I recently discovered my literal addiction to good romance books. I can be honest when I tell you I just finished one of my favorites – and could not put it down. The book is Leave the Lights On by Karen Stivali. The book grabbed my attention from the first chapter.
Today, I’m happy to have the opportunity to sit down and ask her a few questions. Karen, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. Let’s jump right in.
Would you mind telling us a little about yourself and your writing background?
I’m delighted to hear that you enjoyed Leave the Lights On.
I'm an ex-New Yorker happily living in the mountains of New Hampshire for the past 11 years. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, I cook and bake a lot, have a bit of an addiction to chocolate, a very dirty sense of humor and an annoying cat (affectionately known as BadKitteh) who's obsessed with fruit.
Although I've written off and on since I was in grade school I didn't start writing seriously until four years ago. Since then I've almost a dozen novels and novellas. My stories are all contemporary romances---I'm a sucker for sexy love stories with happily ever after endings.
Your blog is full of life and recipes (which my husband thanks you for as I've begun to dabble with them and make him midnight snacks). What other things interest you?
I'm so glad you're trying the recipes (and that your husband is enjoying them)---I love to hear when people make the foods I blog! Food plays an important part in my books and I try to incorporate my favorite recipes as often as possible so I can post them later. Good food is meant to be shared and that's an easy way to do it!
I spend the majority of my time either writing or cooking but one of my other big interests is film. I was a film major at NYU and although I didn't pursue a career in that field I've always been an avid fan of the movies. I only watch a select few TV shows (The Bachelor, Mad Men, Big Bang Theory) but I love to indulge in movie marathons or (insanely high numbers of) repeat viewings of favorite movies.
On your website, you happily proclaim that you follow The Bachelor. Do any of the contestants or the episodes inspire your stories?
I can't say that the contestants or episodes have ever inspired a story, no. But the show, in a roundabout way, got me back into writing. When I started watching The Bachelor I pretty quickly got pulled into the world of scoops and spoilers and started doing forum and blog posts analyzing the edits that different contestants were being given. It sounds silly, but that reminded me how much I love figuring out what makes people tick---people fascinate me---and it also made me realized just how much I'd missed writing. For many years before that I'd been so busy with family, work and volunteer projects that I hadn't had the time or opportunity to write and get my thoughts out. As soon as I started I remembered how much I enjoyed it and that lead to me writing fiction again for the first time in years.
I really enjoyed reading Leave the Lights On. I was drawn in from the first chapter and I couldn't put it down. Parker returns home and is dealing with a lot of emotions and loss. A few chapters later, he reconnects with Sophie and their chemistry is very evident. How did you tap into all of these emotions while writing? Did you draw from any personal experiences?
When I write I need to know what's going to happen from the beginning to the end of the story before I begin. I see it all play out in my head like a movie, then I just write down what I saw. As I've said, people fascinate me so I put a lot of thought into what makes my characters behave the way they do. I know what would or wouldn't be in character for them before I write chapter one. For me that makes it easy to see them in any situation and know with certainty how they'd react. And why.
For emotional scenes, yes, I think writers have to tap into personal experiences, but it doesn't have to be an identical experience. Everyone has experienced pain, loss, heartbreak, yearning---I just focus on whatever it is that's happened to the character and write how it impacted them. I'm glad it worked and you enjoyed LTLO.
You piqued my interest with: Warning: Contains sultry summer nights, steamy pool-side encounters, and you’ll never look at a jar of peanut butter the same way again. What inspires you to write the heated scenes in your book? And you were right...I don't see peanut butter the same anymore!
As a reader I can't stand it when an author spends chapter after chapter describing the sexual tension between two characters and then the second they get together the bedroom door closes or the scene fades to black. I want details! When I write, I write love stories. And sexual attraction is generally a very big part of the falling-in-love phase of relationships (and hopefully the duration of the relationship) so I don't want to gloss over something so significant. I love exploring the way it changes the relationship when physical elements are added. Sexual interaction is a form of communication. I don't believe in adding sex scenes for the sake of adding a sex scene---each steamy scene shows a new element---a vulnerability, an increase in awareness, a new sense of compatibility. I love exploring the change in dynamics once sex enters the picture. This is particularly important because (as in LTLO) I often write friends-to-lovers stories and adding sex to a friendship most definitely complicates things! That's what makes it so fascinating.
Please tell us about any of your upcoming projects you have.
I am currently working on five different projects but I can't really talk about any of them yet! I'll give hints though...four of them are contemporary romances (all of the friends-to-lovers variety, but totally different paths to falling in love). The fifth is a series involving three very sexy brothers and their equally sexy cousin---why have one hot guy when you can have four?
Oh my! I love a good intrigue. Thank you so much Karen for stopping by and chatting with me today. I look forward to your other projects when they come out!
Karen’s book can be found on Amazon here:
You can read more about her and her passions on her website. You can also find her one Facebook and Twitter.