Karen Whiddon began her romance writing career with Precious Gems, writing short contemporary romance novels. Her recent release, Powerful Magic, was a historical fantasy romance. Quite a jump! We talked with Karen about changing genres and the challenges involved.|
Karen, welcome to The Romance Reader! Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, grew up in the Catskill Mountains of New York (Woodstock) and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado (Boulder). Now I live in North Texas with my husband and three dogs. My daughter is 21 and a Senior at Texas A&M University. In my day job I run a Commercial Insurance Agency with my husband. It is very busy and fast paced - 12 hour days are the norm. I write in the morning, on my lunch, sometimes after work (more often I am too exhausted to do that), and on weekends when I can.
What brought you to writing romance? Tell us about getting your first book published.
I love romances! I started reading the old Harlequins when I was fourteen. I didn't discover historicals until I was in my late 20's. My first book (still in a closet where it will never again see the light of day) was a short contemporary designed for Harlequin. They rejected it, I joined RWA and a local critique group, and began to learn.
My second and third books (both historicals) weren't much better. Oh, when I would send out the first chapter and a brief synopsis, editors and agents actually would CALL me and ask for more, but when they got the rest of it they saw that I could not plot. I could write but had no idea of how to plot.
In 1993 I placed second in the Silhouette Shadows contest out of over 500 entries. But by the time I finished the mss, the line had folded. That book later sold to Precious Gems (with the paranormal elements removed). I also placed third in the Emily with a different paranormal that year. I never entered many contests, only the publisher ones and the Emily because I had been attending that conference.
In 1997 I sold my first book - Desert Fire - to Kensington Precious Gems. I sent in a manuscript and Hilary Sares called within a few days to buy it! I was at work, in a meeting, and came out of the meeting to a message to call Kensington.
I was very excited. I went on to sell four more to them, before making my first paranormal sale to Leisure last year. That book, Powerful Magic, came out in February 2001.
What made you decide to switch to time-travel?
It wasn't really a conscious decision - not "hmm, let's see, I think I'll write a time travel this time". It was the story that presented itself to me that just happened to be a time travel.
Why did you select Wales, circa 1072, as your time period? It's rather unusual.
Cathy, my characters appear first, always. And Kenric lived in Wales in 1072. So I really had no choice in the matter.
Any unexpected challenges in switching from shorter contemporaries to a longer, fantasy-based romance?
No, not really. When I first started writing, way before I ever published, I wrote two extremely long (and extremely awful) historicals. So the length wasn't a problem. I enjoy reading fantasy romance, so writing one wasn't that much of a stretch for me.
Any plans to continue writing short contemporaries?
Yes I do. As a matter of fact, I am working right now on a proposal for the Harlequin Blaze line. Currently I also have a proposal with my editor at Leisure, Chris Keeslar (a great editor who really understands what I am writing). It is a continuation of the Faerie stories that I started with Powerful Magic, though set in an earlier time.
How can readers get in touch with you?
Write me at P.O. Box 820807, Fort Worth, TX 76182 or email me at
KWhiddon1@aol.com. You can visit my web site at www.KarenWhiddon.com