Category Archives: Karen Booth

Q&A with Christopher Penman and Claire Abby (from Back Forever By Karen Booth)

I have two very special guests on the blog today – Christopher Penman and Claire Abby from Back Forever, the new book by Karen Booth.  One might say, “Rhonda, have you lost your mind?” (I write a blog. Daily. About being a fan of a band. What do you think?)  “They are characters. Fictional characters….from a BOOK.”   True.  They are characters.  However, aside from the obvious: that they agreed to a short interview and they’re the closest things to celebrity this blog has had as guests in a VERY long time…I would ask that readers think of this:  doesn’t EVERY celebrity play a part for the public? Their “public image”?  I think that for the most part, it is probably incredibly naive to assume that the person we see in interviews on TV or on screen or even on stage is the same person that goes home and takes out the trash.  That alone is a great discussion topic…I digress, because I can’t leave my guests waiting, can I?

Back Forever is a sequel to Bring Me Back, the ultimate rock star/fangirl fairy tale novel.  I’m writing to particularly our female audience here: this duo of books is truly our fantasies come to well, almost life.  Everyone should read them – give yourself permission to stow away for a bit from real life.  Let the laundry and workload pile up around you a bit while you tuck away into the back corner of your mind where you’re secretly dating John Taylor, Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor…or maybe a guitar player. (Not Dom though. He’s taken.  *cough cough cough*)

I asked Karen if it would be alright if I picked through Christopher’s and Claire’s brains a bit, and Karen agreed, which is very special.  I’m sure that as their creator, her connection to Chris and Claire is very special and private, so I appreciate that she’s sharing them with us like this.

As a member of the Christopher Penman fan club, I felt as though we just don’t know enough about CP (as we like to call him)…and really, what makes Claire Abby tick?  How did she get so lucky as to attract Christopher?  Does she pinch herself daily???

I’ll begin with Claire, because let’s face it – we all wish we were her. I grew up wanting to be “That Girl”, and even now – I’m married, I have kids of my own, but yet there’s something special about that rock star fantasy that is difficult to completely put behind me, since I write this blog and all….  So I have to ask you Claire, do you ever stop looking at Christopher as though he was the rock star you grew up admiring?  When do you think he became “human” for you?

Although there are always those “pinch me” moments and I doubt they will ever completely go away, Chris actually became human to me the first day I met him, when he told me about losing the pregnancy with his first wife, Elise. I knew then that he was just as real as I was, just as capable of being hurt as any other person.

This is something that I think can be difficult to reconcile in our heads as fans, that for these guys – being a rock star is their job. It’s their career, and while it’s not quite a 9 to 5, they still have private lives off stage and they’re human.  They’re not caged animals…but that idea should work in the reciprocal as well.  There are moments when I see bands look at their fans as just dollar signs with faces attached.  They don’t really seem to know or care about us as people.  Maybe we ask for that when we scream for them or because of the way we treat them, and maybe that relationship is really only meant to be transactional, I’m not sure.  They can’t obviously know all of us, and it’s unfair to request otherwise.  What about for you, Chris.  Was it difficult to move past the idea that Claire was once a really big fan who had posters of you on her wall?

Have you ever met someone that you were drawn to from the word ‘go’? Because that was the way I felt around Claire. She was so determined at her job, prepared and professional, but I saw this very sweet and vulnerable woman beneath all of that. Taking that into account, part of what helped us click was that I had no idea she was a fan. I had no concerns about ulterior motives. By the time I discovered her astounding vinyl collection, I was knee-deep in infatuation. This might be difficult to understand, but there are times when I can’t imagine her being that teenage girl, hanging pictures of me on her wall. I think the disconnect is that I don’t see myself as that guy in the first place.

Fascinating. I can’t really imagine what that is like since I’ve always been on just “THIS” side of it – I’m simply a fan.  There are times I wonder how I’ll feel when my favorite band decides to hang it up.  As I grow older, I suppose I recognize somewhere down deep that the band is growing older too – and as time passes between albums, I wonder when it will all just stop and how I’ll feel.  For me, I’ve been a fan for over thirty years now. I can’t really remember life before Duran Duran, and now that I blog about being a fan every day – it’s an integral part of who I am. I think at least part of my anxiousness about the next album is that maybe I worry there really won’t be another one.  So, I can imagine just how thrilled Banks Forest fans must be with the idea of the band getting back together and touring once again.  Claire, how are you handling the adjustment?  I mean – you’re looking out at thousands of fans, just like me, screaming for your husband.  Does part of you want to go up on stage and scream “He’s mine!!”?

