October 16, 2018

Writer Wrangler: Karen Booth and Secrets of a (Somewhat) Sunny Girl #interview #womenslit

I've been a Karen Booth fan since Talk Supe's early days. I love her romances, it's passionate and sincere but very tempered and devoid of romantic hyperbole and all the unnecessary drama that ensues from it. It also helps that we're both Duran Duran fans (although I don't think I can measure up to her level of fandom) and I think I can't hear to Simon LeBon's voice without thinking of Karen, I think they'll be forever intertwined in my mind. 

Today I have Karen back to celebrate the release of her new book, SECRETS OF A (SOMEWHAT) SUNNY GIRL. It's a cross between romance and Women's Literature and I for one am very excited for her and for this new novel. Read up to learn more!

Hi Karen! Welcome back to Talk Supe, it's been a while my friend. I follow you on Twitter so I know you've been busy writing and with life. So in a nutshell, how's it going?
It’s so good to be back! I’m sitting on my sofa at 6:00 am, drinking coffee with the cat curled up at my hip, so I’d say that things are pretty great. As far as career goes, I’m putting out 4-5 books a year, which keeps me crazy busy, but I’m never bored. Most of my releases are for Harlequin Desire, which allows me to write full-time. On the personal side, my husband and I sent our daughter off to college last year and we’ll be doing it again next year with our son. Life at home is definitely in transition, and I’m still not sure how I’ll deal with the empty nest, but I love watching my kids turn into adults. I turned 50 this year, which was a big deal. I’m sensing a shift in my thinking. It puts things into perspective for sure.
Gosh you'll be empty nesters soon! It's good that you have your fictional characters to keep you busy AND that also means more one on one time with the hubby! *wink wink*

It's been quite the year for women, tell us about this upcoming book of yours, SECRETS OF A (SOMEWHAT) SUNNY GIRL.
It’s funny that you frame it that way, because at its core, this book is about female relationships and for mother/daughter in particular, how that relationship changes over time. The two main female characters are Katherine and Amy—sisters whose mother died when they were 10 and 8. Katherine blames herself in part for their mother’s death. Amy says she doesn’t blame her, but there’s resentment bubbling under the surface. So much about family dynamics, especially for women, revolves around expectations. Women have expectations foisted upon them that go so far beyond what mere mortals are able to sustain, and it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. If you’re a mom, you have to be the BEST mom, or you suck. If you’re a sister, you have to be the BEST sister, or you suck. And I hate that. I hate that for what it does to all of us because it leaves us unhappy and unsatisfied. It leaves too little room for being human.
A lot of us can related to that and not just women. There's so much pressure to be "perfect" that it's almost debilitating sometimes. I just started reading and I find a lot of the tone, issues, and scenarios relatable and accessible & I'm not married to a rock star!

I'm a fan of the genre, Women's Literature, and in general the women in these types of books are either batshit crazy, submissive and been pushed to the brink, or someone who's finally finding their voice. How would you describe your women in this book?
I guess of the three, it’s the latter. Katherine is a pretty insular person, but as someone who went through a lot as a kid, it’s easy for me to go there. When you’re young and bad things happen, sometimes the only truly safe place is inside your own head. That’s where you go when things get hard. Katherine is trying to find some way to shed her past, and it interferes with her relationship with Eamon, an Irish musician who she had a fling with in college. He’s back in her life, but she never told him about what happened with her mom and she’s terrified by the idea of his view of her changing so drastically. So there’s a lot of reflection for Katherine, but she plays an active role in setting herself straight. 

Amy is a wise-ass and very pragmatic. She calls people on their BS all the time. I loved writing Katherine and Amy's story because they’re very different, but they love each other so much. As for the other women in the book, there are a lot—Katherine’s boss, Eamon’s daughter, Fiona, Eamon’s ex-wife, Katherine and Amy’s grandmother. Each character has different issues, except Fiona, who’s very much like my daughter and simply able to be present, open, and comfortable in her own skin. It was important to me that Eamon’s ex-wife not be batshit crazy or evil. She’s more about a lens for Katherine to see Eamon differently, to understand that he’s not as perfect as she thinks he is. Katherine’s boss, too, is supportive and always has her back, but it’s not blind support. Katherine has earned it and she returns it. I wanted to model positive female relationships that have real problems and where people make real mistakes, but we don’t abandon each other by the side of the proverbial road.

Because of all the hashtag movement, do you feel like you have to write a "different" kind of woman in SECRETS OF A (SOMEWHAT) SUNNY GIRL, like someone who would be more of this time and not the usual "fairer gender" of the human species?
I think all of my female characters, from my very first book, have been strong in their own way. But again, we come back to expectations. It’s amazing to me the way some female readers will give male characters a free pass on all sorts of bad behavior, but a single bitchy moment from a female character and they write them off or find them “unrelatable”.

