Karen Sandler is a busy lady! She’s published over 18 novels in romance and SF YA, and now her brand new thriller, CLEAN BURN, with Exhibit A, will be out on August 27th! Please give her a warm welcome, and be sure to check out the giveaway details at the end of the post, because we’ve got a copy of CLEAN BURN up for grabs!
Karen, you’ve written everything from YA SF to Romance, and now you’ve got a brand new thriller coming out in August, CLEAN BURN! Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
My realization that I wanted to be a writer came in the fourth grade when I was 9 years old. I wrote a four-line poem about a pony named Tony (complete with illustration) and the light bulb came on. I was a pretty practical kid and knew I needed a “day job” to support myself while working toward getting published. So I ended up getting a BA in math with a minor in physics and then an MS in computer science. I worked as a software engineer for several years before I finally sold my first book.
Will you tell us about CLEAN BURN and what inspired you to write it?
In CLEAN BURN, I wanted to take what I’d learned about characterization in the course of writing 17 romances and apply it to a grittier genre. The result was private investigator Janelle Watkins, a woman with a weighty back story who despite her better judgment, jumps into her past, both emotionally and romantically.
The book actually started out as a screenplay. I’d hoped to write a script that was simple enough and with enough local settings that I could co-produce with a director friend of mine. The movie project never got off the ground, so I thought I’d try the story as a novel.
What do you admire most about your heroine, Janelle Watkins, and why should we root for her?
I like her inner strength. Despite the childhood she had to endure, despite some of the actions she’s taken and experiences she’s indulged in, she has a good heart. She hasn’t entirely overcome the pain of her past, but she’s learning to grow and trust bit by bit. I think that’s worth rooting for.
What are a few of your favorite mystery/suspense titles?
Easier to name authors than titles. Dick Francis, Robert Crais, Lee Child, Agatha Christie, James Rollins. I’m sure there are more, but these are top of mind. They do a fantastic job with character, which is what draws me to any fiction book. I’m a bit squeamish about gore, so I sometimes flip quickly through those parts.
What’s one of the earliest books you can remember reading?
Well, other than Dr. Seuss, the first “novel” that comes to mind is Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I’m an absolute horse nut and have re-read this one countless times.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
This seems like an impossible question to answer! I went strolling through my myriad bookshelves looking for the right book. The best I could come up with was The Call of the Wild by Jack London. I love that book.
When you’re not working on your next project, how do you like to spend your free time?
I love to read, of course. I also ride horses and enjoy international folk dancing, particularly English country dance.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on the second book of the Janelle Watkins series.
About CLEAN BURN:
Private investigator Janelle Watkins swore off investigating child abductions four years ago, when she left the San Francisco PD.
But when two clients beg for her help, one to find her missing 11-year-old son and the other to find a toddler who’s vanished, Janelle can’t say no. Even though it means returning to the scene of her nightmares – her hometown of Greenville.
Janelle enlists the aid of her ex-partner and ex-lover, Greenville County Sheriff Ken Heinz – but in the midst of their investigation, two other children are discovered missing and connected to Greenville.
Then Ken’s niece disappears on her way to school.
Janelle and Ken find themselves in a race against the clock. Will they find the missing children in time, or will history repeat itself?
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