Handbags, Books...Whatever

Handbags, Books...Whatever (http://www.vickibatman.blogspot.com) is the website of Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction. Handbag lover. Avid Jazzerciser. Mah jong player. Yoga practioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Choc-aholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome.

HBW Calendar

  • 08/02- open
  • 07/30 - Keta Diablo
  • 07/26 - Mariah Lynne
  • 07/23 - Mageela Troche
  • 07 19 - Vicki
  • 07/16 - RWA
  • 07/12 - Edith Maxwell
  • 07/09 - Chris Redding
  • 07/05 - Vicki
  • 07/02 - Fourth of July

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Karen Leabo, Author Interview On December 21,22

Join me and best selling Harlequin romance author, Karen Leabo aka Kara Lennox, to discuss her new release, The Pregnancy Surprise. Your questions and comments are welcome. Karen is tons of fun.


Diana Cosby said...

The Pregnancy Surprise sounds intriguing. What gave you the idea for the story? What was your favorite story moment while writing it? I wish you every success. Happy Holidays!

Diana Cosby
His Captive/Alexander MacGruder
His Woman/Duncan MacGruder - 4 star Romantic Times review!

Kara Lennox said...

Hi, Diana. I'm glad the book sounds interesting! Since this book is the middle book of a trilogy, I can't really pinpoint what gave me the exact idea, only that I started with the hero, an uptight cautious, risk-averse CPA, and I wanted to match him up with a real wild, free spirit. I love "opposites attract" stories!

My favorite moment would have to be when Reece and Sara are aboard a ship trying to have a romantic moment, but he has motion sickness and she has morning sickness--and it's still romantic.

Vicki Batman said...

Hi, Karen! How fantastic Diana got theball rolling on our interview. Thanks, Diana.

Tell us about yourself. How did you get to writing romance?

Who is your favorite author and why?

Diana Cosby said...

Kara Lennox said...

I love "opposites attract" stories!

~I agree, they're my favorites as well. Sparks tend to fly in paired opposites. :)

My favorite moment would have to be when Reece and Sara are aboard a ship trying to have a romantic moment, but he has motion sickness and she has morning sickness--and it's still romantic.

~Awww. Thank you very much for you reply. Enjoy your holidays!

Diana Cosby
His Captive/Alexander MacGruder
His Woman/Duncan MacGruder - 4 star Romantic Times review!

Kara Lennox said...

Morning, Vicki! Thanks so much for having me as your guest.

I've been writing fiction since I could hold a pen, and I wrote several romance short stories in high school (none published). I started my first novel in college and finished it shortly after graduation. It was truly horrid, but I was sure I was moments away from fame and fortune. I discovered Romance Writers of America ... more than 25 years ago! That's how long it's been, sheesh! And I got serious about it, and it took several years but I finally sold my first book to Silhouette and haven't looked back.

My favorite author depends on genre and my current mood. I love Janet Evanovich and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, for their humor and great characters. I love Jasper Fforde for his sheer inventiveness. Love Lisa Gardner for sheer terror. Now I'm on a Wendy Corsi Staub kick.

Vicki Batman said...

You've been at this a long time, girl. And to know what you truly were meant to do is amazing.

I read several of your contemporary romances. Why contemporaries? Have you tried other genres?

What kind of writing turns you off?

Kara Lennox said...

Oh, dear, my last comment cut off in the middle.

I've been writing forever! But I got serious about it in the 1980s and sold my first book in 1988. Dark Ages! Sometimes I feel so old and jaded, LOL.

Favorite authors: Many come to mind. Janet Evanovich and Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jasper Fforde and Lisa Gardner and T. Jefferson Parker, for starters!

Contemporaries because although I love historicals, I do not have the knowledge of history to pull that off. I tried a time travel once, and the amount of research I had to do convinced me to stay contemporary.

Writing that turns me off: Mega-alpha heroes who are arrogant. I never can understand why a woman would be attracted to such a person in the first place!

Okay, off to the zoo, I'll check back in a while!

Oh, and Diana, thanks so much for visiting!

Kara Lennox said...

