Friday, October 5, 2012

Interview with romance author Karen Stivali

Today is a tour stop for romance novelist Karen Stivali as she tours her novel, Meant to Be.

Karen will award the winner's choice of a backlist e-book to one commenter at every stop, and a grand prize of a $20 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour. To be entered, leave an e-mail with a comment below. And if you want more chances to win, you can follow her tour and comment at other stops.

Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies and fictional British men. When she’s not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends. Prior to deciding to write full time Karen worked as a hand drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what’s left of her time and sanity.

Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic love stories filled with sarcasm and sexy details. 

Karen has published three erotic romances with Ellora’s Cave: Marry Me (June 2012), Long-Distance Lovers (co-written with Karen Booth, March 2012) and Always You (Passionate Plume First Place Novella Winner, RWA 2012).

Karen’s first full-length novel, Meant To Be, was published by Turquoise Morning Press in August 2012. Its sequel, Holding On, will be released on November 26, 2012. A prequel to these novels, the short story "All I Need," appears in the Foreign Affairs Anthology (Turquoise Morning Press, August 2012).

For more information about Karen's current and upcoming projects, you can visit her website
She can also be found on:

Welcome, Karen. Please tell us about your current release.
Meant To Be is a friends to lovers story with a bit of a twist. I like to think of it as one long prelude to a kiss. But once they kiss, look out. When a kiss is that long in the making, it’s no longer just a kiss.

Blurb from Meant to Be:
Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was thinking about how people change over time and drift in and out of one another’s lives. I’d read the saying “people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime” and I realized that you never really know who’s there for which of those purposes. People you think will be in your life forever can wind up actually being there for a very short time. Others who you think you’ll probably only know briefly--- a co-worker, a neighbor--- may end up being significant in your life forever. That’s the premise of Meant To Be--- you never know who your “lifetime” people will be.

Excerpt from Meant to Be:
“Here.” She grabbed a box of cookie cutters off one of the kitchen bar stools. “Have a seat. Try whatever cookies you’d like.”

He was continually amazed by how warm she was. How inviting. Though he’d only known her for five months he felt as though he’d known her forever. Without thinking he grabbed a cookie and popped it into his mouth. It melted on his tongue. “Mmmm. That’s good.”

She tossed him a quick grin as she basted the chicken. “Try another.”

By the time she’d finished scooping the fluffy mashed potatoes into a serving dish and started on the gravy he was on his sixth one. The tray by the kitchen table held cookies that looked temptingly similar to ones his mother used to make. His very favorite cookies. He’d spent years buying bakery look-a-likes, but had always been disappointed when the taste didn’t compare to his memories. He’d given up trying.

He eyed the tray as he sampled the other varieties. Each tasted better than the one before. He hesitated, not wanting to ruin the moment with unrealistic hopes, but curiosity got the best of him, and he grabbed a cookie off the final rack. He slowly bit into it, and there it was. The exact cookie he recalled from his childhood. The same texture, the same rich flavor, the same chewy jam. “Oh my God,” he said.

“These cookies,” he said, his voice wavering. “They taste exactly like cookies my mother made when I was a child.”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” she asked.

“Good thing. A very good thing.” 

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently writing two different stories. A Valentine’s Day-based love story and a virgin hero friends-to-lovers story. They’re both contemporary romances. I’m also editing several stories that will be released in the next nine months: Holding On (the sequel to Meant To Be, due out 11/26/12), a short story for a wedding anthology (coming spring 2013 from Turquoise Morning Press) and a second-chance-with-an-old-crush contemporary romance that I just signed a contract on yesterday (coming out from Samhain Publishing spring/summer 2013). Keep your eyes on my blog for updates.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I feel like the answer to that should be always and never. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl, but I never had the nerve to pursue it. When I started writing more seriously a few years ago and decided to make a real effort to get published I was pretty sure it wouldn’t happen. The odds are so astronomical. During the submission process it seemed like it was eternal blur of rejections, compliments, near misses---then I started getting offers. It felt surreal. When you’ve wanted something that much, for so long and you finally get it, it’s hard to accept it’s actually happened. Now I’ve signed eight contracts in the past seventeen months. It still feels surreal. I’ve got four novels and a short story out and another three being published in the next year. I guess I should start considering myself a real writer now, eh? I’ll work on that.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full-time, although I have several family and volunteer obligations that take up a lot of my time.

My work day starts as soon as I wake up and goes until the second I crawl into bed. My desk is in the middle of my kitchen so I can answer the phone, pay bills, cook dinner, get the door, answer homework questions, feed the cats or load the dishwasher all without going more than twenty feet from my laptop. That’s usually how it is, too. Me up and down and back and forth writing and doing other things all at once.

Before I got published I split my time between writing and researching agents, publishers and writing websites. Now that I have books out I have to juggle writing new projects, editing upcoming releases, blogging about a variety of things, doing promotional work and, my favorite, interacting with readers and other writers. It’s been an unexpected perk that I’ve met so many amazing people since I embarked on this whole writing journey. I’m very thankful for all the new friends I’ve made along the way. I never would have thought my fictional characters would have introduced me to so many awesome real life people, but they have. And I’m looking forward to continuing to meet more.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I won’t/can’t name characters with the same first name of someone I know personally. I associate names and people very strongly, and I have a rule about never ever basing my fictional characters on anyone I know in real life. It’s a pet peeve of mine when people ask “Ohhh, is that character really so-and-so?” or “Which character am I?” so I make sure I can completely honestly say “No, the character’s not based on you or anyone else.” It can make choosing names tricky, though. It’s surprising how there are some common names (like Daniel) that I can still use. I’ve known a few Dan’s and a Danny, but never a Daniel. So I made one up.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer. Then I wanted to be a psychologist. Then I wanted to be a film maker. I became a hand drawn animator, a clinical social worker and, finally, a writer, in that order. I think I’ll stick with writing. Like most first loves writing holds a special place in my heart.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
As I said, the biggest, most unexpected surprise that’s come from writing is all the wonderful people I’ve met. I love getting to know my readers so please, stop by my blog, or chat with me on Twitter, or leave me a review someplace if you read my books. I look forward to hearing from you! 

Thanks, Karen.

Readers, Karen will award the winner's choice of a backlist e-book to one commenter at every stop, and a grand prize of a $20 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour. To be entered, leave an e-mail with a comment below. And if you want more chances to win, you can follow her tour and comment at other stops.


Mary Preston said...

I associate names & people as well. I work with young children. Trust me, there are names I would not recommend based on my knowing particular children.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Karen today

Rita Wray said...

Great interview, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Working on two stories must be so confusing. Then again, it should be easy for a full-time writer. I enjoyed following this tour!

KyBunnies said...

Thanks for sharing

Unknown said...

Sounds like an interesting story of second chance at love. Thanks for sharing

fencingromein at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Good points in your interview. I always worry that my future Mr. Right will have the first name of my brother or my late would throw me off my game, for sure.


bn100 said...

Nice inspiration for the book.


Karen Stivali said...

Thanks for all the comments! Sorry I didn't respond individually but Blogger has been refusing to let me comment all day. I'm glad I'm not the only one who closely associates names with certain people! I always feel like that's a weird quirk of mine. I've actually known authors who even name characters with their own given name. I can't even conceive of doing that!

Catherine Lee said...

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime...I have never heard that but I ADORE the sentiment. I'm going to hold on to that thought. Thanks for sharing.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com