Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. For those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit the clubhouse is via membership or invite to the clubhouse tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation I’ve had with a guest over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Welcome to the clubhouse tearoom, Karen. It’s lovely to see you again after so long.
Thank you for inviting me over. Yes, it has been a few years.
Now we have our drinks let’s start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
When I first started writing I didn’t have a clue about genre. I was writing the story that I had in my heart and it was as simple as that. It’s not the best way to go about writing, because if you’re not able to easily slot into one genre, then Amazon and other bookstores can’t categorise you. That’s not great for being listed top of the rankings and without that, readers won’t find you.
That aside though, cross genre writing makes for fresh and interesting stories that readers love. I know that much from my reviews. I just need to get more readers!
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I love twists and it makes me proud when I read a review that says readers didn’t know how the story was going to end, or that it kept them on the edge of their seat. For me that’s providing great value. I’m also told that when I write my readers feel the emotions of my characters.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
Sadly I have been concentrating on launching a new website for the massage and reflexology business that I run with my husband in Gidea Park. I have been writing lots, but it’s more content for this website and so my fiction has had to take a back seat. I do have an idea in mind though, so watch this space.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Only about two which my writer friends tell me is great. These were failed attempts to get back into writing novels when my head wasn’t in the game due to being distracted by the non-fiction website stuff.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
When I write, I become the character in my head. I was talking to a film producer friend of mine recently who struggles with dialogue and it was only then that I realised how I identify with my characters. This means there is a lot of moodiness, but they dictate my mood, rather than the other way around!
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
All of them. Whether I, or they, know it or not is another matter. Only the other day I was speaking to one of my clients and he was saying he’d found himself in my first book, Naked Truths. I had no idea, until he said!
What did you learn when writing your book? In writing it, how much research did you do?
I have a great life in that I meet a lot of people who speak intimately to me during the course of my work as a reflexologist at Essential Feeling. This means that the amount of research I need to do during writing is limited as most of my stories are inspired by what my clients have told me. This is such a privileged position to be in as I know that research can take an age for some writers who lose themselves in it, but I write from the research I hear upfront.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
Oh plenty, for sure! I guess one thing that I’d be happy to disclose is that I love motor racing. Most people are surprised that a girl is nutty about fast cars. That’s how my Commitment series was inspired.
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books. Whether that be a long forgotten memory, a positive experience etc.
This happens all the time, or you’re writing and you suddenly realise that your mindset is way broader than you gave yourself credit for. For example, in Naked Truths, there’s a piece about trust within a marriage. It was only whilst writing this that I unearthed a broader concept of what may or may not be acceptable, depending on which side of the fence you’re coming at a situation from. Cathartic.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
It varies. I write when I want to, but often that is a lot. It’s not unusual for me to write a novel within 8 days plus editing.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
If my deadlines dictate it then I do, but not always. Sometimes it’s nice to be fluid.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I write under my name, Karen Botha. These are edgy books, with a certain degree of violence, suspense or sexual tension. Sometimes all three. And then I’ve written some cute animal cozy mysteries. Clearly the cross over here could be an issue, and so these are under the pen name, Chloe Grace. Chloe after my husky who died a few years ago and Grace, just because she was a beautiful creature with all the grace of a queen.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I know very little about my characters until they come to life on the page. For instance, when I was writing the Chloe Grace books, Bella popped up as a required character as I was writing the free teaser. I had an idea she would be quirky and artsy and then Bella just popped in to my head. So that’s who she became. And she’s adorable.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
My first book took me two years, but since then, 8 days is my lead time from start to finish. The story unfolds as I write so I don’t spend time planning. On the first day I write the first chapter and fall in love with my characters. The second day, I grammar check what I wrote and then continue with writing. It goes on like this for the total 8 days. Then I give it another grammatical once over, send the manuscript to my editor who has it a week. When it comes back I go through his notes and then it’s off to the proofreader for a final check and boom.
Thank you Karen for joining me today. If you want to find out more about Karen’s work click here:
It you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.