Long and Short Reviews welcomes Karyn Good, whose debut romantic suspense Backlash releases on June 1 from The Wild Rose Press. She will be giving away a $10 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press to one lucky commenter on today's interview.
She's currently in the process of revising her novella, Off the Grid. The story takes place in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Canada, which has the great distinction of being labelled Canada’s poorest postal code. It’s about a doctor who helps a young woman in hiding deliver a baby on Christmas Eve. They enlist the help of a lawyer to keep the young mother safe from the father’s self-interests. Also the young mother has a protector whose own ambitions are putting them all in danger. She's been listening to a lot of Christmas music while she's been working on it.
For both Backlash and Off the Grid, bits and pieces of the plot came to her before she started writing: she knew where in terms of setting, the inciting incident, and that the bad guys would come after the heroes. Then, she developed the characters she thought best suited the story. On the other hand, she has a trilogy in mind and all the characters have been cast for it.
"What about the plot?" I asked.
"Clear as mud!"
When she was working on Backlash, Karyn spent a lot of time listening to Brad Paisley, Dean Brody, and Johnny Reid. Songs like "Mud on the Tires", "Trail in Life", and "Dance with Me" make up her Backlash playlist.
Karyn's not sure she's ever actually had writer's block, but she's certainly been stumped as how to move forward on a story. When that happens, it's helpful for her to get up and do something physical.
"Cleaning sucks but the physical act of moving and keeping one’s hands busy while the mind sorts out things on its own for a bit really works," she explained. "Instead of staring at a blank computer screen, I’ll often pull out a notebook and my favorite pen and start answering the ‘what if’ question or try a writing exercise. And there’s nothing like brainstorming with fellows writers to get the creative juices flowing."
"What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?" I wondered.
"I would have to say Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Bay series. I was looking for book recommendations and someone suggested Nora Roberts. I’d never heard of her so I thought I’d give her a try. I picked up Sea Swept, which is Cameron Quinn’s story. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but I’d never quite figured out what it was that I wanted to write. I had my answer – contemporary romance, and later romantic suspense. Suzanne Brockmann, J.R. Ward, and Tara Janzen are other authors whose style and voice I admire. I know I can always pick up one of their books and lose myself in the story. By the end of the book I’ll be inspired to work hard and learn my craft."
Karyn told me that life's a bit crazy for her right now, so whenever she can carve out some alone time, she goes to her office—a space she can call her own with a lock on the door—and just writes. She loves her office and tries to write every day.
"That makes it easier to plop myself down in front of the computer and be productive without having lost my train of thought," she told me.
She falls somewhere between being a plotter and a pantser. She likes to have ten or twelve plot points figured out before she start writing.
"This helps me when I get to the middle and keeps me focused and gives me a direction to go," she explained. "I do some character charting beforehand and then I jump in."
One of her all time favorite characters is Anne Shirley from Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables.
"Anne is an orphan girl sent to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. The unmarried siblings in their fifties are expecting a boy to help with the farm work but are convinced by a determined Anne to a trial stay. It is her vivid imagination and joy for life that makes her a favorite character of mine. She is also a chatterbox, which we have in common," Karyn said. "With a fondness for big words and big ideas, she’s uses her imagination to daydream herself into trouble on a daily basis. She loves nothing more than to immerse herself in a book. All things I could relate to as a young reader. Even though she drives poor prim and proper Marilla to distraction, shy Matthew quickly becomes her champion and in the end they agree to keep her. Green Gables is never the same. I’ve read this book many times over the years and am always charmed by Anne’s undaunted spirit. Anne Shirley will always be a favorite character of mine."
Other than Green Gables there are a couple of other books that hold a special place in her heart: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Alchemist by Paola Coelho.
"I love To Kill a Mockingbird," she told me. "I think part of that comes from having read it in high school as I underwent my own transformation from innocent child to someone with a wider world view. I read it at a time in my life when I was beginning to develop my own sense of right and wrong. I also lived in a very small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business. I could relate to a set of circumstances so huge as to be dividing to an entire community. The Alchemist came my way when I was just beginning to take my writing seriously. Talk about the universe providing, which is the core motto of the book. It inspired me to move forward on my journey. It gives me shivers to think about it."
"What was the scariest moment of your life?" I wondered.
"My son was in Grade 9, two weeks into starting high school, when an expelled student brought a gun into assembly and held those in the gym hostage for forty-five minutes. We live in a small city and news spreads fast. Shut up in my office with no radio on, I didn’t realise what was happening until my phone started to ring. Friends and family phoning to see if I knew what was going on. The frantic conversations with my husband who raced to the school. The absolute terror of knowing my son was trapped in that gym. Thanks be to God that things ended peacefully with no injuries. It wasn’t until later we learned it was an air gun modified to look like a real gun. That in no way diminished the terror experienced by everyone involved. As a romantic suspense writer I channel the feelings of that day when my characters are in difficult circumstances, the sheer panic and feelings of helplessness that I packed into those forty-five minutes."
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What he’s sworn to protect, she’s willing to sacrifice to save those she loves...
When dedicated teacher Lily Wheeler interrupts a vicious gang attack on one of her students, she vows it won’t happen again. But her rash interference puts her in the path of a cold-blooded killer and the constable tracking him—a man she has little reason to trust, but can never forget.
Constable Chase Porter returned to Aspen Lake to see justice done, not renew old acquaintances. But when he rescues the woman he once loved from a volatile situation, he realizes his feelings for Lily haven’t lessened over the years.
Now, the dangerous killer Chase has sworn to capture has Lily in his sights. Can Chase and Lilly learn to trust each other again before it’s too late—or will old insecurities jeopardize their future?