I won’t lie. The fan thing is weird. I know exactly what those women think because I was one of them. His music is so important to him and it’s important to so many people. If it didn’t exist, I might never have met him—think about that for a minute! I guess the bottom line is that he needs to be doing what he does and the world is better off because of it. We’ll deal with the other stuff that comes along with it if we have to.

The fan thing IS weird, I’ll certainly be the first to say that. If I’d only understood when I was ten what it would feel like at thirty or even forty *cough cough*…I’d like to think I’d have talked myself out of it completely.  What about you, Christopher?  How are you feeling about the band now?  Do you see it all through a different lens now than you did in your 20s?

I love getting back together with the guys and trying to make a go at it, but I know it’s not permanent. I’ll continue to do it as long as we’re making good new music and it’s fun. I don’t want us to turn into a band that knocks out the hits every night and that’s it. We have to keep creating or there’s no point in it for me. I think the rest of the guys feel the same way.

I know of a band that feels the same way….oddly enough.  Might I be the first to suggest that sticking to the hits, while wonderfully nostalgic for many, can also be the thing that drives you crazy in the end?  Sometimes it’s good to switch it all up, just to keep everyone on their toes.  Not that *I* really know.  After all, I’m just a fan!

Alright, last question and then I’ll let you go in peace, I promise.  What about Karen?  How will you both feel about leaving her?  Will  you miss working with her?

“You know we’re just going to make Karen cry if we answer this. Let’s just say that we hope she decides to keep us around, at least in her head.”

Isn’t that the truth? As a fan of not only Chris and Claire but of Karen   and her work – I really hope that when and if she ever feels that there’s a story to tell about these two, or even of Banks Forest, that she shares it with the rest of us.  I know I’ll miss reading about Christopher Penman, Claire Abby and even Banks Forest – because for me, reading the book has been a perfect escape from reality at times, and I look forward to reading whatever comes next for Karen!

Thanks so much, Karen!!

-R

To buy copies of Bring Me Back, the prequel Claire’s Diary and Back Forever, you can click on the pictures below!

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Claire’s Diary is also available as a FREE downloadable file directly from Karen’s site at www.karenbooth.net!!!

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Q & A with Karen Booth

My name is Rhonda and I do not write fiction.  (Sorry Heather, I just couldn’t resist that opening line!) Unlike Heather, and my other good friend that I’m about to introduce, I really cannot spin a good fantasy tale. I can’t put words together to tell a story, and I really cannot use words to fully explain what is going on in my head. (that might be a sign that the world just doesn’t need to know what’s going on in there!) I stand in complete awe of people who can create entire new worlds, characters, plot lines and novels that are so real in their imaginations that they become real for readers.  It’s fascinating to me that within this fan community I have run into more published authors than I did the entire time I was in college.  The creative “gene” runs very, very thick in this extended family of ours, and I’m proud to be able to support the brilliant creative geniuses amongst us.

If you’re a Duranie that enjoys a good book and you haven’t checked out Bring Me Back by Karen Booth yet; first of all I have to wonder why you’re taking the time to read this blog when you could be diving into THAT – but secondly I need to ask if you’ve been living under a rock?  Do yourself a favor: grab the book.  Sit down and read it in one sitting.  It is the fantasy of all fantasies, whether you’re a Duran fan or a fan of any other musician out there.  But after you’re finished with that book – and I know you won’t be completely sated, because no Duranie worth her salt is EVER completely sated – you should pick up THE SEQUEL.  (and if that’s not enough, there’s even a prequel named Claire’s Diary that you should absolutely read – you might even recognize yourself in there, I know I did!)

Yes, you read that right. One book about a rock star is never enough, so why not read two?  My good friend Karen Booth brings Christopher Penman and Claire Abby together again for Back Forever, and readers are in for a great treat as they tuck into this novel. Bring Me Back answers the question of what might happen if a once-upon-a-time teen fan met the rock star of her dreams  twenty years later; Back Forever answers the question of what might happen next.

