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Welcome to my blog. Here, you will find information about my novels, life in Japan, as well as author interviews, discussions on writing, and more. Feel free to browse and if you enjoy a post, please comment. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Author Spotlight: Karen Magill

The author's spotlight turns to Karen Magill.


Tell us a bit about yourself.
I come from a family of writers – my paternal grandmother was a published author – and have written ever since I learned how to put words together. I have done many things to earn money but when I was forced to leave my government job due to MS, I took it as a sign that I was supposed to write. 
Presently, I live in the beautiful city of Vancouver Canada.

Do you write under a pen name?
 I used to use my middle initial, M, but that sounded too pretentious so now I just use Karen Magill.

What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I come from a family of writers – my paternal grandmother was a published author – and creative people have surrounded me all my life. Even though I have always written, I explored many areas for a career for years. But I always came back to the writing. 
My newest series of books are inspired by the history and stories of the city around me, Vancouver Canada.

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?
I am on disability due to MS so I am at home all day. Unfortunately, I don’t make a living from my writing yet and rely on disability payments to support myself.

What books have you written so far?
The Bond, A Paranormal Love Story (published in 2004 by Lulu Press)
Let Us Play,  A Rock ‘n Roll Love Story (published in 2006 by Lulu Press) It is known as Mystique Rising in Kindle.
Missing Flowers (published in 2012 by Saga Books)

Do you plan on being a full-time writer, or do you have other career plans?
I have written for as long as I can remember so I will probably stay with this. In fact, when I was forced to leave the work force I saw it as an opportunity to spend my days writing.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to walk and I take my camera with me. I photograph historical and interesting sites around Vancouver and then post them in my blog, Vancouver Vagabond, with the history. I also love music and listen to music while I walk.

What do you write? Specific genres, ages groups, etc. 
I write paranormal and my books are aimed at adults. 

Why that particular genre/age group?
First, I write paranormal because I believe that those powers exist within all of us. I am making the paranormal normal. 
I don’t write for children because I don’t have any and would have difficulty relating to them. If I write for adults as opposed to young adults then I don’t have to worry about censoring what I write.

Do you write about your personal experiences in your books? 
In Missing Flowers there are events that happen on Julie’s walks which did happen to me. However, this book is on prostitutes and a serial killer – I have never been either. LOL

Are the characters in your books based on people you know?
Each character is a blend of people around me. Someone’s quirks and comments will be mixed with someone else’s traits to create a whole other person, unrecognizable to the person it is based on.

How much of your books are inspired by real life events?
Missing Flowers is inspired by the Missing Women’s case where a serial killer took prostitutes from Vancouver’s east side to his pig farm and killed them. This went on for many years before he was captured.

Who is your favorite character from your books? Why?
I have a few favorite characters. I like Francine, the drug addicted prostitute, because she is trying to change her life and hasn’t given up even though she keeps failing. I like the twins, Devon and Darius, because they are originals. I like Julie because she has a strength that she hasn’t even found yet. And that is just from my latest book! 
I like the character of Kaya in Mystique Rising because she is strong and devoted to her ideals. She is young and can be arrogant but that is common when a young person is fighting society.
In The Bond, I like Mary Briggs because she is a free spirit that loves life.

What is your favorite scene in your story?
In Missing Flowers that would have to be the scene where Julie is having tea with her landlady Lowena. I won’t say anything more because you have to read the book to find out what happens.

Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.
Usually I get up and try to do some exercise. Then I check my email and my Amazon rankings. I look at the pay to blog site to see if there is any work for me. I have to check Facebook and see if there is anything happening there.  After that, I may leave the computer for a little while and do other things. 
When I come back, I do something to help promote my published works whether it is tweeting, posting, finding interviews or reading informational books or websites. I try to squeeze writing in there as well.

Where and when do you write?  
I write when I can and my computer is in my living room. I like to turn the music station on the TV and have that playing behind me as I write.

Do you have set times?
I am not disciplined enough to have set times though it might help me if I did.

How do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
A writer has to find the time. I write my blog three times a week but sometimes have difficulty getting the novels written. It is a different mindset.

How long does it take you to write your book/s?
If I can just go at it, I can finish a novel in six months to a year from start to finish. Sometimes it takes me longer though like lately with everything else that has been going on.

Do have any writing rituals? Treats you have to have, places you have to be, etc.? 
I don’t have any rituals. 

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what do you listen to?
I love to listen to classic rock or anything that is fast paced and makes me feel good. Get the blood pumping and the motivation happening.

Do you have to be alone to write?
I prefer to be alone.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?
I have a basic idea of how I want my book to go then I write scenes at different parts of the book. Finally, I write the connecting scenes.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t really think so.

What makes your writing unique?
I think that my latest series is unique because it combines the paranormal fiction with historical facts.

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
My books are for entertainment, not mighty message books but I would like my readers to finish one of my books and think that anything is possible.

Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?
All three of my books deal with the paranormal but other than that, they don’t really have a lot in common.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Getting started. I have to quit procrastinating and know that the idea is good enough and just let the story flow.

What have you learned about writing from reading the books that you love?
I learn something different each time I read a book. I may see something different in grammar or punctuation or just a better way to write from a point of view.

If you could do everything over (writing your book, or publishing, etc.) would you change anything?
Rushing my work to print is something I did when I was self-published. Then I have to go back and reedit and sometimes pull the book. Everything is edited now and from now on, it is perfect before it goes to print.

Is there anything particularly helpful you have found as you have written/edited/published? 
Computers and the internet are so helpful and have changed the industry so much. Editing is easier – highlight and delete – and it makes publishing so much easier. 

Do you have to travel/do much research for your books?
My current series of books is set here so I don’t have to travel but the history I include takes quite a bit of research.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members in your writing journey?
Author Martin Crosbie has been a big help to me over the last year. He has not only given me hints on getting my books selling but I feel his guidance is helping me write as well.

Did you learn anything from writing your books and if so what was it?
I learned that if I stick to something I can do it. That is an incredible feeling to know that I can write a full length novel, I can get it published and I can get a taste of success.  Every time I do research, I learn something new whether it be history or just how something works. 

Do you design your own covers, or have someone else help?
I have artists do my covers. I want something original and great and I am not good at artwork.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
I have a friend who reads my books and points out errors. For the next one I may try beta readers before sending it to an editor.

Any advice for the editing process?
Get someone else to look over your manuscript. Get an editor – I know it can get expensive but it is worth it in the end.

What do you do to keep yourself going when you aren’t motivated? 
Once again music and dreaming of what can be. What my life will be like when I get this set of goals accomplished will make me work harder. It isn’t always the most talented that succeed but rather the most persistent. 

Did anything in particular inspire anything in your book, or anything you have written?
The Missing Women’s case in Vancouver inspired Missing Flowers. Prostitutes from the East End were disappearing for years and a local man was killing them. My blog, Vancouver Vagabond, also inspired this book because with it I share the history of Vancouver. 

What types of hero or heroine do you like best?
I like a hero or heroine to be strong yet with faults. I like them to be human and that means that the reader may get annoyed with him or her sometimes for actions or what they say. Just as if the character was an actual person.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?
A good novel or story should have an interesting plot and memorable characters. 

How do you go about naming characters?
Sometimes I will hear a name on TV or in the news and I like it or if I am really stuck for a character’s name, I will consult a baby book.

Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?
I don’t use pictures of other people for my characters. They are usually a blend of people I have known and that makes them more unique.

How do you pick locations for your stories?
From the city around me – that is where my latest books are all based.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?
I started out self-published – I have two books I published through Lulu Press – and my latest is published traditionally by Saga Books. The difference I find is the lack of control. Suddenly, I am not able to take over every aspect of the publishing.

How do you find the marketing experience? 
I find marketing to be frustrating and confusing a lot of the time. Too often, I find myself following what has worked for others and getting in too late so my rewards aren’t as great. I am looking for a unique way that is going to explode my sales. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing. Listen to the advice of others but follow your own heart. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. 

When you read, what is your favorite genre?
I actually love true crime. 

What books have most influenced your life?
The Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llewellyn. My 11th grade English teacher had that book in class for students to read and I used to get it so often that if it was missing, he knew who had it. I have bought it twice. Both times I loaned it out and never got it back. I have always loved reading but that book stayed with me.

Who is your favorite character from any book and why?
I can’t think of just one.

For reading, do you prefer ebooks or physical books?
I still love to read physical books.

What is your most favorite book and why? 
Besides my latest book that would have to be Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon. I love the idea of the time travel and how the main character gets involved with the past. It makes history so much more interesting.

What is the worst book you have ever read and why? 
The first book I ever wrote was bad. It was corny and full of errors both in content and facts.

What tips would you give readers when choosing a book?
Don’t be afraid to read outside your normal genre, especially nowadays where writers combine different aspects of genres so often. You might just find something enjoyable that you are not used to reading.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
In the last year and a bit I have learned a lot from Kim Emerson and Martin Crosbie. Both have not only taught me things but have made me feel like a valuable writer. 

Are there particular writers that you admire?
I admire those writers who will take time from their busy schedules to help others. Martin Crosbie and Robert Bidinotto are great examples of this. 

If there was one author you could meet with and learn from one on one, who would you choose?
Only one? John Locke. I would love to really learn his marketing secrets.

Who has most influenced or inspired your writing? 
My paternal grandmother, Katherine Magill, was a published author. I was close to her and even though she has been dead since the 1980s, I still feel a desire to make her proud.

If you could write a book with any current author, who would it be and why? 
I don’t play well with others so I don’t have any interest in writing with someone else.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?
Diana Gabaldon, Ann Rule and Stephen King. I would love to sit with them and get their views on writing, promoting and the changes in the publishing industry.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I really like Martin Crosbie’s books and I am reading a good book by K.D. Emerson right now.

Please share a bit about your newest release without giving away any spoilers.
When psychic Julie Seer moves to Vancouver, her dreams are filled with visions of women being murdered. She doesn’t know who is being killed, or why, until the day Julie goes to a press conference held by the Vancouver Police Station: a press conference to announce the formation of a special task force that will investigate the case of the prostitutes who have gone missing from Vancouver’s East Side.

Detective Constable Santoro Ricci, an officer with the Vancouver Police Department, wants on the special task force. When he happens upon Julie at the press conference, Ricci finds himself unofficially investigating the case.

Julie also finds herself having visions where she is transported back in time into the body of a Chinese prostitute in the late 1800s. Through these visions, and stories told to her by long time residents of the city, Julie learns more of the history of Vancouver.

With the help of Francine, an east side prostitute, Julie and Santoro work together to solve the mystery of the missing women. When Francine and Julie are taken by the killer, Santoro must find the missing answers fast.

How did the idea of the story come to you?
The character of Julie Seer appears in The Bond so I moved her to Vancouver. The missing prostitutes was inspired by a serial killer here in Vancouver who hunted prostitutes for many years.

What genre does your book fit into?
The first, The Bond, A Paranormal Love Story, is a paranormal romance; the second, Let Us Play, A Rock ‘n Roll Love Story, is a paranormal action/adventure and my latest, Missing Flowers, is a paranormal mystery that includes Vancouver historical fact.

How long did you work on it until you felt like it was ready for publishing?
That depends on the project. It will tell me when it is finished.

What are your current projects?
My next book is entitled A Little Poison and it is the next in the Julie Seer series.

Is there a genre you haven’t done before that you would like to try?
I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. 

Do you have any ideas that you plan to work on in the future?
Just more novels in the Julie Seer series.

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?
My dreams have not come true. At least not all of them – every time one does come true I make sure that I have another to take its place.

Five book recommendations from you…
Missing Flowers by Karen Magill
The Bond, A Paranormal Love Story by Karen Magill
Digitus 233 by KD Emerson
My Temporary Life by Martin Crosbie
Mechanics of Murder by RaeAnne Hadley

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
I blog about Vancouver and its history. The blog is called the Vancouver Vagabond. I was recently told about a couple of sites where I can get old photos so I combine old photos with the ones I take.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
I would like to have at least two more novels in the Julie Seer series written and published, I would like to see The Bond made into a movie and the same with Missing Flowers. 

In the movie of your {most recent} book who would play your characters? {Please give us the name of the book and the name of the character each actor would play} 
For the three main characters in Missing Flowers: 
Julie Seer – Maggie Siff
Santoro Ricci – Christian Kane
Francine Chapman – Miley Cyrus

What is the best review of your work you've received to date? 
This is a four star review that appeared on Amazon.

There is a new writer in `town' and she is ready to take some of the big names down! Karen Magill is "on a mission to make the paranormal normal." She says that everything she writes shows extrasensory powers as a common ability because she believes that these attributes are within us all. And after reading "Missing Flowers" I can assure you that her mission is clear.

"Missing Flowers" is about a psychic named Julie Seer who starts having visions in her dreams of women being murdered after she moves to Vancouver. Just when you think you know what may be happening in this novel, you will soon find out that you were so very wrong.
Julie meets a detective at a press conference which is held to address missing prostitutes in the area. Julie soon realizes what her visions in her dreams must be about. Detective Ricci and Julie work together to solve the mystery of the missing women.

I especially loved the visions Julie starts to have where she finds herself being transported back in time to the late 1800s. She dreams that she is one of the Chinese prostitutes, learning so much more about the history of Vancouver. The details and descriptions are so magnificent; you truly feel like you are a part of the dreams (and the entire book).

Things start to really heat up when we meet Francine, an east side prostitute. Francine joins Julie and Detective Ricci on their mission to find the missing women. The story (to me) reaches its ultimate climax when two of the characters go missing and one is left behind to find the answers...and fast! The ending of the book blew me away; there is no way you will see it coming.

I look forward to reading more work by Karen Magill as she is a very talented suspense writer. This book will take you on a rollercoaster and you will not want to get off. So for all of you suspense and thriller readers out there, this one is perfect for you! Magill has a way of combining the paranormal world with history that is just so unique and such a joy to read.

What format(s) are your books available in? 
Ebook and paperback.

Is there anything else you would like to share or tell us?
The Bond won MasterKoda’s Best Book 2012, Indie Published. 

My links:
Amazon author’s page: http://goo.gl/0LrRK
Blog: Vancouver Vagabond – http://karen-magill.blogspot.com
Twitter: @KarenMagill
FB Fan page: http://goo.gl/ulvSy


I'd like to thank Karen Magill for stopping by for this interview. As always, thanks for reading.

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