Monday, February 20, 2012

Chiseled Author Karen Duvall is Interviewed!

We’ve been asked, so today we’re offering answers to questions such as: Chiseled Staff? Are they really that chiseled? Are they completely off their Rockers? And what do they do behind that closed door?!

Over the next few months you’ll see interviews with our own Chiseled Staff, and today we’re talking to Karen Duvall.

Karen is a graphic designer and author, and her debut title with Harlequin Luna was Knight’s Curse, the first in her new urban fantasy series. It was released August 23, 2011, and was a Publisher's Weekly Top 10 Pick for Fall 2011. The second in the series, Darkest Knight, will be released on March 23, 2012.

CIR: Welcome, Karen! How do you describe yourself (the top three things that come to mind)?

KD: 1) Determined because I enjoy a challenge and won't give up until I've done what I set out to do; 2) Overwhelmed because I have too many interests and item #1 often kicks my @ss; 3) Dreamer because I love to make up stuff.

CIR: Please describe the path of your writing career.

KD: It's been like one of those melodies that builds to a crescendo, then slows down and builds back up again. That describes my life as well, and since my writing career is tied inextricably to my life… Okay, that's an obtuse answer. Sorry. I started out writing short stories, kind of cut my teeth on them, and then graduated to writing novels. I have eight completed novels, four of which are published, and one published novella with another novella in progress. I've gone from writing in my spare time to writing part time and actually making some income.

CIR: What are your current writing goals and challenges? (What are you working on?)

KD: I have a novella in the works, and I'm working on a proposal for a new series for Harlequin Luna.

CIR: What are the two toughest things about writing?

KD: For me personally? Like the weather in Colorado and Oregon, it's always changing. It depends on the story I'm working on and what's giving me the most headaches at the time. I write tight, so my stories tend to be on the short side, which means I have to fill them out in subsequent drafts. I write my synopsis before writing the book because I sell on proposal. Getting the plot down isn't especially difficult, but the characters are challenging because we haven't been properly introduced yet. Once I write the first 3 chapters for the proposal, the synopsis gets a little easier to put together. But not much.

CIR: Do you prefer igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary?

KD: I prefer volcanic. I pumice you it's the best rock ever.

CIR: How has RMFW helped you advance your career?

KD: Are you kidding? I owe so much to this incredible organization. RMFW taught me how to write. I've been a member since 1994 and those have been the best 18 years of my life.

CIR: As we know, RMFW is an all-volunteer organization. Have you or do you volunteer elsewhere in the organization?

KD: I have and I do. I wish I could do more, but ever since moving 1200 miles away I'm a bit restricted. I still manage to teach workshops at conference and judge the Colorado Gold Contest. Before moving to Oregon in 2004, I did myriad jobs for RMFW and was the PAL rep one year. I also used to design the conference brochure and the RMFW brochure. I was the one who came up with the idea for door prizes of breakfast and lunch dates with agents and editors at conference that are given away at the annual WOTY panel. Oh, and I was the proud yet humble recipient of the wonderful Jasmine Award for 2004.

CIR: What writers inspire you?

KD: I'm always inspired by books that trigger a visceral response from me. If I cry or laugh or get angry enough to see red, those are the books and authors I remember. The one author who inspired me to try my hand at writing a novel was Armistead Maupin, whose characters come to life on the page. He wrote the Tales of the City series several years ago and is still my hero.

CIR: What genres do you read?

KD: I'm a mood reader so I read across all genres, each book chosen based on my mood at the time. My only criteria is characters who engage me. I won't read past chapter four if they don't. Yikes, I sound like an agent or an editor.

CIR: Do you ever get writer’s rock, er… block? If so how do you break through?

KD: With a chisel. Nah, I don't get writer's block. I do believe there is such a thing, I just haven't encountered it yet. Knock on rock that I never do.

CIR: What do you feel your stories are born of?

KD: Fear and wonder. I write urban fantasy and enjoy scary stuff, and I never have nightmares. This could be why.

CIR: What one piece of advice would you offer to new writers?

