Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Karen Wasylowski and I‘d rather not give my age. I feel 35. I never minded turning 30, or 40, or even 50 – but past that has been a shock. I am in denial.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Me: Chicago, Illinois
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Me: My father, Sven Hamrin, was an immigrant from Falun, Sweden, and my mother Rose’s parents were immigrants from Sicily. I used to say my Swedish relatives thought I was half crazy, and my Italian relatives thought I was half dead. My parents were complete opposites in temperament as you can imagine. Columbus Day usually ended in an argument about Leif Erickson and who really discovered America first.
I had a wonderful childhood in Chicago, great parents, one brother, Michael, older, now a grandpa living in Wauwatosa Wisconsin. I received my Bachelors Degree from Loyola University after attending weekend college for three years, my CPA after a few test attempts, then went to work as an accountant. I was awful. I am terrible with details and I rush – two very bad traits for my chosen profession. Because of that I worked at literally dozens of dreadful places -at one the owner was convicted for filing false financial statements, at another the owner was famously psychotic, made all the women cry, had even been profiled in Psych books. He owned a chemical company and blew up a building. Another man I worked for referred to himself in the third person… “Bill Green will be out of the office.” “Bill Green has a cold.” “Bill Green wants you to work Saturday.” The list went on and on and on.
Finally, I ended up working at Rotary International in Evanston, Illinois. The best thing to come from that position was my husband, Richard.He was a supervisor and I was one of the accountants – the bad one, again. I was living with my mom at the time and she was just beginning to show signs of Alzheimer’s. By the time Rich and I married she was pretty bad. Many nights we’d wake up with her standing at the foot of the bed. Sometimes she became violent, other times she would fix us a tray of food: cheese, brillo pads and a shoe. Honestly, you had to laugh or you’d just cry. My husband was, and is, the kindest, best person in the world. He helped me care for her like he was her son for three years before she passed away.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Me? Nothing too much. Struggling through Book Four of the sequels to my original book, Darcy and Fitzwilliam – a continuation of Pride and Prejudice.
There have been ‘Sons and Daughters, Book I’, ‘Wives and Lovers – Book II’, ‘Saints and Sinners – Book III’… I toyed with the idea of naming Book IV ‘Death and Dismemberment’, but changed my mind. It’s called ‘Love and Madness’, because everyone goes a bit bonkers when they finally fall in love.
Also,I love to travel; Rich and I have been going to England for the last several years, sailing on the Queen Mary because we don’t fly. Unfortunately, 2019 is an off year because Rich insists we pay off the last trip. Rude. Next year though we’re scheduled to sail again on the QM2 going from New York to Halifax then to Iceland, Scotland and England. I can’t wait, we love crossing the ocean. Imagine how surprised Richie will be when I tell him about the trip.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Me: I only began writing about ten years ago. Rich kept urging me to write so I tried it and loved it. Later I realized this gave him full possession of the TV remote.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Me: When I saw it printed on my tax return.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Me: The 2005 movie of Pride and Prejudice. I really didn’t like it much when I saw it at the theatre. I thought Matthew Macfadyen looked too messy and Keira Knightley sloppy. I adored the 1995 Colin Firth version and the Lawrence Olivier version so I was surprised I didn’t like 2005.
Then something happened. I was watching the movie on TV and something just clicked. There is one scene – Lady Catherine, Darcy, Elizabeth, Collins, Fitzwilliam and Charlotte are dining and Lady Catherine is being her usual obnoxious self– when I noticed Darcy squirming as she harped at Elizabeth. Embarrassed by her he glances at Fitzwilliam, who in turn smirks and looks away. And that was it. Two seconds of film. I loved that little scene; it was so much like an older brother thoroughly enjoying a younger brother’s mortification. I understood both characters completely.
After that everything fell into place. The fact that Darcy’s first name was Fitzwilliam told me his mother’s last name was Fitzwilliam, so that was how he and the Colonel were related – Darcy’s mother was probably Fitzwilliam’s father’s sister. Confusing. Then there is the information that Darcy & Fitz are co-guardians of Georgiana, which led me to believe the three were exceptionally close. And the story was born.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Me: I originally named it “Fitzwilliam” because of the shared names of the two men but the publisher said it was confusing and that no one would want to read about Fitzwilliam if they thought it was just about him. So, I suggested “Darcy and Fitzwilliam.”
