Don't forget her excerpt on Saturday from Killing Secrets...it's a good one.
Thanks, Leslie Ann for having me here today. Finally, I get to be on your blog :) I hope you all enjoy the post and garner a little insight into me and why I can't not write.
If an author has been writing any length of time, they know there are three basic questions they can count on being asked…and, generally, in this order.
1. What do you write?
2. Are you published?
3. Where do you get your ideas?
I’ve been in this business for over twenty years so, believe me, (Note from LA: Karen is a 4-Time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist, see what I mean by persistence?) I’ve had time to hear these same questions asked over and over. Interestingly enough, for the most part, readers want to know the answers whether an author is published or not. A more interesting fact – to me, at least – is that there is a progression that can stop the dialogue at each point.
I won’t dwell on numbers 1 & 2 beyond to say that the conversation can stop cold if an author tells a reader they write a genre the reader doesn’t enjoy. I know this is true of me as a reader. Much as I’d like to be “in” conversation with another writer, if I don’t read their genre and we’re not talking about the writing process itself, I can find my interest waning. As humans, we tend to focus on topics that interest us. You can almost see a reader’s eyes glaze over when you tell them you aren’t published, too. Again, it’s human nature to find connections and when that connection is broken, it’s difficult to stay interested.
But, let’s assume for a moment, that the conversation has progressed relatively unaltered past the first two questions. The third question is the one everyone seems to find fascinating. Why?
I believe it’s because we are individual people with different life experiences and it can be tremendous fun to explore those experiences vicariously. I may not jump out of airplanes but I loved listening to one of my friends talk about her first jump, even though I wouldn’t parachute from a plane if you paid me a million dollars. Really, truly, cross my heart and hope to die…oh, wait, not hoping to die!
I didn’t know how scared I was of heights until my husband and I took our children to Flaming Gorge and we had to walk across the dam road to get to the elevator to go to the bottom. I froze in the middle of the road like one of those trolls in The Hobbit with daylight rushing over them. I literally had to be carried back to the car. I experienced the same, lighter rush of panic when my friend was relating her story, but I did it from the safety of my chair. As a writer, my experience was a new one that I could draw from because I can now describe how it feels to be truly terrified.
As humans, we are fascinated by the world around us. But, there’s not enough time for all of us to experience everything. This is the reason why we read. We’re gathering “life experiences” we can’t live ourselves or reliving events that we remember with fondness…or not. The trick to being a good author is to snag a reader’s attention and draw them into the experience as if it were their own. That’s what I’m looking for when I pick up a book. It’s what I strive to accomplish when I write.
Which brings me back to the question I’m sure some of you are now asking: Where do I get my ideas? Everywhere. I think I’m like most authors, an observer. I get ideas from articles, books, movies, friends, and watching people at parties. Yeah, I know some of you who know me are now wondering if you’ll find yourself in one of my books. You can probably count on it. I just can’t tell you whether the heroine in one of my romantic comedies has one of your character traits or you’re about to become the newest victim for my serial killer to play with. I’m funny, that way. I’ve even gotten an idea from doing the dishes! A SciFi story I may not ever write, but who knows?
I get a lot of ideas from life experiences. My romantic comedy, Satin Pleasures, was born on the San Mateo Bridge near San Francisco. The scene where the characters, Dan and Tess, meet actually happened to me. I was on the way to a writer’s meeting when I got stuck in a traffic jam for two hours in the middle of the highest span of the bridge. Remember my fear of heights? Blech! Try adding the fact that I was in the middle of a bridge over the icy cold waters in San Francisco Bay, only months after the major earthquake that took down whole spans of bridges, killing motorists. Needless to say, I needed distraction!
I focused on what was happening around me and saw all of the people spilling out of their cars, striking up conversations, playing Frisbee, etc. – who knew this happened outside of movies – and started asking myself ‘what if?” What if I was a Type-A personality (yeah, I am but we won’t go there) and I needed to be on the other side of the Bay for a meeting I absolutely, positively could not miss? What if I was terrified of large bodies of water? What if I placed this tightly wrapped person next to a man who’s her exact opposite? He’s walked away from all of that and has been living in a camper with his dog fishing his way cross country for the last year? Think the sparks would fly?
