"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Author Interview: Karen Walker

Karen Walker is a writer with published essays in newspapers and magazines, as well as an anthology series. After a 30+ year career in marketing and public relations, she went back to college to complete a Bachelor's degree and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2005 from the University of New Mexico's University Studies program with a major emphasis in Creative Writing. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband, Gary, and their dog, Buddy. When she’s not writing, you can find her doing international folk dancing, singing at retirement communities with her trio, Sugartime, hiking, reading, or hanging out with friends.

1) How did you develop an interest in writing?

The short answer is ever since I read Little Women when I was around 8 and fantasized about being Jo. The long answer is that in 1978 I unexpectedly lost custody of my 3 1/2 year old son. To save my sanity, I began keeping a journal. Around the same time, I started a public relations firm with a friend and began writing press releases, op-ed pieces, and feature articles, all with someone else’s name on them. Fast-forward 30 years and my wonderful husband told me I could quit working and write-full time. That was in 1999 and I haven’t looked back since.

2) Tell me a little about your blog - address, how long you've been blogging etc.

I began my blog in May of 2009 after taking an online class on doing a blog book tour with Dani Greer http://blogbooktours.blogspot.com/. My book launched in February, 2009 and I had no clue how to market it. Dani’s class taught me so much about blogging, but I never got around to a blog book tour - until now. You can find me at: http://www.karenfollowingthewhispers.blogspot.com. The blog is a continuation of my spiritual journey towards healing.

3) I see you are working on a MS - please tell me a little about it.
My husband and I took a trip to Scotland and Ireland in the Fall of 2009. While in Scotland, a voice whispered, “Tell my story.” I ignored it, thinking I pretty much imagined it. But in Ireland, in a magical forest surrounding Blarney Castle, the
voice came back, stronger and more insistent. The working title for this foray into fiction-writing is “The Wishing Steps.”

4) What other styles do you write?
I wrote nonfiction for 30+ years and still occasionally write feature pieces for local newspapers and magazines. I still love personal essay as a form, which is why I love blogging so much--because posts really are short essays.

5) What authors do you admire?
I have very eclectic tastes in reading. If I want to totally escape for a few hours, I’ll read Jodi Piccoult or Nora Roberts. If I want deeper, I’ll go to the classics. I still read a lot of nonfiction: biographies, memoir, self-help, spirituality. I’m currently reading a book called “Awakening the Buddha Within” and loving it.

6) What music, places, people inspire you?
I sing in a trio called Sugartime. We perform at hospitals, retirement communities, nursing homes, etc. We sing music from the 30’s to the 60’s. I love the old standards, Broadway tunes, and my music from the 50’s and 60s. I don’t listen to music while writing, though. I’m one of those people who needs absolute silence to write.

7) How long did it take you to write your current MS?
My memoir took a total of 10 years to complete. After I’d written 700 pages and given it to an editor, I was told “Karen, you have a story in you, but it’s not on these pages. You just need to tell it.” Well, I didn’t know how to do that, so I went back to school to complete a college degree I’d begun in 1969. Four years later, I’d graduated Summa cum Laude and re-wrote my memoir. Two years after that I began the query process. Two years later I chose to self-publish. Sigh!

8) When working on your current MS did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing?
No, I don’t have an outline. I just have this darn voice that is very fickle, if you ask me. It’s been an amazing journey discovering who and what this voice is. I can’t really talk about it--it’s quite overwhelming. I’ll probably blog about it at time point.

9) What is your writing process like? Certain hours that you find more productive, a routine, a set amount of time or a number of pages you make yourself write every day.
I found that for me, setting a certain time constraint or word-count goal doesn’t work very well. I set myself up for failure that way. Instead, I set my intention to write every day and I park myself down at the computer and hope for the best.

10) Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us?

Chapter I
In the beginning…there was self-hatred.

My friend Chuck waltzed around the room, his then 11-year-old daughter, Sivan, snuggled in his right arm, her eight-year-old sister, Amali, nestled in his left. The two girls’ arms were wrapped around each other behind their dad’s neck, and their giggles could be heard from where I sat on the other side of the large dance studio, where our community of folk dancers gathers every Saturday night. Watching this man with his children, I couldn’t help thinking how lucky those two little girls are and how different their childhood is from mine

You can find “Following Whispers” at amazon and smashwords.

