Friday, 23 January 2015
Debut Spotlight: Karen Power
As well as reviewing her debut novel Butterfly Barn, which will be uploaded this afternoon, Emma also asked Karen a few questions to enable us to get to discover a little more about her novel and writing process.
Karen Power lives with her family in County Waterford. She has spent many years working in the travel industry and currently delivers training in communications and tourism. Butterfly Barn is her first novel.
Grace Fitzgerald hopes to sign a contract with an American cruise corporation to bring cruise liners to the idyllic coastal town of Bayrush, in Ireland. Her fiancé, Dirk, doesn’t seem to grasp just how important the business is to her. On her way through Dublin Airport, Grace catches a glimpse of Jack Leslie, her first love. He’s married now but he still has the power to turn her knees to jelly. Grace is about to make the biggest decision of her life. Will it be the right one?
Jessie McGrath is happily married to Geoff, and together they run a small equestrian centre on the outskirts of Bayrush. Jessie is finally pregnant with her second child, and life couldn’t be better. But will their dreams come true or will they fall to pieces?
Sophia Wynthrope can’t escape the emptiness of widowhood. After thirty-five years of marriage New York holds too many memories of her treasured husband. Is she chasing foolish dreams by travelling to Ireland, or can she possibly find the peace she craves in a place called Bayrush?
An unexpected encounter will spark a chain of events that will entwine their lives for ever…
Can you tell us a little about your debut novel Butterfly Barn?
Butterfly Barn is set between Ireland and New York; it follows the lives of three women. Grace Fitzgerald, a career driven workaholic who organises shore excursions for cruise passengers into the idyllic coastal town of Bayrush in Ireland. Jessie McGrath, her best friend, who is pregnant with twins and is a mother to six year old Sam. Sophia Wynthrope, an American lady, who is grieving the loss of her husband of thirty-five years. An unexpected encounter sparks a chain of events that entwines their lives for ever.
What inspired you to pick up the pen considering you already had a day job?
I was inspired to write to share some life experiences. I had spent many years working in the travel industry. Twelve years ago, two life changing events occurred. They made me reconsider how I viewed the world. On reflection you could say, I went on a journey of discovery and along the way I found writing. At this time, I immersed myself in the world of special education, complementary therapy, and psychology. I became a tutor in Adult Education mixing my background in tourism, business and communications with my understanding of the different ways people learn.
So when it came to writing fiction, I choose to locate Butterfly Barn in an idyllic coastal town in the South-East of Ireland. I gave the women problems that women all over the world experience. For me, it’s easier to write in the third person. It allows me see their world from many angles. Also I was writing for me not with a view to being an author. I think that is very important.
Why did you take the brave decision to self-publish instead of going down the traditional route?
One day, my friend Dee, without telling me sent my manuscript to a journalist in Dublin, who in turn sent it to a publisher. Dee then had to come clean and tell me because the Dublin publisher sent it to his colleagues in London. I was stunned but excited too, that they had seen something in my writing. I didn’t follow it because I was happy to think my manuscript was in London, how cool was that? But it made me take my writing more seriously so I contacted Artlinks, a government body which helps artists, writers and other creative types. I was accepted on a bursary where I learned more about the craft of writing. And then, I thought, it’s a digital age but I love the feel of a book in my hand too. So I set about learning how to self-publish because I felt it was the right time for me to share Butterfly Barn. I also wanted to be involved in every part of the process.
Thankfully, I was supported by The Book Centre, in Waterford where Butterfly Barn became the manager’s choice and spent six weeks at no 1 in original fiction. Butterfly Barn then came to the attention of the book buyer for the most prestigious book shop in Ireland, Hodges Figgis in Dublin (Waterstones, flagship store), who read it and immediately wanted it on their shelves. Argosy Wholesalers took it on making it available to all their book shops across the country.
The Library Service in Ireland has taken stock of it because it is proving to be a popular choice for book clubs. Butterfly Barn is being downloaded from every digital platform as an eBook and it is available on Amazon as a POD. Readers are engaging from all over the world by posting photos of the book cover from Paris, to Surfers Paradise. Yesterday, I received a photograph from Sark, one of the Channel Islands. It is heart-warming to think that Butterfly Barn, a self-published novel has affected so many people in a positive way. I could never have dreamed of this and I am so very grateful.
Did you put any of your own personal experiences into the novel or was it based on research you did?
Yes, I will always write to share my experiences and of course, it is important to research too.
Who was your favourite character and why?
I love all of them in different ways. I love Grace for her can do attitude and Jessie for her softness and mothering ways. Sophia, for being a wise, old bird with a huge heart.
What is the best writing advice you have been given?
I’ll quote Stephen King for that question. “To write is human, to edit is divine.” I would highly recommend his book “On Writing.”
Any rituals when writing?
Now I write on my laptop anyway and everywhere. I’m a wife, and working mother. My family always come first so I fit my writing around them. The Butterfly Barn series was written over 22 months. Knowing what I know now, they were first drafts. Mostly, I wrote in the dead of the night and I loved every minute of it, even when sometimes it was hard to go back into the place I had emerged from.
If you have any free time what do you like to read yourself?
I read widely anything from Eckhart Tolle, Stephen Covey, to Patricia Scanlon, Nora Roberts, and new authors like Corbin Addison. I’m very open.
What message would you like readers to take from Butterfly Barn?
Through family, friendship and love we can come through tough situations. There is always hope.
And finally what are you working on at the moment?
I am preparing to launch the second book in the Butterfly Barn series. I am hoping it will be ready for an October publication date.
I hope the above answers are helpful and thank you for your time, Emma.