By the time I drove off that bridge two hours later I was not only relaxed and focused on something besides my own fears and anxiety, but I had a brand new story I was excited to write. I fell in love with those characters on that bridge and I had to tell their story.
My soon-to-be-released romantic suspense, Killing Secrets, is a compilation of inspiration which came from my strong sense of justice (a whole ‘nother subject), an article I read about a con man who’d kept his secret through several marriages, all at the same time, and a movie I’d seen about a man so obsessed with a woman he was willing to kill to keep her. This book is launching an entire series because I fell in love with the hero’s five brothers. Their stories must now be told.
Sometimes, just a book title will pop into my head. Hate when that happens at two a.m. in the morning, but I’ll take what I can get! Since my stories are thematic, it doesn’t take me long to figure out whose story I’m telling. Killing Secrets is about secrets. The next book in the series is Killing Proof which – obviously – is about the hero trying to prove something, in this case whether the man they have in prison is the real serial killer. I have titles and stories for all six of the Thorne’s Thorns series brothers. In recent weeks, six new book titles came out of the blue and slapped me in the head with “high fives”.
At this moment, I have twenty stories queued in my head. Some are pure romance. Some are suspense. I’m ignoring the “odd” story that doesn’t fit in either of those genres, like the SciFi one…for now. I did, however, split my writing personality to accommodate the bulk of my ideas. I write romantic comedy as Karen Docter, and romantic suspense as K.L. Docter, alternately. This means I’ll be releasing Killing Secrets and going on to write my next romantic comedy before I finish Killing Proof. I did this as much for me and the variety of stories in my head, as for my critique partners who told me I had to write the occasional lighthearted story…or they’d have to kill me.
As a storyteller, I can only hope the ideas keep popping into my head. When they stop, I’ll stop writing. Not a problem I expect any time soon. I hope my characters and stories resonate with readers as much as they excite me when they pop into my head. I know all readers won’t read everything I write, as much as I’d love crossover readers. But with two genres, I can share different stories with more readers. I also hope I can write faster…but that’s a whole ‘nother story, too.
Karen Docter writes two different kinds of romance novels....
Books of Danger, Romantic Suspense: Women hunted by killers...men who'd die to protect them.
Books of Heat, Contemporary Romance: Romance...With a Kick of Humor!
Karen's contemporaries are cute and spicy, romantic comedies. She loves writing about real men and women with dreams and goals that don't allow for a relationship just so she can throw them in each other's path...with a tickle and a smile. "Satin Pleasures", one of her four Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Best Short Contemporary finalist novels, debuted on Amazon February 2012.
Her suspense novels are also filled with romance, although the dangers the hero and heroine face are intense, usually because a serial killer is bent on ending one or both of their lives before they can fall in love. These are psychological, woman-in-jeopardy stories. "Killing Secrets", the first of her Thorne's Thorns series about six brothers and the women they'd die to protect, is scheduled to release soon.
Karen is a 4-Time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist, and has won numerous awards including the KOD Daphne du Maurier Award Category (Series) Romantic Mystery Unpublished division. She enjoys writing both sides of the line between light and dark romance. When she's not saving her characters or helping them fall in love, she loves camping and fishing with her family, reading, gardening & cooking. If she can do most of those things over a campfire, all the better!
Karen Docter (romantic comedy):
Satin Pleasures: Amazon ~ http://www.amazon.com/Satin-Pleasures-ebook/dp/B0078VSY6G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330384089&sr=8-1
K.L. Docter (romantic suspense):
K.L. Docter (romantic suspense):
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KarenDocterShelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/karendocter
Killing Secrets Blurb (writing at K.L. Docter) :
Rachel James' ex-husband is released from prison determined to reclaim her and her little girl -- his key to the James fortune. Frightened, Rachel flees to Denver with the child who hasn't uttered a word since her daddy went to prison.
Contractor Patrick Thorne wants nothing to do with another of his parents' charity cases. He failed his own wife so abysmally she took her own life as well as his unborn son's. After two years, it's time to concentrate on the bid he's won and the saboteur trying to destroy his construction firm.
There is no room for trust in either of their hearts. But trust is all that will untangle the secrets that dominate their lives, free a little girl of her silent prison, and save them all from a serial killer who stands too close.