Does bestseller mean good writer?
Heck no. Not necessarily. More an idea of “high concept” I think. You’ve got a really good concept that people attach to. Although there has to be some level of writing to support the concept.
To agent or not to agent? Why or why not?
I would love to have an agent, just to find me the best deals and help me edit my work. On the other hand, I had a meeting with an agent at a conference last spring and this guy kept saying he was looking for “something different, something breakout, some really unique idea.” Then when I sat with him for ten minutes, I presented my idea, which I thought was different and unique and breakout and he said he was looking for a cookie cutter story that would be easy to sell. A classic Shallow Hal. He’s not interested in what you’re writing; he’s only interested in how he can make a quick buck.
What do you think about self-publishing?
Good and bad. It’s a double-edged sword. It gives a voice to a lot of authors who are being overlooked by overworked agents and editors, but it also gives a voice to authors who have no business writing.
Have you ever described yourself as “author” or, “published author”? Why?
Yes, I have. I think the biggest abuse of that term was when one of my kids’ English teachers bled all over one of their papers. Most of what the teacher pointed out was subjective critique, which was where I took exception. If it had been bad grammar or improper structure or something along those lines, I would have told my kid to suck it up, but the teacher was way out of line, so I approached her with, “I’m a published author. What you’re pointing out here isn’t wrong. It just doesn’t conform to your taste. You may not like what was said, but it’s well written.”
Would you drop everythingto write?
In a heartbeat.
Which five books do you think are better than yours?
That’s a loaded question. Better than mine? There’s a whole lot that are better than mine. Books that had the greatest impact on my life: I’m a big fan of Diana Gabaldon’s first two books, Outlander and A Dragonfly in Amber. They touched me. They moved me. I’m a big fan of Stephen King. Salem’s Lot had me guessing from halfway through the book until the “big reveal.” The Pelican Brief (John Grisham) kept me up reading half the night. There are other books that had a big impact, but I’m not sure I’d qualify them as “better.”
Has a book every made you cry, and if so, which one?
I just read a pair of books by Mary Balogh. They both made me cry. She does such deep character studies. I think that’s what it was; she draws you right into the characters. Nicholas Sparks is on my do not read list because he can almost always make me cry, regardless of what the story is.
Which literary character would you like to sleep with?
James Malcolm Alexander McKenzie Fraser.
Which is a) the worst book you have ever read and b) the worst book you have never read?
Adding context to this question – good books that I hated, maybe, Anne Rice. She doesn’t know how to write an ending and that aggravates me TREMENDOUSLY. I still remember reading The Vampire Lestat, before Queen of the Damned (the third book in the trilogy) was published and at the end of The Vampire Lestat, Lestat climbs into his coffin, and he’s not alone. I threw the book at the wall and cursed Ms. Rice! Does that make it a bad book? No.
Bad books whose author I would avoid? That I’m not going to share names, because books are so largely subjective. There is one that sticks with me where the author had an abused heroine and her goal was to get this heroine into a healthy relationship. So she sends said heroine off to the Middle East with a manipulative power monger who denigrates her, and asks the reader to believe the heroine has now made an improvement in her life. The author also used some highly unusual dialogue tags that detracted from the reading experience.
As for the worst books I’ve never read, I don’t know!
Thank you, Karla. Sorry about the broken bones. I’m sure they’ll heal quickly.
Blessed with a vivid imagination, Karla Brandenburg feels as though she’s made up stories forever. It wasn’t until her twenties that Karla got serious and focused her writing. She was raised reading Victoria Holt, but with the influences of Stephen King and Rod Serling, and eventually discovered a supernatural element creeping into her novels. You can find out more about Karla and her books on her website and her blog.
Thanks for the interview, Laura!