AUTHOR INTERVIEW – KAREN DOCTER (Contemporary Romance & Romantic Suspense)


Today, we welcome Karen Docter.

Before we get started talking about your writing, let’s begin with you! Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living—if you’re not a fulltime writer, what hobbies you have. That sort of thing!

First, thanks for inviting me to visit, Linda. I love talking to readers, probably because I’m such an avid reader myself and have always wanted to talk to the authors I enjoy.

I was born in Pennsylvania but have lived most of my life in the foothills around Denver, Colorado. I spent more than thirty years in business management before I retired to stay home with my growing children. I’ve been my own boss since they left home. Recently, I quit my “day job” and became a full time writer. I also teach a month-long plotting workshop, The “W” Plot…Or The Other White Meat for Plotters, several times a year.

I tend to be a workaholic but I do love to escape into the Rocky Mountains nearby and go camping. I crochet and embroider when can find time. I enjoy cooking. I spent years catering my local writing chapter, Colorado Romance Writer’s Anniversary & Published Authors’ Luncheon. Of course, I love spending as much time as I can with my seven grandchildren. I live a pretty sedate life!

What do you do for fun?

Whenever we can get away, my husband and I go camping. I’ve gotten too spoiled to tent camp anymore so it’s great we found a camping trailer that fits our needs. It’s much easier to just pick up and go now. My preferred camping spot is near a lake. I love to fish! I don’t have to catch anything. It’s the process I love. The peace and quiet of nature. Nothing to do but relax and watch the world wake up around me.

What’s your favorite animal, color, season of the year?

I should probably come up with an exotic animal like a tiger – they are fascinating – but, to be honest, I love dogs. Mine are smart and caring and fill my home with warmth and love. I also love birds. I have a glass aviary in my living room with busy little Zebra Finches. There’s a lonely female canary named Silver in my office. She’s the last of a clutch of babies born right before my eyes. Watching baby birds hatch is so much fun! I need to find Silver a mate of her own so she can have some.

My favorite season of the year is spring. I love watching spring flowers pop up through the snow we tend to get here in the spring. I’m partial to the purple colors so I always get excited when I spot my first hyacinths. I wish they survived longer!

What’s your favorite singer, song, type of music?

When I write, I listen to instrumental music. Benise, a wonderful Spanish flamenco guitarist, is my current favorite. Although, recently, I discovered Apocalyptica, four of the most amazing metal cellists. Yeah, you read that right. Metal cellists. They’re my band of choice when I write action or scenes of danger. Their sound is so energizing, intense. I can’t listen to singing when I write. It breaks my concentration. I do like the tenor, Josh Groban. Italian and Spanish singing doesn’t impinge on my concentration and I love the romantic flavor of his music.

I’m an Il Divo and Groban fan. I understand completely! What’s your favorite movie?

This is a tough one! I love so many for different reasons. My movies of choice are adventure, suspense, comedy and romance. Hmmm, interesting! That’s what I write!

We do write what we love, don’t we! Who’s your favorite actress/actor?

Again, I love so many for different reasons. Until recently, though, I didn’t realize I truly did have one actor that I would go out of my way to see no matter what he was in. I love Jason Statham! There is something about that man’s onscreen presence that just sets my heart a-pitter-patter. Part of it is the intensity in his eyes. Of course, I’m always ready for him to lose his shirt
I think much of his appeal can be traced back to the movie roles he plays. He has strong heroic qualities in everything I’ve seen. I love his strength of conviction, his willingness to do whatever it takes to protect those he cares about, oh, and did I mention all those times when he somehow loses his shirt? The fighting scenes in his Transporter movies are wonderful to watch, a dance of strength and beauty. Oh, and did I mention, he keeps losing his shirt?

(Interviewer laughing here!) I do see a trend, Karen. Now that we know you a little better as a person, let’s get into your writing! What kind of books do you write?

I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. My romantic suspense is dark, edgy, with everyday men and women suddenly thrust into dangerous situations where only their love for each other can save them. My contemporaries are lighthearted, fun, and sexy (not erotic) stories about men and women who are not looking for love but find it anyway.

Ah, yes…the shirtless men. It all makes sense now! Name some of your books, including your latest.

I just released my debut contemporary romance, Satin Pleasures. It was a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Best Short Contemporary Romance contest finalist in 2002. I’d tucked it away when the publisher lines I was aiming for closed down. I’m thrilled it’s finally found a home. 

How many books have you written so far?

I’ve written eight books, a mix of contemporary and suspense. 

Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?

I’m currently working on Killing Secrets, the first of my Thorne’s Thorns romantic suspense series about six brothers. It should be released by June 1st of this year.

What got you started? When did you start writing & why?  

I’ve written most of my life, mostly poetry and the occasional short story. I honestly didn’t think about writing novels until I became a stay-at-home mom. And, yes, one particular author did motivate me to write. I won’t share her name because it was so long ago I can’t remember and – this may sound awful – her book made me so angry I threw it down and told my husband I could write a more satisfying book. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “So why don’t you?” I wrote two complete novels before I joined RWA® and finally began to learn everything I was doing wrong. Writing novels is not for sissies!

Tell me about it…sorry, that was rhetorical. Are you an avid reader & when you do read someone else’s writing, what is your favorite genre?

If I could read a book every day, I’d be happy. I can’t spare that kind of time though so, when I do sit down with a book, I have a few favorite genres depending on my mood. I read suspense and contemporary, of course, as well as paranormal and historical. I’m afraid I tend to be more the critical writer when I read suspense and contemporary so it must be really good to catch my attention. Paranormal and historical are my pure reader genres.