So it is with great pleasure that I welcome Karen Booth back to  the blog today, where I plan to pummel her with questions about writing, life, and even being a fan.  If that weren’t enough, I even had the nerve to ask if I could interview Christopher Penman (cue squeeing from the Penman fans out there) and Claire Abby in a blog I will be posting tomorrow because let’s face it: it’s the closest I’m going to get to interviewing an international rock star.  (No offense Dom…but this IS Christopher Penman I’m writing about here.)

There are really few people on the planet that I value the opinion of more than Karen. She’s smart, she gets the whole fan-thing (likely because she’s been on both sides: in a previous life – aka before she became a fiction writer, she worked in the music industry!), and she doesn’t judge me for writing a blog about being a fan of a rock band…and I still blush when I read her romantica novellas.  So we’re a good pair. I like to think of Karen as the person I could be if I were at all brave, and to me, writing a sequel to Bring Me Back is pretty darn brave.  Knowing myself, I’d be thrilled to finish ONE book, much less dare to write another – and yet there Karen goes, writing a sequel.

“More than anything, I wanted to find out what would happen to Christopher and Claire. Believe it or not, an author doesn’t always automatically know these things. Once Bring Me Back started to reach readers and they responded with questions of what happens next, I knew I had to write one. ”

 I think this must be what is meant when it is said that the best writers allow the story the room to breathe on it’s own.    The characters have a life of their own, and they become real.  So how do you end that relationship then? Is it tough to say goodbye and know you’ve finished that story?  

“This is a tough one! It’s really tempting to give in, especially when people want more, but the truth is that I don’t have a clear vision of what’s next for them. That doesn’t mean I never will, only that I don’t see it right now. As far as missing them goes, I miss them terribly. Some aspects of finishing this book felt like a goodbye, which was heartbreaking. The connection I have with Chris and Claire is very real. They are not characters to me, they’re real people, which might sound crazy, but it’s true.”  

Having never written fiction, I don’t have any idea what it is like to know when a story is really and truly finished.  I’ve read Harry Potter and I still find myself wondering what could possibly come next.  I suppose the real test is knowing whether or not there really is actually a story to tell.  It would seem to me, even as a reader, there has to be a sense of closure or else it will never feel finished…which leads me to ask, is there anything that you would change now that it’s all said and done and published, or do you feel that you have to just put it down, walk away and move on?

“A lot of writers would say that no book is ever truly finished and I definitely put myself in that category. I could revise until I’m blue in the face, but you have to find a way to let go. For me, it comes when I can read it beginning to end and experience a full range of emotions and most importantly, have a smile on my face when I read “The End”. There might be individual words or sentences I would change, but nothing about the meat of the story.”

As a devoted reader of Bring Me Back, when I first heard that you were writing a sequel, I nearly frothed at the mouth in wonder as to what direction the story would take.  I think that many fans, regardless of whether it is a musician like John Taylor or an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, want that complete fairy tale. We all want that “Happily Ever After”, riding off into the sunset with a guitar (or a bass) playing…and never a cross-moment following.  The trouble of course is that real life doesn’t work that way.  “Happily Ever After” is mixed in with a whole lot of well, less-than-fun times…and let’s be honest, if it was all roses and champagne without a little friction, the tale would get boring very, very fast, no matter how much I’d love to say otherwise.  So I wondered how you would continue Chris and Claire’s story.  What gave you the most challenge?

“Writing a sequel was so much harder than I thought it would be. The biggest challenge was deciding how to include Christopher’s point-of-view. You don’t get that in the first book and I knew that I wanted to spend some time digging around in that mind of his. I tried writing ‘Back Forever’ in third-person, which is the universally accepted way to handle two points-of-view, but it felt off because it was so out of step with the first book. I ultimately went with a two-character first-person point-of-view, which is a little unusual. So far, everyone’s embraced it quite well. “

I know that when I read the book, I was delightfully surprised by just how normal their story really did read. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t an element of fairy-tale fantasy, because in my opinion that’s what makes a good love story, but there was plenty of “real life” going on.

 “I still feel like the new book explores the same concept as the first—how do you take a fairytale and make it real? Despite the very real-life, non-glamorous situations facing Christopher and Claire in this book, they’re still living a fairytale. They’ve both waited a lifetime to find each other, their work lives are far more exciting than for most people. The reader is still immersed in a fantasy at times—it’s just wedged into reality. “

Blogging is definitely not the same as writing a book.  Over time, I’ve gotten away from feeling as though the blog is my shared private journal (which is both good and bad), but I continue to learn and take lessons from both the process of my writing as well as the comments we’ve received over the years.  On a personal note, that has been the singularly most unexpected and rewarding side-path on this journey for me. I’m wondering if you’ve found the same – a lesson learned – from writing the sequel?

