Kari Lee Townsend lives in upstate NY with her very understanding husband, her three busy boys, and her oh-so-dramatic daughter. They make everything she does worthwhile, and provide her with loads of material for her books J. Kari spends her days and nights trying to figure out who "dunnit,” but no one at home will confess any more than the characters in her books.
Kari says, “I am a long time lover of reading and writing, with a Masters in English Education. I have been both a winner and finalist in several online writing contests, including the Amazon Breakout Novel Contest, as well as being a freelance editor. I am also a member of several writing organizations and love attending writing conferences. These days you will find me at home with my children, doing what makes me happier than anything I have ever tried ... writing books! I write both teen and adult books: fun and exciting stories for any age set in small towns with mystical elements and quirky characters.”
Tell us about the genre of your work.
I write a teen superhero series called The Samantha Granger Experiment. Book one Fused is available now. I also write an adult cozy mystery series called The Fortune Teller Mysteries. Book one Tempest in the Tea Leaves is available August 2, 2011.
Why did you choose this genre?
I enjoy writing in both genres, and even though they are different, my voice and sense of humor are still the same. I love writing about fun, quirky characters, small towns, and mystical elements. Writing for both teens as well as adults keeps things interesting so I never get bored.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
The Samantha Granger Experiment: Fused came out November 2, 2010. Tempest in the Tea Leaves: A Fortune Teller Mystery comes out August 2, 2011.
Would you tell us about your books?
The Samantha Granger Experiment: Fused
ISBN 9781402240423 (November 2, 2010)
Available everywhere in both print and e-book (Barnes & Noble, Borders, Indie Books, Amazon, etc.)
Check out http://www.karileetownsend.com/ for more details.
Sam was ready to conquer the world, or at least the 8th grade! However, when Samantha Granger touches a meteor while talking on her cell phone, her life is changed forever: her body now has all the capabilities of her phone (GPS, phone, text, and camera). She secretly calls herself a “Digital Diva” as she rushes to answer emergency calls. However, will her identity be discovered when sparks fly (literally!) between her and Trevor, her dreamy crush? Samantha has to get a handle on her abilities and quick because when Sam is kidnapped, the entire town is in danger, and she is the only one who can save them.
Tempest in the Tea Leaves: A Fortune Teller Mystery
ISBN 9780425242759 (August 2, 2011)
Available everywhere in both print and e-book (Barnes & Noble, Borders, Indie Books, Amazon, etc.)Check out http://www.karileetownsend.com/ for more details.
There may be many pretenders in the fortune telling business, but Sunshine Meadows is the real deal—and her predictions can be lethally accurate. Sunny is a big city psychic who moves to the quaint town of Divinity, NY to open her fortune telling business in an ancient Victorian house and a strange cat she has inherited. When Sunny gives her first reading to the frazzled town librarian, she discovers the woman is going to die. When the woman flees in terror, Sunny calls the police, but she is too late. The ruggedly handsome, hard-nosed detective is a “non-believer.” He finds the librarian dead, and Sunny becomes his number one suspect, forcing her to prove her innocence before the real killer can put an end to the psychic’s future.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?
I like to write about places I have lived or been to. In the Fortune Teller Mysteries, I made up a fictional town based on upstate NY (which is where I live now and grew up). In the Samantha Granger Experiment, I made up another fictional town based on the Adirondack Mountains where I have been to many times and is near where I live. As far as names go, I like to mix and match names of people I know, people I read about or see on TV, and even fictional characters in movies and TV series. For a last resort, I use a baby book. It is hard to keep coming up with new names.
How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?
I love fun, quirky characters. For Samantha Granger I kept thinking who would make a great movie lead and kept seeing Miranda Cosgrove in my mind from iCarly. Therefore, I kept her in mind when coming up with Sam. She is different, but there are some similarities. Her sidekick, Mel, is like Carly’s best friend Sam. Then for the Fortune Teller Mysteries I wanted someone who was kind of a free spirit and was cute, natural, and gutsy. All I could think of was Tinker Bell. I ended up giving her the nickname Tink because it just fit.
What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?
