After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone with the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O'Hara. In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from
Karen currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—southern women’s fiction—and has recently expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in
Karen hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in
How did you get started in your writing career?
I entered the first three chapters of my first book, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON, in a RWA chapter contest. I entered because the first round judges were published authors and I figured they'd know best whether or not I should quit my day job (which I didn't really have to begin with). The finalist judges were all top NY literary agents--but I never even thought I'd get that far. I ended up winning the contest and the finalist judge (who'd once been Nora Roberts' editor) offered to represent me. She sold that book and every book since and is still my agent.
Your stories are well-known for the depth of emotion, character, and setting. Do you plot? Do you know what will happen at the end of the book before you start writing?
I really want to lie and say, "yes, of course I plot," but instead I'm going to let everybody know what a fraud I am! I don't plot. I have a general idea of what's supposed to happen--but that always changes. Maybe that's why my editor has given up on asking for a synopsis because she knows it's not going to bear any resemblance to the finished book anyway. I do have to give a general outline to get the money and contract released, but that's usually the last time I see that outline as all bets are off once I start typing. I will admit that it makes writing a book AGONIZING, but I also think it makes my books better since I write like I'm a reader, dying to know what's going to happen next.
You've written historical, mystery, and women’s fiction, but you are wickedly funny in person. Do you have any other genres up your sleeve?
Thank you, dear. My teenagers don't think I'm funny at all. This is why I creep them on Facebook so their friends will know I’m funny.
What’s the worse or best advice you've received about writing?
The worst advice: When I was first starting out, I took an online course where the instructor informed us that if we didn't outline each character and each scene of our works-in-progress, we had no hopes of ever publishing a book, much less finishing one. Ha! That class has made me wary ever since of taking further classes or even reading 'self-help' books.
The best advice: Own your work. That's from Susan Elizabeth Philips from a workshop she gave at RWA a few years back. Your name is the name on the cover of the book and therefore the book should reflect YOUR vision of it, and not anybody else's. I'm blessed to have an amazing editor who believes in letting me write the way the stories come to me. When I wanted to write THE MEMORY OF WATER in 4 points of view, all of them first person, she didn't even blink. And that book has become my biggest seller, with over 150,000 copies in print.
Tell us about your most recent release THE LOST HOURS?
This story came to me in a weird way. I literally heard the voice of a young girl telling me, "When I was 12 years old, I helped my grandfather bury a box in the backyard of our
When Piper Mills was twelve, she helped her grandfather bury a box that belonged to her grandmother in the backyard. For twelve years, it remained untouched.
Now a near fatal riding accident has shattered Piper’s dreams of Olympic glory. After her grandfather’s death, she inherits the house and all its secrets, including a key to a room that doesn’t exist—or does it? And after her grandmother is sent away to a nursing home, she remembers the box buried in the backyard. In it are torn pages from a scrapbook, a charm necklace—and a newspaper article from 1939 about the body of an infant found floating in the
Karen White gives back a great deal of her time speaking to readers and mentoring new writers. We really appreciate her spending the day with us, and she appreciates everyone who has stopped by today! As a thank you to those who leave comments, you will be entered in a random drawing for copy of Karen’s hard-to-find and out-of-print AFTER THE
You can learn more about Karen White at http://www.karen-white.com