Where are you originally from?
Both of my parents were born and raised in Mississippi (my mother in the Delta–“the most Southern place on earth”–and my father on the coast in Biloxi) but my father’s job as an executive with Exxon had us living all over the world. I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma but the longest I lived anywhere was in London, England for 7 years. I’ve now lived in Georgia for 24 years, and all of my family lives now south of the Mason-Dixon Line, too.
Yay Mississippi! My grandparents are from Mississippi. Been to Georgia many times. It’s a very beautiful place.
You’re a bestselling author who has written at least 22 books. Would you say you’ve fulfilled your dream as a writer?
To be honest, I never really had a “dream” of being a writer (despite what various publicists have written about me :). I sort of “fell” into being a writer–and have been blessed to find success. I’m still surprised each time I finish a book–like I can’t believe I really did it!
That’s amazing. I’m still reading the Guests at South Battery and it’s phenomenal.
How has your writing changed since writing for the romance market 16 years ago and penning the Charleston mysteries of Tradd street?
I’d like to think my writing has become stronger–cleaner, more concise. Practice makes perfect, right?? When I sit down to write a new book, my goal is to write a book that’s better than the last and a book I’d want to read regardless of the market I’m writing for.
Nice. This is a good pattern to follow. I don’t think I could solely write for the market. Many authors have told me the same thing.
Tell us about your fascination with Charleston, S.C and how it has affected your writing.
The settings in all of my books always becomes as much a character as the living/breathing characters so I have to have a “feeling” about a setting to write about it. From my first visit to Charleston and the Lowcountry many years ago, it felt like home. And now I set books there as an excuse to visit for “research.” I love it because of its history, ambience, architecture and, of course, its ghosts.
What do you enjoy most about placing your settings in the south?
I identify as a Southerner so it’s always like writing about home.
Home it is!
What is your fascination with old houses and how has it affected your writing?
Since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated with old houses. And then when I was 12 and we moved to London, we lived in a gorgeous Victorian building with some of the most exquisite architectural details that I then became obsessed. It might be genetic because my daughter just graduated with a Masters in Historic Preservation and works for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Or maybe me dragging her to every house museum in every place we ever visited had a positive effect on her
Your love for old houses and architecture shines in your new book The Guests on South Battery!
You’ve spent 8 years with Melanie Trenholm of the Tradd series. Who is she to you?
Not that I will agree or deny, but people who know me and who’ve read the books think that Melanie and I have a lot in common. Except I’m not a Realtor and I don’t see dead people. 🙂
Hahhaha!! I assume you must have an obsession with donuts too, then?
Compared to all the other protagonists you’ve created how is Melanie unique?
She’s definitely my quirkiest protagonist! She comes across as this strong, confident woman but those who know her realize that she’s really just a quivering mass of Jell-O. I think that’s why readers relate to her. They also find her frustrating–which is part of the fun of writing her.
I see and appreciate the dichotomy. We never underestimate having a great character to relate to!
How has the paranormal element in the Tradd series changed your writing experience?
It makes it much more fun! It almost makes it “easier” to create drama and ratchet up the suspense. I actually scare myself at times–which is exciting!
Hahaha!! I’m picturing you scaring yourself 🙂 I’d love to be a fly on the wall when that happens.
Do you normally write with Quincy?
Always–he’s next to me, behind me in the chair or on my feet. And now we have a Havanese puppy, Sophie, who likes to be between my hands and the laptop so I can pet her. Makes writing VERY difficult. It’s a good thing she’s so cute!
Sounds like you have yourself a faithful writing companion!
Can you give us a sneak peak of your upcoming Spring release, The Night the Lights Went Out?
I’m so excited about this book! It’s hands-down my favorite cover so far (and no, that’s not Taylor Swift on the cover but it could be!). It’s set in my hometown that’s been not-so-cleverly-disguised as Sweet Apple, Georgia in suburban Atlanta. I’ve lived here for 24 years so I didn’t have to do _too_ much research for a change. It does flash back in time to the 1930’s and 1940’s but mostly takes place in modern day. I’m calling it my “Steel Magnolias meets Girl On A Train.” A little departure for me with the suspense aspect, but still very much a Southern Women’s Fiction novel that I hope my readers will recognize and love.
You had me hooked with the cover and “Steel Magnolias meets Girl On A Train.” I’m there! Can’t wait to read it!
I grew up being a voracious reader and it was a natural step to turn my interest to writing. I have published award-winning and bestselling novels including my latest release, FLIGHT PATTERNS, a multi-generational story of love, loss and mystery set along the gulf coast of Florida in Apalachicola. FLIGHT PATTERNS was released by Penguin Random House in May, 2016.
I write what others have termed “grit-lit”–southern women’s fiction, as well as a contemporary paranormal mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. All of my books are set in the US South, and feature a female protagonist at a crossroads in her life.
On January 10, 2017, THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY–the fifth book in the Tradd Street series, will be released. I’m so excited to be continuing Melanie and Jack’s story–with a whole host of characters, both old and new.
In April, 2017 THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT will be released. Set in suburban Atlanta in the fictional town of Sweet Apple, this is the book I’m calling my “Steel Magnolias” meets “The Girl on the Train.” Spanning from the Depression era to modern day, it’s a story of three very different women, and the true meaning of friendship.
I live near Atlanta, Georgia with my husband, two children, and two of the cutest Havanese dogs, Quincy and Sophie. Readers may recognize Quincy as General Lee in the Tradd Street series.
Connect with Karen White!