Interview & Contest: Karma Brown

profilepic-298x300Jen: Today we welcome Karma Brown as her blog tour makes a stop at Romancing the Book. Karma, will you share a short bio with us?
Karma: Karma Brown is a National Magazine Award winning freelance writer and journalist, and a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. She lives just outside Toronto with her family and writes powerfully emotional upmarket women’s fiction, in the vein of Me Before You. COME AWAY WITH ME is her first novel.

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Jen: Will you tell us a little about Come Away with Me?
Karma: My debut, Come Away with Me, is about a young couple, Tegan and Gabe, who lose their unborn child in a car accident, and it strives to answer the question, “Does tragedy pull us apart, or bring us closer together?” Tegan, grief stricken and devastated, struggles to forgive Gabe, who was driving the car that night. Then when she hits rock bottom, she agrees to travel with Gabe to three destinations from a wish list they came up with before they were married. From Thailand to Italy to Hawaii, they search for forgiveness and a way to move past the loss. However, Tegan is eventually forced to accept you can’t escape grief no matter how far you run, and that happiness is possible if you’re willing to let go.

I hoped to write a book that challenged me emotionally, where I had to ask, “What would I do if my worst fears came true?” My husband and daughter are at the center of my universe, and the thought of moving through life without them is unfathomable. So I have always been in awe of those who find a way to move past life-changing tragedies – to find joy and happiness again in an imperfect life, and I wanted to explore that bravery and determination.

Hannah and Ben know their baby is at great risk if delivered so early—something Kate’s husband, David, is pushing for, as he believes removing the stress of the pregnancy could give Kate’s brain a chance to heal. What follows is an emotionally charged story about two mothers – one desperate to protect her unborn child, the other on the brink of death – and the impact those struggles have on their families and friendships.

Jen: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Karma: Both! So I’ve come up with the term ‘plantser’ to describe how I write a book. It’s been trial and error, but what works best for me is to write a detailed synopsis of the story idea (my synopses generally run about 10 pages) before I’ve written a single word of the book. Then I take that outline and set up chapters in Scrivener (writing software I can’t live without), with only a sentence or two about each scene. This way I make sure the story has legs and won’t fall apart at 40,000, but I still have freedom to change things as I go. The one part I can’t seem to plot early is the ending – it’s generally unclear until I hit about 45,000 words, when I usually get that ‘Ah HA!” moment.

Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Karma: I love to run – it’s one of the best ways I’ve found to relieve stress and fix sticky plot problems, but of course there’s the issue of how to capture great ideas that come to mind while I’m on the trail. So if a great line of dialogue or a scene idea comes to mind while I’m running I repeat it in my head until I’m home and can write it down. I’m sure people wonder what I’m whispering to myself as I run past them. J

Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Karma: I have a 7-year-old daughter who I love reading with, and am so inspired by the idea of writing a book for her one day. As a result I have a middle grade story about 70% plotted out, and a picture book about a dragonfly who is afraid of dragons … though I have no idea if I can actually write kids lit. One genre I won’t write is young adult. I’m lucky to say my teenaged years were perfectly fine if not a tad mundane, so I’m fairly certain it would be quite a boring book!

Jen: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what 3 things would you take with you?
Karma: I would travel back to the 1960s – I’m an avid Mad Men fan, and though there are many (many) things I know I’d hate about being a woman in the 60s, there’s also a simplicity to that era I find appealing. The three things I’d take with me are a modern cookbook (a lot of gelatin moulds graced dinner tables in those days), my iPhone (I’d leave my data plan behind, but being able to write notes and take photos would be fantastic), and my running shoes so I could work off all those ‘pigs in blankets’ and jello salads.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Karma: My sophomore book, Because of You, hits shelves July 2016 and is another ‘tissues required’ read: When Ben and Hannah receive the heartbreaking news that Hannah will likely never get pregnant, her best friend Kate offers to not only to be her surrogate, but to use her own eggs to do so. Everything is going well until Kate suffers a devastating aneurysm—at 26 weeks pregnant—and ends up in a coma, on life support.


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