Friday, 30 September 2016

FridayLiTerview wth the multi-talented writer, nurse, martial artist and baker Karen Tomlinson (we're so jealous)

Hey everyone,
 This week we're getting all up close and literal with Karen Tomlinson. She 's a wonderful person (she let me have a copy of her latest book, A Bond of Venom and Magic, I'll share my review with you guys soon), but I do have one problem with her: the woman has such an envy-inducing bio! She can write, she can decorate cakes and she can kick your butt. No body has a right to have so many talents.
 Take a look.

Karen Tomlinson is the author of The Goddess and the Guardians series of Young Adult fantasy books.

Karen has always been an avid reader. Her taste in books is eclectic but she likes nothing better than an exciting fantasy, set in a new and magical world. She lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, twin girls and her dalmatian, Poppy. Karen trained as a nurse and currently works as a resuscitation and clinical skills trainer, this involves training a wide variety of health care professionals and medical students in acute patient care. In addition to writing, and reading whenever she can, Karen likes to keep active. She has been training at Shotokan karate since being thirteen, likes walking, mountain biking and (for something completely different) cake decorating. She is currently working on book two in The Goddess and the Guardians series.
About me!
As soon as I could read I spent hours getting lost in the new worlds books could give me. Spending my pocket money had to be done (obviously) but not on sweets, well, not manyI spent my money on books. Back then it was Enid Blytons Famous Five which sparked my young mind. I didnt rest until I had the whole set, then I migrated to the secret seven(there was no Harry Potter then)  As a teenager I would trawl through all my mum and dads discarded books. It was probably highly inappropriate for a thirteen year old to be reading swoony Mills and Boon romances followed by Ian Flemming, Alistair Maclean and Wilbur Smith!
Because I read anything and everything I could get my hands on back then, I now have an eclectic taste in books. I will read anything that catches my eye and absolutely love illustrated book covers! In my late teens I discovered fantasy and that genre has stayed my firm favourite. I am and will always remain a complete sucker for a fantasy with kick ass characters and worlds steeped in magic and romance!

1. When did you first fall in love with books?
Ooh, my love of books goes back as far as I remember! My favourites as a child were Enid Blytons Famous Five books. I used to save my pocket money up and managed to buy the whole series. I moved onto the Secret seven after that but didnt enjoy them as much. When my mum did her weekly shop I used to go to the book shop across from the supermarket and sit and read. About that time-I dont know- maybe eleven/twelve years old I discovered my dads Ian Flemming and Wilbur Smith books, and my mums Mills and Boon romances. So even though it was probably inappropriate that was my teenage reading material. Now I will read anything and everything, although fantasy is my favourite. I love books-some more than others, but even if a book and its characters dont grab my heart I always try and finish it.
2. I wonder if you have a favourite writing spot, you know, that magical spot where you feel so relaxed that the ideas just come flooding in?
I wish I did! Unfortunately my life is really busy so I write whenever and wherever I can. I dont necessarily think this is a bad thing as I find inspiration and ideas from watching people go about their lives or listening to the world around me. That being said I actually like sitting on my bed and writing. I cant listen to music to write like lots of other authors, I like quiet to think. Thats one of the down sides to writing when Im out and about, although I am getting better at blocking out noise now.

3. What are your hobbies?
I have been training in Shotokan Karate since I was thirteen. I have had the past year off after I won the World Organisation of Mixed Martials Arts world games 2015 for Kata in my class. I hurt my thumb after doing a jump that landed badly. It is more or less better but I have been busy with pursuing my writing more seriously this year, to return to my club although I practise at home. I love to decorate cakes too when I get the time. Heres a few Ive done. I also love mountain biking and walking in the peak district national park near my home 
with my family and Dalmatian- poppy- and of course, reading! 

4. Whats your personal style? You know, when it comes to clothes and even your writing.
. I am still finding my personal writing styleor voiceas many people call it.
Clothes wise- I actually dont have a wardrobe at the mo. My clothes are in boxes as I have recently taken out my wardrobe to make room for some stairs to a loft room. I am a jeans and t-shirt girl most of the time, but love to get dressed up and go out feeling good, you know curl my hair and stick some high heels on

5. What led you to self-publishing your books? Any special reasons?

Yes. I got disillusioned with the amount of time it took to get answers from literary agents. Not only that, the more writing and author groups I joined the more I realised they all said the same thing-- it is a chance in a million someone will want to represent you, or that your 
work is what they are looking for. I persevered for a while, but found the time and effort of changing each submission letter in detail to follow each lit agent submission guidelines extremely frustrating and almost impossible with working full time and writing too. After applying to 30 agents and getting probably fifteen or so rejections over about seven months I began to look into self-publishing. I did not want to waste all the effort and time and hard work that had gone into writing my book. It seemed a huge mountain to climb but I began to follow other authors that had done it and were successful, sohere we are!
6. If you could come back as a character from a classic book, who would it be?
Easy for me-- it would be Lizzie Bennet From pride and prejudice. I love Mr Darcy.and also I love the dresses they used to wear (slightly impractical for karate and mountain biking though!)
7. What are your top five books of all time?
Really hard for me to answer this one as I love so many booksso Im not going to try and pick 5.
Ok so I suppose my hard back set of Lord of the Rings is one of my favourites. I love the artwork in them, but even though I love the story I found the triology hard to read’ especially when I was younger; and Wilbur Smiths River God has always been a favourite of mine,mainly because of the character Taita (I think thats how you spell it). My most recent favourites are the Game of Thrones (of course-huge fantasy geek here) series and anything by SJ Maas. I just love her style of writing. Another author whose books I have enjoyed recently, and one whom helped spur me onto self-publishing, is Elise Kova. I really enjoyed her Air Awakens series which is YA fantasy.

8. Have you ever been to a book festival? What was it like? Yes. I have been to several. Im still trying to decide if I like them. Although I have picked up the occasional useful piece of infoI find many people at book festivals to be elitist in their views about books and sometimes I dont enjoy the festivals. I have even left early on occasion.

9. What is the most important writing advice you ever received?

  I listen carefully to what more experienced authors have to say. But from my own experience, and theirs, I have to say- tell your own story, 
with your own characters in the way you wish to tell it. When I was looking for an agent I did my best to change my story to try and fit with what they said they were looking for. This never story lost its own voice and I ended up losing connection with my 
characters.just do your own thing; but keep writing until your story is complete, then edit, edit, edit. Take what your beta readers say on the chin and fix the problems then edit, edit, edit. But whatever you do-if you love writing dont give up!

Karen's latest book A Bond of Venom and Magic is out October 14th 2016.