Karen, thank you so much for joining us. We really enjoyed reading Somebody Knows Something and were thoroughly gripped. How was the writing process from your perspective?
Once I started writing Somebody Knows Something, I couldn’t stop. The story wrote itself over three crazy days. It ultimately became part of a larger work which I’ve trunked — with good reason — but I always suspected Somebody Knows Something had merit. I’m so glad it’s finally seeing the light of day.
What made you start writing or want to write a novel?
I wrote my first novel at the age of nineteen, a romance novel with pirates and heaving bosoms and. . . eek. Then, life got in the way. I headed to college, earned a BFA, worked as a graphic artist, went back to school for my teaching certificate, pursued a Master in Education whilst teaching little kids (until I couldn’t) and the rest, as they say. . .
But yes, I’ve always loved writing. In fact, in high school, my three possible career choices were veterinarian, writer, or artist. Two out of three ain’t bad.
You’ve written a great novella here. We love it. Could you briefly explain to potential readers what Somebody Knows Something is about?
First of all, thank you very kindly.
In Somebody Knows Something, a little girl named Olive heads outside to play one day and is never seen again. Twenty years later, two strangers, Ginger and Daniel, are drawn to Olive’s tragic story. There’s a reason Ginger feels compelled to write Olive’s story, which she hopes will spur someone to finally come forward with information as to Olive’s whereabouts or fate. Daniel, who was there that day, now has a beloved daughter Olive’s age. Guilt is killing him, but admitting what he did is more than he can bear.
Ginger seeks the truth, and truth may be Daniels’s salvation, but only if he tells somebody.
Where did the idea for your book came from?
It’s kind of like art imitating life. I was a teacher of little kids and loved it, but an unfortunate accident cut my teaching career short. I’ve always loved writing and when my husband suggested I take it up again, I thought, Why not? I started writing the story of a woman who has to quit teaching and decides to take up writing, but she quickly develops writer’s block. Then, she stumbles upon a newspaper article about a little girl gone missing, and that gives her the idea to write about a little girl who disappears, and about two people, twenty years later, who find themselves on parallel, but opposite, quests: one, to uncover the truth; the other, to keep it buried.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced as a writer?
Aside from crushing self-doubt? 😊
Finishing a story has been my biggest challenge. It’s like pulling teeth sometimes. I usually don’t plan out my stories in advance; instead, I get an idea and just start writing. I wish it were otherwise—I suspect it would be so much easier to have an outline to guide me—but I just don’t work that way.
What do you think of the publishing industry and its processes?
For new writers, the querying process can be demanding, daunting, exhausting. There are so many people out there who’ve written manuscripts, most of which will end up in the slush pile. Not only do you need to write a great novel, but then you need to write a great query letter, find the perfect agent, hope that agent can entice a fantastic publisher, hope that publisher finds the right audience. . . it’s not easy for most of us, and lucrative for few. You have to be willing to keep trying and meanwhile, keep writing, whilst facing what may be a shitload of rejections.
Why have you chosen Indie Novella?
I started searching for an independent publisher who might be interested in novellas and happened upon Indie Novella. While Indie is relatively new on the scene, I was really impressed by your social enterprise model. Plus, Indie seemed open to publishing the kind of stuff I write, which tends toward dark and edgy; kind of ‘out there’ in content and format. I figured, if you guys are willing to take a chance with me, I’m certainly willing to take a chance with you. I’m very excited, very grateful, very humbled to be an author with Indie Novella.
What do you think of diversity and inclusion when it comes to novel writing and publishing? Is there more we can do to encourage new writers from different backgrounds?
We are all human beings with shared experiences, and our commonality is the thread through which we reach and relate to others. But each author also brings their own experiences to their writing; unique perspectives that drive and inform their stories—it’s what makes each work unique and hopefully, entertaining and thought-provoking. We share ourselves through our writing in hopes of connecting with others in some meaningful way. Our diversity not only sets us apart, but brings us together, encouraging and celebrating our similarities and differences, too.
What advice would you give new writers?
First, have faith in your work. Ultimately, your name is on the cover so be true to yourself. Write what you want to write and think about finding an audience for it later.
Second, prepare to grow a thick skin quickly if you’re going to open your stuff to critique or go the querying route. If you’re lucky enough to have smart, savvy people reading your manuscript, you want them to be truthful and point out areas that may be problematic. And querying generally results in a lot of rejections which hurt, especially at the beginning.
Third, be willing to listen and then, to edit your stuff. It’s hard to look at your work with a critical eye, especially when you’ve been so immersed in it, so close to it. And if you fall in love with your book, oy. So be willing to step away from it, view it with an open mind, be willing to hack and slash if that’s what it takes. Embrace the editing process because ultimately, your novel will be better for it.
Finally, don’t write in a vacuum. Find writing buddies. Seek out writer websites (Absolute Write was a god-send for me). Join writing groups. You can’t beat having the feedback of others to share and help you through the rough patches, keep you going when the words don’t come and the rejections do, and you’ll be helping your fellow writers in the process. Writing novels is unlike any other endeavor: you do it alone, hoping against hope that it will one day be shared and appreciated by many. It’s crazy and wonderful and everything in between.
You don’t have to be alone on that journey.