“It’s funny—I feel like I’m just now seeing the gift that the sequel is. It was really difficult to write. It didn’t spill out of me like the first book did, but the reaction to it has been so rewarding. I questioned myself so much with this story, which I can now see was a good thing. Sometimes you have to tear yourself apart to get to the essence of what you hope to achieve. I suppose that’s the lesson I took from this book. ” 

That is a perfect lesson to take away, and one that I won’t forget.  I feel very much the same with this blog as of late, so thank you for putting it into words.  I don’t think it is too much of a secret that I’ve gone through a continual catharsis as I’ve blogged, and lately I’ve taken a huge step back away from this blog altogether. I needed to gain perspective, and I’m not ashamed of that.  Every day I put a little bit of myself on display here for the world at large to pick apart, and it’s no secret that I have trouble with the constant criticism.  I have a tough time letting it roll off my back. I wonder how you handle bad reviews as an author…does it ever get easier?

“Every author gets poor reviews! One person on Amazon gave Bring Me Back two stars and titled the review, “No depth”. Just stab me in the heart, why don’t you? I wanted to write this person and explain that I spent months at my desk crying my eyes out when I wrote the book, that she wasn’t looking very hard if she couldn’t see the emotion. Then I took a deep breath and remembered one great piece of advice a friend gave me—it’s just someone’s opinion. There is no way to satisfy everyone. So, I handle poor reviews by reading them and promptly doing everything I can to forget them. “

 I probably should bookmark, print, and cross stitch that last sentence and hang it on my wall for future reference.  Duranies are a tough crowd. They are hard to please, slow to forgive unless you’re a band member, and extremely critical of one another…but they’re the most creative bunch I’ve ever crossed paths with.  Nearly every single published author I know personally is a self-pronounced Duranie at heart and they follow the band as closely as I do.  I know fans who have gone from doing fanzines and/or trading posters with friends back in the 80’s to huge careers in the magazine, publishing and PR world.  It is stunning to see so many creative fans amongst us.  How did we all gather in the same place?!?

“There’s no question that Duran attracts a wide variety of talented, creative, vibrant people as fans. No dullards like Duran Duran! (Yes, I know, the 1950s called and they want their insult back.) I think it’s the whole art school approach the band began with—a sense of collective creativity, something I think is still at the core of what they do. It attracts people who approach life with an open mind. Those people are always the most creative because they see beauty and possibilities all around them. ” 

So that brings me to my last question for you, Karen.  Do you have any advice for the non-published out there?

“It would go the same no matter where your creative interests lie—keep creating, explore crazy ideas, don’t be afraid to do things that make you really nervous. The art is well outside your comfort zone, not in it, and focusing on what you create is the most important part. You can stumble through the rest of it with sheer perseverance.”   

I just want to thank Karen for being such a great supporter of this blog and of our vision for Durandemonium.  As much as she thinks we’re helping her out, she continually returns the favor.  Thank you.

And to the rest of you, grab your copy of Back Forever and get reading!!

-R

Want links to buy Karen’s books? See below!

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Other books by Karen Booth as well as a free downloadable copy of Claire’s Diary can be found at Karen’s website: www.karenbooth.net

I turned on the lights, the TV and the radio

Now that kids are back in school – I just know that at least some of you are looking for books to read while waiting in the “pick-up” line at school, or maybe you’re even lucky enough to have fifteen minutes of peace and quiet somewhere so that you can retreat to fantasy life in a book. Lucky are the few…

It’s not often when I have not one but TWO book suggestions that I’m willing to throw out there, and both books should find incredible audiences amongst Duranies (particularly female fans)..because in both cases, you’ll be seeing yourself in the stories, I promise.  I’ve already read both books, and they are both fun and easy reads. I’ll give a short review for each book, and I really hope you check them out – the best part is that if you do, you’ll be supporting fellow fans, as the authors are in fact Duranies. Even better? They are both appearing at the convention in our author panel session on Saturday morning. They will be reading a selection from their work, and then having a moderated discussion and question/answer session. I believe the authors will both have books for sale at the convention, and I’ll bet if you ask – they’ll even sign them for ya!

