Day 24 Karen Rose – Stronger for the HEA

Give Me The Happy Ending

Hello!  I’ve been writing for twenty-one years and never once did it occur to me to finish a story with anything other than a

ctythappy ending.  I know that there are readers out there who adore sad, tragic endings and other readers who maybe mix it up between the happy and the sad.  But for me – as a writer and as a reader – the happy endings are a critical component of any book, and here’s why:

My first post-college real-world job required that I fly.  As a passenger.  In a plane.  At thirty-thousand feet.  I was panic-stricken … which unfortunately made me a chatty flyer, the kind the rest of you HATE to sit next to.  Most people were nice, but one day a man said, “Lady, buy a book!”

I thought, “Oh.  But what kind?”  I’d always loved to read as a kid, but college kind of took the fun out reading.  I got so busy reading textbooks, that I’d forgotten what I liked to read.   So I went to the library and got a bunch of different genre books – mystery and humor and westerns, but none satisfied.  None made me forget I was trapped in a steel tube at thirty-thousand feet.  Until I read my first romance – LaVyrle Spencer’s YEARS.   I closed the book on a happy sigh, surprised that the flight was nearly over.  I knew romance was the genre for me.  It was the way I got from City A to City B without having a major panic attack on the plane.

But then, my husband got sick.  He was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  He was barely twenty-six years old and I was still twenty-five.  We had a six-week old infant.

Today that infant is twenty-four years old and my husband is thankfully healthy, so it ended up all right.  But we didn’t know that then.  It was a serious, aggressive form of this cancer that, even though caught early, had already begun to spread through his body.  The treatment was pretty horrible, and not a day went by that first year when I wasn’t utterly terrified.

That’s when I understood the true value of a romance.  Of the happy ending.

It became a warm, cozy, dependable corner I could crawl into and forget my life for a while.  When I emerged, I was stronger, Watch Your Back USrenewed, reenergized – and able to face my very scary life once more.

I still pick up a romance when I need that cozy corner, whenever I’m upset or scared or devastated.  When my father died unexpectedly and I rushed to the airport in shock, my feet carried me straight from security to the airport bookstore – and straight to Nora Roberts.  I knew they’d have at least one of her books.  I didn’t even care if I’d read it before.  I only knew it was what I needed.

I hear this from readers all the time – they’re going through something horrible or scary or painful or life-changing, and my books help them get through.  That’s an amazing honor and an incredible privilege.  It’s a gift I do not ever take for granted.  It makes my job the very best job on the planet.

As a reader, I need those happy endings.  As a writer, I am privileged to give them to you.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

PS:  Testicular cancer is the leading cancer that strikes men aged eighteen to thirty-five.  If you have a son, husband, brother, friend in your life, urge him to do self-checks.  Nowadays, it’s a very curable cancer – if caught early.  Men cringe at the thought of self-checks and think it will never happen to them, but trust me, it happens.

Take care of yourselves and read romance!

Recommendations:

My recs for books are mostly paranormal romance as that’s my “downtime” love, but I have a few gems to recommend for thriller lovers, too!  I love Nalini Singh, Diane Duval, CL Wilson (all paranormal).  For thrillers I turn to Lisa Gardner and Michael Connelly.  Newer and up-and-coming authors I’ve found – paranormal author Danielle Monsch (she writes about GARGOYLES – how can you not love them?!?) and for thriller readers – Robin Perini, Kendra Elliot, and debut author Nichole Christoff, whose novel THE KILL LIST will be released in December.


Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

I’m not very daring or adventurous, actually.  I have adventures purely by accident and at best hope to survive them.  The most daring thing I ever did was to eat a fish that was still alive so as not to offend my host, who’d served it as a delicacy.  It was in Japan back in the ’90s and it took every nerve I had because (a) I hate fish, (b) I hate raw fish even more, ( c) it was served on its own body and the fish was still blinking at me.  I managed it with a smile.  I have not eaten sushi since that night.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

I started writing in July of 1993 because I saw this repeating scene in my head that was keeping me from sleeping and making me crazy.  I wrote the scene down while on vacation in Minnesota while sitting on my BFF’s ugly orange futon, hoping to drive it from my mind forever.  Instead, that one scene became two, then twenty, then it became my first book.  But then I only wrote for myself.  I never planned to be an “author.”  I never planned to allow anyone to ever read my work.  It was a hobby, a guilty pleasure in which I indulged when my kids were finally asleep and then later when I was on the road working my job as an engineer.  I travelled a lot in those days and as there were no ebooks back then, had to pack my reading material.  I could never pack enough books so I started writing my own.

I didn’t consider being an “author” until 5 years later when my husband urged me to “do something” with all the books I’d written.  I dipped my toe in, submitted my first book, got some good rejections – good enough to encourage me to keep going.  I joined a writer’s group and attended my first conference.  It was there that I admitted to myself that “this writing thing” was something I might want to try doing for real.  That was July, 1999.  I made my first sale in December, 2001.

I often think that the fact that I wrote for fun and a hobby for so long made things easier for me.  I didn’t have the pressure of trying to get published.  The thought terrified me!  I was able to find my voice and refine my craft without the burden of a publishing goal.  I did it because the characters called to me.  When things get tense even today, I dig deep and find that love for the story that got me started.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

It would have to be Little Women.  I read it for the first time when I was eight years old and, although I’d read many books before it, none grabbed me by the heart the way Little Women did.  I became one of the March sisters and lived their hopes and dreams and disasters right along with them.  I remember thinking, “Wow.  A lady wrote this.  Out of her head.  How did she do that?”   I think Little Women was the first book in which I was aware that the story came from a real person’s imagination and not just from “the library.”

Karen is generously donating one signed copy of WATCH YOUR BACK  to U.S. readers and one signed copy to international readers.


 

Karen Rose resized 724x1060Karen Rose is a #1-internationally bestselling author, her books appearing on the New York Times, London Sunday Times, and Germany’s Der Spiegel bestseller lists.  A two-time RITA® winner, five of Karen’s other titles have been RITA® finalists.  Her fifteenth novel, WATCH YOUR BACK, was released in February, 2014.  Her books have been translated into twenty-thee languages.

A former chemical engineer and high school teacher, Karen lives in Florida with her family, two dogs – Loki and Thor, and two cats – Bella and Geist.

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