I have already confessed that authors, not actors, bring out the fangirl in me, so it’s no surprise I’m a bit giddy over the opportunity to present an interview with Karen White– yes, KAREN WHITE– who wrote twenty spectacular books including A LONG TIME GONE, THE SOUND OF GLASS, and most recently THE FORGOTTEN ROOM (which effortlessly hit the NYT bestseller list).
THE FORGOTTEN ROOM is a collaborative novel written by three bestselling authors, Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig. Seamlessly moving back and forth between 1892, 1920, and 1944, this multi-period novel follows three women tied to the same Gilded Age townhouse in New York’s upper east side—and the secret that binds them all together.
I had the opportunity to meet this entertaining band of writers during what appeared to be the most hilarious book tour ever. To see their chemistry in action was to understand how THE FORGOTTEN ROOM was met with overwhelming praise. Truly, a must-read. Enough from me, time for Karen:
Where do you love to be?
My beach house! We have a house in the Florida panhandle where I go for solitary writing retreats–and only my dogs are allowed to come with me. Sometimes I invite family or friends, but they know they have to leave after a few days. I’m not into sunbathing or swimming in the ocean, but I love the scent of the gulf, and walking in the white sand, and the sound of the waves and the birds. It’s my writing inspiration and my “happy place”–away from the hustle and bustle of our lives in Atlanta, and it enforces my “no” policy when I’m there–meaning I’m not available to do anything but write. And walk the dogs. I can wear sweats every day, and my dogs don’t complain when I don’t shave my legs.
Many of our readers are authors or aspiring authors. Can you share an experience on the twisty road to publication?
I was dropped by my second publisher after my fourth book. I was devastated. I hadn’t wanted to write for this publisher to begin with, and they’d lived up to expectations by doing absolutely nothing for the two books of mine they’d published. It was like going to the prom with the dorky boy–at least you’re going to prom, right? And then the dorky boy dumps you. That’s what it felt like. It was horrible. I wanted to give up. Happily, I had a great support team–family and writer friends–who continued to encourage me to write. So I did. And eventually I sold the next book to Penguin Publishing and finally my career took off. It taught me that sometimes in life the things we think are the worst that can happen can actually be the best.
Do you have any quirks that fans like me might find entertaining?
I sing. All the time. Ask my kids. If somebody says a word that reminds me of a song, I’ll start singing the song. I sing in the shower, to the dogs, when I walk, fold clothes, in church, in the car. I’m waiting for the old game show Name That Tune to come back on air so I can be a contestant. Seriously. I have quite the repertoire that dates back to music of the 1950’s (Everly Brothers, anyone?) although I will say my decade of expertise would be the 1980’s. I’ve got choral music down pat, too, having sung in various choral groups since I was in elementary school through adulthood. I also sing in weddings. Ask my co-writers of The Forgotten Room, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig about the long car trips on our recent book tour when I forced them to listen to my iTunes playlist. I think it will take them a while to recover. So, yeah, I like to sing.
What’s on deck in your life and writing?
This May our oldest child will be graduating from grad school with a degree in Historic Preservation. One child off our payroll! To celebrate, she has asked for a trip to Ireland so the four of us will be heading to the Emerald Isle for a couple of weeks. And then on May 31st, my 21st novel, FLIGHT PATTERNS will hit bookstore shelves and I will hit the road promoting it. This will include a visit to Apalachicola, Florida where the book is set, and where the man credited with the invention of modern air-conditioning, Dr. John Gorrie, is from. The book has beekeeping and antique Limoges china at its heart, along with an old family secret and a difficult sister relationship. Just the kind of story that a steamy Southern setting like Apalachicola is perfect for!
I’m thrilled you found your voice as a writer and pursued that calling, but before that, any strange jobs or side-careers?
Detassling corn in an Iowa cornfield. Yep. It’s true. I was living in London, England at the time (for my father’s job with Exxon) and bemoaning the fact that my American teenager-hood was being robbed from me (yes, I actually said that). My uncle was a coach for the Iowa Hawkeyes so they lived in Solon, Iowa. His daughter, my cousin Dee-Dee, was only a year older and invited me to come stay for the summer. My dad agreed, but only if I had a job. which my uncle secured for me (I haven’t yet forgiven him). I lasted one day–hardest job in the world. But the next week I was happily ensconced working in a snack shack at a man-made lake flipping burgers and making snow-cones. Did I mention there were hunky lifeguards, too? Best summer job EVER.
GIVEAWAY: LIKE and RETWEET on Twitter, and/or LIKE and SHARE on Facebook by Noon (EST) Friday, March 4th to win a copy of THE FORGOTTEN ROOM (US only). We’ll select and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
Karen White is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty books. She currently writes what she refers to as “grit lit” (Southern Women’s Fiction) as well as a mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. She lives outside of Atlanta with her husband, two children and two spoiled Havanese dogs. When not writing, she spends her time reading, singing, and avoiding cooking.