Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Interview - Karen MacInerney

Darque Reviews welcomes Karen MacInerney!

Hi Karen, thanks so much for sharing your time with
Darque Reviews. We’re looking forward to getting to know you and your work better.

Your upcoming book,
Howling at the Moon: Tales of an Urban Werewolf, is being published by Ballantine Books on February 26, 2008. Can you tell us a bit about it?

KM: Howling at the Moon is the story of reluctant werewolf -- and auditor -- Sophie Garou, who's got a great job, a great loft, a great boyfriend... and a big fat hairy secret. Because I LOVE the teaser Ballantine came up with, I'll share it here for your readers:

Sophie Garou seems to have it all: a great job at a prestigious accounting firm, a closet that rivals a Nordstrom showroom, and a terrific boyfriend who isn’t afraid to use the “M” word. There’s just one little itty-bitty problem: Sophie is a werewolf–and her time of month has a whole new meaning.

Needless to say, life among yummy flesh-and-blood humans is no piece of steak . . . er, cake!, but regular doses of wolfsbane tea and a mother who runs a magic shop have helped Sophie keep her paranormal pedigree under wraps. Still, when a sexy, golden-eyed werewolf prowls into town, Sophie finds herself struggling to keep her animal impulses in check–not to mention trying to keep things on track with her super hot (and super human) lawyer boyfriend. What’s more, someone is threatening to expose Sophie for what she really is. And when her mother is accused of selling a poison-laced potion, Sophie must sniff out a culprit before the fur hits the fan.

Howling at the Moon is the first book in your new Tales of an Urban Werewolf trilogy. Will the trilogy center around one character, or will it change with each book?

KM: Sophie is definitely the star of the trilogy, so all three books will be from her point of view, although the cast of characters will grow and evolve as the books -- and Sophie's world -- grow.

Prior to Howling at the Moon, you wrote cozy mysteries. Have you found that you enjoy writing in one genre more than the other?

KM: I really enjoy writing cozy mysteries, in part because it's wonderful creating the kind of warm, welcoming world that I love to fall into when I read. I also enjoy watching the small-town dynamics unfold -- and perfecting (and sampling) the recipes, of course!

But writing in the paranormal realm has been a ton of fun -- in part because the world-building is in an exciting challenge, and in part because there are fewer rules, which means you can let your imagination run free. When you're working in a world where werewolves are de rigueur, your options for what can happen expand exponentially, and it allows me to create all kinds of absurd, hilarious situations. It's still creating a world, though -- only one where magic, rather than muffins, is the star of the show.

What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

KM: When I'm in writing mode, the words often come tumbling out -- I just wrote 2,000 words in two hours this morning, so I've had a great day. But I've learned that sometimes my creative brain needs a rest to recharge. So for me, I think the challenge has been understanding that while I have periods of great productivity, they are balanced by 'fallow' periods. I've had to accept that the breathers are what enable me to work so enthusiastically -- and productively -- the rest of the time.

Can you tell us what you’re working on now, and what fans can look forward to?

KM: I am currently finishing up the third Tales of an Urban Werewolf book and the third Gray Whale Inn mystery (Murder Most Maine); I plan to have both finished in May. But I've got several exciting ideas for new paranormal projects -- projects that will delve into all kinds of interesting and untapped areas -- bouncing around in my head, and I can't wait to get them on paper. I'll keep you posted!

Do you work on more than one project at a time?

KM: I have tried to -- many times -- but I seem to be a one-book-girl. My friend Susan Wittig Albert once said that books are greedy, and demand all of your attention; she's right. If I work on more than one book at a time, I tend to lose my focus. I will occasionally switch from one to another for a period of months, depending on deadlines and other factors, but when I'm in one book, I don't move to another unless I'm completely switching gears.

I do allow myself to daydream about future projects, though -- which for me, is half the fun of writing. The payoff for finishing one book is letting myself start fleshing out some of my (many, many, many) other ideas!

What genre do you enjoy reading? Who are some of your favorite authors?

KM: I read in many, many genres, and I must admit my list is rather eclectic. In mystery and romance, I love Charlaine Harris, MaryJanice Davidson, Susan Wittig Albert, Diane Mott Davidson, and my fellow Cozy Chicks authors, of course. But I also adore Diana Gabaldon, Vladimir Nabokov, J.R.R. Tolkien, Bernd Heinrich, Philippa Gregory, Robin Hobb (she's a fabulous fantasy author I discovered just a year or two ago), Claire Berlinski, James Herriot, Bill Bryson (who can make me snort orange juice) and Michael Pollan. And cookbooks -- I'm on a Barefoot Contessa kick right now.

Do you have a particular time of day that you set aside specifically to write?

KM: Primarily in the mornings after I exercise -- and almost always when my kids are at school or at their grandma's house. Otherwise, just when I get to the steamy bits, e.g., "He put his warm hand on my thigh, sending a current of lust through me..." a child always barges in and announces that someone just spilled four gallons of milk on the kitchen floor. And that most of it is now under the refrigerator.

So I write while the kids are gone... unless I realize that I misread a deadline, in which case I can write 40 pages in 8 hours with three kids jumping all over me. (I wish I could say this was theoretical, but it's not.) I usually write at a coffee house or at the library, but it varies; lately I've been working on the living room couch. I have no idea why.

Do you have any hobbies? How do you spend your free time when you find some?

KM: I like to read -- surprise! -- and I like to exercise, so you'll often find me on walking or biking the Hike and Bike trail or at an exercise class. Also, I'm a big fan of plants and growing things in general -- in a previous life, I was working toward a PhD in plant population biology -- so I love nature hikes and gardening. I enjoy cooking, and I love, love, love to travel. I'm planning to learn Italian soon so I can convince myself that spending a summer in Tuscany would be educational. (And deductible, for research purposes, of course. Italian werewolves, anyone?) And there's nothing better than settling into a hot bath with a candle and a great book.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers or aspiring authors before we say goodbye?

KM: I think for readers, I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for going to your bookstores and libraries keeping the art of the written word alive. I love books passionately, and I'm so glad there are so many people still devoted to the magic of books!

And for writers? I think I would say that above all, the best way to learn to write is to read. Read obsessively, read curiously, read to find out what kind of book you want to write. And when you sit down to work, be as clear as you can about the book you want to write. You wouldn't sit down at a blank canvas without knowing if you were planning to paint a still life or a modern piece; in the same way, it's best to have at least some vision of what you want to do before you pull out your laptop (or notebook, or whatever you choose to use).

And when you do start submitting your work, keep your chin up -- and start on the next piece as soon as you've sent that query letter out. (Preferably not the sequel to the unsold first book -- get excited about something new!)

Thanks so much for spending some time with us. The best of luck on Howling at the Moon!

KM: Thank you, Kimberly... and thank you so much for the interview. Great questions!

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

You can visit Karen MacInerney’s website here:

You can visit her blog here:

You can purchase a copy of Howling at the Moon, here:
Amazon – Howling at the Moon


Wendy said...

Deja vu! I could has sworn you already interviewed Karen, I'm going nuts, lol.

Great interview! I'm looking forward to reading Howling at the Moon, sounds very good! :)

SQT said...

This sounds fun. Maybe a little like "Bitten" by Kelley Armstrong. Worth checking out.

Kimberly Swan said...

Wendy - Maybe I just mentioned that I was going to or those exams are getting to you! lol (I'm sure they're going just great though!)
Thanks, she was just great! It is good, you'd like her humor too.

SQT - Howling at the Moon is a lighter read and leans more towards humor. Definitely worth checking out. :)