RONE Awards Finalist: Karla Brandenburg

I was over-the-moon excited when my book Diamond in the Rough was announced as a finalist for the RONE award. One of the cool things about the award is that it has introduced me to new authors, so I invited some of them to share some info with my readers about their own books. Join me in welcoming Karla Brandenburg today!

In what genre did you begin writing? I was aiming for action/suspense with my first novel, but it turned into romantic suspense. I’ve always been a sucker for a good romance and I couldn’t seem to keep it out of the story.

How has your writing/genre evolved from that time? Now that I’ve embraced my genre, I take aim solidly. I write in two genres, romantic suspense and romance with paranormal subplots. My current series has ghostly supporting characters.

How long did it take from beginning to write seriously to seeing your book published? For the first book? I started writing it in 1998. I didn’t actually publish until 2002, but I also went through a divorce and then met and married my present husband during that period.

What prompted you to write for publication? It was one of those moments when you read someone else’s book and say “I can write better than that.” And then the “million dollar idea” (ok, so it wasn’t worth a million dollars, but you get the gist) struck.

Tell me about the moment when you realized you were a “real writer.” I’d say it was when I finished that first book. I’d been writing stories all my life, but I’d never put in the time and energy to organize them or do more than put pen to paper. With that first book, I dedicated the time to learning the craft, following a theme, writing and editing to make it right instead of just letting my imagination out for a walk.

What did you do with your first royalty check? Well, this goes to who I am. I’m a penny pincher, tight-fisted tightwad. I banked it.

What book (that you wrote or read) had the biggest impact on you? The one I read was Dragonfly in Amber, and then Outlander after that. Those books moved me to travel to Scotland, in spite of the cold and the icky food and all the rest of the negatives. It was a very dark period in my personal life and those books reached out to me as a means of escape from my everyday life (which I needed at that time.) Later, when I wrote Heart for Rent, with an Option, it was a way of letting go of some pent up emotions of my own. It probably isn’t my best work, but that was a book that helped me work through some personal demons.

Tell me about the inspiration for your RONE finalist book. I had so much fun writing Cookie Therapy! It is one in a series of a family of friends (the Northwest Suburbs series). In the second book in the series, I introduced two somewhat unlikeable characters. People had such a visceral response to one of them, that I knew I had to redeem in her in the third book, and because I had so much fun with her, Cookie Therapy was my attempt to redeem the other unlikeable character from that book, a cheating boyfriend. I paired him off with a klutzy victim, someone with secrets of her own.

Tell me about the moment you found out your book was chosen as a finalist for the RONE award. There must be some mistake! This is a popularity contest! Except it isn’t. I actually had to double check how I’d made the finals, and it was because of the fabulous review I’d gotten (5 stars!) that qualified me. Cookie Therapy was also nominated for the Booklife Prize for Fiction and I made the finals there, as well. Glowing with pride that I was able to create something other people enjoy reading!

What book are you the most proud of, and why? Cookie Therapy is one of my favorites, to be sure. I was able to create multilayered personalities for my main characters, and give them a worthy supporting cast. The fact that it has received critical acclaim helps, and I have another book that won an award, but yeah, Cookie Therapy is probably the one I’m most proud of.

If you could take a vacation with any of your characters, who would you choose and where would you go? A lot of my stories stem from vacations, so technically, I’ve already traveled to places with my characters, or I created them from those places. One of my favorites was Heart for Rent, strolling through a French market in Aix-en-Provence (I’d go back there in a heartbeat), and another is New Orleans. Although Jared (The Twins) isn’t from the city, he did give me a deeper appreciation for Southern Louisiana by appearing in my book.

You suddenly find out that you have an entire day free – what are you going to do? Write. Or Read. I’ve scheduled vacations just for these purposes. I also like to walk to ruminate on ideas. Then, of course, there is the “visiting” thing. I feel guilty if I don’t use free time to catch up with those people I care most about, so if I have the entire day? I’ll run out to visit people who can’t get out to see me.

Anything else you’d like to tell me about your writing? My latest book came out in July – THE MIRROR is the third in the EPITAPH series and I’m busily working on the fourth one, which will probably have a January/February release date.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Karla! I enjoyed our chat.

Readers, if you want to know more about Karla, pop over to her website: https://www.karlabrandenburg.com

And if you want to check out Cookie Therapy, you can find it at any of these retailers:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cookie-Therapy-Northwest-Suburbs-Brandenburg-ebook/dp/B01CBW4J56

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cookie-therapy-karla-brandenburg/1123476014

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/cookie-therapy

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/cookie-therapy/id1088691848?mt=11