Click HERE to go download

The first book I’ve got for you is actually a novella by Karen Booth. Novella is a fancy word authors like to use for “short book that will get you sucked into the storyline super quickly and end before you’re ready to stop wondering what happens next”. This novella is actually the prequel to another one of Karen’s novels, ‘Bring Me Back’. Let me be clear: Bring Me Back is the fantasy for every music fan brought to life. Fictional “life” maybe…but life, darn it!  Before I digress further, I should probably explain Claire’s Diary – and I can do that best in this way: Do you remember writing a journal when you were a kid? Mine went a little like this: “Dear Diary, When are you going to bring Roger Taylor to me?  I have been really, really patient, and I’ve tried watching all of their videos and even reading their interviews..and sometimes I even stare into his eyes for each of the posters on my wall. Mental telepathy just doesn’t seem to work…but I know he’s the right one for me….” Yeah.  Remember those? Well, that journal IS this book. It is like getting a good glimpse of ourselves at the age of 13 or even 14 or 15. Funny? Absolutely. Did it make me cringe at times, seeing how silly I, uh…I mean Claire…was back then? Not in that sense. It just made me remember how tough being a teenager really can be. Then I went into my 16 year olds bedroom and reminded myself of how tough it is to be the parent of a 16 year old. The beauty of it all is that if you’ve never read ‘Bring Me Back’, ‘Claire’s Diary’ is an excellent place to start. Interested potential readers do not need to have read ‘Bring Me Back’ in order to feel anything for this one, and I really recommend ‘Claire’s Diary’. Another amazing thing about this novella? Brace yourselves, bookworms: IT IS FREE. That’s right, the link takes you to Karen’s site where you can download it, read it and maybe even spill a few tears for teenage Claire, all for FREE. Personally, I think Karen is psycho not to charge for it, but then again: she’s a published author of more than a couple books…and I’m a blogger who writes a daily blog about a rock band and it’s fans. For free. Interesting comparison when I think about it that way…..  Anyway, ‘Claire’s Diary’ is a light, yet very-well constructed and thoughtful read that kind of leaves you wanting more…whether that’s another book, or a damn world tour.  Just saying.

And in case you need to find ‘Bring Me Back’ because you’re desperate for more…here’s a link (opens in new window). On the horizon in February of 2014 there’s a third book coming to the series…so you won’t have too terribly long to pine over Christopher Penman…probably just in time to read that book with some new Duran Duran music playing in the background…

Next on the suggestion list is Elisa Lorello’s freshly released memoir, aptly titled ‘Friends of Mine: Thirty Years In the Life of a Duran Duran Fan’. Where to begin with this one? First of all, Elisa has been a fan as long as anyone, and the band has been as much of a soundtrack for her life as it has been for mine…or yours. We all have history. We all have had experiences that have led us to become the people we are now. The difference is that Elisa took the time to tell her story. She shares her life history, all the while explaining how much the band meant to her along the way, and continues to mean to her today. How many of us really fantasized (and some of us might even still continue) about getting past the whole “fan” thing and becoming friends with the band? Which of us can remember a specific song that somehow “saved” us when we needed it most? Who amongst us had a best friend that shared the glorious moments of watching videos, singing songs in our bedrooms, and fawning over the newest articles, interviews and pinups of the band? My point, of course, is that most, if not all Duran fans, should be able to see at least a glimmer of themselves in this memoir…and some might even recognize similar themes in their own life story. I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t. I will only merely direct you to getting a copy for yourself here.
 
Today I walked my little Kindergartner to school with her dad. It’s funny, because ten years ago, I thought I’d walked my last child down the block and through the gate into the Kindergarten playground. (Never say never, right?) This time, it was much more poignant, and although I held my ground and refused to allow even a single, teensy tear to bridge the corners of my eyes (I didn’t want my daughter to be confused by my bittersweet feelings) – I don’t think my house has ever seemed quieter. I joke on Twitter, saying life is good (and of course it is), but there is a part of me that knows as of today, everything has changed. Again.  My little girl might always be my little girl, but the days I spent with her cuddling on the couch as the older kids were off at school and we were here alone for the day have at least been slowed to a minimum, and I can’t help but feel at least a little melancholy at the thought. I know she is going to learn to love school – she’s always liked a challenge, and she’s got enough spunk and spirit to fill an entire classroom. I wish her Kindergarten teacher luck reigning that huge personality in! I think my own nerves have finally settled, and I must say, having all three kids start new schools on exactly the same day is not very easy. I joke, but I am indeed a late-night worrier, and my stomach has been in knots for a week now. I’m hoping that after today, they’ll settle back into the crazed sense of normal to which I am accustomed.

