Tuesday, September 22, 2015
An Interview with Kari Lee Townsend
INTERVIEW WITH KARI LEE TOWNSEND:
By Pamela James
MM2: Kari Lee, let's begin with your backstory on how you became an author?
I wrote for 16 years before I got published. It took forever to find an agent, but once I did (Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency aka the only agent I will ever have), even then it took 4 years for her to sell me. Once she did, she landed me two 3-book deals within 6 months of each other. That was one of the happiest years of my life ;)
MM2: Take us thru a typical writing day?
I am a mom of 4 (3 boys and 1 darling diva), so there is nothing typical about my days, haha. But seriously, now that they are older, I get them off to school and sit down to write (although 1 is in college, except in the summer which is crazy, and 1 is headed there next year). Usually I write from 9 to 11, take a break for lunch, and then write from 12 to 2. I check email and social media before and after, then it's all mom/wife mode in the evenings and on the weekends. Taxi, maid, cook, accountant, teacher...you get the picture. I've been with my husband since I was 18 and married for 26 years now, so something's working ;)
MM2: What comes first, plot, setting or character?
Usually for me I think of a plot and then come up with great characters and vivid, unique settings. But I also write a lot of series, so then the characters and settings are all set, and I just have to come up with a new plot. I also write in several genres: teen superheroes, romance, women's fiction, and mysteries.
MM2: Of all the books you have written. What secondary character has the most character?
Gotta be Granny Gert from my Fortune Teller Mysteries (now the Sunny Meadows Mysteries)! My grandmother Gertrude passed away years ago but she was such a character, I just had to immortalize her. The snow white hair from Scarlet fever, the snappy brown eyes, the ancient apron made out of flour sacks, the pumpkin cookie jar with foil covered plate for a lid, and the hoarding money were all hers. I think the more "real" a character is, the better they come across. And it's just plain fun to do that to a friend or family member you care about. Maybe someday someone will immortalize me.
MM2: Do you reread you favorite books? Is there an up and coming author you think we ought to watch for their book?
I have always loved Janet Evanovich for mysteries, but lately I have been reading Jojo Moyes and Kristin Hannah for women's fiction. Love their work.
MM2: What advice from either book, author or other person has helped you the most in your career?
Nora Roberts! She once said she was working on her POS instead of her WIP. It means pile of s**t instead of her work in progress. She doesn't believe in writer's block. Just keep writing even if it's nothing but s**t. You have to have something down to revise and eventually something good will come out. I agree with that completely. Authors don't have time for writer's block with deadlines looming. We just have to keep plugging away. I find that if I'm stuck, I get up and do something else like dishes or laundry or whatever. It distracts the brain, and before I know it, I think of the perfect solution to my problem and race back to my laptop.
MM2: Let's talk about your series and your new book?
My series was called the Fortune Teller Mysteries but is now called the Sunny Meadows Mysteries. My newest book is called Perish in the Palm and is book number 4. The series is about a psychic fortune teller who leaves the Big Apple to start over in a small, old-fashioned, central New York town called Divinity. The chief of police and the mayor love her and ask her to be a consultant in solving their crimes, but the head detective is a non-believer and not a fan, until sparks fly between them and turn both their lives upside down. Throw in an ancient Victorian house, an immortal cat, a crazy granny, and interfering parents for a series that's a whole lot of fun.
MM2: Give us a little insight into your personal life?
Mom of 4, married for 26 years, been with husband since 18, masters in English education, lover of country music yet likes rock and roll, biker babe, likes tattoos but has none (yet), critique partner is best friend of 20 years and has the same agent, terrified of mice, adrenaline junkie, is the first to try any crazy extreme sport, super competitive, and shockingly shy until she gets to know someone.
MM2: What do you want your readers to take away from your books?
No matter what genre I write, you will always get my sense of humor, a few surprises along the way, some great sexual tension, and a bit of emotion. As authors we grow and develop and get better (hopefully), but I have learned to accept that every book I have ever written was the best book I could write at that time. I am very proud of everything I have ever written and only hope to entertain my readers along the way.
MM2: Now for some nosey-fun questions? What are your favorite movies, meals, place to vacation, book groups, places to visit, tell us about your favorite reasons for where you live and some of your favorite authors who have passed on?
I love romantic comedies, I love Italian and Mexican food, I love Hawaii and Alaska to visit, mystery and women's fiction book clubs are awesome, and I love where I live (central NY) because we get the four seasons and pretty much anything you would want to do entertainment wise. As far as visiting someplace, I truly think the ocean (no matter where you go but the outer banks rock, just sayin') and there are too many authors who have passed away to try to pay tribute to. Reading in general rocks, and I couldn't imagine a world where books weren't available. I love a book I can hold in my hand, but I also know I need to grow with the times and I have embraced my e reader like there's no tomorrow. And...I never thought I would admit this, but reading on a phone or iPod is much easier than I would have ever thought. I just pick up where I leave off on my tablet when I'm stuck somewhere and have nothing but my phone. You would be amazed at how quickly you adapt. Scary but true!
MM2: What would your characters tell us about you?
That I am funny and sweet and do way too much for people and can't say no to anything. I love to laugh and live for my hubby and kids. I am also shy at first, but then all bets are off once I get to know you. I am outgoing and probably talk way too much, but you will never see me without a smile on my face.
MM2: If you have pets what would they tell us about you?
I don't have pets probably because I have 4 kids (aka animals) at home. I write about a cat in one series but love dogs too. I really love horses but admit I'm a bit afraid of them.
MM2: In your own series what comes next in your career?
I will write one short and two more fulls in the Fortune Teller/Sunny Meadows Mystery Series. And then I might write more in my Peril for your Thoughts (A Mind Reader Mystery) series. Or more in the Kicking the Habit (A Sister Mary Sleuth Mystery) series. And I have my women's fiction and romance and teen superhero series as well. Too many story ideas and not enough time. I have big plans. Just have to find the time to finish them all.
MM2: What would you like us to know about the relationship between author and reader?
My books are pretty much me. My personality shines through plain as day, so if you like my books, you're gonna love me. I also am a huge people pleaser. I love to hear from my readers and really take what they say to heart, so please email me and let me know what you think.
MM2: Do you attend conventions and give us a humorous story from a book signing, convention or just about adding humor to your books?
I attend all sorts of conferences and conventions. There are too many stories to tell. Let me just say there hasn't been a single event I've attended where something funny hasn't happened to me or to someone close to me. I like to have fun and let loose and network, so never be afraid to introduce yourself to me. You never know, we just might be having a drink at the bar by the end of the night ;)
Lastly, leave us with a writing quote made by you?
Kari Lee, thank you for the interview.
You're very welcome. Thank you for having me. All I have to say is Never give up and always have another idea ready in case they say, 'I love her voice, but what else does she have?' You always want to have something else ready to go.
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