LB: There is a lot of history included in the book. How much time did it take you to dig and find all of that information? Do you enjoy the research as much as you enjoy the writing?
KE: I love research almost as much as I love writing, which is a good thing because research and historical fiction are symbiotic. I am an obsessive researcher, so it takes me as much time, and sometimes longer, to research a book than to write it. My technique, as it were, is to make a comprehensive study of the era I’m writing about. For example, to write Dracula in Love I literally moved to London and into a neighborhood developed in 1890, the year the book takes place, to breathe in the atmosphere of late Victorian England. I read comprehensively about that era and spent days and days in London’s museums looking at art, design, architecture, etc. I read many documents and books from the era, and I spent time in the British Library reading women’s magazines from the era, which were a beautiful glimpse into the female psyche at that time. One of the most helpful research books was recommended by John Fowles, which he used to write The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Human Documents of the Victorian Age. Oh, and I never write about a period without studying the law—in other words, what were women legally entitled to and forbidden. Out of this study of the culture, a plausible psychology for the character arises organically. It’s a complicated process but one I relish, and one that never fails me.
LB: What new doors has your writing opened up for you? Were there any opportunities that you had never considered before?
KE: I’d have to say that the nicest thing is meeting and befriending loads of other writers, many of whom I had read before I started writing. I have also had the chance to lecture at museums, universities, women’s organizations, and high schools. It’s a great pleasure for me to get out into the world and talk about my writing, research, and adventures. Novel writing and screenwriting, which I also do, are lonely pursuits!
LB: How do you get past the point when you lose interest in what you are writing? What steps do you take when your writing becomes stale and boring to you?
KE: I got past the point of boredom with what I am writing about ten years ago. Prior to that, I’d start writing something, and maybe put it away after 50 pages. Now that I have six books, a dozen screenplays, and hundreds of articles and essays under my belt, I know myself and my process well enough to know that if I go through the trouble to start a project, by God I am going to finish it. I can’t imagine applying the words “stale” or “boring” to my writing. When an idea grabs hold of me, I am electrified, and it presses upon me until I get it onto the page.
LB: How do you manage to balance your time between family, friends, and writing?
KE: Ha! Good question. If you speak with my friends and family, they will unanimously say, “She doesn’t!” I tend to write obsessively when a project is burning inside of me, and then when it’s done, reward myself with travel (my particular passion), lots of socializing, and of course, jewelry! After all, a girl has got to live.
LB: If you could spend one hour with just one person, who would you choose? Why?
KE: I spent ten years with Kleopatra (I use the original Greek spelling of her name because that is how she would have spelled it), and she is still a bit of a mystery to me. I’d have to ask her what she thought of my two books about her. Was I close, Kleo? How close? Oh, I’d have so many questions!
LB: Do you have any advice for writers who are striving to be published?
KE: Yes, but they never like hearing it. My advice is this: write something undeniable. It doesn’t matter who you know, who you don’t know, or how lucky you are. Talent will out. I believe that if you build it, and it is actually worth something—in other words, if it’s edifying, entertaining, and engrossing enough for someone to invest their money and time buying and reading it—they will come. They will. Study the craft of writing as passionately and as dutifully as if you were training to be a professional athlete or concert violinist. Then, put so much heart, soul, passion, and time into what you’re writing that when agents and editors read it, they won’t be able to put it down. If you do that, my friends, you will get published. Most people do not actually want to write. They want to have written. These are two seriously different ambitions. A real writer will write her heart out simply because she cannot stop herself.
Thank you, Karen, for such a wonderful interview. She invites you to watch the book video for Dracula in Love at www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgHRtNHZiQI .
If you would like to purchase a copy of Dracula in Love, I have provided an Amazon link below.