Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Karen Young, with more than 10 million books in print, is the USA Today-bestselling author of 35 novels. She is known as a spellbinding storyteller who writes with sensitivity about issues facing contemporary women. She has been nominated three times for the Romance Writers of America RITA and won in 1993 for The Silence of Midnight.
Karen's career in writing fiction for women has run the gamut from traditional romance to mystery thrillers. After numerous long distance moves necessitated by her husband's career, she decided to try writing a book out of sheer desperation. When a major publisher bought that book, she knew she had found a career! Or, rather, it had found her.
But her world changed when her husband died ten years ago. One of the most joyous changes, she believes, was that she was drawn back to her childhood faith, which led her to explore the possibility of writing inspirational fiction. It is her belief that good inspirational fiction is not about simply adding a religious component to a book—it is so much more. “My stories always include the tension between right and wrong, but in many novels, the elements of spirituality and faith are mostly absent as characters face life’s inevitable pitfalls,” she says. Karen believes that showing her characters’ faith journey, in addition to the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects of their lives, enhances and adds meaningful depth to her novels.
Her first book of inspirational fiction is a legal crime thriller, Blood Bayou, and it will be her contribution to the “This Kiss” tote bag. In this story of redemption and forgiveness set in a small town in Louisiana Bayou Country, bitterly divorced couple Jack and Camille are reunited in the search for the truth when Jack’s sister is murdered, allegedly by a prisoner recently exonerated and freed through the Truth Project, an advocacy group which Camille runs whose goal is to get wrongful convictions overturned. Camille is convinced her client is innocent, but will her search to find the real killer make her a target? And will she finally be able to forgive a reformed Jack, whose alcoholism drove her away in the first place?
Publisher’s Weekly calls Blood Bayou “well-crafted inspirational fiction,” while NYT bestselling author Debbie Macomber says, “This is a page-turner that will long linger in my mind.” NYT bestselling author Susan Wiggs says, “Karen Young is a writer of rare emotional power and conviction, exploring the darkest corners of the human heart and finding redemption there. This is storytelling at its finest, the kind that stays with you long after the last page is turned."
IMHO: Karen, welcome! You're going to tell us about the theme of "This Kiss, This Kiss" from the perspective of a couple with a lot of history, right?
KY: That's right, TJ. I think I’ll write a few words about the impact of the first kiss in one of the tried and true romance novel themes: the “lovers reunited” plot. I could have chosen the “marriage of convenience” plot or the “beauty and the beast” plot, or the “Cinderella plot,” but didn’t. (I think there are seven basic plots, but don’t ask me to name the others). Anyway, the first kiss in each of these would be different since the basic conflict upon which the story is based are different. So, since I’m partial to the “lovers reunited” plot, let’s talk a little about it. (There will not be a quiz.)
In the story are two people whose relationship is on the rocks and it makes for really sizzling sexual tension as they make their way back to happily ever after. Therefore, the first kiss, once they are thrown together again, is truly significant. It’s particularly compelling when one of them is resisting the reconciliation, which means he/she is going to fight the attraction to the bitter end.
But these are people who’ve kissed many times, been intimate in all ways, shared joy and sadness, rage and rapture. So why is their first kiss after their long separation important? And what makes it so?
First, let’s consider the reader. Romance novels bring to life the reader’s fantasies. It’s all about fantasy and satisfying that fantasy. A really good kiss is simply a plot device to generate an emotional response in the reader. The writer has laid the groundwork for the moment, built up the tension with conflict and frequent contact between the hero and heroine. And finally the big moment is reached.
That kiss! That kiss!
Perfect. Or it should be…depending on the writer.
So let’s consider the writer. I’ve probably read a couple thousand romance novels. Some authors are incredibly talented—gifted even—in creating sexual tension along with conflict between the h/h [hero and heroine], which are the essential ingredients for That Kiss. It’s the writer’s responsibility to find the words to transport the reader to fantasyland. It is the intensity of the emotion that makes the difference between a nice exchange of sexual energy between two people and a dynamite moment that leaves them—and the reader—breathless.
But about those lovers reunited. There’s just something about two people who’ve once loved and been torn asunder. In real life, it’s sad, tragic even. But in the fantasyland of the romance novel, it’s poignant and appealing. And when they kiss again after having loved and lost, we sigh with delight.
Need I say, it’s not every author who can do this? Of the hundreds of authors I’ve read, only a few really have the gift…and they shall remain nameless. They make the bestseller lists with every book. I hope they never quit writing.
IMHO: Thanks, Karen! I hope the same of you. Now, IMHO readers, can you remember a kiss from a story you love that made you sigh with delight? Tell Karen about it (it can be from either a movie or a book you've read, or even a photograph you've seen) for a chance to win our "This Kiss, This Kiss" tote filled with a vintage-style handbag, a copy of my historical romance THE PROMISE, and autographed copies of books from each of the guests that will visit this month. Remember to leave comments for at least two of August's guests to be eligible to win. Start commenting now!