Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interview with Karen White, author of The House on Tradd Street

It's my pleasure to welcome Karen White, author of The House on Tradd Street, to Diary of an Eccentric as part of her Pump Up Your Book Promotion tour. Those of you who had a chance to read my review know that I really enjoyed White's latest book, which mixes romance, mystery, and ghosts in a beautiful Southern setting. Who could ask for more?

I'd like to thank Dorothy Thompson from Pump Up Your Book Promotion for arranging an interview with Karen, and I'd like to thank Karen for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions. Thanks!

The House on Tradd Street has a paranormal aspect. What inspired you to write about ghosts? Any personal experiences?

Charleston is so full of history and its past--and its ghosts--that I think it would be very hard to write about the city and not included ghosts. It would be a lot like writing a book set in England and not have British accents!

And, yes, I’ve had a few paranormal brushes in my life which have led me to believe that there just might be something else out there…

I know you have a sequel coming out next year. How many books do you have planned featuring Melanie and Jack?

Right now, I’m only contracted for one sequel, THE GIRL ON LEGARE STREET, which will be published in November 2009. I’m hoping that the books will sell well enough for my publisher to ask for more because I love Melanie and Jack and I’m just not ready yet to say goodbye to them!

How long did it take to write The House on Tradd Street? How much time do you spend each day writing?

It took me about six months to write THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET. I prefer to have at least a minimum of nine months, but I had a contract and a deadline to honor--both of which are great motivators!

As far as how much time I spend each day writing--it depends! I’m the mother of two active children so I have to work my writing schedule around their days. I spend a lot of time sitting in the car with my laptop while waiting at the horse barn, football field, and in the carpool line! Basically, I write whenever I have down time.

What does your writing space look like?

There’s a steering wheel in front of me. (see above answer) I have two places I like to write: my beautiful screened-in porch that overlooks the trees and hills of my back yard view, and when the weather is too cold or wet, I have a sitting room with a chair by the fire that I like to write in. I have a study, but I rarely use it to write--it’s more for the business side of writing like emails, Facebook, fan mail replies, etc.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Read! It’s still my favorite thing to do even though I don’t have as much time to read anymore. I’m listening to books on CD now in my car which is a wonderful way to ‘read’ the books I don’t have time to sit down and read anymore.

What is your favorite ghost story?

Hands-down, the movie THE SIXTH SENSE! A close second would be THE OTHERS. I was spooked and then completely taken by surprise by the endings of both these films. Highly recommended!

Thanks, Karen, for taking the time to answer my questions!

Thank you for having me!


Karen White marries her passion for Charleston, the architecture of the area, and its history and legends in her new novel THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET, the story of a real estate agent who, though she specializes in homes in the city’s historic area, detests them. To do so, Karen had to conjure up and face a universal horror--renovation. Unlike her recent book, THE MEMORY OF WATER, for which she physically confronted her lifelong fear of deep water for the sake of research, this time out she enjoyed a metaphorical wallow in the joys associated with restoring a one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old house and garden and let her characters deal with the pain.

White’s protagonists face everything from a leaky roof, old fountains, and cracked cornices to overgrown flowerbeds, paint chipped ceilings, disintegrating plaster and warped floorboards. For herself she saved the best. Her research included luxurious strolls on the streets of Charleston, sampling and choosing restaurants such as Magnolias, Gaulart & Malicelet, Cru CafĂ©, Blossom and Anson for her characters to enjoy. Rumor has it she also did a bit of shopping at RTW on King Street and spent an afternoon on the Battery visiting White Point Gardens. Relishing the architecture and choosing among Victorians, Federals, Colonial Revivals, Queen Anne, Dutch Colonials and others, along with the amazing range of colors and appointments, Karen eventually placed the house at the center of her story at “55 Tradd Street” in the downtown historic district, and inspired by an actual house on that street, imagined it as a Federal-style, single-family home.

