Tuesday 12 January 2016

INTERVIEW: Karen Malena: Part Two

Welcome to Part Two of Confessions of a Reviewers’ interview with Karen Malena.

In tonight’s section, Karen starts by answering some specific questions on her newest book Sound of Silence, continues to talk about her writing and life in general and tackles The Ten Confessions.

It’s only Tuesday but go grab something nice like a pizza and a beer, sit back and relax, but mostly……enjoy!

COAR - Moving on to Sound of Silence, where did the inspiration for this one come from?

KM - Sitting in a restaurant watching a family of four, each engrossed on some electronic device in front of them, none of them talking or making eye contact with one another, is how I came up with the idea. What if speaking became outlawed and a punishable crime? Would we miss it then? Would we risk everything to hear our child’s voice even one more time? And who would make such a law? It would have to be someone hugely popular and well-loved. He would have to prove to the public that it was in their best interest to put the edict of silence into order, for their protection so to speak. It had to be a politician.

COAR - How did you feel moving out of your comfort zone and writing a dystopian story this time?

KM - This has been the biggest challenge and yet most rewarding writing I’ve ever done. Though I usually write about places I’ve been to, it’s tough to write about future events, even though they aren’t so terribly far away. But to create a dystopian society is a tricky feat. It was a love/hate relationship for me with this book. Although it could have been longer, I am a word economist and I made my point with the least amount of words. I do feel a sequel or prequel is brewing however. And hopefully this time it will be easier to slip into the futuristic world.

COAR - You make references to the holocaust in this story. Is this something that you would have an interest in or did it just fit the story?

KM - I had several beta readers, one of which is a German historian and the other a Holocaust historian, that each had the same idea. They saw the parallel right away of the futuristic society and the Nazi regime of the 1940’s. The idea came to me then, that, what if Ray found out he was of Jewish descent? What if his beloved grandmother told him of the atrocities of the 1940’s and compared it to what was happening around them now? If she made him promise to be an element of change, something their past relatives could not do at Auschwitz, then it would up the stakes for Ray and give him so much more to fight for.

COAR - This had a real eerie feel to it. Almost like an old black and white movie or something you would see Bruce Willis cast in. Was this intentional or just how it came?

KM - It’s exciting because those in my writer’s group who had a chance to hear a little of how the story was coming along, all said it had the feel of a movie to it. I could really see this playing out before me as I wrote and I’d love the chance for it to be made into film. And if Bruce Willis wanted to star in it, I’d have no qualms!

COAR - Is this a writing style you can see yourself doing again or is this a one off?

KM - As I mentioned above, a few people already are bugging me for more of this story. When the Holocaust historian told me he saw the prequel in his head, and how it would be great to know how the Sound of Silence edict really came about, I decided that after a sequel to my Love Woven in Time, the prequel to this story would be next. (Did I really just say that?) (Yes you did!)

COAR - What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?

KM - It would have to be making up places that I’ve never been to. It’s easy for me to see in my mind’s eye, a place I’ve been to or visit frequently. In writing my cat fantasy story, Piggy, even though talking animals aren’t real, the story was fun and easy because it was my son’s cat I was writing about and my son’s house. I could “see” it play before me. With a futuristic tale, it is much more difficult. I would almost love to storyboard my writing with drawings so I have something in front of me to work with.

COAR - What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?

KM - To be a well-loved or best-loved author. To have people know me when they see me and say, “Hey, wow, that book of yours really meant something to me. I was touched by that story.” Or, “Wow, how do you think that stuff up? It was awesome.”

COAR - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

KM - Spend time with my family. I have little nieces that I absolutely adore, and I find they bring out the child in me and I’m playful and creative when I’m with them. I also love going on long weekend trips with my husband. We have a quaint town that we frequent several times a year to get away from it all. It’s that very town that features in my story, Love Woven in Time: A Ligonier Golden Romance.

COAR - What’s coming in the future from Karen Malena?

KM - Hopefully many more stories to inspire and challenge readers!


1 Who would you view as your main competitor in the writing world?

There are many writers I’ve met in the Facebook community that I cheer on wholeheartedly. Each of us has our own genres and talents. For example, the Light Brother’s write amazing horror. I could never compete with them. Other authors I know write the Amish stories I’ve mentioned above. I don’t care to ever write something like that, but I cannot compete with their success and I find myself a little envious of it.

2 What book or author have you read that you think should never have been published?

I read a book recently called The Great Dragon Zoo of China. It was the worst drivel I’ve ever wasted time on. It touted that it was in the brilliant style of Jurassic Park. Nonsense. Awful writing style and terrible storyline.

3 Are any of the things your characters have experienced in your books been based on something that has actually happened to you? What was it?

In Shadow of My Father’s Secret, we hear the story of a kid bullied and shamed on a playground by a couple of older kids. Without getting into too much detail, this is something that happened to me. It was so shameful that I truly had nightmares about it for years. It’s nice to write it out of your head though, and then you can forget about it!

4 Have you ever blatantly stolen an idea or scene and adapted it for one of your own books? If so, care to share?

There’s a creepy Halloween scene in Reflection From My Mother’s Kitchen where my main character, Kate and her mom are talking about one of the scariest moments from her childhood when Kate was actually accosted by a drunken fool on Halloween night. I did “borrow” a little in this scene from one of my all-time favorite parts of To Kill A Mockingbird when the children are walking home from the play near the end and Bob Ewell attacks them. Powerful.

5 Have you ever anonymously left a bad review for someone else’s book? If so, care to share?

No, I would never do that. As I mentioned earlier, the only book I truly disliked with my whole being was The Great Dragon Zoo of China. And I left a review but I did use my name.

6 What’s the one thing you are least proud of doing in your life and why?

Being mean to a friend as a little child. Every time my favorite cousin would visit from overseas (she was an army brat), I would be so excited that she was there, I would actually ignore all other friends and prefer her company. I realize that isn’t the worst thing ever, but to a child, to be shunned by someone who is supposed to be your best friend…well, let’s just say I’d never want that to happen to me.

7 What’s the one thing you are MOST proud of doing in your life and why?

Learning from the above mistake and becoming a person who would stick by a friend, family member, husband, child, through thick and thin. I am not easily swayed by the callousness of others, and am very forgiving. I give second chances all the time.

8 What’s your biggest fault?

Insecurity. It’s a fault that has stuck with me all of my life. Ever since I was made fun of by boys in my seventh grade year when I had scoliosis, I’ve been terribly self-conscious and insecure.

9 What is your biggest fear?

The fact that I feel I will never rise above insecurity in myself. I would hope to put it all behind me and move on. To love myself unconditionally and not let naysayers or those who would criticize my writing or anything else about me, really get to me.

10 If you had to go to confession now, what would be the one thing you would need to get off your chest?

Impatience with my mother’s dementia. It’s not an easy thing watching your aging parent succumb to this disease. Especially difficult since I’d dealt with issues similar to this from Mom in my childhood. I hope to be a better daughter and realize that she is not responsible for her actions just as she wasn’t when I was little. Oh, and of course I need to turn to that awesome world of make-believe once again to see me through.

Well that, unfortunately, is the end of the interview. You should, by now, know nearly all you need to know about Karen Malena.

If you want to know more then come back tomorrow night when I will be posting my review of Sound of Silence and will provide you with all the links to buy it and all the links you need in case you want to get in touch with Karen or just follow what she is doing.

I want to say a personal thanks to Karen for giving up her precious time to take part in this interview and for being so open and honest about every single aspect of her life. I think a lot of us would like to possess the same positivity as Karen.

Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer