Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Welcome Karen McCullough Today

Welcome to my Reading Nook, Karen McCullough. Please make yourself at home and let my cabana boys/girls get you a drink.

Comfortable? Wonderful. Now let’s get started.

What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?

A. That was a really long time ago, like twenty-five years ago now, but I still remember coming home from work to find a message on my answering machine from an editor at Avalon Books saying she was interested in my novel.  I remember jumping up and down in the kitchen, yelling and screaming until my family came running to find out what the problem was, then I think I took everyone out to eat.

Tell us about your latest/upcoming release. What inspired it? 

A. My most recent release was an ebook version of my second published novel from Avalon Books, PROGRAMMED FOR DANGER.  I was actually working as a computer programmer at the time I wrote it and I drew on that background.  Of course, I wrote it in 1988, so when I decided last year to re-release it as an ebook, I had to rewrite it pretty completely since the technology had changed so much!

My next release is actually a new version of a book I epublished a year or so ago. Although it was a finalist in a couple of contests, it never sold at all, so I'm going to re-release it early in 2013 with a new title, THE WIZARD'S SHIELD, and a new cover.

If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as your characters?

A. PROGRAMMED FOR DANGER should probably star Jennifer Garner as Andrea.  I'm not sure about David.  I think Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey) would be closest, but he'd have to lose the lovely British accent.

What genres would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?

A. There aren't many genres that I haven't tried!  I've been published in mystery, romance, fantasy, and science fiction (short stories).  I've got a half-finished Medieval historical on my hard drive, but I've never quite figured out how it works out.  Otherwise, if I have a story idea that I think will work, I pursue it, no matter what the genre.

What is your normal writing day like? 

A. Since I own a web design and development business that specializes in websites for authors and other small businesses, I generally devote the morning to that. After lunch I usually take a long or walk or work in the garden, then come back and spend a couple of hours writing. Usually my brain needs a rest then and I go back to working on websites until it's time to work on dinner.  Most evenings I'll go back and do more writing.  I don't work at the web business on the weekends, so I spend a lot more time writing then.

Where do you get most of the ideas for your stories? 

A. Ideas are everywhere – in the newspaper, on TV, on the radio, in the conversations you hear while sitting at Starbucks sipping your latte.  I'm a sponge, soaking up everything.  The real trick is figuring out how to turn that morass of ideas into a workable plot for a novel.  Generally I find a story beginning when a couple of different ideas begin to rub up against each and give off sparks. When I have a character in my mind who has a significant problem and a glint of a notion about how she's going to try to deal with it, then I know I'm ready to begin the novel creation process.

What are some of your hobbies/favorite past times to indulge in?

A. I enjoy working in the garden, taking long walks, watching a little bit of television, and watching sports either on television or at the game.  I'm partial to pro football (Go Patriots!), college basketball (Yay, Duke!) and baseball at all levels.  I root for the Braves and occasionally drive to Atlanta to take in a game, but I also enjoy going to our local minor league ballpark. 

Who are some of your favorite authors, and if we were to visit your home, what books would we find on your bookshelf, end table, floor or e-reader?

A. My favorite authors include Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters, Dorothy L. Sayers, Jim Butcher, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mary Stewart, Andre Norton, Ellis Peters, J.K. Rowling, Gillian Roberts and Charlaine Harris.  You'll pretty much find their books all over my house. 

If you could be any character of any book or movie, who would you be?

A. Good question, and I really have no idea!  One of the great things about being a writer is you get to try out being a lot of different characters, and they're all interesting in their own ways.

Do you have a favorite TV show you can't miss?

A. These: NCIS, NCIS-LA, Person  of Interest, and I'm waiting impatiently for the next season of Downton Abbey

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

A. I call myself a pantser with some plotter tendencies.  When I start a novel, I usually have an idea of what the overall problem is, who the main characters are (in a very superficial way), the opening scenes, and a vague notion of how it should end.  I generally write the first few chapters in a rush, which helps set the scene for me and lets me get to know the characters, but somewhere around the end of chapter three or four, I hit a wall.  That's when I sit down with a pen and a notebook and begin to plot. I jot down ideas for events, scenes, bits of dialogue, twists, turns, and some just off-the-wall things that might happen during the story.  Once I have 20-25 ideas noted, I begin to arrange them in the most likely order for them to happen.  Somewhere in that process, the plot begins to take shape and I can start to outline the next chapter and the one after that.  For the rest of the book, I do a sort of rolling outline.  I know what happens in the next chapter or two beyond where I am, but that's as far as it goes until I get to close to the very end when it all starts to come together.

Could you tell us about any work-in-progress, current projects, what we can expect from you in the future?