-R

She’s an Author, She’s a Duranie…She’s Karen Booth!

Anyone who understands the most basic reasons behind the existence of Daily Duranie should recognize that Amanda and I love being fans. Yes, we love being fans of the band. That should be obvious by now. More importantly…and no offense intended to the band…we have thoroughly enjoyed meeting fellow fans along the way, and in turn that has enhanced our fan experience. One personal goal of mine in the past several months has been to try to somehow spotlight fans in the community that have taken the enthusiasm and interest that they’ve had as fans and somehow transformed that into a career. One of the people I’ve met along the way also happens to be a published author, which for me, equates to being heroic! Not only is Karen Booth an author, but she is also a Duranie and…I’m proud to say she is my friend. Karen agreed to be my second guinea pig for an interview, and after doing some chatting…after all, we are friends…we got down to business. 
January 20th saw the release of a new book written by Karen. Bring Me Back is a novel about a single 40-something journalist named Claire who just happens to have a favorite band in her past. Claire has a daughter she has raised alone, she has a career, and now she’s facing the opportunity of a lifetime to interview the bass player of her dreams. Simply put, the book asks the question “What would happen if someone you idolized in your adolescence poked his/her head up out of the sand 20 years later into your own life? What would you do? How would that relationship look?”

As Karen puts it, “I do think there are a lot of different things that women in their 30s and 40s can relate to, whether it’s related to motherhood or career or love. I did like the idea that Christopher had lived in her head that whole time—even the years when she didn’t give him a thought, he was still there. So how does this person you were once obsessed with suddenly pop back into your head?”

I can probably speak for all of us with wide-eyed innocence, “Gosh, I have no idea!” The curious thing is that one might assume the reunion – Duran Duran’s reunion of the “Fab Five” that is – spurned the writing of this book.

“Totally accidental”, Karen replies. “In fact, I didn’t start revisiting the band until the first draft was done. It wasn’t like I was listening to Duran the whole time I was writing it, not at all.”

Karen finally gave into the urge to put the story on paper after overseeing her family’s home rebuilt after a fire in the summer of 2008.

“After we were back in our house, kids settled, everything was furnished, I was sort of like ‘Now what?’ So I decided that I would do something for myself and TRY to write this book. I didn’t tell anybody, I just sat down and started writing. I fully expected I would get stuck after a dozen pages or so, but the exact opposite happened. It was like discovering this whole new part of me that I didn’t even know existed. Awakening a sleeping giant, if you will.”

Yeah…I wouldn’t know anything about that at all, right?

Perhaps this sounds a lot like fan fiction. So many fans have written of similar fantasies – one of those “chance meetings” after many years. Bring Me Back isn’t fan fiction though, as Karen puts me straight, “it is it’s own story, far outside the band. The (Duran Duran) reunion was a happy surprise for me.”

I agree. While there might be elements of, say, certain band members we might all recognize, and perhaps tidbits that a fan may find familiar, Christopher Penman is his own man…although we can all certainly wish to see a bit of ourselves in Claire.

Karen expands on this, “I think it’s a case of being able to make it whatever you want it to be. I want the reader to feel the thrill that Claire gets from the experience, but it still belongs to Claire.  She is the one who Christopher falls for.” 

In many cases, fan fiction is different in that respect.  Often (but not always) it is written in such an way that any fan could find herself (or himself) in the role of female role (or male role, should that be the case).  Even as I read this book, although I might have chuckled in delight or smiled at the excitement that Claire felt, I never felt as though I was supposed to “be” Claire. The story belongs to Claire. Even so, I felt as though I needed to ask if Karen was a fan fiction aficionado.

 “I’ve read one or two Twilight fan fiction pieces, but they were written by people who are both fan and writer. Actually, my daughter has written fan fiction about some of the Japanese boy bands that she likes, I’ve read those.”

The bottom line is that while the premise of the book is loosely based on a similar thread as the fandom that many of us have experienced for Duran Duran, only the most detail-oriented of fans will catch some of the morsels of fandom that is sewn with love into fabric of the story. One of the things I enjoyed most in the book was recognizing those small little “Easter Eggs”.

