Guest Interview: Karen Duvall

I recently reviewed Karen Duvall’s book “Knight’s Curse” for my Crystal Clear Reviews site and liked it so much, I went to the source herself and asked her for an interview, which she graciously agreed to:

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live with my husband, three cats, and one spoiled dog in Central Oregon. I run a freelance graphic design business, however lately I’ve been writing more than designing, which I prefer anyway. J

You have a new book out, what’s the lowdown on Knight’s Curse?

KNIGHT’S CURSE is an urban fantasy starring a heroine named Chalice, who is half angel and half human, with superhuman senses. She’s enslaved by a group of sorcerers who use her special skills to steal cursed artifacts. To keep her in line they bond her to a homicidal gargoyle and the only way to break the curse is to kill the beast. Problem is, gargoyles are immortal. Her fallen angel father gives her the secret for killing the beast, but freedom is expensive. Chalice must pay for hers with either love or death, or both. Publisher’s Weekly has listed Knight’s Curse as a Top 10 Pick for Fall 2011.

What is your process from “Hmm, that’s an interesting idea” to “Done!”

I think about the idea for a few weeks before I actually write anything down. And the idea usually begins with a character, so I create a backstory for her and other players to offer me an idea of where they from and what motivates them. I sketch out a general summary with a beginning, middle and an end, then I write the first couple of chapters to get a feel for the story. After that, it’s kind of like adding pieces to a quilt, designing and fitting it all together. After the first draft of the manuscript is done, I go back through it to make revisions. However, I also do a fair amount of revising as the story progresses.

Do you belong to any writer’s groups? Which one(s)?

I belong to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a professional organization for writers of commercial novel-length fiction. I also belong to Romance Writers of America and Horror Writers of America.

Do you have a crit partner or pre-readers? What do they help you with?

I belong to a great online critique group through Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. We’ve been together for years. They help with everything from characters and scene structure to grammar. They’re an invaluable resource.

Do you edit as you go or write first, then edit?

I do both. I edit as I go because it helps cement me into the story. But I always have to go back to fix things about the story that may have changed towards the end, or things I just missed.

Do you write anything other than this genre?

Everything I write has some fantasy or magical aspect. I’ve written a supernatural thriller, a paranormal mystery, and a romantic suspense with mild paranormal elements. I also wrote a steampunk alternate history novel that’s my current favorite, but it hasn’t found a home. I have an idea for a paranormal romance series being considered by my publisher so I can’t talk about it yet.

How much research do you do before you start to write?

It depends on the story, but since I pull a lot of my ideas from real life, I do a fair amount of research for everything. My supernatural thriller had aspects of futuristic medicine, so I did a crazy amount of research for that one. I enjoy research. Even KNIGHT’S CURSE required some research as I explored a variety of curses and charms that I put my own spin on. I write the way I cook: I never follow a recipe to the letter. I have to make it my own.

How do you feel about this race to self-publish backlists?

It’s probably a good idea. I have only 2 books on my backlist, and I’m only thinking about self-publishing those at this point. The issue I have is that I’m a writer, not a publisher, and I don’t want to get caught up in that end of things because I know it will take energy away from current writing projects. But that’s just me. I know a lot of authors are experiencing success with it and I think that’s awesome.

How important do you feel having an online presence is to an author?

I think it’s extremely important. I’m still building my online presence so it’s thanks to blogs like this one that help introduce me to new readers. I’m a very social person, but I’m far better at face-to-face meet and greets than connecting through the Internet. I really enjoy interacting with people and though Twitter and Facebook kind of offer that, it’s not the same as shaking hands and giving hugs. I confess I’m a hugger. Hugging my computer screen is a cold replacement for the real deal. J

What’s a typical writing day for you?

I switch on my computer as soon as I get up in the morning, check email, check Twitter, and then check a site related to my design work. I open whatever writing project I have in progress and read through what I’ve written the day before. I check my notes to see what my plans were for continuing where I left off and start writing. I’ll write for hour-long stretches, sometimes less, then move to research, email, blog, design work, then back to writing again. I realize it’s kind of an A.D.D. approach, but it works for me. The flipping back and forth refreshes (or resets) my story-brain. I try to stick to a goal of writing 1000 words a day, but I’ll go over if the mood strikes, or under if it doesn’t.

Who/what do you like to read?

I go through phases and read a variety of genres, but it’s usually either Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. I’m a slow reader and rarely read while I’m writing. I’m in between projects right now and am at the tail end of judging some paranormal romance contest entries for my local RWA chapter. It’s been exhausting. I’m thorough when I judge and probably spend way too much time providing comments on entries, but I know how important feedback is to an unpublished writer. I want to help as much as I can.

What are the links where readers can find your books?

Wow, KNIGHT’S CURSE (trade paperback & ebook) is literally available everywhere. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Booksamillion, etc. Harlequin’s channels of distribution are amazing.

What are the links where readers can find you?

I’m everywhere, too. Ha! J I’d love more followers on Twitter @KarenDuvall and I can always use more friends on Facebook and at GoodReads. Find me on my blog and I have a website

What’s next?

Look for book two of my Knight’s Curse series, DARKEST KNIGHT, on store shelves in spring 2012. The third book has a working title of KNIGHT TO REMEMBER, but that might change. It isn’t finished yet. Then I have additional surprises I can’t talk about, so please follow my blog for future updates. J

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