I would like to welcome today, Karen King. Karen is a multi-published bestselling author of romance novels, YA and children’s books. She has had eight romantic novels, two YA books and 120 children’s books published. She has also written several short stories for women’s magazines.
Karen, I am a Christmas addict and ‘Single all the way’ promises to have all the perfect ingredients to make me want to buy it. If you had seconds to win over an audience, how would you describe the story in one or two sentences?
A heart-warming, emotional story about a mother and daughter whose marriages break up at the same time so they decide to cancel Christmas and escape to Cornwall together.
‘Snowy nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel’ received some wonderful reviews, are there any comparisons between the two books?
Both books are set in Cornwall but that’s where the similarities end. In ‘Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel’, Saffy gives up her carefree singleton Christmas to go down to Cornwall and rescue the Christmas party for single parents as her sister is stuck abroad with her sick children, so it’s basically about saving Christmas. However, in ‘Single All The Way’, Meg and her mother Sally go off down to Cornwall together to try to get over the breakup of their marriages so it’s more about cancelling Christmas,
In ‘Single all the way’ Meg and Sally try to escape Christmas but soon get captivated and involved in all the festivities. What is Christmas like in Spain and how does it differ to when you lived in Cornwall. Do you have any Christmas traditions of your own. What does your perfect Christmas look like?
There are a lot of Brits living in Spain who still keep up the tradition of giving out presents on Christmas Day and eating roast turkey and Christmas pudding. There are also still Christmas trees and lights so many aspects are similar. For me, the main difference is the huge nativity scenes that are everywhere, the vibrant red Poinsettias adorning the streets in pots, the turron – a nougat of almonds and honey – that is so popular and the celebration of the Three Kings, who traditionally bring the children presents on January 6th. They ride on camels through the towns the night before, throwing out sweets for the children, who run to scoop them up in bags or buckets. I guess the main difference though is the weather. Lots of people spend Christmas Day on the beach. Last year we went to the beach on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. This year will be extra special as one of my daughters moved over to Spain earlier this year with her two children, so they’ll be coming to us for Christmas dinner. It will be lovely to have a family Christmas again.
What would you say has been the best money you have spent as an author?
Buying a laptop. It means I can write anywhere; in my office/studio apartment on the terrace, sitting at the table in the patio, at the dining table in the lounge.
Do you do any kind of research and if so, how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Most of my books are set in locations that I’ve visited or lived in, so I know them pretty well. I sometimes have to research things to do with the plot, or characters. For example, Meg and Oliver have two house rabbits in ‘Single All The Way’ and luckily one of my daughters does too, so I asked her lots of questions. If I need to research something I usually make a note in the margin and carry on writing the story, then do the research afterwards.
If you didn’t write, what career do you think you would have chosen?
A teacher. I was all set to start training as a teacher when I was offered regular work writing for children’s magazines.
Do you have a set writing routine. Where do you write or can you write anywhere and how long on average does it take you to write a book?
Ideally I like to get up, grab some breakfast and start work for a few hours. I write most days and mainly work in my upstairs office which is in the studio apartment on the terrace but can also be found writing by the pool with my laptop in a box to keep the sun off my screen, or at the dining room table. I can write anywhere really, as long as I have my laptop, or a notebook and pen. As for how long it takes me to write a book, I’m usually writing to a contract so it depends on the deadline I’m given. I had nine weeks to write up the first draft of ‘Single All The Way’, and that was a bit tough, especially as it was summertime and we had a few house guests.
Locationally, you’ve certainly lived a varied life. How does living in Spain differ from England and has it made a difference to your writing?
Well there’s a lot more sun! Also we have a pool in our garden, so it’s very tempting to spend time sunbathing and swimming instead of working! We live in the campo (countryside) in Spain and our water comes from a well but things sometimes go wrong so there are times we’ll get up to find we have no electricity or water, which is frustrating. Our garden is huge and we have lots of fruit trees; oranges, bananas, apples, pears, pomegranates amongst others as well as grape vines. It’s very pretty. My previous book, The Year of Starting Over, was inspired by many things that have actually happened to me whilst living in Spain. I guess the main difference it has made to my writing is that I’ve given up all my tutoring and mentoring work and now concentrate solely on writing novels, which is great.
You’ve been a writer for most of your life and have been successful in different genres. Is there any genre you want to tackle next?
I’ve recently started reading psychological thrillers and quite fancy having a go at one.
You’ve had such a successful career as a writer and are clearly multi-talented. What five things would you recommend an aspiring author to do?
As I’ve often worked to commissions it’s been important to me to study the market I’m writing for and consider what the reader is expecting from me, so my mantra is ‘know your market, know your reader’. Then, stop faffing about and get writing. Just write the story down as it comes then go back and edit afterwards. Next, I’d say be adaptable and don’t be scared to try anything new. I’ve written in lots of different genres, things I’ve never written before so believe that if you study your market you can turn your hand – or should I say pen – to most things. Finally, once you’ve written something and it’s been published let it go. Some people will love your book, others will hate it. Accept that and stop fretting about it. It’s just a book.
I can see my mother is calling me. I answer the phone, knowing I’ll have to tell her about Oliver and me breaking up. But before I can, she announces, ‘I don’t exactly know how to tell you this… But I’m leaving your dad.’
Single together for the first time, 34-year-old Meg and her warm-hearted, long-suffering mother Sally are cancelling Christmas, and running away to a tiny cottage on the Cornish coast. For Meg, it is the perfect place to heal, away from all the mistletoe, while for her mother it has a special, and secret, place in her heart – from a love story that seems a lifetime ago…
Meg and Sally find they’re getting to know themselves, and each other, better than ever before. But as they are unable to resist getting involved in the village Christmas celebrations, they encounter two handsome local strangers.
Sometimes, it’s being away from home that helps you realise where your heart is. What neither woman knows is that, by the time the new year rolls around, one woman will have fallen in love with her husband all over again, and one marriage will be over for good…
An escapist, romantic and heart-warming novel for fans of One Day in December and No One Cancels Christmas.
Currently published by Bookouture, Karen’s latest title, Single All The Way, will be published on 28 October.
About the interviewer.
Catherine Lawless lives in Hertfordshire with her husband, daughter and their three border terriers. She writes novels, journals and children’s books. Catherine’s career started out as a singer/songwriter in a rock band. She toured extensively throughout Europe and the UK before settling down and following her childhood dream of writing books.