This week, I sat down with Karen Tomlinson to delve into her writing and see if I could discover what makes her tick…
Where are you from? Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m from England in the UK. I live smack in the centre, imaginatively it’s called the Midlands! I’m really lucky to live near one of our National Parks called the Peak District, which is beautiful: rolling hills, moors, woods, views, pretty old stone villages and large stately homes.
I love to write but, as I work full time as a resuscitation trainer and clinical skills trainer for a large teaching hospital, that takes most of my free time. Before the pandemic took over the world, I loved to walk in the hills and mountain bike. I also like to keep fit. I’m a 3rd dan black belt in shotokan karate and still train at home, too. It’s kind of ingrained in me now! I also love to get my reading quota in! I love to read PNR and fantasy romance of any kind, and also enjoy contemporary billionaire/hot romance, too.
What got you started in writing?
I’ve always loved to read but I struggled at school and didn’t believe I could be an author so I didn’t pursue that dream. Instead, I became a nurse. I actually tried my hand at writing years ago while I worked nights. Haha! It was on an old dot matrix word processor! That tells you how long ago that was. I decided to write seriously when my twins were about four years old and we started a story that we’d add to every night. My husband bought me an android tablet that I could carry with me and I started to write our story down. It blossomed from there into the Goddess and the Guardians series. Obviously, it’s a different beast than the story I put together with my baby girls, but that’s where and how my writing bug took a proper hold.
What do you like to read?
Oh my goodness! Absolutely everything, but I adore books full of romance, or with a good romance subplot. Some of my favourite authors are: Sarah J Maas, Amelia Hutchins, Miranda Honfleur, and Laurelin Paige. There are many more but those are the ones I try and buy a book from as a treat when I’ve finished writing one of my own.
Tell us about your first book, or favourite published work?
My first book was A Bond of Venom and Magic. It started as above but ended up as a 250 000 word manuscript. I looked into how long a story should be when I was still deciding whether to go indie or traditional publishing and decided that, yeah, it was way too long. With some serious editing it became the second book, too—A Bond of Blood and Fire.
ABOVAM had a gorgeous, illustrated cover but after taking advice I changed it to one for an older readership and it became what it is now. It’s about a half-human, half-fae girl who falls for an elite guard who is sworn to serve a cruel fae queen. There’s magic, dragons, sexy fae warriors with metallic wings, love, betrayal and huge battles. It was such an amazing experience to write that series.
How do you create your characters?
Wow! That’s a good question! They pop into my head at a random moment, or something or someone triggers an idea about a character and what their life might be like, and I have to write it down. I write down any other random facts that seep into my head. I actually have most of my good ideas in that strange time between being awake and asleep. I’m always irritating my hubby by flicking the light on and jotting them down on my phone.
The other thing I do is write down anything that I think might make a good title and then characters seem to form in my brain and have to be written down to go with them too!
Where do you write? Are you a plotter or pantser?
Ha! Well, The Goddess and the Guardians was all written pantser style! And everything fell into place. How I remembered all of those facts, and where I wanted the story to go was crazy really. I sort of hybrid plotted and winged it, for the Eight Kingdoms, Again, I knew where the characters needed to go and kind of knew how they needed to get there, so I guess it was planned in my head. For the Shadow Sentinels I did the same thing but wrote more ideas down. I’ve currently bought a number of craft books, so I’m trying something different for book 3 of the Shadow Sentinels series. I have plotted the whole book. The last time I tried this, it all went completely differently to my plan! I guess this time I’ve written the ideas down that are in my head about where the characters need to go, and they are in more detail. We’ll see how it goes.
I use google docs to write so that I can write anywhere, and on my phone too if I need to.
What are you working on as we speak?
Well, my brain is such a mess at the moment! I am working on a number of different projects, which I don’t normally do. I am working on getting book 3 of the Shadow Sentinels written. I’ve done about 20 000 words at the moment. I have plotted out a completely new project which is going to be a contemporary billionaire romance, and I’ve plotted and am currently working on, character formation for a PNR book, co-written with Claire Marta. I’ve also got cover projects and planning in the works for my next fantasy series, which is dark fantasy romance, demons and an underworld, that kind of thing. I’m very excited about them all, and just need more hours in the day to write really!
What would be your advice for aspiring authors?
Wow! A tough one. I’ve made so many mistakes and while some were avoidable, I really don’t think others are. I’ve leant from my mistakes (Lol! Mostly) I think the best advice to start is join 20booksto50K facebook group and read the advice there. Start your own mailing list and write a freebie before you do anything else. You need to build your support and readership before you release your first book. I didn’t understand what that meant and it’s been an uphill struggle since I released my first book in 2016 to find my readers and keep them. I release slowly as I work a day job too, and time is short for me. If you can build up books to release at regular intervals that will help too.
Gosh, there’s so much I’d like to say but I think it would get overwhelming so those three things:
*Faster release plan.
Newest or upcoming release:
Shadow Sentinels #2 Ruin: mybook.to/shadowsentinelsruin Release date: 20th March 2021
Bookbub follow link: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/karen-tomlinson
Amazon.com author page: https://www.amazon.com/Karen-Tomlinson/e/B01JF9SIR8
mailing list: https://www.subscribepage.com/karentomlinson
Silver Guardians Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1531458143821861/
facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ktomlinson.author/