Who is your favorite author & why?

I have so many! I have a Keeper wall seven feet high (shelves are paperback size) and four feet wide. No, I’m not a fickle reader. There are simply so many talented writers, and my Keeper shelf is constantly expanding. I dare not name names or we’ll be here all day!

That’s an answer I understand completely. What is it that makes your writing different from all the others in your genre?

I believe every author is different from every other because our interests, knowledge, backgrounds and passions differ. I think all of these qualities – unique to me – make my writing different. I love to laugh and examine life’s peccadilloes, so I write fun contemporaries like Satin Pleasures. I also have a strong sense of justice and the need to understand why people do the awful things they do to each other, which is why I write psychological suspense like my Killing… series.

Now let’s talk about your writing process. In general, how long do you spend writing a book?

I wrote the rough draft of Satin Pleasures in eight weeks, but it usually takes four to six months to write my contemporaries from start to finish. My romantic suspense took a hiatus until recently but I estimate it takes approximately eight months.

Where do you do your writing & what is your process like?

I do my best writing outdoors on my deck or when I’m camping, but that’s not feasible on a daily basis with Colorado’s changeable weather. But, come spring and again in the fall, you’ll find me hammering away outside. I’ve recently begun meeting with my critique partners once a week for Just Write sessions. We meet three hours or more and just write, no talking. The energy we create in the room is amazing.
I used to be a pure pantser but, once I learned the “W” plotting technique, I became a pantser who plots. I do outline the basics of my story, but then my punster takes over. I don’t write in a straight line. If I wake up and want to write a particular scene, I write it. It doesn’t matter if it’s Chapter Eleven and I’m only at Chapter 2 on the linear line. It drives my critique partners crazy but it works for me.

Must be nice having those critique partners! How do you get ideas for your stories and characters?

Everywhere! Every story I’ve written can be traced back to an idea I got while doing the most mundane things. The idea for Satin Pleasures, for instance, came about when I was stuck in a traffic jam on a bridge in the middle of San Francisco Bay. We were literally gridlocked for two hours thanks to a semi that had jackknifed across both lanes of traffic. By the time I drove off that bridge, Dan and Tess had been given life and substance. I couldn’t wait to get home and write their story! Killing Secrets came about as a result of a news article I read about a con artist who’d been scamming the upper echelon of his wife’s upper echelon friends.

What is your editing process like and who does it?

As I mentioned, I have a journalism degree and I’ve always had strong English skills, so I edit myself with the assistance of my critique partners. I’m not infallible and they often catch things I don’t. With any luck, my readers won’t find any that we missed!

Again, those critique partners–gotta find some of my own! What’s the best/worst experience you’ve ever had as a writer?

Best: Besides publishing my debut novel, Satin Pleasures, on Valentine’s Day? Before that, the best experiences I’d ever had as a writer were the four times I had books in the finals of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Contest.

Worst: I had four computer crashes in two years and lost part, or all, of the story I was working on. The first time, I lost three-quarters of the book. I was devastated. I was able to recreate the story eventually, but it was the longest three months of my life. I just knew I’d never recapture the story I’d written. It ended up a better book, although it didn’t feel like it at the time. I’ve since learned a lot more about computers and ways to save my work.

I think we all learn that lesson the hard way! What is the best/worst advice you have ever gotten about writing?

Best: It may sound trite, but the best advice I ever got was, “Ignore trends. By the time you finish a book to fit that trend, it’s over. Write the story you want to tell. It will find its own niche.”

Doesn’t sound trite to me at all!

Worst: “Write through it.” I was having a difficult time personally and battling with some serious health issues at the time. I have come to grips with the fact there are some things I simply can’t write through, not if I want to give my story, and my readers, the passion they deserve.

What advice would you give a new author?

Learn the craft of writing but, more than that, pour your passion in every story you write. Craft can be learned. It’s the passion for your story that connects with readers Passion can’t be taught. It’s there, or it’s not. Write the story you must tell because you believe in it.

If you hadn’t become an author, how else might you be exercising your right brain now?

I’d probably still be in business management or working as a CPA. I’m glad I don’t have to not be an author. Writing books is so much more fun!

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to share?

Nothing occurs to me. You’ve been pretty thorough. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you and your readers. Thanks again!

Where on-line can people find more information about you and your books?

Here are the links to my sites.

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

Where are your books available in print and/or digital?

Satin Pleasures is a digital release available through Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook

Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview, Karen. I know how busy you’ve been with the new release. I look forward to reading Satin Pleasures…I assume someone has his shirt off?

13 thoughts on “AUTHOR INTERVIEW – KAREN DOCTER (Contemporary Romance & Romantic Suspense)

    • It’s great to meet you, Lauren.

      I really do love Apocalyptica, although I do have to wait until my husband goes to work before I can turn them on to a volume I like best. It’s a bit too primal for him! :) They truly are amazing to write to on those intense scenes.

      Thanks for stopping by and saying hello!

      Karen

    • Thanks, Christine. Interestingly enough, the premise of this story came to me while I was stuck in a traffiic jam for two hours on a bridge in the middle of San Francisco Bay. With time on my hands, a need to NOT look over the side (I moved to California AFTER the big earthquake so bridges made me crazy while I lived there), and my muse whispering “what if” in my ear, Dan and Tess’s story was born. I couldn’t wait to get off that bridge and give them life. It was actually the fastest book I’ve ever written.

      I hope you everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

      Karen

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