On a personal note, I read the book in one sitting. I couldn’t put the book down, to be honest. Karen perks up whenever she hears that (and I happen to know she’s gotten a lot of very nice reviews and comments on Amazon!),

“That’s been so much fun this week, getting tweets and emails from people as they spot the little Duranie moments in the book. This is the first time I’ve had a book instantly resonate with readers. The fact that people bought it the day it came out and were reading it in a single sitting just blows me away. It makes me really happy, but I never expected that. The thing is, I wrote a book I wanted to read, and I think that’s part of the reason that it resonates with people, that people have a hard time putting it down. I wrote for myself, which makes me a part of my audience – it’s all very natural.” 

Let’s just be honest, shall we? Who would NOT want to be the female main character in this book? Most fans – of any kind (Look away, members of Duran Duran, look away!!) – have moments of fantasy like this at some point. 

Exactly!” Karen continues, “That was it – make this dream scenario, make it as real as possible, hopefully put the reader as close as possible to the woman who gets to live it.”  So how did the idea for the book come about?  Well, as some of the best books happen…it came in a dream. “The premise did come from a dream that I had about JT, a dream that I had as an adult and as a fan who was definitely removed from the band at that point. I had an 18-month old. I’d been out of music for a while.”

When Karen says she’d been “out of music for a while”…she speaks the truth. This is no ordinary Duranie. Oh no. This woman had a career in the music industry at one point. She knows what goes on backstage, and sadly from what I’ve been told, it’s not nearly as glamorous as I’d hoped! Alas…   Karen was gainfully employed after college at Twin/Tone Records in Minnesota as an intern. Eventually met her husband, who was also working in the industry, and moved on to Mammoth Records in North Carolina. 

Karen says, “I did everything there – marketing, website development, merchandising, but the job I held the longest was Film and Television licensing.” 

As a result, Karen has seen the underbelly of the industry, something that normal fans probably don’t have the opportunity to witness.  Motherhood brought a major career change for Karen, along with what most moms know to be an identity crisis.

“…none of our friends had kids and my girlfriends still had their jobs or careers and I was staying home with our daughter.” I can relate to this 100%. “No one tells you how boring it can be, and that sounds awful, but there are only so many hours a grown woman can play Barbies.”  

AMEN.

This was the first book Karen’s that she completed, although it is the fourth published. What continues to fascinate me about Karen is that she is also a writer of “Romantica”, a cross between Romance and Erotica – get it? Karen seems so normal, and yet there’s this whole side of her that has no trouble spending hours perfecting the description of a hand job or even a shower scene. I feel as though I should high-five her for such triumphs, but that might be creepy and/or weird, and I really like Karen…so I stick to the basics. I asked if she hopes to write more in this genre and less Romantica.

“I would prefer to write books like Bring Me Back because I like the idea of borrowing from different genres. I enjoy writing the steamier books as well, but writing sex scenes is incredibly taxing on the brain.”

Oh, I’ll just bet. I would imagine it’s akin to breaking each movement down into tiny processes. Takes the organic nature right out of it, and we just can’t have that, can we?

“It’s so much harder than people realize and there are a lot of guidelines you have to follow. Interesting that sometimes people view writing more of a sexual nature to be a ‘lesser art form’, but it’s incredibly difficult.”

I’m still stuck on the whole “guidelines” comment – I mean, who knew that there were actually rules and guidelines to writing about sex, but I shake myself out of my own head in time to ask if that makes Romantica more difficult than the genre of Bring Me Back…which really doesn’t fit into any one specific genre. 

“Romantica stories are shorter, so in some ways that’s easier. I guess the thing that is rewarding for me about writing a book like Bring Me Back is adding the layers to the story, the small threads that run throughout the book. I always enjoy that when I’m reading, and that’s why I like to do it when I write.”

The most exciting part of this interview, well, for me anyway, was hearing that she’s writing a SEQUEL.

“I have outlined the sequel and contracted it. It will come out in February of 2014.”  

This is great news for me, as I’ve sat up during certain times in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping and thought, “Gosh, I wonder what Christopher Penman is up to? Will Banks Forest ever come out with another album? Has he married Claire?” Now you all know when I come up with some of my more stranger blog ideas…. I can’t wait to read the sequel, and part of me wonders (the really sick and twisted part) if Karen’s new book will come out before Duran Duran’s next album.  Hmm.

I think you all know where I’d bet my money.
-R