Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Member Spotlight: Karlene Blakemore-Mowle

Karlene Blakemore-Mowle's debut novel, Fallout is released tomorrow, published by The Wild Rose Press. Here Karlene answers a few questions about her writing and the novel.

You joined NVWG at the beginning of 2009, and then quickly joined Romance Writers of Australia, and now you are a published author. Tell us about your journey to publication.

I guess it started way back when I used to day dream and make up stories as a kid. I used to devour Mills and Boon as a young adult and put pen to paper- literally as I had no computer, when I knew the kind of stories I liked to read and couldn’t find a steady enough stream of them to get my hands on. I upgraded to an electronic typewriter, and then finally a computer a few years later. I undertook a correspondence writing course prior to having my children and entered a few short stories into competitions, but didn’t manage to do any good and then once I started having children, I didn’t have time for writing and gave it away for the next few years. I then discovered it all over again and sat down to finish my first manuscript, submitting it to Mills and Boon and receiving a request for a full ms only for it to be returned with a helpful list (a mile long) of areas that needed improvement. I had no idea what I was doing and can only imagine how terrible the punctuation and formatting must have been back then!
I had more children and once again, my writing took a back seat to real life. I finally got serious again and entered the Valerie Parv competition about five years ago, and then sat down to produce five more manuscripts with no idea what to do with them.
I spent the next few years sending out submissions and getting rejected, developing the tough skin you need to keep going in this business until one unbelievably wonderful morning I opened an email from an editor in America and my life changed over night!!!!

Where did the idea for Fallout come from?

I wrote Fallout with a competition in mind, I can’t even remember what competition it was now.
I’d been talking to a friend who is a police officer, and he was telling me about a near miss he’d had looking into the end of a shotgun as he walked through a front door while on the job and it got me thinking about how these guys lay their lives on the line day in and day out.
I’d always written about military heroes and still have a huge soft spot for them, but then I got thinking what if I had a female hero who did the same kind of dangerous job as a soldier? How would they react to each other? And then I thought, what if they were forced to depend on each other, forced to accept help from each other in order to survive?

Can you give us a sneak peek from your book, maybe something from your favourite scene?

It took a few minutes to get his head around the fact that Tully kept a gun in her kitchen, not something most women did and not just any gun but a Glock 22, 40 calibre, semi-automatic pistol. Even he, who had until recently lived and worked around guns, had never had one just laying around his house like this.

Gently he slid the pistol from its holster and pulled the slide back to check it. He clenched his jaw, irritated to discover it was loaded and ready to fire. Popping the magazine catch, the mag slid easily from the handle and he gave it a cursory examination, noting it was full.

He looked up to find her watching him from the doorway, her eyes focused on the weapon, her body tense and alert.

"Tully, why do you keep a gun in your kitchen?" he asked with a calmness he was far from feeling.

"Do you make a habit of going through your neighbour's kitchen drawers?" Her eyes flashed, although her voice was quiet.

He was not imagining the threat of anger that lay beneath her words. "I was looking for a spoon," he justified, beneath her rapidly cooling gaze.

Taking a step closer, she took the gun from his hand and brushed past him. Retrieving the magazine from where he'd sat it on the bench she slammed it home into the handle with practised ease, expertly checking the chamber before re-holstering the weapon. She shut the drawer with just a fraction more force than was needed.

Holding up his hands before him in a gesture meant to placate, Jake jumped in before she began what he was sure would be another speech about respecting her privacy.

"I wasn't being nosey, but now that we're here I'm really curious as to why you keep a loaded Glock in your kitchen?"

It frustrated him, the lack of respect some people continued to show toward weapons, ignoring the fact that these things were designed to kill. No wonder gun lovers were given such a bad name.

"What part of ‘mind your own business’ are you a bit fuzzy on, Jake?" she snapped.

"The part," he said, leaning close and ignoring the sweet, alluring scent of her, "Where I find my neighbour has a semi-automatic pistol in her house. That tends to make me more than a little edgy."

Any advice for aspiring writers?
Just keep writing. With every piece you write you can see it improving. And keep searching for publishers- the smaller ones seem to have editors who genuinely care about your work and will bend over to help you with it.

How did you find the revision process?
Amazing. I was so lucky that my editor had the patience to help me through it each step of the way. I have worked with her now on two projects and while it can sometimes be frustrating when she points out areas that need a big overhaul, she has always been incredibly supportive and always has the stories best interest at heart- even if at times my ego takes a beating in the process!!! But the reward is that the story comes out looking its very best.

What's next for Karlene Blakemore-Mowle, published author?
Well funny you should ask!! Just this morning I was told of a second book, Operation Summer Storm, I’d submitted to TWRP had been contracted and this time in print!! So I’m over the moon about that. It was my very first completed manuscript I’d written ten years ago, and is my very favourite. I just love these characters and if I never had another thing published after this- I can honestly say I wouldn’t care, this is the book I’ve always dreamt of having in print and I can rest easy now my dream has come true.
I also submitted to the Friday Pitch with Allen and Unwin two weeks ago and received a request for a full manuscript of a rural romance I’d written and am waiting now – almost sick with waiting of any news! But I’m not getting too excited yet, if anything comes of you I’ll let you know!

Fallout is available as an e-book from The Wild Rose Press here.