What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
I write crime fiction. It was a natural choice because when I read non-fiction, it’s most probably going to be crime/mystery, and you should always write what you want to read.
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
At the moment I am writing my fourth novel and a treatment for a screenplay. I can only focus on one novel idea at a time but enjoy screenwriting.
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
I don’t. That’s a little bit to sociable for me.
Can you remember your first reading book?
I certainly can. It was ‘Here We Go’ and it was the first in the ladybird reading series. It’s so odd to see them in stores reincarnated as spoofs. I loved learning to read and can still remember the sound, feel and emotion of handling the pages and looking at the images.
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?
Not usually. I’m not a big/enthusiastic eater. I understand existence depends upon consumption it but given the choice I just pop a food pill and swill it down with a large glass of chenin blanc.
Tidy desk or a bombsite? Describe your writing area with us.
My ‘official’ writing desk is covered in essential materials, such as passports/bills/hairdryer and a stuffed crow. My desk is more a symbol of literary productivity, than an actual working area. I tend to settle down in the kitchen next to the log burner.
Are you published in the traditional manner or self-published? Share your journey.
I am an Amazon writer, which means ebook and POD but my next novel will be published by BookOuture. I am represented by LAW literary agents, who manage all of the publication and promotions. There is always a raging desire to see your book in Waterstones on the ‘Top Ten Bestseller’ shelf but the reality is that ebooks sell in greater numbers and that is how most authors are published now.
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?
Graham Greene, Angela Carter and William Golding.
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript?
Keep going! It’s a long commitment and you will get blocked and disheartened. Show don’t tell and avoid too many descriptions and cliches. Listen to what editors and say and if you disagree with their opinions make a clear argument. Don’t be afraid to cut sections and always have a clear idea of where and how you are going to end.
If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play your main characters?
Jessica Chastain for Eleanor and John Goodman for Timms and Jake Gyllenhall would play Laurence.
Do you have an eventful tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
I have been a little preoccupied with household matters recently. Beloved Mr. B left last week to film in New Zealand. Alongside his declaration of undying love was the instruction to “sell the house”. I am not unduly fazed by these sort of ex cathedra decisions from my husband nor do I generally pay much heed to them, after all a great many complications can occur during his absence, which will render the application of his wishes as unlikely but this time I was in complete agreement. It was time to move on!
It has been our desire for over twenty years to buy a house in South Shropshire, with at least five acres of land where we can create a haven for wildlife. What my husband dismisses with a regal wave of his hand, is that to sell our house requires an enormous input of labour; my labour to be exact. So, I started at the furthest bedroom and began the transformation. Ceiling, walls and skirting boards painted, carpets cleaned and all extraneous clutter recycled or donated. There I was, a woman in possession of a steam cleaner, disposable gloves and a plan. But as we know the ‘best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray’, or in my case, of ferrets and women. Gus is our pet ferret and we’ve owned him since he was a kit and he’s now an impressive nine years old. He is an outdoor pet, never having been worked and lives in a large, two tiered enclosure under the sycamore. I would say that despite the odd burst of energy, Gus has committed himself to a twenty-three hour sleep pattern, rising indolently for breakfast and taking a short, lethargic constitutional in the afternoon. I am sure that Gus is extremely happy with this arrangement but to spice up his life, he is often brought into the house to have a play in the annex, which is accessed internally via one door. This enables me to separate him from out terrier Lily, who has a plan of her own for poor Gus. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to forget that he’s in the annex and leave him to it. Two weeks ago I suddenly realised what I’d done and went to look for him, predictably he’d found the pile of dustsheets to bury into and after a lengthy hunt I found him, much to his and my surprise. It was the element of surprise that did it for the future house sale, that and my head cold. Gus, being a card holding member of the mustelidae family, is equipped with anal scent glands, which blow off when the animal is shocked, threatened or generally irritated. Pleased to have located the fellow I popped him back into his pad and locked up for the night.
In full decorating mode the following morning I spread the dustsheets over the carpet and furniture in our bedroom and began to paint the ceiling and the walls. I love the smell of paint, it wakens the senses and clears the sinuses and, more relevantly, overwhelms the subtle, yet monumentally persistent stench of ferret anal gland secretion. An unpleasant, urine-like smell began to rear its ugly head about an hour into the decorating frenzy. Confused but committed I carried on, finishing late into the evening. I grabbed all of the dustsheets, admired my skill and fortitude and dumped them into the annex workshop. It was only when I got into bed that the smell began to permeate. There didn’t seem to be a source to the stench, or an explanation as to what it was, just the oily, musky smell of bladder weakness. The following day I cleaned the carpet, determined that it was the source. It barely made a dent in the pong. I bought carpet perfume and ran the cleaner over it again but still the smell persisted, if anything it was digging in, seeping into the bed linen and the upholstery. I had to carry on with the decorating so, leaving all of the windows ajar upstairs, I spread the dustsheets over our leather suite and painted the living room ceiling. It must have taken me about an hour or so before the penny dropped. It was the dustsheets and Gus must have emptied his anal glands into them and now they were leaching the smell all over the sofa. I balled, bagged and binned them drove to Homebase to purchase a bigger steam cleaner and a box of leather wipes. None of which made any difference.
Two weeks have passed and there is still a heady tang of urine around both rooms. It fades into your subconscious after a few minutes but I can only hope our early viewers are of a forgiving nature
Oh my! What a thing to happen! Good luck, Karen!
ABOUT KAREN LONG
Karen Long was born and raised in the English midlands, educated at Bangor University and taught English and Drama for fifteen years. During her teaching years she studied biology and neurology with the Open University and this interest in medicine, forensics and forensic psychology is reflected in her writing. She is an enthusiastic traveller and has spent time in Toronto, which became the backdrop and inspiration for The Safe Word.
She is a keen amateur naturalist with a deep and abiding love for the crow family. She has dedicated time, love and several fingers in an effort to rehabilitate crows, magpies, rooks and ravens.
Karen is happy to correspond with readers and can be contacted through her website KarenLongWriter.com, where she posts regular blogs.
The Safe Word is Karen’s first novel and was an Amazon bestseller, later joined by the second in the Eleanor Raven series, The Vault.