Isolde: Could you tell us something about yourself ? What is you daily life like, i.e your family life?
Karen Robards: I'm the mother of three sons, ages
6, 11, and 18. My oldest will be leaving for college next year, my second son is
in sixth grade, and my baby is in kindergarten. My husband Doug and I celebrated
our 25th wedding anniversary this month (January) and January is also my 21st
anniversary as a published author. Island Flame, a historical romance, hit the
shelves in January, 1981. It is still in print.
Isolde: You are one of the most wellknown Romance authors in Germany. What made you begin writing romance novels?
Karen Robards: I began writing romance, funnily
enough, when I was in law school. I discovered law school wasn't really for me,
and signed up for a graduate-level creative writing course to help relieve the
stress. The assignment for the class was to write about 50 pages of something
publishable. At the time, historical romances were big sellers. I had never read
a romance novel (my mother didn't approve) but when I went to the book store to
see exactly what constituted "publishable", shelves full of historical romances
caught my eye. I bought several, read them, and was hooked. I thought, I can do
this. I wrote fifty pages of a historical romance I called The Pirate's Woman.
I put everything into that book - lots of sex, lots of action, lots of adventure
- because I really wanted to get a good grade in the class. What the professor
neglected to tell us was that we were going to have to read what we had written
aloud. It was too late to write anything else by the time I found out, and I
really wanted that grade. So when it was my day to read, I read. As I said, it
was a graduate level seminar, with about ten male students, a male professor,
and me. Everyone else had written some version of the Great American Novel. I
had written The Pirate's Woman. Nevertheless, I gave that reading my all. When I
finished and looked up, it was to find all those men staring at me,
open-mouthed. I thought, I've really wowed them. Then they started to laugh.
They laughed until they almost fell out of their chairs. Finally my professor
stopped laughing long enought to say, "Karen, you're a really good writer, but
we need to do something about your choice of reading material." For the record,
those fifty pages are the opening section of my first book Island Flame,
published two years later.
Isolde: My favourite novel of yours is "Heartbreaker". You manage to captivate your reader more with every page. Do you have a receipe for success that allows you to continually enthuse you readers ?
Karen Robards: (Thanks for the kind words about
Heartbreaker - I love it, too.) The only recipe I have for success is that the
book has to please me. There's a line from a song by Ricky Nelson that exactly
expresses how I feel about writing, "You can't please everyone, so you've just
got to please yourself." That's my mantra.
Isolde: Your settings are always very picturesque. How do research the settings for your stories, do you travel to all these places?
Karen Robards: I research my stories in various
ways. Generally, I will have lived in or traveled to the locale of my books.
Certain elements - the way a place smells, for instance, or the quality of the
light, or the exact color of the grass in winter - are very difficult to get
from books or the internet. Settings are an integral part of any story -
characters are, to some extent, a product of their environment, after all - so I
try hard to get them right.
Isolde: You don’t have your own homepage on the Internet. Do you plan to have one in the future? How do you keep in establish contact with your fans?
Karen Robards: I don't have my own home page - I am
so technologically challenged! - but I am getting one. KarenRobards.net should
be up and running by early spring. And I love hearing from fans. If you're as
technologically challenged as I am, you can always write me (snail mail) through
my publisher, Pocket Books.
Isolde: What type of story do you enjoy writing the most, historical romance or romantic suspense novels, and why?
Karen Robards: I enjoy whatever book I am working
on most. To me, books are more about characters than specific eras, and I find
it gives me a nice mental break to move from one time period to another. I have
found that readers universally love Walking After Midnight (romantic suspense)
and Loving Julia (historical) if someone is trying to decide which book of mine
they might like to try.
Isolde: When you create your main characters, do you invent them or do you base them on real people?
Karen Robards: All my characters are pure
imagination. It's a lot of fun to give them characteristics I don't have, and to
have them do things I would never do.
Isolde: In "Maggy’s Child" the heroine fights against wife abuse, which seems a very brave subject to write about. Do you still know how your readers reacted to this subject when the book was first published?
Karen Robards: Maggy's Child was about wife abuse,
and it was written before the subject had been brought into the mainstream press
by cases such as OJ Simpson. That book has touched more readers than almost
anything else I've written. I hope it has, in addition, helped some people
recognize and leave an abusive environment.
Isolde: Your novels "Hunter’s Moon" and "Paradise County" both deal with horseranches. Are you a horse lover?
Karen Robards: Actually, in Kentucky, where both
these books are set, the term is horse farms, not horse ranches. (Ranches are
more of a western thing, as in, say, Texas.) Yes, I'm a horse lover. I've ridden
all my life, and we have several horses now. In addition, we're in the process
of establishing our own horse farm in the Blue Grass area where these books take
Isolde: Most of your books are single titles. Are you going to write series in the future?
Karen Robards: As a matter of fact, I am writing
the second in a historical series right now. It's called Irresistible, and it's
the story of Claire, younger sister to Gabby, who was the heroine in Scandalous.
I'm having the best time with this book! It should be published in September,
Isolde: Do you have any favourite authors? Who are they?
Karen Robards: I read all the time, and I read
everybody. Favorites include Joan Wolf, Penelope Williamson, Sandra Brown, Dean
Koontz, Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell. There are lots more.
Isolde: Are you currently working on a new novel? Would you be willing to devulge somthing about it?
Karen Robards: As I said, I'm currently working on
Irresistible. My heroine Claire is busy falling madly in love with the hero, and
so am I. (Is writing a wonderful profession, or what?)
© Moments - Höhepunkte der romantischen Literatur und Die romantische Bücherecke, Isolde Wehr, Januar 2002
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Dieses Interview entstand im Januar 2002 zwischen Isolde W. und Karen Robards für: