Jen: Today we kick a new week at Romancing the Book with a visit from Karen Rose Smith. Karen, will you share a short bio with us?
Karen: An only child, Karen Rose Smith delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that’s why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances.
Readers often ask her about her past times. She has herb, flower and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens. And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn’t all about work, awards and Bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.
Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. Her website is the portal to her latest news, releases and social media feeds at http://www.karenrosesmith.com. It’s like a treasure map with new surprises to reveal at each click. For day to day chatting, search on Facebook for KarenRoseSmithBooks. Tweet withKaren on Twitter @karenrosesmith. Her blog, Cats, Roses…and Books! discusses whatever is uppermost in her mind at http://karenrosesmith.blogspot.com/. She hopes each and every one of her books brings you reading pleasure and warm feelings to surround your heart.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest releases and where the ideas came from.
Karen: My newest Kensington mystery release, DRAPE EXPECTATIONS, is the fourth book in my Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery series. Mirabelle, a white Persian cat, is on the cover. My sleuth, Caprice, takes in strays and finds them homes. This time, however, she adopts the murder victim’s cat. My husband and I have given a home to four rescued cats and this is a subject dear to my heart. In addition, I wanted to give a character from the previous books, Ace Richland, a bigger role in the series. He is a rock star legend making a comeback and became friends with Caprice when he bought the house she staged. Music has always been important to me, so I particularly enjoy working with this character. His girlfriend, Alana Goodwin, is the murder victim, and he is a suspect.
The idea for THE COWBOY’S SECRET BABY (Book 3 in the Mommy Club series for Harlequin Special Edition) came to me in a roundabout way. The heroine, Marissa is a continuing character from the first two Mommy Club books. I always enjoy writing about cowboys and ranches, but I wanted to make this cowboy a little different. I have physical challenges in my life–fibromyalgia and back fractures–and know how frustrating physical limitations can be. So I made my cowboy, Ty Conroy, a rodeo rider who’d been bested by a bull. He’s still recovering from a knee replacement and dealing with the repercussions of finding a new life. Marissa’s love helps him heal and gives him direction.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing? Tell your “call” story.
Karen: My first real writing assignment happened in 8th grade when I had to write an autobiography. In high school, writing assignments seemed to come easily. I also began writing poetry. I was fortunate to have one published in the high school literary magazine. In college I was an English major and a creative writing course taught me the art of writing short stories. However, in college I also co-authored a script for the Monkees TV show. We sent it to every concert venue Special Delivery that summer. I also began my first novel. Then life happened–marriage, a baby, teaching. Until I had back surgery and was flat on my back on a hospital bed in our family room for 4 years. That’s when I seriously began writing romance. After finishing 13 manuscripts six years later, I got the call from my agent–Meteor/Kismet wanted my book. A week later, while I was trying to sell our microwave to an interested couple (we were in the process of packing to move) I got another call from my agent. Silhouette Special Edition wanted another of those 13 books.
Jen: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Karen: I’m definitely a plotter. If I know where I’m going, I can get there faster! From the beginning of my writing career, I wrote to escape physical pain. Concentration was easier if I had each scene plotted. When I began to write each day, I could slip back into my storyline with my outline in front of me. That’s how I work today. That’s not to say I don’t deviate from my synopsis when my characters become rambunctious. But for the most part, my synopsis is a road map.
Jen: What kind of research did I do for this book?
Karen: For DRAPE EXPECTATIONS, I researched all things antebellum from architecture, to decor, to dinners during that time period. I also researched Southern food. I always try to find an unusual aspect of the story to interest my readers. In DRAPE, I explored valuable guitars and their worth.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?
Karen: The most challenging aspect of writing after writing over 85 books is to keep each book interesting and different. The easiest aspect for me is usually the relationships in the novel–whether they are forming between a couple or swirling around family members. The most rewarding aspect is always writing “The End” knowing I’ve brought readers hope with another romance or a puzzle to solve with a murder-mystery.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Karen: I definitely have a favorite character. It’s Caprice from my Caprice De Luca mystery series. She takes in stray animals, loves retro fashion and design, has a Beatles ringtone on her phone, loves her big Italian family and has a passion for decorating and cooking. She’s my alter ego. Caprice can say and do things I always wished I could. I gave her the house I grew up in and her parents’ house was my first home. She makes writing her stories easy.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Karen: There are two more books in my Caprice De Luca mystery series. I’ve just completed book 5, SILENCE OF THE LAMPS, which will be released in May 2016. I have also recently finished a romance for Harlequin Special Edition’s Fortunes of Texas continuity series. That book will be released in March 2016. At present, I am working on the first book in a new mystery series–Daisy Swanson’s Tea Garden Mystery series.That book is scheduled for publication late summer or early fall 2016.