July 14, 2009

Guest Post: Karen E Olson Author of The Missing Ink

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Yesterday I reviewed Karen E Olson's latest mystery The Missing Ink and today I'm happy to have Karen guest host here on book-a-rama. Karen is not only the author of The Missing Ink but also the Annie Seymour mystery series. The Missing Ink is the first of The Tattoo Shop Mysteries with Pretty in Ink to follow. Just yesterday, she signed on for two more books in the series. Congrats, Karen!

Now here's Karen.

When my editor told me that she wanted me to write a new series, I had a
panic attack. I’d never thought about writing another series. I thought
I’d grow old with Annie Seymour like Sara Paretsky has with VI Warshawski,
like Sue Grafton with Kinsey Milhone, like Marcia Muller with Sharon
McCone.

Suddenly, my world — or at least, Annie’s world — was gone.

I brainstormed with my agent about what sorts of characters I could
create. I came up with a house sitter, a bus driver, a political blogger
(it was during the presidential primaries and I was obsessed). I even went
as far as to write a first chapter with the political blogger, but my
editor said her people wanted something totally different from me. So I
asked her, what were they looking for?

A tattoo shop mystery.

I think I laughed. Me? Write about a tattoo shop? I have no tattoos. I
don’t really know anything about that world; I never even dated a guy with
a tattoo. I’d certainly never been inside a tattoo shop.

My editor told me she had faith in me. That she knew I could do this.
After some soul searching and reading a book about the history of women
and tattoos, I sat down to write what’s called a series bible, a
description of the characters and setting, which just so happens to be Las
Vegas.

So I started thinking about it. Brett Kavanaugh would be the name of the
tattoo shop owner. She’s from New Jersey and moved to Vegas when her
brother’s fiancĂ©e moved out of the house and he needed help paying the
mortgage. Her brother, Tim, is a Las Vegas police detective.

I needed tattooist employees, so I created Joel Sloane, a 300-pound man
who is perpetually on Weight Watchers, and Ace van Nes, an incredibly good
looking man with perfect hair and perfect tattoos who is a frustrated
artist. Bitsy Hendricks is the shop manager. She’s a little person and
drives a Mini Cooper. She’s also tough as nails.

As I wrote about these characters, filling in details and descriptions, I
found myself drawn to them. Granted, there were characters included in the
series bible who never made it into the book. And there are characters who
weren’t in the series bible who just showed up and demanded their own page
space. I created a whole different world from the one Annie inhabited.
And I found it to be just as fun. Maybe a little more fun, actually.

But don’t tell Annie.

What do you like about series books?

Karen

Thanks Karen! The thing about series I like is being able to revisit favorite characters in a new situation. They become almost like old friends. We get to see more of their personalities as the series continues.

7 comments :

  1. Excellent guest post!
    I've just ordered a copy of The Missing Girl and I look forward to reading it. :)

    Like you, Chris, I like able to revisit favourite characters in every new installment.

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  2. What an interesting guest post. I like hearing how a book comes about.

    I like series because I get to find out what happens to the characters next. I'm nosy in that way. ;)

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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  3. When I saw her picture, I was surprised she was writing about a tattoo shop, but then I figured there were things the picture didn't show! I love watching the characters develop in a series.

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  4. The characters become like old friends that you can reconnect with, knowing their strengths and weaknesses, and watch them grow.

    It's funny you mentioned Annie becoming like VI or Kinsey because I read those books, but just for a while. As upsetting as a short series is, it keeps the level so high, and makes the reader enjoy the whole series. I never seem to be able to read all the books in a multi book series - they all start to run together.
    It would be hard to maintain that level of interest for a long time. So maybe it's good that Annie ran her course. I really liked reading the Shakespeare series by Charmaine Harris, because it was 5 books long, and it ended at a good spot, growth-wise, for the characters.

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  5. Thanks, Christina, for having me here today!

    I love series because when I find a bunch of characters I love I just want to spend more and more time with them.

    And bermudaonion: I have no tattoos. Although I know a couple of people who look more straight laced than me who do!

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  6. So much for write what you know, but in the hands of a good author and an inquisitive mind, what wouldn't you know? Now I'm really looking forward to the first in this series.

    I do love series, I'm currently rotating through four of them I just found (although they've been out since the 90's).

    Of those that I read from the first book published (and have some hardbacks to prove it) Sue Grafton, Sharon McCone, Linda Barnes, Sara Paretsky, I haven't read the last few. Maybe because they come out so few and far between?

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  7. Raidergirl- Yes, that's true. A series can got on too long.

    Carrie- It's good to space them out.

    Karen- Thanks!

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