Things I Wish I Knew: Q&A with author Karen Katchur

Ever wonder how published authors balance writing and the rest of their lives? Or what it’s like to have that breakthrough moment with a manuscript? Karen Katchur, author of THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD (St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne), has some answers for you. Karen’s first novel THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD was declared a “Best Summer Debut” by Library Journal. Her next novel is set to be published in early 2017. Follow her on Twitter.

On writing schedules, inspiration, advice to her former self, and the rollercoaster of emotions that is writing…here’s a Q&A with Karen Katchur:

What is some advice you’d go back and give your unpublished self?

The only thing I can think of is to stop worrying so much. Control what I can. And stop worrying about the things I can’t. I have a feeling I’ll be telling my future self this as well. It’s something I need to work on.

What does a typical writing day look like for you?

My writing days all start the same. I exercise first thing in the morning after the kiddos leave for school. It’s during this time that I think about what I’m working on that day whether it’s a particular scene, or character, or plot point. Then I take notes before hopping in the shower. Sometimes I come up with the best ideas in the shower! I don’t think I’m alone in this. I sit at my desk for the rest of the day until my kiddos get home from school. Some days I’m able to get another hour or two of writing time in after they’re home. On a typical day I write anywhere from three to six hours. That’s not to say some of those hours aren’t spent staring at a blank page on the computer screen!

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

Since my schedule revolves around my family’s schedule, I have to be flexible. And balancing the house chores, the kids, the pets, etc… is a daily battle. Some days I succeed and some days I don’t. I think it’s about prioritizing. If a deadline is approaching then the cleaning and laundry and other daily chores have to wait. Also, unless I have a deadline looming, I only write Monday through Friday. I take weekends off to spend with my family. I find I need the break from whatever I’m working on to think and come back to it with fresh eyes. I don’t subscribe to the “write every day” rule. I need time away from the writing in order to think, to feel, to figure out my characters, their motivations, the plot or whatever it is I’m working on.

Can you describe a moment when you’ve had a “breakthrough” with your
manuscript?

There’s such a feeling of euphoria when things finally click whether it’s with understanding your character, or getting yourself out of a plot hole. While I was writing THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD, I remember struggling with the plot and trying to find a way to connect the past and present mysteries that felt natural for the story. I think I brainstormed with you, Carly! I can’t reveal what we came up with since I don’t want to give anything away, but it was such an easy fix because the groundwork was already there, and it made sense for the story. It’s on those days you feel brilliant. Nothing can stop you! Until the next problem with the character or plot or setting or whatever. It truly is an emotional rollercoaster hitting all the highs and lows. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, Why am I doing this to myself? And then I have a day where it all comes together, and I’m like, Oh yeah, that’s why!

What are you reading now?

I just finished THE GOOD GOODBYE, by Carla Buckley- fantastic read! And I’m just starting PRETTY GIRLS, by Karin Slaughter. Up next, ONE MORE DAY, by Kelly Simmons

Karen Katchur is a full-time fiction writer and winner of a short story award. She is an active member in both the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Romance Writers of America and has held various board positions in the local chapter, Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers. When she’s not reading or writing, she instructs fitness classes and holds a M. Ed in Health and Physical Education as well as a B.S. in Criminal Justice. She lives in Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters.

Further reading: Karen Katchur in Writer’s Digest

“This beautiful, heartbreaking, and affecting debut, reminiscent of the work of Heather ­Gudenkauf, will have readers craving more from Katchur.” – Library Journal

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Happy Book Birthday to THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD by Karen Katchur

Today’s the day! THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD is available in a store near you. Live in PA? Join Karen at one of her events this month:

August 4th 2pm Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association Launch Party, Online

August 4th 6:00-8:00 pm Moravian Book Shop Bethlehem, PA

August 6th 7:00 pm Open Book Bookstore Elkins Park, PA

August 13th 6:00pm Let’s Play Books! Emmaus, PA

SecretsLakeRoad_cover_hi res

*A Library Journal best debut selection*

Jo has been hiding the truth about her role in her high school boyfriend’s drowning for sixteen years. Every summer, she drops her children off with her mother at the lakeside community where she spent summers growing up, but cannot bear to stay herself; everything about the lake reminds her of the guilt she feels. For her daughter Caroline, however, the lake is a precious world apart; its familiarity and sameness comforts her every year despite the changes in her life outside its bounds. At twelve years old and caught between childhood and adolescence, she longs to win her mother’s love and doesn’t understand why Jo keeps running away.

Then seven-year-old Sara Starr goes missing from the community beach. Rescue workers fail to uncover any sign of her-but instead dredge up the bones Jo hoped would never be discovered, shattering the quiet lakeside community’s tranquility. Caroline was one of the last people to see Sara alive on the beach, and feels responsible for her disappearance. She takes it upon herself to figure out what happened to the little girl. As Caroline searches for Sara, she uncovers the secrets her mother has been hiding, unraveling the very foundation of everything she knows about herself and her family. The Secrets of Lake Road by Karen Katchur is a riveting novel that is impossible to put down and hard to forget.

