loss of a spouse and how marriage can sometimes swallow a woman’s identity, and the prevalence of greed in modern society.
Walking with Elephants was my first novel, although I was not new to writing. I was a theater critic and celebrity interviewer for a weekly tabloid in Jacksonville, Fl and I earned a Master’s in Mass Communication from Oklahoma State University. For 15 years I worked in Corporate America as a technical editor/editor/writer. I experienced first hand the politics and intrigue that goes with that territory and the balancing act that comes with being a working mother. I salute all those mothers who are the glue that holds their families together while pursuing the nine to five brass ring and were the inspiration for this work. Audible book is available and narrated by me.
With my second novel, Sunspots, I continue to be in awe of the magical and wondrous phenomenon called life. As an observer and obvious participant in feminine values and approach to our human challenges, I bring this perspective to my work. Fascinated by the mysteries of the unseen forces that perhaps play a role in guiding our choices, I search for answers in the mundane as well as in the cosmic forces that surround us.
Author Alexa Wainwright's pact with the Devil in When a Stranger Comes…is an allegory for the evil lurking in our midst. The social decay of modern society with its excessive greed, the ignorance of our political leaders, and our indifference toward the survival of all species from the effects of climate change, among other environmental pressures, are perhaps brought forth by the darkest forces of human nature. The audible book narrated by me is in production.
The genre of magical realism appeals to me and all my work has elements woven in. My current project is focused on a Bed and Breakfast that becomes a safe haven from the effects of climate change while celebrating the Feminine Divine and is set squarely in that realm.
I am working on my current project in Ponte Vedra, Fl. with my husband and our two furry kids. Our human kids have flown the nest and are scattered far and wide, alas.
What inspires you to write romantic fiction?
Although my stories contain romantic elements they are not strictly romances per se. I don't read books that only have the formulaic arc of a romance because I enjoy books with layers in the narrative. But, having said that, there's nothing like a good love story to make you laugh or cry. So I weave these elements into my work. All my work has a main plot line that deals with a relationship. My second novel, Sunspots, explores the heartbreak of losing a spouse suddenly after only two years of marriage. After a journey through grief and personal growth the MC is able to join the world again and find happiness.
Tell us about how you write.
I 'm very undisciplined in my writing ethic. I write wherever I am because when I am in the throes of creativity, sentences, words, plot lines just come to me. I can wake up with a sentence in my head to add to what I've already written or see an angle where to take the story when I'm making coffee. I do not outline on paper but in my mind. I also have to comb back through and revise while I'm in first draft mode. If I don't do that, I find I repeat myself (a weird phenomenon) also, I forget my characters" names, so I need to remind myself.
Do you listen to or talk to to your characters?
My characters usually take over and tell me the story. I love when that happens because the blank page is daunting. In Sunspots, a new character, a ghost, came into the storyline. I took a nap and when I woke up her name popped into my head and it was perfect. In Walking with Elephants, my MC visits her best friend unexpectedly because her life has taken a downturn. So I started writing that the MC, Suze, is ringing her friend's doorbell. When Marcia opens the door Suze sees the Marcia is a wreck and crying. I hadn't planned that scene, it just popped in my head and I let the narrative take it from there. In when a Strange Comes…,.I wanted to pretend what it felt like to be a very successful author. As soon as I started to introduce my MC her fear of losing her fame and status popped into my head. Boom! I was off.
What advice would you give other romance writers?
You know, I really have no advice. From what I can tell, readers love romances that border on porn, domination, etc. titilating covers. They seem to sell and the demand is high. Readers also seem to like lots of dialogue, like watching a movie.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
The choice, unfortunately, was made for me. I tried to get traditionally published and had some interaction with editors and major houses. But I couldn't get an agent. A small independent publisher took my debut and it was fun for a short while but her husband got ill and she had to shut down. She gave me all the files and I had experience through my work as an editor in using publishing software. I stayed with her distributer, Lightning Source. After I couldn't sell my second book I just went with Amazon and other online venues. I tried again to get an agent with my third and gave up. All my books now are exclusive to Amazon. I expect, I'll send out queries for my current project because you never know.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I've been at this for about twenty years. The change has been astronomical. Back then industry people thought ebooks didn't have chance. Now I think print books are in jeopardy. There are tons of indie writers flooding the market to grab readers. Companies that have email subscribers used to be a good place to market indies and now the ROI is pitiful. There are breakout successes in the porn area and young adult. I'm old now so my current project will be my last. I've been woefully disappointed that I'm a marginal presence as a writer. But my works have won awards. Readers today expect ebooks to be free (me included with Amazon prime) that I think that ebooks might become available in the future through a subscription service like Netflix. As an Indie author it's almost impossible to make a living unless you have money for marketing or have the odd book that captures the imagination of the public.
Which romance sub-genere(s) fit your stories best?
suspense, magical realism
My books are available in the following formats: