Author Karen Harper has just released her new historical novel, THE IRISH PRINCESS. Yesterday, I presented the book; today, Ms. Harper answers some questions about her research, her writing process, and her heroine.
Q: You are known for your Tudor era historicals, and THE IRISH PRINCESS fits that category, but has a different “feel.” Why an Irish heroine during the reigns of Henry VIII through Elizabeth I?
Karen Harper: While I was reading about Queen Elizabeth’s friends and confidants, I found one of them was an Irish woman Elizabeth (nicknamed Gera) Fitzgerald, a woman renowned for her beauty. What gives? I thought. The Tudors had trouble with the Irish, and
Q: Was the research of
A: As usual, when researching most Tudor-era noble women, I had to glean information about
Q: Were you able to travel to the sites used in the book?
A: I’ve been to English Tudor sites many times, so that part of the novel was easy for me to envision. My trip to
Q: As in many of your novels, King Henry VIII comes off as quite a villain.
A: I usually sum up Henry with the quote, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The older he got, the more paranoid he became about ruining any family that could threaten his power. I’ve just completed a book with his parents as the focus, so I see where he got this obsession, but for a supposedly religious leader and protector of his people, his tactics are horrible and inexcusable. THE IRISH PRINCESS begins with
Q: What are your work habits? I know you also write in another genre, contemporary suspense.
A: Yes, for the last ten years, I’ve had a split personality as a writer, doing a historical and then a suspense novel and so, working with two different publishers. I must admit, it has been a challenge. I need to be careful that I take a break between each genre, because I need an entirely different voice for each as well as vocabulary, culture, even sentence structure. However, both “voices” seem to come easily to me, once I immerse myself in the characters and settings. Settings are very important to me. One of my author talks is “Setting As Character." As for my work habits, a lot of my ideas obviously come from my research, whether I’m writing about the Irish or the modern day Amish. (My website, www.KarenHarperAuthor.com starts out, “from the Amish to the Irish…”). In short, I’m a plan ahead author. I’m an early riser, so I get a lot done in the mornings and fade mid-PM, when it’s time to answer e-mail or just get away from the laptop for a while. At least my days are varied, sometimes 5 – 6 hours of writing, sometimes editing, research, promotion… I write, then revise about 6 -7 times, then print out my chapters, then revise again from there.
Q: Do both of the genres in which you write sell about the same?
A: Alas, no. Any book that has a contemporary setting (and in my books, mystery/suspense) has a broader audience than historicals. Some of my suspense novels have been New York Times and
Q: All of your books seem to have a heroine who rises above terrible circumstances. Is that intentional?
A: Yes, because that’s what not only makes a rousing good story but inspires the reader—at least I hope so. I do look for several things in a historic heroine before I spend months and years researching and writing about her. First of all, her life must impact some well-known figures. Also, I’m looking for a good love story in her life—and Gera Fitzgerald definitely has that. Her love for sailing and her forbidden love for sea captain Edward Clinton give the novel a swashbuckling feeling ala Johnny Depp and Liam Neeson—even Errol Flynn—movies. I also need some sort of resolution or triumph, in short a happy ending. And I do tend to say with English, Irish or Scottish heroines, since those countries and their pasts are my passion.
Thank you, Karen, for this peek into your book and your life as a writer! Give it time -- your historicals are bound to become bestsellers, too.
Karen has offered a complimentary copy of THE IRISH PRINCESS to be given away here at Writing the Renaissance. If you are interested in the book, please leave a comment below with an email contact. Entrants must have domestic US mailing addresses. Contest closes at 10 pm PST Saturday, February 19. Winner's name will be posted Monday, February 21. Good luck to all! Look for THE IRISH PRINCESS online or at your neighborhood bookstore.