Back from the zoo. It's so much fun to see my hometown and home country through a visitor's eyes. Dani, my stepson's girlfriend, is so adorable and she talks like Olivia Newton John.

Vicki Batman said...

The zoo is such a nice place to go. You are right about seeing our town through other's eyes. We get to show off the special spots and enjoy them with someone. I took two girls to Krispy Kreme. Their eyes were huge and round as they watched hot donuts come off the conveyer belt.

I'm with you on the mega alpha heroes. Can't we fantasize about the CPA next door?

Kara Lennox said...

I guess it's easier to build in conflict when the hero starts out kind of a jerk. It's more of a challenge when the hero is basically a nice guy. In this case, Reece is a good guy but set in his ways, always wants to play it safe, and my heroine is terrified of responsility. They both have LONG way to go to meet in the middle.

Kara Lennox said...

LOL, Vicki, I fear this is an uphill battle. Certainly some "nicer" heroes have found a place in readers' hearts--like Vicki Lewis Thompson's nerd heroes. The trick is not to make them completely spineless. (Or, as one of my editors put it, "You need to put a roll of socks in this guy's pants.")

Vicki Batman said...

Let's talk about your new book... you said it is part of a trilogy. Can you tell us about the trilogy?

How did this book get the title "The Pregnancy Surprise"?

Back to the "nerd" guys...VLT does these guys so well. It's like the hero in the everyday kind of guy. I like that. Assuming they can't be alpha would be wrong. Take Handsome for example... oh boy.

Kara Lennox said...

Morning, Vicki.

Sometimes it's really hard for me to pinpoint how I got an idea, and I honestly can't recall how I came up with the Second Sons trilogy idea. I know I wanted to set it in Texas, but not your usual ranch type setting and not in a big city, either. I came up with a fictional coastal town, Port Clara. It's based loosely on Port Aransas, and it gave me a great excuse to go there and do research.

The next part I came up with was the fishing boat, I think. Three guys running a fishing charter business. Then I thought it would be more interesting if they were from New York and didn't know what they were doing, which brought up the whole idea they would inherit the boat from a black sheep uncle.

I had to come up with a reason they would leave good jobs and family in New York, so I made all three men "second sons"--cousins who worked in the family business, overshadowed by their older brothers. The rest just evolved little by little.

As for the title ... not my idea. The pregnancy occurs very late in the book and it IS supposed to be a surprise, to the reader as well as Reece and Sara. The title takes away from that surprise. But I'm told the title will help the book sell well, and the cover is gorgeous. (And I am so grateful they didn't stick a 9-month-pregnant woman on the cover, as Sara isn't even showing by the end of the book).

Yes, and back to the nerd hero. Yes, yes, yes, I know what you're saying. It's the idea that ordinary men have heroic traits that can come to the forefront during trying circumstances. I just have a hard time believing a man exists who is THE most handsome, THE most physically strong and coordinated and athletic, THE richest, THE most powerful, THE most eligible bachelor in the country, etc. etc. I can immerse myself in a book where the hero is an everyday guy. Maybe better than average--my heroes are above average handsome and kinda rich, after all. But they all have flaws that I hope makes them seem more real, more human. Reece has severe motion sickness. He loves numbers and can get lost in a spreadsheet for hours (because the numbers don't lie, they don't change, they behave predictably, unlike women).

Vicki Batman said...

You've talked about your hero and how the book evolved. Can you tell us about your heroine? How did you create her?

I like the name Port Clara and the idea of going somewhere for research purposes. Did you look for something specific when researching?

Kara Lennox said...

My heroine, Sara, started out as simply a friend of the heroine from the first book. When I started fishing around for a good heroine for Reese, I picked her because she's a free spirit, and that was the sort of woman Reece needed to loosen him up. So I made her even more wild and colorful than how she started. I made her the opposite of him in almost every respect--he is fastidiously neat, she is messy and disorganized. He is careful with money, she carries around a "money ball" in her purse. She loves spicy ethnic food, he likes plain meat and potatoes. She is spontaneous, he likes to plan every move. It was easy once I got started and so much fun!

