Thursday, December 20, 2012

Karen Ann Hopkins Interview

I'm so excited to have my author of the month, Karen Ann Hopkins here to answer some questions about her novel, Temptation, and the soon-to-be-released sequel, Belonging

* Can you tell us a little bit about your book?

Temptation is Rose and Noah’s story and is told in both of their points of view.  When Rose moves to the sleepy community of Meadowview, the teenagers fall hard for each other.  But there’s one big problem.  He’s Amish and she’s not.  The story follows their struggles to be together and the prejudices they encounter from both worlds.  The sequel, Belonging, which will be out in May, continues their struggle, showing the grittier/darker side of being Amish.

* What inspired the story?

I moved to an Amish community in northern Kentucky five years ago.  Soon after my arrival in the neighborhood a group of Amish kids began coming to my farm to participate in horse-back riding events.  I watched the interactions between them and the non-Amish teens and the question, ‘what if,’ took root in my mind.  Temptation is a fictional story, but there have been several situations within my own community where Amish young people hooked up with non-Amish (or English, which is what the Amish call all outsiders) ones.  In one particular instance, the Amish girl left her world to marry an outsider.  She was subsequently shunned by her family and church. 

* What's your writing process like?

Before I began writing Temptation, I researched my own community in great detail.  Since I spent much time with my neighbors, both at my farm’s riding arena and providing a driving service for the Amish, I was able to have more personal and in depth experiences than most people do with the oftentimes secret lifestyles of the Amish.

* What have you learned from writing this novel?

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from writing Temptation is that persistence is the key to success.  Even though the story was originally rejected by several agents, I kept improving it, taking suggestions along the way, until I finally had it in tip-top shape and it was enthusiastically picked up by the Jane Rotrosen Agency and later purchased by Harlequin Teen.

* Do you have a favorite character?

Rose is my favorite character, but I really enjoyed writing Sam’s chapters in Belonging.  His personality popped off the pages with a will of its own very early on.  Noah was more difficult to write as he’s a guy and Amish, but getting into his head was very interesting.  I spoke with several of the teen boys in the community about their attitudes and also observed their behaviors with much interest to craft Noah’s character.

* What do you find most difficult about writing?

Getting started is difficult.  Once I have a few chapters behind me, the story takes on its own life.

* What is your favorite scene from Temptation?

The buggy accident scene was the most difficult one to write on an emotional level, yet it was also my favorite.  It was extremely visual in my mind.

* Can you give us any hints what's going to happen in your upcoming book, Belonging?

In Belonging, the reader will enter the Amish world in a more personal way.  The entire store is darker, showing the side of being Amish that isn’t always portrayed in writing.  It’s grittier and more intense.  Rose and Noah are tested in unimaginable ways, but their love continues to hold strong.

* What draws you to the YA genre?

Even as an adult, I love to read YA.  The stories are more straightforward and fast-moving than adult fiction and most of my favorite life-time reads have been from the YA genre.

* What's been the best part of being a writer?

I get to stay on the farm with my children and I’m able to schedule my life around my job, instead of vice-versa.

* How involved are your family and friends in your writing process?

Being a single mom of five kids, I’ve learned to ask for help when needed and I’m lucky to have family and friends who will happily care for the smaller children when I really need a few days of intense writing time.

* How long did it take you to write Temptation?

It took two months to write the story and another six months of revisions.  I got my agent, Christina Hogrebe from the Jane Rotrosen Agency, about eleven months after I began writing the manuscript and a few months later had a contract with Harlequin Teen.

* Where do you hope your writing career will be in 10 years?

I hope to branch out into YA paranormal or adult mystery. 

* Did you write as a child or teen?

No, I began writing as an adult, but I always had stories in my mind that wanted to escape.

* Do you still find time for reading?

Not as much as I’d like.  The writing, editing and promotional part of publishing keeps me busy, but I work hard to get personal reading time in when I can.

* Who are some of your favorite authors?

George R. R. Martin, Tolkien, Charlaine Harris are a few.

* If you could meet any author, who would it be?

At this point, I’d really like to meet George R. R. Martin.  I’ve been reading his Song of Ice and Fire saga for the past eight years and I have a lot of questions for him.

Temptation on Harlequin
Barnes and Nobles Link
Amazon Link for Temptation
Goodreads Link
Goodreads Link for Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

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