I try to write real women with hopes and desires, worries and problems. I try to write women who might not always handle a situation in the best possible way—the question is, do they learn from it? Do they at least try to move forward? Are they doing the best they can in a tough situation? So, I wouldn’t say that the women in my books have changed with the current social climate. I would say that I’m most sensitive to the issue of consent. I make a point of it being clear—everybody is on board and they are psyched about it. That doesn’t mean it can’t be sexy or romantic. I make it as sexy and romantic as I can. We absorb a lot of our attitudes about the way things should be from books. I want consent to be a very normal, present thing.
So true! This is why I honestly struggle with romance novels in general because there are a lot of books there that glorify despicable male behavior and uses female stereotypes that gets on my nerves!

You mentioned that there's a lot of relationship types that you took in in SECRETS OF A (SOMEWHAT) SUNNY GIRL, what's the most challenging type of relationship to write?
Mother/daughter is the most challenging, but also the most rewarding. There’s a lot on the line, and (again!) expectations get in the way. A mom should be like this, a daughter should be like that. The love can be intense, but the friction can be as well. Anyone who’s ever had a big fight with their mom can attest—there is nothing worse. Just rip my heart out and drive over it with the car a few hundred times! And for daughters who never had the relationship they wanted with their mom, they see things in a totally different way. There are millions of ways to look at it, which is part of what makes it so compelling.

What should we NOT expect to find in SECRETS OF A (SOMEWHAT) SUNNY GIRL?
Hmmm…dragons? Motorcycle gangs? Space battles? In all truth, I want readers to experience the full gamut of emotion with this book—there are happy moments and super sad ones. There are sexy moments and times when you will laugh-out-loud. I love a book that makes me feel everything. This book is squarely planted between romance and women’s fiction. There is a real romance with an HEA. There is a sisters’ story of redemption. And they are fully intertwined. There is no taking one story out without pulling the threads of the other. I like to think that gives some (not all) readers the best of both worlds. I realize there are plenty of readers who just want romance. Or just want the women’s fiction side. But I also think there are a lot of us who fall somewhere in-between. I write what I want to read. And that’s exactly what this book is.

I'm all for reading and I know some people who read with their husbands, so if there are husbands/boyfriends/male readers reading this, why should they read SECRETS OF A (SOMEWHAT) SUNNY GIRL and what will be their biggest takeaway from it?
My husband reads most of my books, but he never tells me what he thinks, aside from, “It was good.” But I do have several male friends who read my books—we’re talking married men in their late 40s/early 50s. They all say the same thing—they feel like they get a look inside the female brain. However much we might feel like we’re an open book, we still mystify men on a regular basis. But don’t worry, ladies. I didn’t give away all our secrets. I would never!

October 16, 2018
Women's Literature | Contemporary Romance

As sisters, they tell each other all their secrets…except one.

With divorce and infidelity hanging from nearly every branch of her family tree, Katherine Fuller sees no point in marriage. Boyfriends? Sure. Sex? Of course. Wedding vows? No, thanks. Still, when her younger sister Amy gets engaged, Katherine gathers all the enthusiasm she can. She won't let Amy down. She's done enough of that for a lifetime.

As the sisters embark on wedding plans, Katherine's college love resurfaces. It nearly killed Katherine to part from sexy Irish musician Eamon more than a decade ago, but falling under his spell a second time forces her to confront everything she hid from him. The secrets surrounding her mother's death are still fresh and raw in her mind, but one has haunted her more than the others. She can't bear to tell anyone, especially not Amy. It could ruin far more than a wedding. It could destroy a sister's love forever.

Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. An early preoccupation led her to spend her twenties working her way from intern to executive in the music industry. Now she’s a married mom of two and instead of staying up late in rock clubs, she gets up before dawn and writes sexy, contemporary fiction—big city love stories and rock star romance.

Follow Karen
Website | Facebook | @KarenBooth | Google+ | Goodreads | Pinterest

Talk Supe


  1. Thanks for sharing Braine. She is a new to me author and I was happy to learn a bit about her.

  2. I definitely need to try her and thanks for sharing this and congrats Karen on the new book!

  3. I need to read this. I want a book that makes me feel all the feels and that covers the relationships of women in a positive way. Thanks for this post, Braine.

  4. I've recently been enjoying the CR/WF mash-ups and love the women's relationships that are emphasized more in this one.
    Nice to learn a bit more background about Karen's writing and this book. :)

  5. Fabulous interview and congratulations on the new book.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  6. Never heard of this author, but her work sounds impressive, and verey cool to be able to release so many books in a year! Hugs...RO

  7. Hello There and Happy National Pumpkin Day! RO

  8. Great interview Braine, I enjoy women's fiction and this sounds delightful.

  9. New author for me. That's a good amount of books to get out each year.

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