The bad guys in both my series change depending on the book. In The Samantha Granger Experiment, the bad guys are anyone from evil terrorists who want the new technology, to mad scientists who want to study Sam. In the Fortune Teller Mysteries, the bad guys are whoever the killer is for that particular book. I love a good antagonist.
What is your favorite thing about your book?
In both series, I love creating memorable characters, lots of humor, and always a bit of romance. Love, laughter, action, adventure, and mystery…it does not get much better than that J Oh and I love writing about small towns that we get to revisit time and again. The town becomes a character itself.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genres?
Writing MG (Middle Grade) is different than writing cozy mysteries. MG books are fast paced with lots of action and adventure. Cozy mysteries are slower paced and focus on solving the mystery. Additionally, the language is different. When writing for kids, you really have to make sure you are sounding, thinking and acting like a kid…not an adult trying too hard to be a kid. While cozy mysteries can have a romance, the “racy” parts are kept behind closed doors along with the graphic violence and language. I guess that is why I love writing both MG and cozy mysteries. Because people of all ages can read either of my series and not be faced with any surprises.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I have always loved reading and writing. In fact, I went to college and received a Masters in English Education, but I have always preferred to stay home and write. When I had the first of my four children, I did just that. Now I am thrilled to be able to keep staying home, living my dream, and playing a superhero myself as I juggle being a wife, mother, author, taxi driver, maid, chef, accountant, etc. However, trust me people, as crazy as my life is, I would not trade it for the world.
What is your writing schedule?
When my kids were little, I got in the habit of writing during naptime. To this day, I still do my best work during the middle of the day. I am useless at night. So I usually get up, make lunches, get kids off to school, etc. Then I check email, blog, do chores, work out (ahem…most of the time), shower, and then finally sit down to write. I write until the kids get home 5 days a week, and then my evenings are free to play mom with homework, dinner and sports. Evenings are spent with hubby after all craziness has died down and the kiddies are off to bed. The weekends are for family time, unless I am really behind schedule. Then I have to pull some overtime!
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
Book two of The Samantha Granger Experiment: Fearless, is finished. I am almost finished with book two of The Fortune Teller Mysteries: Corpse in the Crystal Ball. Next up will be book three of Samantha Granger: Freedom, and book three of the Fortune Teller Mysteries: Trouble in the Tarot.
What kind of advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to write (especially mystery)?
Mysteries, especially cozy mysteries, are very popular. However, if you are going to write in any genre in today’s tough market, you have to come up with a unique idea. You must find something has not been written before, or a twist on a popular genre. You need that really cool hook that makes your book different from all the others. Do your homework, people. You can be a fabulous writer, but if you do not have a unique enough hook, an editor will not take a chance on you. Yet you can be just a fair writer and if you have that fabulous “Oh my God, what a great idea” hook, then chances are you will be picked up.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Never EVER quit. The only people who will never sell are those who give up. It took me 14 years to sell (three of which were with my agent) but then we sold two 3-book deals off just partials. It can and will happen if you are willing to be adaptable, try something new, and work your butt off!
What do you do when you are not writing?
I love wine, photography, and traveling. However, for most of the time we are on the go with sports activities with the kids. However, whenever we can, we travel. I also love a good writer’s conference. Time away with people who “get” me without having anyone say Mom or expect me to cook and clean is pure heaven!
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
The first moment was having my work selected as a finalist in a contest. I cried, thinking, “Oh my God, I don’t suck!” After that was winning contests, signing with my agent, and finally selling. I cannot describe the validation that goes into that. I would give my books away for free just to see them on the shelves in a bookstore. That is a whole “other” moment you have to experience for yourself to understand. Another “made it moment” was when I received my first fan mail from someone I did not know or have to pay J Another moment was being asked to speak at various events or being asked for my autograph. I still feel like saying, “Um, do you know who I am? Are you sure you really want it?” LOL I think it took so long to sell my work, that it will take twice as long to feel like I have truly made it. This industry is so rewarding, yet unbelievably insane! A lot of it really does revolve around luck and timing, and everything can change so quickly, you would be a fool not to enjoy it while it lasts. That is what I am planning to do, and I wish the very best for all of you!
To find out more about Kari and her books check out her website at http://www.karileetownsend.com/ and her group mystery blog http://www.mysteriesandmargaritasblogspot.com/