Wednesday, August 12, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Karen Young


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!

TJB

34 comments:

housemouse88 said...

Hello Karen

Thank you for being here today to discuss kisses. My kiss that makes me sigh is from the movie The Notebook. There is just something about their kiss. Have a great day.

Joan said...

I am from way back but the kiss I remember is the one between Rhett and Scarlett in Gone With The Wind. I enjoy reading inspirational fiction. I just finished a book by Robin Hatcher.

Margay said...

I think the first kiss from Twilight is pretty amazing because, being a vampire and afraid that he might hurt her, Edward must take special care whenever he kisses her. He's even kind of afraid to kiss her that first time, so he is very gentle with her. If only all girls could experience their first kiss in such a manner!
Margay

Terri Richison said...

Karen - thanks so much! My WIP is a lovers reunion story and I just wrote their first kiss scene - thanks for your wonderful insights! The timing is perfect! THANKS Karen and TJ!

karenyoung said...

Hi, y'all (I'm southern, remember?)

One of the most awesome kisses I recall is in a book by Sandra Brown called, In a Class By Itself. I wish it were still available. :(
I'm doing revisions to my kidnapping story, Missing: Max and the troubled married couple don't even get to kiss until 3/4 of the way through the book. :(((

karenyoung said...

Hi, Terri,

Great to hear from you! Good luck on your lover's reunited story.

TJ Bennett said...

Lisa Kleypas, IMHO, writes the most amazing kissing scenes. I'm a big fan of her historicals, but her contemporary heroes should get the Pulitzer Prize in kissing. There is a first kiss scene in SMOOTH TALKING STRANGER that will melt your kneecaps!

TJB

Loves to Read said...

What a great topic! Who doesn't respond to a kiss?! Remember back in the early 80's that movie ON GOLDEN POND? Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda kissed on the front porch after he'd fallen and almost had a heart attack? That kiss between those two was wonderful. Maybe it was what all was going on around them because it wasn't particularly romantic, but instead was wonderfully REAL.

karenyoung said...

Hepburn said, "You'll always be my knight in shining armor." In her wobbly, wonderful voice. I loved that line.
K

joder said...

My favorite is from the end of the British miniseries North & South (not to be confused with Patrick Swayze's civil war one by the same name-though that had lotsa kissin too). All along you were rooting for Margaret and John to get together, for her to see past his gruffness. And when it finally happens, I cheered (but then I love Richard Armitage).

Lynne Marshall said...

I just want to pop in to say how I love a good reunion story, and I look forward to reading Karen's book.

This kiss I always remember is the famous photograph of that sailor and the young woman in Times Square. That was some kiss!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, ladies. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail, TJ. I've got this posted at Win a Book -- holler when your other guests stop in. I'll post about their visits, too!

Jane said...

I love the upside down kiss in the rain between Mary Jane and Spider-man in "Spider-man."

karenyoung said...

There's a wonderful sculpture by Rodin of a kiss between two beautiful people. I love it and wish I had a small version in my home.

etirv said...

I've read a lot of good historical romances but the kisses that I remember the most are in Laura Lee Guhrke's "And Then He Kissed Her"... I couldn't stop crying!

By the way, Karen, Blood Bayou already sounds like a Lifetime movie to me!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

Marie said...

I was going to say Rhett and Scarlett also -- that was always one of my favorite kisses although I was never a big fan of Scarlett :-)

marielay@gmail.com

karenyoung said...

Here's a hot kiss. That scene in Fatal Attraction where Michael Douglas and Glenn Close are in an elevator. Remember that one. Wow!!!

Jenny N. said...

The kiss scene in the rain from The Notebook movie. I cried so much watching the movie.
jen4777[at]hotmail.com

KELLY FITZPATRICK said...

So many kisses, so little time. Love the kiss in Cold Mountain where she nearly swoons in his arms.

tetewa said...

I loved the kiss with Noah and Ally from the Notebook on the dock in the rain!

Jeanette J said...

The kiss I like the most is from the Rogers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon. The kiss they share in the courtyard was lovely.

Pam said...

The kiss thata gets me every time is from the movie Reality Bites when Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder's characters finally realize that they love each other and kiss...

melacan at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I cannot pin down a specific movie, but I like the gentle kiss that precedes the more animated stuff in movies. It seems sweet to me.

karenyoung said...

In one of my books, Never Tell, I have a scene w/the h/h kissing on a desk...and it is rather graphic. Now, in the books I'm writing, the physicality of sex is left to the imagination of the reader and sometimes I feel as if I'm writing Silhouette Traditional Romances again!

Patricia Barraclough said...

I can see the scene in my mind's eye, but can't for the life of me remember what it is from - a book, a movie, my imagination. He takes her face in his hands and slowly lowers his lips to hers. A gentle kiss and he cradles her head to his chest.
That is really frustrating.
You ladies write lots of good kiss scenes. Karen, I'll be checking out you books for our library. We have a very large patronage for christian fiction.

TJ Bennett said...

Everyone, let's thank Karen Young for dropping by today. We really appreciate it! Thank you, KAREN!!

Remember, you can continue to leave your comments here and also leave comments for our last host, Kimberly Frost, over at her post on Aug 5. Remember to be eligible to win the gift tote bag, you'll have to comment on at least two of our guest author's posts for the month of August. Guests post every Wednesday. I'll draw from all eligible comments at the end of the month to see who wins all the books, the vintage-style handbag, and the sparkly Indian tote.

See you next Wednesday when guest host Linda Warren, multi-published category romance author, will visit us here at IMHO to give her take on the theme of "This Kiss, This Kiss."

TJB

jcp said...

Blood Bayou looks fantatic!

Virginia said...

I am reading the twilight series so I will have to go with the first kiss between Edward and Bella but then again in the third book the kiss between Jacob and Bella the one where he didn't forse himself on her was very amazinag.

Kaye said...

Wow, the minute I read or a kiss from a photograph, all I could picture is that WWII sailor kissing the nurse. It sizzles! Phew!

florida982002[at]yahoo.com

Mariee said...

My favorite is from the movie Tristan & Isolde, when they kiss on the beach. Love that movie!

marieimy (at) gmail (dot) com

LuAnn said...

Gosh, with that pretty smile, who would think Karen could write crime stories!

Trish Albright said...

Karen and TJ, what an inspiring blog today! Forget the kisses. How do Jack and Camille get over their past, especially if Camille released a murderer who killed Jack's sister! It sounds like a great conflict and great story, Karen. I can't wait to read Blood Bayou. And what made you pick alcoholism? That's a tough one to overcome when you have to be the one to forgive it.

Carol L. said...

Hi Karen,
I remember a movie with Kevin Cosner and Gene Hackman , can't remember the actress whole name except the first was Sean. But that kissing going on in the limo between Kevin and her was HOT ! Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters all, ant kisses they are involved in are too much. :)
Carol L.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

I have always loved the kissing scene in Its a Wonderful LIfe because it just seems sort of out of control for the time period and censors in film..besides it was Jimmy Stewart of all people!