KD: Balance! It's so easy to concentrate mainly on one craft direction or another without paying enough attention to all parts of the whole. Do NOT write a lopsided story. I will come after you.

CIR: What’s your favorite rock and roll song?

KD: I go weak in the knees for Nickleback. Every song they do stirs me up. Love them!

CIR: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

KD: When I was three and recited a story to my mom so she could make the letters because I didn't know how. Then I drew the pictures.

CIR: Do you also have a “day” job? Other interests or hobbies?

KD: I do. I'm a graphic designer. I don't do as much of it these days, but that's not for lack of trying. It's a tough industry and there's less call for it than there used to be, and more competition for what work there is.

CIR: What books have most influenced you?

KD: I already mentioned that Armistead Maupin is my literary hero, but I'd say the writers in my genre are the greatest influence. Clive Barker is often misunderstood as a horror author, but I've read and reread several of his brilliant fantasy novels. He has a compelling literary style that sticks with you. Neil Gaiman is fabulous and I'll read anything he writes. I used to enjoy Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series up until the ninth book, so she was a powerful influence on me for a while.

CIR: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

KD: As a child, as soon as I learned how to make my letters, I got busy writing the stories that lived inside my head.

CIR: Do you like rocking chairs?

KD: I'm not a cat with a tail at risk, so yes, I do like rocking chairs. I have one in my office.

CIR: If you could time travel, when and where would you go?

KD: Not far, I can assure you. I'm rather attached to my creature comforts. I might go back to the fifties because my mom told me it was the golden age.

CIR: What do you predict for the future of the publishing industry and where you fit into that?

KD: I predict there will be more readers because technology is making it easier and more fun to read books. The ebook revolution is a boon to education, and good stories that are well written will be in demand just as they always have been. I want to be one of the authors writing those good books.

CIR: And lastly, what did you dream of doing when you were twelve years old?

KD: Oh, dear. This is embarrassing. I suppose I could lie, but… Le sigh. I wanted to be, a uh *cough* uhm… A model. There, I said it. I dreamed of wearing the latest fashions and parading them down the runway, having my picture on the cover of Seventeen Magazine, and traveling the world doing fashion shows. And of course I'd be writing stories on the plane while flying from country to country. There. Happy now? (Turns crimson and, head down and shoulders hunched, trudges out of the room)

CIR: Yes, we’re happy – happy you joined us today! Thank you again. Hope to see you back in Colorado soon!

You can learn more about Karen and her writing on her website or blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter @KarenDuvall.

by Janet Fogg


j.a. kazimer said...

Great interview! A model, huh? I can see it.

I to hope the future of publishing is more readers.

Thanks for sharing.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Another great interview, Janet.

And Karen, I love thinking of you on the runway during a fashion show. It was a bit of a jolt, however, discovering you'd consider the 50s a time travel destination. I was there, and it wasn't golden, at least not where I lived.

julie said...

Such a fun and informative interview, Janet. You rock!

Karen paints pictures with words that expose me to colors I've never seen before. Ultra-exciting.

I'd be interested in reading more of your view of how not to write a lopsided story – never heard that description before.

Karen, Seventeen Magazine is running a be-on-the-cover contest right now. Go for it! Give them a twist and put one of your characters on the cover.

If you don't try for the cover, know that SM is weak compared to the images of your characters. You are now wearing FUTURE fashions through your books, and you are parading on one of the largest platforms in the world through Amazon and other outlets.

It appears that you dream has come true in a way you might not have imagined. You are a supermodel.

Anonymous said...

Loved the interview. I also started with poetry but not as early as you.

You do model. Your books, your website, your Amazon bio. You have more exposure than most models. You made it! Karen Lin

Karen Duvall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen Duvall said...

I deleted my comment because i accidentally called Janet Julie. Sorry, Janet! I just wanted to thank everyone for their kind words and say Janet does great interview questions. I had fun!

Mario said...

Great interview. Enjoyed learning about your favorite books and have added them to my TBR stack.

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks, Mario! :)