Author Karen Dionne will be in Windsor on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at Biblioasis Bookstore to engage in a conversation, reading and book signing. Doors open at 6:30pm. There will be wine, coffee, tea, and delicious baked goods from Riverside Pie Cafe. This is the first in a series that I hope to continue called ‘Cross Border Book Talks’.
I’d like to share an email interview I did with Karen so you can get a better taste of who she is and what she does! We hope it inspires you to come and see/meet her in person on Wednesday!
VS: I remember the first time I met you – you were red-faced flushed with the heat and excitement of a Back Space Writing Conference. We were in New York City. The hotel/conference centre was a-buzz with writers and agents and editors, oh my! But you, though your face was sweet red, emanated the calmest, smoothest energy. Can you talk about the Back Space community, the conferences and how you’ve kept smooth during all the action?
KD: “Red-faced,” eh? I guess I was! Running a writers conference in New York involves a lot of work behind the scenes (we typically started at 7 a.m. each morning and worked till 7 p.m. with no break for lunch), but I loved it. It was so satisfying to bring together literary agents, editors, bestselling authors, and other publishing professions along with aspiring writers, to help the not-yet-published learn about the craft and the industry to reach their publishing goals.
The Backspace Writers Conferences were an offshoot of the Backspace discussion forums I co-founded with Chris Graham in 2004. At it’s peak, the discussion forums had 2,500 member in a dozen countries. Since my most recent novel sold, I’ve had to pull back from my Backspace involvement to focus on my writing career, but those were halcyon days, without a doubt.
VS: How many books have you written? How many books have been published?
KD: THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER, a dark psychological suspense, is my fourth published novel. Previously I had two science-based thriller published in mass market paperback, along with a television tie-in novel based on a detective show, “The Killing.” Like many authors, I also have two unpublished “drawer novels.”
VS: Has your definition/feelings of ‘success’ for your writing changed over the years? If so, how and why?
KD: This is an interesting question for a number of reasons. While I had modest success with my mass market paperback novels, there were a number of times over the years when I seriously considered abandoning writing in favour of conference organizing. The Backspace conferences were very successful, and it was extremely satisfying to help other writers reach their publishing goals.
But in the lead-up to my 2013 conference, I had a wake-up call, when I noted that an author who had gotten her agent at one of my conferences was coming out with her second novel, while I hadn’t written anything new. For some reason, that really got to me, and I realized *I* hadn’t yet reached *my* publishing goals. So I stopped organizing conferences and resigned from the board of directors of the International Thriller Writers in order to concentrate on my own writing. Not long after, I got the idea for THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER, and the success so far that novel has seen makes me very glad I did!
VS: Do you hear negative self-talk when you’re writing? What is your toughest voice? How do you deal with it?
KD: Always. I truly believe that every creative person, whether they’re a writer, or an artist, or a musician, has a similar struggle. That said, the fear that our work will never be good enough is what makes us better artists!
VS: A follow-up to the previous question – I think I’m asking, do you believe in writer’s block?
KD: I do not believe there’s such a thing as writer’s block. Instead, I call it “writer’s reluctance.” There are times when I know what I want to say, but for various reasons, am resistant to writing it. Perhaps the scene requires a level of emotion that makes me uncomfortable, or it requires knowledge I don’t have, or for some other reason it requires me to step outside my comfort zone. All a writer can do in these instances is push through it. And frequently, once these scenes have been written, they end up being my favourites!
VS: How important is a book tour/readings to connecting with your readers? Do you think a book can be as successful without any author/reader interaction?
KD: Book tours are a fantastic way for writers and readers to connect! A writer works for so long in solitude, and often their interaction with their publishing team is strictly over the Internet, so getting out into the real world and speaking directly with readers is incredibly energizing and validating for a writer. There’s nothing like hearing someone say, “I loved your book!” in person!
VS: At what point did you know you were a writer? Was it something you wrote? Or a book you read that made you feel that feeling on this inside that spawned the voice: yes, I want to do this! I want to write!
