Sasee Chats with Author Karen White

By Leslie Moore

One of my greatest joys is to lose myself for a few hours in a world created by one of my favorite writers – and one of those writers is the lovely Karen White. I spent a very pleasant half hour talking with Karen who graciously agreed to share a little about her writing with us.

I asked this popular and prolific writer why she chose to write about the south – even though she’s not a southerner by birth. Karen’s father was an executive with Exxon and the family lived all over the world while Karen was growing up. “My parents are both from Mississippi,” Karen began, “and I spent every summer in Mississippi with my grandmother.” Those lazy summers in a small southern town gave Karen a southern identity that has stayed with her throughout her life. “I was always considered an insider, everyone knew me because of my grandmother, but because I didn’t live there full time I could see the nuances and differences of being from the south which is great for a writer.”

“I don’t write any particular genre,” Karen told me when I asked her about the differences in her more than two dozen published novels. “I grew up reading everything from Stephen King to Victoria Holt to James Michener. I just want to tell a good story, like the kind of story I like to read. And I love the paranormal – a lot of my books have a little glimmer of that. I try not to pay attention to genre, rather I write about flawed characters that people can relate to and set the story in the south.”

Karen laughed and shared with me that her dad told her and her three brothers ghost stories as bedtime stories when she was a child. “I would get so scared I’d sleep under my brother’s bed! I remember what scared me as a child and rarely have to research that for my books – if you look in a mirror and see someone looking back at you – that is scary!”

I was surprised when Karen told me she never liked to write as a child. “I didn’t understand why until I learned to type in the 10th grade. I finally realized why writing was so painful; my slow handwriting could never keep up with the ideas flowing in my head. My thoughts would be on Chapter 3 while I was still trying to write the first sentence by hand!” And with two older and one younger brother, Karen didn’t dare keep a journal. “It would have been social suicide if my brothers had gotten my diary and taken it to school.”

The one thing Karen missed growing up was having a sister. “I have only written one book with a living brother. All of my characters are only children or have sisters. I loved listening to my mother and my aunts talk growing up and always wanted a sister. That’s why I create sisters in my books.”

Karen still loves to read as much as she did growing up. “It’s funny, as much as I love southern fiction, I can’t read it while I’m writing it,” she told me thoughtfully. “I’ve really gotten into domestic thrillers, like Gone Girl and Girl on a Train. I read everything in that genre I can get my hands on. Kate Morton is one of my favorite authors – she’s amazing, I’ve read everything she’s ever written.”

Even though Karen didn’t live in the south growing up, she now lives in Atlanta with her husband, two children and two beloved Havanese dogs. “I actually met my husband when I lived in London. His sister and I were best friends in high school, and I married her older brother.”

Meet Karen on June 8th at the Moveable Feast to be held at Pawleys Plantation. Her latest novel, Dreams of Falling is set in Georgetown – I know I can’t wait to read it! Reserve your spot by visiting www.classatpawleys.com or by calling 843-235-9600. Meanwhile, visit Karen’s website, www.karen-white.com and sign up for her newsletter. It’s always a fun read, and Karen gives away tons of free stuff to subscribers.

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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