To kill a conversation, tell people you’re a history nut. Generally, their eyes glaze over. I don’t know why I am so attracted to ye olde days. I certainly wouldn’t want to live without modern medicines and conveniences, but history it is in my writing—both fiction and non-fiction.
When I wrote my two murder mysteries, I set them back a mere twenty-five years to avoid what I call “the cop-out” of using computers and cell phones to ferret out clues. I’ve noticed a lot of writers are doing that now. My first historical fiction book, A Feather for a Fan, took me to Tacoma in the 1870s, and I had the fun of reading local newspapers from the period, striving for accuracy. I’ve read so many old newspapers, magazines, and memoirs, I’m really critical when reading today’s historical fiction. That being said, if it is well-written, I will read anything and try to pick up helpful tidbits. The one exception is Sci-fi. I don’t like it and have never seen Star Wars. How’s that for being a total Luddite? The closest I come to the genre is a good ghost story, and even they “harken back” to another time. Sadly, that genre seems to be out of favor.
Villains are fun but it is important to give them some good traits; even serial killer Ted Bundy worked on a suicide hotline. Mrs. Danvers in the book and movie, Rebecca was wonderful. I love, when she’s talking to the second wife: “You're overwrought, madam. I've opened a window for you. A little air will do you good.” Yikes! It’s a second story window.
My heroines are mostly me, which doesn’t always work out well. Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes was one of my heroes because he was plain talking. Unfortunately, I’ve been known to make my women sound like him—a bit cynical. Like author Gil McNeil, I put most of my sarcasm in inner dialogue, but it’s something of which I’m always aware.
In one of the Anne of Green Gables book, Anne is writing a story to enter in a competition. She tells her neighbor, Mr. Harrison, about the story, saying her heroine isn’t very unmanageable. The Mr. Harrison doesn’t understand and probably most non-writers don’t know that our characters quickly take on their own personalities, and manipulating them isn’t always easy. A friend of mine who is a Tarot card reader read the cards for the protagonist, Mercedes, in my first murder mystery, Murder on the Line, and nailed the way Mercedes was emerging, but the description wasn’t how I had envisioned her.
A Feather for a Fan came out just before Christmas. The heroine is a young girl, the hero is a teenage boy who is part French and part Native American, and the villains are distances and time. I’m working on the sequel and the villain is a smuggler—much more traditional.
I have a blog on Blogspot, a website on weebly, and a Twitter account but no time to keep them up. I’m always available on Facebook under my name, Karla Stover (that’s pretty easy). The disadvantage to writing is that it is a lonely occupation, so I’m always glad to hear from someone.