KD: I think the moment I knew I was a writer came when my first novel sold. Up to that point, I had the goal of becoming a writer, but I was never the kind of person who wrote solely for the love of the craft. I wanted to share my work with a wider audience, and that first book sale made that possible.
VS: How important is the role of the writer today? Loaded question, I know, but let’s answer it! Even across genres – what would life look like without writers?!
KD: This is a big question! The writers I know (and I know hundreds), are some of the most articulate, intelligent, and thoughtful people on the planet. Writers articulate what others sometimes only sense they know. We’ve all had epiphanies when reading something brilliant that someone else has written: “Yes! This! Exactly so!” I think life without writers would be very monochromatic.
VS: What actors would you like to play the characters in your book, The Marsh King’s Daughter? (Let’s be honest, writers do this! We envision who would play our character’s in the movie version of our books, right?!)
KD: It’s so funny that you ask this question, because I can honestly say that as I was writing THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER, I never for a second considered the possibility of the book becoming a film – I was writing a book, recording Helena’s story. The day my agent sent the finished manuscript to editors to see if anyone wanted to publish the book, he also emailed me saying I now had a film agent, which totally took me by surprise. The film option has since sold, and the screenwriter and director who are working on the adaptation are top-notch and Oscar-nominated, which is incredibly exciting, but I still don’t have any actors in mind for the film. I guess I don’t watch enough movies!
VS: When did you get your agent? Can you talk about what that process was like? Did it take a long time for you to find a good match? Get response letters?
KD: I’ve been with my agent for 18 years, so my querying process isn’t really relevant today. My querying process was also fraught with newbie mistakes, which is the main reason I started Backspace – I wanted to share the knowledge I had earned so others wouldn’t make the same mistakes, at the same time that I wanted to surround myself with other talented aspiring writers who could help me reach my publishing goals.
VS: Can you paper a wall with your rejection letters? How do you think rejection affects your writing?
KD: I could, and I’ve saved them all. And while rejection is never a pleasant experience, I think it’s crucial to the writing process. Knowing that not everyone is going to like your work, but doing the work anyway is key. If you let rejection stop you from writing, as a writer, you’re toast.
VS: What do you do to relax? After a solid day at the laptop/computer – do you retreat to your garden, do you watch a movie, read a book?
KD: One of the challenges of being a writer is the hours it requires you spend at the computer. To counteract that, I love writing my first drafts in longhand, and can often be found in the woods sitting on a fallen log. There’s something about getting away from one’s desk and out into the natural world that’s incredibly inspiring. I also love to read while I’m writing, and I like to read up, as I call it, meaning I like to read books that have won or been nominated for major awards, in order to increase the quality of my writing. Plus, they’re just so darn good!
VS: You’ve had a heck of a book tour! There’s a movie deal in the works! How do you feel about receiving all the accolades and press for The Marsh King’s Daughter? Have you been emotional? Giddy? Tired?!
KD: I’m still pinching myself! If I were to list even a fraction of the wonderful things that have happened because of this novel, it would read to me as if I were talking about someone else. A rave review in the New York Times? My publisher sending me on a 10-day, 8-city book tour that finished with Lee Child interviewing me in New York? My novel being chosen by Publisher’s Weekly and iBooks as one of the best books of the summer? Translation rights sold in 25 languages (most recently Icelandic and Japanese)? The film option sold to an Oscar-winning production company? My novel featured in national magazines like Cosmopolitan and People? 12 consecutive weeks on the bestseller list in Germany? Yeah, this all must be happening to somebody else . . .
Copies of The Marsh King’s Daughter are available at Biblioasis Bookstore. Please bring along your copy if you already have one so Karen can sign it for you! Also, we will be giving away *special* copies of the book at the event – so let that also be an incentive for you to come to this event!
If you’d like to find out more about Karen, her books, and all the rave reviews her writing continues to get, please visit her website: www.karen-dionne.com.
Here’s a link to the Facebook event page – please tell us you’re coming – and invite all your friends!
This is a FREE event! Because we’d like you to use your hard-earned dolla-dolla-bills to purchase books! Remember, Christmas is a comin’ – gift the gift of an incredible book!