Saturday, 15 June 2013

Author Interview: Karen E. Olson

Karen E. Olson is the author of, among other things, the Tattoo Shop Mystery series by Signet. She was kind enough to answer a few of our questions. If you haven't read any of her work before, we highly recommend 'The Missing Ink' and its sequels. 

How long does it take for you to write a book?

It depends. It took me two years to write my first published book, 
Sacred Cows. It took me two months to write the first tattoo shop 
mystery, The Missing Ink. It just took me about three months to write a 
young adult novel. 

What kinds of writing quirks do you have?

I don't think I have any writing quirks. I don't listen to music, 
because I tend not to hear it. I just sit with my laptop in my living 
room or on my back porch or at my pool club in the summer and write. There's no ritual involved. I just sit and write. I think that's from my years as a journalist, when I had to write my stories and meet deadline.
How did you get the idea for the Tattoo Shop Mysteries? For Brett?

My editor asked me if I'd be interested in writing a tattoo shop 
mystery. At first I said no, because I don't have any tattoos and 
didn't know anything about it. But she talked me into it, and I'm glad she did! I learned a lot as I read a lot of books, visited tattoo 
shops, and talked to friends who had tattoos. And because I have a 
little bit of an art background, I decided to make Brett a frustrated 
classical painter who turns to tattooing to make a living. I really 
loved developing her, since she is a strong, independent woman who runs her own business and can solve crimes on the side!
Who is your favourite author and why?

I have many favorite authors, but the most recent "favorite" is John 
Green, a wonderful young adult author who wrote the amazing The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska. He really understands the 
complexities of teenagers, and his characters leap off the page. I've 
just finished writing a young adult novel, so I've been reading a lot 
of those. 
What is the writing process like for you?

My writing process varies from day to day, depending on what I've got going on. I write an hour or two, whenever I can find the time. 
Sometimes I write 500 words, sometimes 2,000, depending on the day. I try to keep to a rule of writing five pages a day, but I don't beat myself up if I can't meet that. 
Do you belong to a writing group, and do you recommend joining one?

Before I was published, I belonged to a small writers' group, but once I was published and was getting notes from my agent and editor and my time was a lot less flexible, I left the group. I still have a few first readers who are invaluable. 
Who is your favourite character to write about? Why?

I love all my characters. Brett was really fun to write, since I didn't 
know anything about being a tattoo artist. She really grew the more I learned. But I think my favorite character from the tattoo shop series is Jeff Coleman, the rough around the edges street shop tattooist who isn't at all the way he seems at first. Developing Brett and Jeff's relationship was one of my favorite things about writing that series. 
How do you make a living as a writer?

I don't. I have a part time job, because I have to pay the bills and my writing hasn't produced enough income yet. 

How long did it take you to break into the writing business?

It took about fifteen years of writing and querying agents and getting a publisher. Nowadays, you don't have to be that patient, since you can just upload something online, but I'm not ready to take that leap yet. 

Is writing a lonely job for you? If so, how do you combat it?

Writing is not lonely at all! I spend so much time with my characters, crafting my stories and having a ton of fun with it. I really get caught up when I'm writing a book, and I find myself thinking about the characters and the plots all the time and what I'm going to do the next time I sit down to write. 

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