Italian and French by ancestry, a southerner and a story teller by birth, White has moved around quite a bit in her life. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she has also lived in Texas, New Jersey, Louisiana, Georgia, Venezuela and England, where she attended the American School in London. She returned to the states for college and graduated from New Orleans’ Tulane University. Hailing from a family with roots firmly set in Mississippi (the Delta and Biloxi), White notes that “searching for home brings me to the south again and again.” She and her family now live near Atlanta.

It was love at first sight when White first visited Charleston and South Carolina’s lowcountry in 1995. She says it was “inevitable” that she would set several novels in the area, as she did with 2005’s THE COLOR OF LIGHT, which Booklist praises as “an accomplished novel about loss and renewal.” Three years later, she returned with THE MEMORY OF WATER and, now, to Charleston with THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET. Her love of the southern coast shows no sign of abating. Her next novel, THE LOST HOURS (May 2009) is set in and around Savannah.

Karen White’s work has appeared on the South East Independent Booksellers best sellers list. Her recent novel THE MEMORY OF WATER, was the Borders Books and Atlanta & Company’s Book Club Selection for May, topped off at the end of the month with their live, television interview with Karen. THE MEMORY OF WATER, which is well reviewed in Atlanta Magazine and an array of other print and online book media, was adopted by numerous independent booksellers as a book club recommendation and as a featured title in their store. It’s been back to press five times since its March 2008 publication, the first time within its first four weeks on sale. It is one of NAL/Accent’s fastest selling titles.

Adding to the excitement of THE MEMORY OF WATER's March 2008 debut was the resounding, continued recognition achieved by White’s 2007 novel LEARNING TO BREATHE. This spring LEARNING TO BREATHE was honored with a National Readers’ Choice Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Virginia Romance Writers HOLT Medallion. It was also named a finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Award for Best Novel, the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence and the Georgia Author of the Year Award.

White credits years spent listening to adults visiting in her grandmother’s Mississippi kitchen, sharing stories and gossiping while she played under the table, with starting her on the road to telling her own tales. The deal was sealed in the seventh grade when she skipped school and read Gone With The Wind. She knew--just knew--she was destined to grow up to be either Scarlet O’Hara or a writer.


You can visit her website by clicking here.


Serena said...

too bad she didn't go into more detail about her paranormal experiences...lol

Anonymous said...

Great interview. It makes me want to read the book even more.

Keyo said...

Hey anna, just came by to say a big HELLO!. hope you are doing good. this book indeed seems like a good read..esp after reading the interview!! :) thanks.

Anna said...

Serena: I would've liked to know more, too, but I know a lot of people consider those experiences too personal to talk about.

Bermudaonion: I really hope you get a chance to read the book!

Keyomi: Hi there! Glad you enjoyed the interview!

Wendi said...

Great interview Anna! This is one of my favorite things about blogging - having the ability to contact an author, ask some interview questions and share the responses with others - a lot of the time we get so much great insight from the interviews!!

Your interview has been added to About the Author - An Author Interview Index!

:) Wendi

Anna said...

Wendi: Thanks! I love interviewing authors to find out the story behind the story and learn writing tips from people who've actually published something. Thanks for adding it to the index!

Bookfool said...

Oh, how interesting! I have a friend who attended the American School in London. I went to the graduation ceremony in 1980 with her. Coolness. I've got to get my mitts on a copy of this book.

Anna said...

Bookfool: Wow! I've always wanted to go to London. Maybe someday...

Shana said...

Wow - both her writing spaces sound fantastic, but ESPECIALLY the screened in porch!!!


Ladytink_534 said...

This book sounds SO good! I can't wait to read it.

Anna said...

Shana: I'd love to have a place like that to write! All I have right now is the computer desk in the kitchen, which is uncomfortable, the couch, where the tv distracts me, or the bed, which makes me too tired to sit up all night and write. Ho hum.

Ladytink: I hope you get a chance to read it!

Literary Feline said...

I never did get the responses back to my interview questions as part of the tour (and no explanation why--it's a bummer really and with this and another one that never came off, I can't say I'm eager to do any more author interviews anytime soon), but I enjoyed reading your interview with the author. :-)