Guest Post: Karen Katchur “How This Book Came To Be”

Today debut author Karen Katchur is on the blog talking about her novel THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD which is out tomorrow.

Hear about the writing process straight from her! Read below about how her sixth book written is finally her debut, and how the dead body she saw as a kid changed her forever.

Chat with Karen on Twitter and let her know what you think of her post below and her novel: THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD out 8/4.

***

Karen Katchur - Author PhotoIt’s common for writers to get asked where they get their story ideas. It’s different for every writer of course, but for me, I tend to build my fiction around an event. The event can be of a personal nature, or it can be something I’ve read or heard about. THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD just happens to be of a personal nature.

When I was nine or ten years old, a young teenage boy had drowned at a lake where my grandmother owned a cabin. I’d watched them drag the lake for several days before they’d finally pulled his body onto the beach. The tragedy of that day has never left me. It was the first dead body I ever saw.

It was this event that sparked the idea for SECRETS. Written in five characters’ points of view, the two most prominent being Caroline and her mother, Jo, the novel explores the destructive power of secrets not only within a family unit, but also within a community.

SECRETS is the sixth novel I’ve written, but the first to be published. I had to write several novels before I could look at my stories as a whole and say: This is where I get my ideas, and this is how my process works. If I’m really excited about the event, setting, and characters, I know it’s something I should write.

Q: What about you? Where do you get your ideas from? And how do you know which ones have legs so to speak?

Cover Reveal: THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD by Karen Katchur

Karen’s cover reveal is here! Get ready for a great women’s fiction suspense coming your way in August 2015 from Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press.

From the publisher:

A haunting story about the destructive power of secrets, this accomplished and gripping suspenseful women’s fiction debut is perfect for fans of Lisa Scottoline and Heather Gudenkauf.

SecretsLakeRoad_cover_hi res

Jo has been hiding the truth about her role in her high school boyfriend’s drowning for sixteen years. Every summer, she drops her children off with her mother at the lakeside community where she spent summers growing up, but cannot bear to stay herself; everything about the lake reminds her of the guilt she feels. For her daughter Caroline, however, the lake is a precious world apart; its familiarity and sameness comforts her every year despite the changes in her life outside its bounds. At twelve years old and caught between childhood and adolescence, she longs to win her mother’s love and doesn’t understand why Jo keeps running away.

Then seven-year-old Sara Starr goes missing from the community beach. Rescue workers fail to uncover any sign of her—but instead dredge up the bones Jo hoped would never be discovered, shattering the quiet lakeside community’s tranquility. Caroline was one of the last people to see Sara alive on the beach, and feels responsible for her disappearance. She takes it upon herself to figure out what happened to the little girl. As Caroline searches for Sara, she uncovers the secrets her mother has been hiding, unraveling the very foundation of everything she knows about herself and her family. Caroline’s coming-of-age story, mirrored with Jo’s troubled teenage past, makes for an enthralling read that is impossible to put down and hard to forget.

Pre-order:

Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/LakeRoadAMZ

BN: http://hyperurl.co/LakeRoadBN

And congratulate Karen!

Accolades:

“Karen Katchur’s THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD gripped me with its provocative opening sentence and held me in its spell until its final, shattering revelations. This is a powerful thriller about buried secrets that painfully resurface, innocence lost across the generations, and the terrible price we pay for growing up and growing older. Karen Katchur knows how to write and write well about ordinary people stretched to their limits. A suspenseful, heartbreaking novel.”
–David Bell, author of THE FORGOTTEN GIRL

“The rhythms of a summer community, the tensions of an unsolved crime, and the thrumming undertow of adolescence come together in this sparkling debut.  Beautifully paced from captivating beginning to satisfying end.”
–Kelly Simmons, author of STANDING STILL and THE BIRD HOUSE

“A lake’s murky depths hide past secrets in this unforgettable debut. Karen Katchur deftly infuses a summer lake colony with nostalgia—damp bathing suits, the bang of a cottage door, a pavilion jukebox playing old songs. But this summer, no one goes into the water. Part tender coming-of-age, part edge-of-your-seat suspense, THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD lured me in from its opening pages. Pick up this book forewarned that you will do nothing else until you finish reading it.”
–Karen Brown author of THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS

“With chilling unease that keeps you turning pages, Katchur deftly evokes the way youthful actions echo through our lives. Nostalgia wrestles tragedy in this haunting tale.”
–Kathryn Craft, author of THE ART OF FALLING and THE FAR END OF HAPPY

“At once gripping and evocative, THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD conjures childhood’s best and worst moments—its secret joys and terrors, its hopefulness and uncertainty. Katchur skillfully weaves between past and present, revealing devastating truths along the way.”
–Paula Treick DeBoard, author of THE MOURNING HOURS and THE FRAGILE WORLD

“Captivating and highly addictive, this story will break your heart – and then renew your faith in love.”
— Marissa Stapley author of MATING FOR LIFE