As you can most likely guess, I have had the honor of interviewing Karen Witmeyer and doing a giveaway of her brand new book, No Other Will Do. I am super excited about this, and I hope you all are too!
Thank you so much, Karen, for doing this interview with me! I have had an amazing time thinking of questions and reading your answers! I hope you enjoyed this time as much as I did, even with the emails full of questions!
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me by messaging me or commenting on this post.
After growing up in California, Karen moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University where she earned bachelor and master’s degrees in Psychology. It was also there that she met and married her own Texas hero. He roped her in good, for she has lived in Texas ever since. In fact, she fell so in love with this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit, that she incorporates it into the pages of her novels, setting her stories in the small towns of a state that burgeoned into greatness in the mid- to late1800s.
A life-long bookworm, Karen is living her dream by writing novels. Her books have consistently hit bestseller lists and have garnered awards such as the ACFW Carol Award, the Holt Medallion, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. In addition, she is a multiple RITA and National Reader’s Choice finalist. Karen is also a sought-after speaker for national writing conferences and regional workshops.
Karen’s favorite aspect of her writing life is hearing from readers. Nothing encourages her heart more. She’d love to hear from you. You can contact her here.
Christy Award finalist and winner the ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.
Questions with Karen:
Q. Yes, I do know. You probably get asked this question a lot. But! That just means that this is a good question! How/why did you become an author?
A. When I was young, I never thought I would become a writer. I was having too much fun being a reader. I loved books. I would come home from the library with stacks of them and sit in my room and read for hours. As I grew older, I toyed with the idea of writing, but I never moved beyond jotting down a few ideas in a journal. Little did I know that God was planting seeds that would soon be brought to harvest. In 2003, I was a stay-at-home mom with 3 preschool children when my husband found out he was losing his job. I knew I needed to do something to help support the family, but I wanted to stay with my children. That’s when I got serious about writing, not realizing at the time that it would take 6 years to sell my first book. But God provided. Not only did he grant my husband a new job, he arranged the perfect job for me as well. And my in-laws moved next door and blessed us by taking care of the children. Yet, even though our financial troubles had been taken care of, the urge to write remained strong. God had laid the ministry of writing on my heart, and I was not going to let it go.
Q. I personally love all of your book covers, and I can’t really decide a favorite. What do you think of your book covers? Do you have a favorite?
A. I have been so blessed with my covers. The Art Department at Bethany House has done a stellar job. As for a favorite . . . well, I think my first two are the best. In A Tailor-Made Bride, the dress is perfect for my seamstress heroine, and the fact that the livery owner hero’s dirty boot is stepping on her hem is a perfect visual representation of the battle of wits that goes on between the two throughout the story. They nailed that one. Head in the Clouds is special to me because, as an avid bookworm myself, I could truly relate to the heroine being so lost in her book that she isn’t minding where she’s going and is about to step off the front porch. If you look at the back of the book, you’ll see the book flying and her heels in the air. I laughed so hard when I saw the back of the book. Loved it!
Q. Because I also love writing, I know that there is always that special place where an author likes to write. Also, some authors listen to music while they write and some like it quiet. Where do you find it ‘easiest’ to write, and do you listen to music while you write?
A. My usual writing space is nothing special. I sit on my bed with my computer in my lap. The door is closed, and it is quiet. I love music, but not while I am writing. I find it easiest to concentrate when it is quiet. Yet with three kids running around the house, quiet is a relative term.
Q. Okay, my favorite book by you is Short Straw Bride...so far! What book was your favorite to create?
A. Tough question. Each book came about in such a different way. Short-Straw Bride was inspired by the old musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Full Steam Ahead started simply because I wanted a book with lots of explosions. (Gotta keep those pages turning, you know.) A Worthy Pursuit was inspired by the life of a friend of mine combined with the over-the-top fun of dime novel heroes. And my latest novel, No Other Will Do, came about when I had the wild idea to start a fictional women’s colony in the middle of Texas. If I had to pick a favorite, though, I would probably choose To Win Her Heart. This one just felt special from the beginning. It was inspired by the parable of the Prodigal Son from the Bible. But instead of starting at the beginning of the parable, I started at the end. After the son had returned to the father. He received forgiveness and turned his life back in the right direction, but he still had to live with the repercussions of his past sinful choices. How would his older brother treat him? The townspeople? A future wife? Working through those questions took me to a deep spiritual place as I wrote and reminded me of the importance of extending grace to one another.
Q. Every author has a writing quirk; that is a known fact. Do you have any writing quirks or anything along those lines?
A. My quirk is that I write one draft. One slow, painstakingly careful draft. I am one of those odd ducks who prefers to edit as I go. I have too much perfectionist in me to let something go without polishing it first. So I write one chapter a week (sometimes two if a deadline is coming), send it off to my critique partners, edit, then move on to the next one. It makes me slow, but when I reach The End, it really is the end. At least until I get the rewrite letter from my editors.
Q. What is the hardest part about writing a novel, in your opinion?
A. For me, the hardest part is coming up with the premise. Especially in romance, everything has been done before. Many, many times. How do I find an idea that is fresh and compelling? Something that will make my books stand out in the crowd? Something that readers will not only enjoy but tell their friends about? That is the hard part. And the reason I pray over my writing every day. I’m not a naturally creative person. Without the master Creator and Storyteller, I would be lost.
Q. As a teenage girl myself, I love to read. So, the next question I am going to ask is something you will have to remember. If you are anything like me, you are probably shaking your head and thinking, “No, no, no! Not this question!” But, here goes nothing, or rather something! When you were in your high school years, did you have a favorite author, series, or book? Is there any book or author that inspired you greatly and sticks out in your memory?
A. I remember reading several classics during English class back in high school. Some were slow and rather boring. Others captured my imagination. But my absolute favorite was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I fell in love with that story. Jane was such a sympathetic and powerful character for being such a plain, ordinary little thing. I wept for her as she endured the hardships of her youth, and yearned for her to find love. And when she found it and had to leave it behind, my heart broke even as I respected her morality and conviction. Then, in the end when love triumphed and Jane finally found the happy ending she so rightly deserved, I cheered. That story has never faded from my heart. I love it still. In fact, one of my early novels, Head in the Clouds, was inspired by Jane Eyre. A governess, a nobleman, a precocious little girl, and a mysterious villain all play tribute to my favorite classic.
More about No Other Will Do:
Men are optional. That’s the credo Emma Chandler’s suffragette aunts preached and why she started a successful women’s colony in Harper’s Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma admits they might need a man after all. A man who can fight–and she knows just the one.
Malachi Shaw finally earned the respect he craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma’s plea arrives, he bolts to Harper’s Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she’s not a girl any longer. She’s a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn’t deserve.
As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.