A. I'm currently writing the sequel to my Five Star/Harlequin Worldwide published mystery, A GIFT FOR MURDER.  It's tentatively titled WIRED FOR MURDER.  I'm also working on preparing an ebook version of A GIFT FOR MURDER ready to be released some time in 2013, new ebook versions of two formerly epublished novels that I have the rights back for, and an ebook version of another of my older Avalon books.  I hope that all of those will be available in 2013.

Who has been the most delightful character to write about? The most challenging to write about?

A. Catherine Bennett in A QUESTION OF FIRE is my favorite heroine followed closely by Heather McNeil in A GIFT FOR MURDER.  Both are smart, funny women who are willing to risk a lot to see justice done.  They also tend to see things just a little differently from most people, and that makes them interesting to me. The most challenging character to write has probably been Michael Morgan, the hero of the forthcoming THE WIZARD'S SHIELD.  He is the titular wizard, a powerful, highly intelligent man, who's also had a terrible past he's still dealing with.

What do you do to unwind and relax? 

A. Reading, walking, sports, watching television. 

What is the last line of your last WIP you worked on that you wrote?

A. I'm not sure if you mean the very last line of the book, or the last line I wrote.  If the last line of the last book it would be, "You reminded me what it feels like to laugh."  That would be from a book that is currently in submission.  Last line written on the book I'm currently working on is

Anything you would like to add? (Links to your blog/website, books, etc?)

A. Here's my quick bio and link to my website, etc:
Karen McCullough is the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres and has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy. She’s also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, three grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.


Blurb for Programmed for Danger:

Andrea Kingston is surprised by the cool reception she receives when she arrives with her team of troubleshooters to work on Feverill-West’s computer problems. It’s not the first time she’s dealt with people aggravated by programming flaws and hardware malfunctions. Nor is she any stranger to corporate politics and bickering. But normally people are happy to see her since she promises to fix their technical issues. The level of hostility she encounters this time is new, as is the serious nature of the incidents plaguing Feverill-West’s data processing system.
With the reluctant help of Feverill-West’s attractive Operations Manager, David Purcell, Andi tackles the problems, only to discover that at least some of them are deliberate sabotage. The closer she gets to the source of the attacks, the more personal and vicious they become.
When someone knocks her out to prevent her learning anything more, Andi realizes that more than just her professional reputation is on the line. She’ll have to risk her life to solve the crimes being perpetrated against the company.


David pointed to a corner of the screen. "Do you think you could get it to display the date of the last sale to the customer right up here in this corner somewhere?"
Andrea considered the work involved. Getting the date would be no problem since it was stored in the customer file, and there was enough room on the screen. “No sweat," she said. "If you'll allow me, I'll do it for you right now.”
He got up and yielded his chair to her, but stood right behind, watching as she loaded the program, looked down the lines of code, found the right area, put in the instructions to display the date, then saved the program. A few moments later she was able to run the inquiry again, and the date popped up exactly as he'd requested.
If she'd hoped to see some of that same warmth he'd shown Beth, or at least some thawing of the ice, she was doomed to disappointment. He nodded as she got up and went back to the other seat. "I hope all our prob­lems can be ironed out so quickly and easily. We've got enough of them."
"I know you're not happy with the way the order­entry system is set up," Andrea said, "but tell me about these other glitches and problems you've been mentioning."
The way he rubbed at one temple with long, lean fingers suggested he was tired or, perhaps more accurately, fed up. A few fine lines collected at the corners of his eyes, but his current austere expression made it difficult to believe they might be the result of laughter. "A lot of different things," he said. "Odd messages popping up now and then, files disappearing—nothing we couldn't replace from a backup—but inconvenient and time-consuming little things that just don't seem to be working right."
"Are those things on the change specs?" she asked.
"I don't know. I don't think so."
"Would you make a list of all the ones you can re­member? I'll look into it when we come back next week."
He sighed and nodded. "Anything else?"
“I think that covers everything we need to be ready. Thank you.”
He stood and walked around his desk to escort her to the door. Tall and slim, he moved with an athlete's controlled grace. The jacket of his gray suit hung on a peg behind the office door, but he still looked remotely formal in a light-blue shirt and darker blue tie. As he approached her, the computer on his desk suddenly emitted a series of beeps, and they both turned to stare at it.
“What's that blasted thing doing now?" David said and moved toward it until he could read the message on the screen. "What's this?"
Andrea noted the change in his tone and crossed the office to stand beside him and read the words. A message box flashed a warning n the middle of his screen:

Buy Links for Programmed for Danger:
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1 comment:

Polly Iyer said...

Loved the interview, Karen. I just finished A Question of Fire and enjoyed it immensely. And you're right, Catherine Bennett is a great lead character. I hope you follow up on her.