Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on queer romance author Karen Stivali this week! Karen was here in June for Pride Month, and has returned for Worcester Pride month as part of our Rainbow Readers Presents series. She’ll be speaking and signing on Friday, September 15 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM.
Karen Stivali is the multi award winning author of straight and LGBTQ+ adult and new adult romance novels. She writes sexy, character driven contemporary romance set in both New England and NYC. Her novels are about love…like real life, only hotter.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your work?
I write sexy, realistic contemporary romance. No billionaires, no shifters, just everyday people finding their path in life and finding love along the way. And having lots of hot sex. You can always expect a mix of witty banter, sarcasm, angst, strong friendships, sexual tension, and steamy sex scenes in my books. And food. Lots of descriptions of food.
What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out Moment of Fate? How did you overcome that challenge?
Moment Of Fate took me about three times longer to write than any other book I’ve written and it was because I over related to the main character. On the surface, I’m nothing like Bryan Dane—he’s a sexy up-and-coming rocker with a passion for photography, he loves being on stage, and he’s got a serious history of one night stands. But what no one knows about him is that he suffers from chronic Lyme disease and, as a part of that, has developed panic and anxiety attacks along with a host of food allergies. He’s stubborn and refuses to be defined by this illness or its limitations, so he does his best to deal with it and not let anyone know about it. As someone who also suffers from chronic Lyme (and the accompanying panic and anxiety attacks), I found that as I wrote I had to relearn all the lessons he was learning, about how to function with a chronic illness without letting it own you. I also had to deal with the realization that every time I wrote him having an anxiety attack (or reread the scene), I’d have an anxiety attack. Without the help of writer friends encouraging me along the way, I likely would never have finished this book and I’m so grateful they were there to pull me through it, because this book needed to be written. Bryan deserved his happily ever after.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I write sexy contemporary romance because I love putting my characters in very real life situations, with very relatable struggles, and having them overcome their issues and find their happily ever after. I think readers are drawn to my work because my characters are relatable. I’m often told that people wish they could be friends with (or date) my characters in real life and that’s one of my very favorite compliments to receive.
What is your favorite part of being a writer?
Hands down my favorite part is hearing from a reader who really connected with a character or story I wrote. Those letters mean the world to me because they remind me that what I’m doing is reaching people in a real and personal way and making a difference for them.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
I’m a transplanted New Yorker who’s lived in New Hampshire for the past fifteen years. My stories tend to take place in either New England, NYC or a combination of the two. I like the differences between small town and big city and like to mix and match the settings or have characters who grew up in one and currently adapting to the other. In Moment Of Fate, Oliver was raised in small town NH but moves to NYC to take an intensive summer writing workshop. Being newly out and new to NYC are both huge parts of his character arc and emotional development in the story.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Never give up. If you truly want to write, don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Keep trying, learning, polishing and creating. Make it happen.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I’m finishing up the next book in the Moments series and will probably be writing one more after that. I’m also on submission via my agent with two other series I’m very excited about, as well as working on a secret multi-authored project that will combine a variety of pairings all in one series.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
My favorite hobby is cooking and baking. I love food and enjoy all sorts of cooking. Baking is a sanity saver for me. Something about it really calms me down and helps me de-stress. Plus it makes the house smell great and, as a bonus, there are yummy treats to eat when I’m done. If I’m really stressed I’ll bake so much I have to ship some to friends. They never seem to mind.
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
I have one very bizarre cat. I refer to him on Twitter as “BadKitteh” to protect his real identity. He’s not “bad” as in mean, he’s just constantly in trouble. He will drink out of any water glass left unattended for more than 3 seconds, then knock that glass over. He has coughed up a hairball into my tote bag while I sat two feet away. He loves to paw at my laptop and will frequently hit the PrntScr button, so I find all of these bizarre screen caps in Dropbox that I didn’t save. He’s even sent a few chat messages with random characters typed, causing friends to wonder if I was in some sort of distress and trying to send a secret call for help. He’s a handful, but he’s also cute and keeps me amused.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
My books are available in ebook and paperback at all major booksellers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KOBO, I-books, GooglePlay and from my publisher’s websites.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
I’m on Twitter (@karenstivali)
Facebook (/karenstivali and /karenstivaliauthor)
Pinterest and Goodreads
And my blog Karenstivali.com
Thank you so much for joining us on our Spotlight Blog, Karen! We look forward to having you at our store as part of our Rainbow Readers Presents series on Friday, September 15, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM!