You know how much we love contests here at WU, so when I heard about erotic suspense author–and fellow Writing GIAMer–Karin Tabke’s First Line’s contest, I knew I’d want to announce it here on the site. Then Karin and I started chatting about other things–including the fact that she’ll soon have new works published in not just one but THREE genres. A full-fledged interview was born.
We’re thrilled to have Karin with us to pick her brains about all things writing, maintaining sanity and much more.
Interview with Karin Tabke
Q: Tell us about your journey. How did you get into writing, and writing in the suspense genre in particular?
KT: First of all, I wanted to say thank you, Teri for having me. I’m so excited! Writer Unboxed is a wonderful resource for writers and readers. You ladies do a fabulous job. A lot of hard work. Kudos to you.
[Aww, thanks, Karin!]
So you want to know about my journey? It’s pretty boring actually. I’m a goal orientated person who happens to have, and have had for many years, voices in her head. I cringe when I hear people say that but it’s true. Characters stalk me. I wrote my first romance in high school. Of course it was awful, but you couldn’t have told me at the time. The pages were filled with unrequited love, adventure and villains. It was my way of stirring up what I would call a very normal drama-free life. My parents were happy, my neighborhood was idyllic, and I had a great high school sweetheart. And at the end of the day I was pretty shy. My story woke me up. I liked how I felt writing it. I read voraciously. Then life interrupted. Marriage, kids, started a biz. I wrote my next book 11 years later. Long hand. Again a sweeping love story. But this one had a cop, a really hot cop. How could I not write a hot cop when I was married to one? But, it was the last time I picked up a pen for another 11 years.
Then one day I decided, I want to get published. That was the goal. It took me several manuscripts, hundreds (like 500) of rejections, but in between all of that I understood I had to do my part. A contract was not going to land in my lap. I knew my weaknesses. I needed to understand the business part of publishing but more than that, I needed to understand and learn the basics of writing a good story. So I practiced, and practiced and practiced some more. It never occurred to me to give up.
I joined RWA, then a local chapter, and even though I had an unpleasant experience going to my first chapter meeting and did not want to go back, I knew that I was not there for those people but for myself. I trudged along. Went to a local conference where I knew NO ONE! But, I was there for me and no one else. I didn’t need to know anyone. But as fate would have it Hilary Sares was there. She asked me to send her what I pitched her. She rejected me, but I asked if I could send her something else. Rejection again, but I kept my foot in that door and it hurt!
By now I was getting into a groove. All of my stories had a come thread. Hot cops. Write whatcha know. I also saw a trend emerging in romance. Readers wanted sexier books. So I turned up the heat and wrote a sexy little novella, which I sent to Hilary. She originally rejected STAKEOUT (THE HARD STUFF antho, Kensington), she said it was too raunchy! Okay, my bad guy was raunchy but not my h/h! Anyhow because I had persevered with her, when Kensington came up with the Aphrodisia line she immediately emailed me and asked if it was still available. And although another publisher was making serious noises of interest, I told her, yes it was! The other publisher also made an offer, but Hilary was my girl. I landed an agent shortly thereafter and the rest they say is history!
Q: SKIN is a seriously spicy & smart suspense. What sorts of issues do you have to keep in mind when balancing the heat and the pacing?
KT: Honestly I think of a see-saw when I write. When the emotion is up, the plot action is down, when plot action is up the emotional journey takes a rest. As far as heat goes, I have always written very passionate love stories. With my erotic suspenses I’ve had to get more explicit and think of sexier plots.
Q: What has to happen between the characters in order to create trust and intimacy between them within a relatively short period of time?
KT: A lot! I have a motto: Desperate people do desperate things. Now take these two desperate people, throw in some natural chemistry, bad guys, and voila you have natural combustion!
Q: SKIN’s protagonist, Frankie, is not your average heroine. She’s shot,
nearly hit by a car, sent death threats, shot at again, and even breaks someone’s nose ala head butting. How important is it for you that your characters step out of the box and go beyond what readers might be expecting?
KT: Extremely important. I have never written a heroine that needed to be rescued. So in that, you can see that it is very important to me that they step up. It isn’t remotely possible for me not to have a less then take-charge heroine. In the real world if you act like a victim you get swallowed up. You disappear into the grayness of all of the others who just exist. My heroines live to leap off the page and into your face. It becomes a bit difficult to keep them sexy women at times. I don’t mind my girls breakin’ a few balls, but I don’t want them to be regular ball breakers. At the end of the day they like pedicures and puppies, and for their man to treat them like the ladies they are.
I’d like to add real quick while we’re on the subject of heroines, that my heroine, Isabel of Alethorp, in my debut historical, KISS OF THE KNIGHT, is no shrinking violet either. Even in 1066 England a girl had to do what a girl had to do, and my girl has no compunction taking care of business.
Q: The cast of SKIN is huge, and the plotline is anything but simplistic. How much time do you spend thinking through plot before you sit down to write?