As for "Port Clara," I find the hardest thing to communicate about a setting is the feel of the place. You can study the facts and figures of a city, look at photos and maps, but sometimes you just have to be in a place for a while to be able to write about it. I wouldn't have known that there is sometimes a bottleneck at the fairy landing without experiencing it. Although Port Clara is fictitious, Port Aransas provided a few sensory details here and there that I hope bring the setting to life.

Vicki Batman said...

So how do you get your ideas for your books?

What is your writing day like?

How does humor fit into your books?

Kara Lennox said...

Ideas ... I usually just don't know. It's certainly not a bolt from the blue. I get some snippet of a situation and start playing around with it, experimenting with different types of characters and different settings, playing the "What if ..." game. Usually by the time I'm actually writing something down, I don't remember how it evolved.

I do remember once my sister told me about an intriguing dream she'd had, and that spawned one of my early Silhouette Romances. Sometimes an interesting occupation, such as storm chasing or marine archeology, will get my imagination going. I once volunteered at an archeological dig in Belize, and that ended up inspiring a book. But most of the time I just don't know what leads to a book becoming a book.

My typical writing day is a lot like a normal workday for most people. I get up, have breakfast, then go to the computer. After checking e-mail, I start writing and write for two or three hours, until lunch. After lunch I usually go for a walk. When I get home, I do other writing related work, like research or promotion or marketing, sometimes editing, critiquing other writers' work, judging contests, etc. until around five.

It all depends on whether I'm in the middle of a book or on deadline, of course. The schedule can and does change a lot. Between books I might spend more time reading or listening to audio workshops.

Humor ... usually I don't plan the tone of a book. It either turns out light and humorous or heavy and dark and I don't have much control over it. However, I pretty much set out to write a light book with THE PREGNANCY SURPRISE, and it stayed that way. But other times, I start out with an amusing premise, then it turns out the characters have very dark back stories and the humor ends up being kind of bittersweet.

Vicki Batman said...

I think it's interesting how ideas slams into a person. I walked from the bedroom to the bathroom and bam! the idea of a girl getting a blind date for her birthday hit me. I scribbled that short story down waayyy fast. It's in a contest as we speak.

I agree, however, that is rare. I like the "what if". It's almost like being a puppetmaster. LOL.

So what's on tap for Karen/Kara?

Have you written anything that's shocked your readers?

Kara Lennox said...

Well, I imagine my Harlequin American readers might be shocked about that serial killer book. It's a single-title thriller and it's currently making the rounds at various publishers. I just finished a rough draft of a romantic suspense about a freeway sniper, and now I'm working on a young adult paranormal about a teen witch who just wants to be a normal kid.

The Second Sons trilogy will conclude in April with THE GOOD FATHER, Max's story. After that I don't have anything else scheduled for publication, I'm sorry to say, but anyone interested in keeping up can read my newsletter on my website, or I'll sign them up for the Yahoo Groups version (which is really just a link to my website)!

Vicki Batman said...

Wow, Karen, you are busy! Fingers are crossed for the serial killer book. Since it is so different from Harlequin American, will you have a different pseudonym?

Here's a couple of final questions:

Fill in this blank: Your ideal fictional hero would think you gorgeous if you ______________.

How much do you love cake?

Kara Lennox said...

I'm not sure what I'd do about my name. I could go back to my real name. On the other hand, I did write several Harlequin Intrigues as Kara Lennox as well as a Desire with a romantic suspense plot, so it's not completely new territory. I guess I'd do whatever the publisher thought was best.

My ideal hero isn't even fictional, he's my husband, and he thinks I'm beautiful no matter what--first thing in the morning, when I'm sick with a cold, with or without makeup, whatever. At least, he SAYS he thinks I'm beautiful. (He might just be well trained.)

I do not like cake much at all! Seriously. I sometimes eat chips for dessert because I much prefer salty to sweet. I like ice cream and cookies and candy, though, and will eat them if they're in front of me.

Thank you so much for having me as your guest, Vicki! You've been more than gracious.

Happy Holidays to all,

Vicki Batman said...

Thank you, Karen, for the interview. And good luck with the thrillers.

Seriously, we're going to have to talk about the cake issue.

Happy Holidays to you and to everyone who joined me on my interviews this year. Vicki

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