Give me a story with a plucky heroine in a mysterious house surrounded by trees draped in Spanish moss and I’m one happy girl. It’s enough to make me wonder if I was a Southerner in a former life. Nonetheless, Karen White delivers the goods in her latest novel, The Lost Hours. Its a powerful story of redemption and how the past still sends ripples into our present day lives. But man is this story powerful. When I reached the denouement, I had to put the book down and hold my Little Dude in my arms.
Please welcome Author Karen White!
Chica Lit: The Lost Hours is a story of healing about a heroine who wants to bury herself alive and a mystery that probes into a very ugly part of U.S. history. How challenging was it to write and how did you keep going when it got rough?
Karen: I always start out with flawed characters who have a lot of growing and learning to do. When I put them in tough situations, I feel like a mother with a toddler helping him to walk for the first time. We have to suffer with them through the falls and stumbles, but we’ll all be better off with the end result. So, when my characters are suffering, I know it’s for a good reason and they will learn and grow from the experience. I still cry and/or laugh with them through some of the scenes–which always takes a lot out of me, but that means I’m on the right track!
Chica Lit: Why do you think Southern Gothics are so fascinating?
Karen: I don’t know about other readers, but for me it’s simply because it’s such familiar territory! I come from a long line of Southerners (my dad’s family has been in the South since the French Revolution) and I’ve got a very ‘interesting’ family tree. I don’t want to call them crazy , but there are characters and settings that I’ve experienced in real life that have certainly fed my fascination for “Southern Gothic” and inspired quite a lot of my own writing.
Chica Lit: What comes first: character, theme or story idea?
Karen: Always, always, always the character. Everything else stems from her and what she needs to learn.
Chica Lit: How do you know when a book is done?
Karen: When I’ve reached my deadline. Just kidding! When I feel as if I’ve tortured my characters enough and they’ve learned what they’re supposed to–that’s when I know the book is done.
Chica Lit: What’s next?
Karen: In November, The Girl on Legare Street
(the sequel to The House on Tradd Street
) will be released. I’m contracted for two more books in this series to be released in 2011 and 2013. In the meantime, I’ll have two new ‘southern women’s fiction/Southern Gothic novels out in spring of 2010 and 2011, and somewhere in there (we haven’t figured out exactly when) will be the re-written and re-released Falling Home
, originally published in 2002.
All this will be accomplished if my children leave me alone and my head doesn’t spin off my shoulders!
To learn more about Karen and her books, please visit her website!