Updated to Add: The random winner of Karina's giveaway is Azteclady. Congratulations! Can you please contact Karina at karina AT karinabliss.com with your mailing address. :)
Sneaking back very early (shh) from the writing cave to post something special - an interview with Karina Bliss, celebrating the release of her new book, "Second-Chance Family." Not only is Karina a friend and fellow NZ author, she's also one of my favorite writers. Her stories have real heart - I can never put down her books once I pick them up.
Please give Karina a warm welcome to the blog everyone!
1. Who is Karina Bliss?
This sounds like a 'Where's Wally?' question. :-)
The great thing about being a writer is that you're anonymous except for gender, and some writers even get around that. Eg: J.K Rowling, C.S Lewis and Lionel Shriver (a female writer who uses a male name).
But for lack of literary stature, I can confirm I'm female, older than I want to be, a former journalist and a New Zealander. I sold my first book, Mr Imperfect, to Harlequin Superromance in 2006 and am currently working on book number six.
2. You write for Super Romance - what defines this line of books?
The line's tagline, 'Romance has never felt more real' sums it up in a nutshell. Think contemporary, believable romance with a modern tone. Because Super’s core value is home and family there can sometimes be a misconception that the books must be cozy (dare I say tame). Wrong!
Here are some examples of recent plotlines.
* An Atlanta businessman uses an abandoned baby to beef up the public’s perception of him as a great guy (Abby Gaines, The Diaper Diaries).
* A developer inherits custody of three kids with his ex wife, the woman he divorced because he blamed himself for (spoiler deleted!). (Second-Chance Family, Karina Bliss).
* A heroine opens the door to an adult son she gave up for adoption at sixteen...the product of rape. The hero is one of the suspects. (Tara Taylor Quinn – Sara's Son).
* A hero who fathered not one but two babies to different girls as a teenager, then married out of duty and lost the woman he loved. (Joan Kilby – How to Trap a Parent.)
Hugely diverse in tone, plot and writing styles, what all Superromances have in common is family relationships complicating the hero and heroine’s life and their romantic happy-ever-after. I've recently written an article about writing for Super for Romance Writers of Australia. If there are any would-be writers out there, it's posted on my website www.karinabliss.com under ‘writer in progress.’
3. Tell us about your November release, "Second-Chance Family."
The idea for the book - A guy inherits custody of three kids with his ex wife – started as fun and somehow got darker and more emotional. I really love reunion stories but one of my writing friends has trouble buying into a couple splitting up and getting back together...Why would it work a second time if it didn’t the first? How DO you write a believable love story when you’ve already proved that love doesn’t conquer all? What kind of history would these two have?
The other thing I wanted to do with this book was write ‘real’ kids not plot contrivances. As a new mother I once threw a romance against the wall because the heroine had three-month-old twins who went to bed on the dot of six and slept twelve hours. After which she dressed her slender body sexy, served her new love – the hero - dinner by candlelight and engaged in passionate all-night bonking. Yeah right!
4. I thought this was a really emotionally wrenching book - as a writer, how do you get into the "head space" to write about such a tough situation?
I’ve had a lot of exposure to bereavement – my own and that of people close to me. And I’ve seen people demonstrate amazing character, courage, love and resilience in the face of loss. There’s always been humor amidst the pathos... I guess it’s the spark of survival. With that inspiration, I found it a surprisingly easy book to write. It proved a real ‘heart’ book for me.
5. Which of the characters in "Second-Chance Family" is your favorite?
Truthfully, I loved every one of them, even the dead ones. :-) I ran a contest on my website to name a character and then emailed my choice and said, ‘Um, do you mind if I give your suggested name to one of the deceased because Julia Evans really suits the woman I have in my head?’ Fortunately the reader had no problem with it.
6. I gotta mention the kids - talk about realistic! You mention in your dedication that your nieces and nephews provided the inspiration for them - any particular events in the book that come directly from your experience with them?
The two younger children are pretty much an amalgam of my son and all the kids in my extended family. I borrowed their best lines and quirks (lucky they’re too young to sue J). Even the pathos was sparked by their behaviour after my father died. Kids offer such a unique window on the world when you’re writing fiction and readers trust their perceptions so they’re a great way to give insight into your hero and heroine.
7. Staying with the kids - how do you balance writing a romance, with the family aspect that's integral to Super Romance?
Ha! It’s a work in progress. I’ve certainly indoctrinated my son who once suggested I go to a fancy dress party as a plot hole (he was ten at the time). And he writes books (mainly to tell me how much faster he can write than I can). My husband thinks all the heroes are modelled on him, and he’s right, (with a teeny sprinkle of Brad).
8. Your books are loosely connected - can a reader new to your work pick up any of your books, or would you recommend starting at a specific one?
I’d love to say, ‘Oh of course you have to buy the first one and read them right through.’ G> But no, they can be read as stand-alones. For purists, the series run in this order: Mr. Imperfect, Mr. Irresistible, Mr. Unforgettable and Second-Chance Family.
9. Anything else you'd like to add?
I have a prize draw for Nalini’s Hostage to Pleasure currently running on my website. Come visit on www.karinabliss.com. And many thanks for the interview, Nalini. You’re an inspiration to me as a writer and an auto-buy for me as a reader.
Karina is giving away a signed copy of Second-Chance Family to one lucky commenter, so feel free to grill her (or just say hi!), by midnight, Sunday November 16th, 2008 New Zealand time.