This Interview is the beginning of a Blog Book Tour for Karen.  You can find more information and fun facts about her by visiting:

7/11/11 - Spunk on a Stick http://circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com/: Managing Expectations
7/12/11 - Ann Best http://annbest-jen.blogspot.com/: Writing and White Hair
7/13/11 - Whole Latte Life http://joannedemaio.blogspot.com/: What I Love About Self-Publishing
7/14/11 - Pk Herzo http://pk-hrezo.blogspot.com/: My Journey to Publication
7/15/11 - KarenG http://karenjonesgowen.blogspot.com/: Making Good Choices: A Writer's Journey
7/16/11-The Alliterative Allomorph tp://thealliterativeallomorph.blogspot.com: The Liberating Effects of Writing a Memoir: 7/18/11 - Mystery Writing is Murder http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com/: Finding Balance While Juggling Life
7/19/11 - Thoughts in Progress http://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/: Finding Success as a Writer
7/20/11 - Tossing it Out http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/: Do's and Don'ts When Writing Memoir
7/21/11 - StraightfromHel http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com/: Writing Memoir versus Writing Fiction - Is There a Difference?
7/22/11 - Alex J. Cavanaugh http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/: 10 Ways To Maintain Sanity While Writing


L.G.Smith said...

Great interview. I love that you went back to school later in life and finished your degree. It's not how you start but how you finish that matters. Well done. :)

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

What L.G. said. :-)

I love learning about the different journeys we each take to get to where we are.

Siv Maria said...

Great interview, looking forward to reading Karen's book.

Claudia Moser said...

A wonderful interview with a wonderful writer!

Pk Hrezo said...

I've got my copy! Looking forward to the read. And wow ten years!! Impressive stuff. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Great way to kick off the tour, Karen! And Dani's class helped me a lot as well.

Joanne said...

The journey TO writing itself can be so fascinating. What a road you travelled to get to that writing place, Karen. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for hosting, Sylvia.

Karen Walker said...

Sylvia, thank you so much for a great kickoff to this book tour event. I am so happy to be here and share these parts of my journey.

Linda Hoye said...

Great interview, thank you for featuring Karen today.

Karen Walker said...

L.G. It was one of the smartest things I've done--I always felt "unfinished."
Paul, me, too - it's fascinating how we all got where we are.
Siv and Claudia, thank you
Pk, yeah, 10 years - but 4 of those were in school.
Alex, without Dani's class, this wouldn't have been possible.
Joanne, yes
Linda, thanks so much

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

And she sings too!!!! What a talented lady. I am so eager to begin your book, which awaits me here on my computer. Wonderful interview -love hearing the story behind the story. Best wishes on your tour - I'll be following you...

Karen Walker said...

Well, Melissa, you haven't heard me sing (LOL). Thanks for the support.

Julie Musil said...

Karen proves that perseverance wins the day. Congratulations, Karen!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I enjoyed learning more about Karen...thanks for this interview! I wanted to be Jo, too. :) Funny how no one wants to be Meg or Amy! I love the story behind the "Wishing Steps."

Karen Walker said...

Julie, I do think with writing, perseverance is crucial.
Elizabeth, yeah, that's interesting about Meg and Amy.

Anonymous said...

Lovely interview ladies. Best wishes for the week long blog tour! And very interesting about the 'voice' in the forest and 'voice' you are writing, Karen. I look forward to finding out more in the future.

Karen Walker said...

Thanks, Lynn. I'm looking forward to finding out more as well...

Thank you so much for such a lovely launch to my book tour.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sylvia and Karen .. wonderfully clear interview .. thanks - love hearing everyone's story.

Now I can see where you're leading us with the dance floor introduction .. good idea ..

Cheers to you both .. Hilary

Jemi Fraser said...

Great interview ladies! :)

I loved learning more about you Karen - you're a remarkable lady!

Sylvia Ney said...

Karen - you are most welcome! It looks like your launch is off to a great start. Best of luck on the rest of the tour. I'll be dropping by as time permits.

Karen Walker said...

Hilary, you have no idea how many lead paragraphs I had before settling on that one - still not sure if it's strong enough.
Jemi, thanks, I don't feel remarkable at all
Sylvia, this was a lovely way to begin my tour. Thank you.

Arlee Bird said...

Karen's writing journey has been an adventure. I enjoyed hearing this story.

Tossing It Out

Anonymous said...

Karen has a busy blog tour schedule, and I wish her great success! I'm pleased to have been one of her hosts. Her memoir is wonderful!
Ann Best, Memoir Author