KT: Um with SKIN, even though I had two great brains help me brainstorm the idea, and it percolated for a few months, I rewrote that plot four different times. It took my editor to get all of the kinks out of it and make it gel. The revisions were many but they made sense and the story sang when I realized where I needed to go. I love my editor.
Q: Your website is the perfect mirror for SKIN. But I know you’re busting into two new genres this coming year-paranormal romance and historical romance. How will this affect your marketing strategy? Will you write as Karin Tabke for these different genres?
KT: Argh the M word!! I hate to think of it. I just want to write!! Sigh. When I sold my historicals to Pocket I asked my agent if there was consideration taken in changing my name. She emphatically said, “No! We build on Karin Tabke.” I was happy to hear that. I don’t do the dual personality thing very well. As far as marketing goes I have tried just about everything. And I have come to two conclusions. Much of it is a time suck, and my time is extremely valuable, and secondly and most importantly, my time is best spent writing the best book I can. The proof will be in the story.
I also plan to have my uber web guy add two pages to my site. One will be for my historicals and the other for my paranormals. The covers of these books will also be part of my main website.
Q: How are you managing writing in three different genres at once? What is your process? Do you work on one, finish it, then move to the other? And are you a plotter or a pantser?
KT: In answer to your first question, I am managing. I’m busier then I ever thought I would be, but I am managing. At the end of every day it just comes down to putting my butt in the chair, ignoring the internet and writing the best damn story I can. My brain does not work in such a way that I can work on more than open project at a time. I focus on what is in my deadline schedule and go from there. That isn’t to say if bits and pieces of another story come to me I ignore them. On the contrary. I’m a great note taker. I have notebooks everywhere. I love notebooks.
In my heart I am a panster. But time does not allow me to meander through a story. I always known who my characters are before I begin so that helps. But their story? I have three plotting partners who I rely heavily on to help me sketch the story. From there, at least with my ‘hot cop’ stories, my husband and I work out the details of the plot. He is an immense help to me that way. He’s quite devious.
As you know I write erotic suspense, or ‘ho cops’ as I lovingly refer to those books. I’m very excited about my debut paranormal coming out this January in an Anthology titled WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE, Pocket, with Allison Brennan and Roxanne St.Claire. My story, REDEMPTION is the first book in my Legends of the Fallen series. More ‘hot cops’ but this time with a twist. They are fallen angels. ;)
Here is the blurb from the back cover:
After a fatal car crash, bad boy cop, Zach Garret’s decent into hell is interrupted by an unusual deal for ‘Redemption’. All Zach has to do is return to earth as a warrior sworn to defend his ex-fiancée, Danica Keller, the unknowing keeper of a power coveted by the forces of darkness. But even harder than keeping Danica alive that long is convincing her to give a second chance to the man who once betrayed her.
I loved writing this story! I’m currently working on my first historical, KISS OF THE KNIGHT The first book in The Blood Sword Legacy series. I have never worked so hard on research! But I’ve had a little help from my friends.
The story is set in 1066 England and takes off from page one. It’s sexy and full of suspense. I love the characters, the backdrop, and the passion of this story. My hero is a bastard mercenary Norman knight who makes no excuses for his life by the blood sword. My heroine is the spirited daughter of a slain Saxon nobleman who, when left to face William’s knights has no qualms in taking up arms herself. Can you think of better conflict?
Q: Does any part of the writing process give you trouble, and what do you do to get through it?
KT: I’d like to say I have trouble, yanno not to look like this a breeze, but while writing isn’t a breeze, the biggest part of the process that gives me trouble is outside forces. To deal with them, I ignore them. I have one child left at home. He knows when my head is down and the music is blaring he must have a broken bone or be hemorrhaging coz if it’s anything less his mamma is not gonna look up from the laptop. My husband is a gem. He leaves me to my writing. So actually when I think about it, the one creature that keeps me most from my writing is my cat, Kitty. He somehow thinks the keyboard while I’m working furiously is his sacred napping spot. It breaks my heart to move him aside, especially when he is purring a mile a minute. But alas, to keep him in cat chow he has to move.
Q: Tell us a little about your First Lines contest.
KT: My First Line contest is great! If I do say so myself. Ok, so when you mentioned that M word earlier and I cringed? Well, my initial answer to it was a question I asked myself a long time ago: What can I do to drive traffic to my website and at the same time really give something back? Hmm, well it came to me one day: The First Line Contest. Admittedly it was a marketing ploy. It worked. But since the first contest, it has become a minor obsession with me to use this contest to launch an author.
Want to learn more about the contest? Of course you do, so come on back Monday when we reveal all of the details.
Thank you, Karin, for a great interview! Best of luck juggling genres, and have a blast with your contest. I know our readers love a challenge. Right now their challenge is going to be not sending me hate mail for not telling them more about that contest. :) But Monday will be here soon enough.