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?
I’m Terri Karsten and I’m pushing 65.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in San Francisco, Californiaand grew up in the Bay Area. At 18, longing for adventure and convinced that California must be the most boring place in the world, I went away to college in Iowa. Believe me, I experienced culture shock! But I found I really like the Midwest. I’ve lived in Winona, MN since 1981.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Although I have retired from full-time teaching (middle school and high school English), I still work one day a week as a writing coach in a local high school. My husband and I have a blended family with five grown children and seven delightful grandchildren. And lucky for us, for the first time in ten years, all the children and grandchildren live in the United States, in the same time zone.I live with my husband in Winona, MN in a 100-year-old house, not far from the Mississippi River. However, with such a big, scattered family, we travel often.
I have a lot of education (A BA in French and linguistics, a BS in French and English education, and a MA in Linguistics, plus dozens of random courses in history, women’s studies, and reading.) I’m a strong believer in life-long education.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
In writing news, in 2019 I published an anthology with 59 contributors from all over the world. The book is called Lost and Found: Tales of Things Gone Missing, and contains stories and poems that range from very dark to light and humorous on the theme.
In early 2020 I plan to release my first picture book, a Japanese folktale.
On the more personal side, I just got back from a fantastic vacation in China. I hope the jet lag goes away before this interview comes out.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in 2nd Grade. My teacher made us write a short story. I wrote about a little girl who wanted a dog. Obviously, I wanted a dog. I didn’t get a dog, but my story girl did. I realized writers are very powerful. They can make things turn out the way they ought to.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote off and on throughout elementary and high school, mostly short stories and scripts for TV shows I liked. But I didn’t really think of myself as a writer until in my mid-twenties when I sold a story to Highlights for Children. There is something about getting paid for the work that made me feel validated.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I’m going to talk about my first published novel here, which is not the first book I wrote. Those earlier novels were just for practice. My first published novel is called A Mistake of Consequence. It is historical fiction (my favorite genre) about a young woman, kidnapped off the docks of Edinburgh and sold as an indentured servant in the American Colonies. I was inspired to write the book after I read a letter from a young woman written in the 18th century to her father back in England. The poor woman was complaining to him about her indenture and begging him to at least send her some clothes. I became intrigued by the idea of indenture and did a lot of research on the subject. Callie Beaton’s story came out of that research.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles are hard. This novel had several working titles throughout the drafting stages. At one point I called it One Bastard Too Many, but that struck me as off-putting to my potential audience. Another potential title was In a Tattered Dress, but that seemed to place the book too much in the romance category. The title, A Mistake of Consequence, comes from the first line of the book and from a sense of 18th century dialect. I think titles take as much thought and consideration as the rest of the manuscript.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write many different things, from creative non-fiction to fantasy to historical fiction. The thing that marks them all is the amount of research that goes into any book. I want my historical fiction to accurately portray an average person’s life in a particular eraand place. Even my fantasy relies heavily on research to create a believable world.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In most of my writing, I’m creating or re-creating a world I have not lived in. When recreating the past, I strive to get it right. I’ve done a great deal of historic re-enactment, so I know from personal experience what stays feel like, how to cook over an open fire, and how the hem of a long dress wicks up the dew on the way to the outhouse. However, I never lived in the 18th century, so I rely on reading personal accounts from a period to fill in the blanks.
I think there is a little bit of me in most of my protagonists. (I’m certainly just as stubborn as Callie Beaton.) The personality traits of my characters are created from a mash-up of all the people I’ve ever known and every character I’ve ever read about.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t have to travel to write my stories, but I certainly enjoy doing so. My next novel is set in a tavern in Colonial Pennsylvania. A road trip through rural Pennsylvania visiting 18th century taverns helped me envision the setting.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover of A Mistake of Consequence comes from a 1890’s engraving of the docks in Philadelphia, which is where Callie landed. I chose the engraving and had it cropped to hide the flag of the new United States of America, since the story takes place before the Revolution. I had a lot of input, but the cover was actually designed by Abbott Press, the self-publishing arm of Writer’s Digest. Igave them back-cover copy and told them to use an 18th century, readable font for the title.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want readers to recognize that women in all eras and in all situations have and always have had at least some agency in their own lives. Circumstances, social attitudes, and even laws may put up many obstacles, but women can still make important decisions that shape their destinies.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My favourite authors are Lindsey Davis, Elizabeth Peters and Diane Gabaldon. In each case, I’m struck by how much I care about the characters and how real the setting is. While reading their books, I feel transported to another world, another time.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Writers’ Institute at UW Madison has been extremely supportive. I’ve attended their conference for many years, first as a novice writer, and more recently as a speaker. They offer something for writers at every stage.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Sort of, though not a very lucrative one. I love it when people buy and read my books, but I would write them even if no one bought them.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I’m very happy with how it turned out.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Mainly that writing, formatting, and dealing with other writers is a lot of work, but well worth the effort.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I would be delighted if A Mistake of Consequence was turned into a film, but I have no idea who should play the lead. I read a lot more than I watch films. Perhaps some new, as yet undiscovered actor would be best.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Don’t give up. Your story is worth telling.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I hope you enjoy the book. I’d love to hear from you.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson and Highland Blood by Melanie Karsak (I often read more than one book at a time- one for daytime reading, one at my bedside.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first chapter book I read was A Boy of the Lost Crusade by Agnes Danforth Hewes. My second grade teacher told me it was too hard for me, so I had to prove her wrong. I loved the story, and credit it with the beginning of my love for historical fiction.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My grandchildren make me laugh. The youngest four are all under the age of three. They say and do the funniest things.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would like to meet Abigail Adams. She was an amazing, practical woman with strong opinions. I think a conversation with her would be both lively and enlightening.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I love hiking and traveling. I also experiment with historical cookery. It’s really fun deciphering a recipe written 300 years ago and then producing a delicious dish from it.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch a lot of TV or films. I have enjoyed Downton Abbey immensely. Also Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Firefly.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Celtic folk music is my favorite. A jig or a reel on fiddle and bodhran really gets the feet tapping.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I can’t imagine such a thing. I’d probably go crazy.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I would want to spend time with all of my children, hiking in the woods or along a beach.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She found the road less travelled.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Amazon Authors Page USA https://www.amazon.com/Terri-Evert-Karsten/e/B00CMAKCZE?ref