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Me: I have absolutely no style whatsoever. I barely have a story. I just write and write until I box myself into a corner and no longer like the story I’m writing, which forces me to delete and delete and start again. Absolutely terrifying.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Me: Very little. There is only one line in Darcy and Fitzwilliam. Fitzwilliam is talking about his bride and tells Darcy, “I have never argued so much in my entire life.” That comment was made to us by a nephew of ours at his wedding. Unfortunately, that marriage didn’t last.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Me: I read a lot about the time period, research articles and Google is my best friend.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Me. The first cover was designed at Sourcebook Publishing, the other three by The Killion Group. They also prepare it for submission.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Me: There is a line from Lady Catherine to Fitzwilliam that I believe: “Character is revealed in the dark.”
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Me: I love Carla Kelly. The heroes she writes are brilliant and although they may not possess a sixpack, they are sexy in a different way. Also, I like Bernard Cornwell, Sandra Brown, Greg Iles, and lots more. I favour women writers on the whole though. I think they are kinder to the heroine then male writers are.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Me: I can’t think of anyone who even knew I was doing it. I never thought I would be published – that was a huge surprise.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Me: No, just imagination and fun.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Me: No. I never go back to a book once it’s published. When my time with those characters are over I miss them so much – but, if I ever looked at any of the books after they’re published I would go crazy with all the mistakes I see, or new ideas I get, or new phrasing. But, then the fantasy is over for me and my friends, the characters, are gone.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Me: I love to research events from the time period I’m writing. In the last book, Saints and Sinners, there is a terrible accident at an ice-skating pond with adults and children falling through the cracking ice. This really happened in London a few years after the occurrence in my book. In the actual accident there were several deaths. I also learned about The Trent Affair.The United States and England nearly came to blows again over a packet ship from Englandthat was seized by America. They were smuggling two Confederate sympathizers across the Atlantic in their attempt to stir up support for the South in the War Between the States. The United States was already upset with England for helping the South build ships, and England was furious with the states for suddenly blockading any shipping in the Atlantic. In the end, Prince Albert (almost on his deathbed, although no one realized it at the time) managed to calm everyone, much to Lincoln’s relief. As Abe said regarding the Civil War, “One war at a time is enough.” Even Lord Palmerston was impressed, again, by Albert’s leadership.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Me: My ideal would be a young Matthew Macfadyen as the young Darcy in Darcy and Fitzwilliam, then Colin Firth as the middle-aged Darcy through the next three books. I always think of Brendan Gleeson as Fitzwilliam – adorable, charming… huge.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Me: Read and write something you’d like to read yourself.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Me: Yes. I apologize to anyone who purchased Darcy and Fitzwilliam based on the description the Sourcebooks editor wrote for the back cover, making my book sound like yet another Elizabeth and Darcy variation. Nothing in her description had anything to do with my story. I wanted to cry. There was no mention of the “bromance” – the friendship and love between the two cousins that is the basis (odd because that was the selling point for them to publish, it hadn’t been explored before), nothing about the humour in it that she had found to be “wicked funny”. When the book came out, I was slammed with angry women furious that the story wasn’t the retelling of Pride and Prejudice as promised – and I don’t blame them. They were led astray by what the Editor wrote. Worst of all, when I pointed out to her that the description she provided had nothing to do with my book, she shrugged it off, said it didn’t matter. I could still cry about it.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Me: “Ice” by Linda Howard
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Me: It was probably Nancy Drew Gets a Cold or something like that. I do remember the first serious book was very oriental, with a young Japanese heroine in a kimono. I wanted one of those so much after I read that book.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Me: I am a laugher by nature and so is my husband so we laugh a lot. I cry during Humane Society commercials, anything about abuse of animals or children.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Me: Jesus – and the why is obvious.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Me: Travel, writing, eating
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Me: I love Masterpiece – Victoria, Endeavor, Sherlock, Professor T. I love Doc Martin, cable series like Succession, Years and Years, (I hate to admit it but I love The Purge and Walking Dead) Get Shorty, Who Do You Think You Are…
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Me: Pizza and wine, chocolate candy (not chocolate cake), Chicago beef sandwiches; all music especially Bonnie Raitt, George Harrison, Adele, Lady Gaga, Shania Twain, Patsy Cline, The Traveling Wilburys, Sarah Brightman, Tina Turner, Dean Martin, Bare Naked Ladies, Childish Gambino “This is America” and on and on
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Me: I’d love to travel more, just sail away for the remaining years.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Me: At the risk of sounding corny – in the arms of my husband.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Me: Died from not forwarding a chain letter email to ten people.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Me: Just my booksite – www.wasylowski.com
Link to my books: Author Page USA : author.to/KarenWasylowski