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Q & A with Karen Mandeville

It's a New Year and what better way to kick things off than by interviewing a debut author? This month I have Karen Mandeville, author of The Dead Forest, available in January at Triskelion. Let's see what this newbie Aussie has to offer, shall we?

1. The Dead Forest is your first novel. Tell us how you reacted when you were offered a contract. 

Well that story had been rejected three other times and I honestly thought it was going to be another rejection letter. I had to read the email about 10 times before it registered that it was an acceptance. I will admit that I teared up but only from relief. This story has been so hard to pigeon hole and I thought it was going to be equally as hard to find a publisher. But Triskelion took a chance and I’ve not looked back! I started to scream and grabbed the phone – read the email about another ten times to the people who have supported me – sent texts telling them the good news too! It was a very exciting and nerve-wrecking time 
 
2. Tell us more about The Dead Forest
It’s a love triangle story set in an olden time era. There are shapeshifters, dark magic and lots of suspense. This story pretty much came to me in a dream. I love that era – the whole sense of darkness, creepiness on its purest level. I was trying to make it not too romancey either. Romance is great and is needed but I didn’t want TDF to be solely a romance novel. There are lots of questions in the book … and that’s all I’m going to say! Hahaha – I hate it when people ruin the end of stories. 
 
3. You have an anthology coming soon from Whiskey Creek Press. In it, you have you characters engage in a bit of S&M. Is this something you enjoy in your personal life? ;) 
LOL … how am I supposed to answer this seriously? I do like the look of some S&M gear. Is this where I say I have a pair of kick ass boots that when I wear them everyone calls me ‘Madam Karen?’ I do have a shoe fetish … and I do have a tiny novelty whip. I think that’s rather funny. But there is something about that world that I do find intriguing. Does that answer it without getting me into a compromising position? hahaha 
 
4. In your bio, you detail a bit of insomnia, which is something I also suffer from. Do you feel your difficulty in falling asleep led you to write The Dead Forest? 
Absolutely. This story invaded my dreams. I would wake up in the middle of the night and have to write. Then I’d have another snooze, dream a bit more and then get up and write. The weird thing, well I thought it was weird, I never repeated scenes when I got up and wrote about them. But if I didn’t write what was shown to me, I’d dream the same sequence again. Must have been the muse’s way of saying ‘you need to know this!’. But I do have strange sleeping patterns. Sometimes I can’t get enough and then other times, I can go for hours on only 4 - 5 hours sleep. 
 
5. Lust thy Neighbor, your second Trisk release, seems to be totally different from your first. Is this going to be more of a comedy? 
Yes, I wanted to try my hand at something contemporary and light. Lust Thy Neighbor is very much in contrast of TDF. My next novel through Triskelion is a contemporary suspense, so it’s different again. I wrote the sex scene for Lust Thy Neighbor about three years ago and just left it. Then I tried to use it in another story but it just didn’t seem to gel. I pulled the scene out again, read over it and went ‘this is pretty damned good’ so I put it back on my WIP list and then the story just seemed to flow. I’m very happy with it. And the excerpts that I’ve shown people get a positive response. 
 
6. Tell us about growing up in Australia. 
Well, I grew up in country NSW. What can I say about where I grew up? I remember it being hot. Very, very hot and getting sunburned every year. Just to give you an idea – country NSW’s temperatures varied between 40C (104F) to 48C (118F) … so yeah … bloody hot! And I have very fair skin … I get burned walking to the mailbox! I have an older sister, we fought all the time when we were younger. Thank God I never had to share a room with her! LOL. 
 
7. Since your first novel deals with a forest, if you could be a tree, which would you be and why? 
A left-field kind of question – I like it! I think I’d like to be a weeping willow. I think they are so graceful. They look so calm and they are always near water – I need my water. I drink about 3L-4L a day. 
 
8. Boxers or briefs? 
Umm … for myself … briefs … but for a guy … whatever they feel most comfortable in. They are the ones that have to wear them. 
 
9. Do you base any of your characters on people in your life? If so, tell us which ones. 
No. There are traits reflected in characters from people I know in real life but they are not a mirrored copy. I am working on a contemporary story and a great friend of mine says very quirky things so one character will be inspired by him. He’s very funny. 
 
10. Is there anything you would like to add? What’s coming next for Karen Mandeville? 
 
Wow … plenty of things are coming up next for me. Plenty more stories. Check out my website for regular updates – http://www.karenmandeville.com or join for your own copy of BeDevilled at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/karenmandeville  

Thanks to Karen for taking the time to "talk" with me and good luck on your debut!