Karen Witemeyer ~ Author Interview

Aug 7, 2015 by

Welcome back to Rachel’s Back Talk! Another Friday interview!

Today’s interview is with Karen Witemeyer. This past Monday, I had the opportunity to review her book To Win Her Heart. 

So without further ado, on to Rachel’s Back Talk – Special Edition!


RR: Hi Karen! Thanks so much for being here with us today! When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

KW: The idea of writing kind of sneaked up on me. I have always been passionate about reading. I love getting lost in a story. As a young girl, I would go to the library every week and bring home a stack of books so large I could barely carry them. As I grew older, sometimes I would find myself daydreaming stories, usually based off of television shows I watched or books I had read. I, of course, was always the heroine in these daydreams. I always saved the day and won the heart of the handsome hero. But I never considered becoming an author myself.

Then one of my college professors made a comment about my writing being strong, and it planted a seed. Pretty soon, those silly girlish daydreams began to morph into more sophisticated ideas. Book ideas. But I was too busy with grad school and then starting a family to consider writing. Then my husband found out his position was being cut. All of a sudden I was a stay-at-home mom with three toddlers who needed to help her husband provide for their family. That’s when I first picked up the pen and got serious about making writing a career. Little did I know it would take me six years before I mastered the craft and made enough industry connections to land my first contract. But the course had been set. God had placed the desire on my heart, and even after I reentered the workforce, I continued pursuing the dream.

RR: That is an awesome way to start and a lot of perseverance! How would you describe your writing process? Are you more of a planner or freewriter?

KW: My style falls somewhere between the two. I need to have a basic framework for the story before I start writing. I need to know who my hero and heroine are, what their goals are, how they will meet, and what major obstacles will stand in their way. I also like to brainstorm at least 2-3 major plot points in the story to give me a direction. Finally, I need to have an idea of how things will end. I tend to write up a fairly detailed synopsis (anywhere from 5-12 pages) and send that to my editor for approval. Once this framework is in place, I sit down and start writing.

I tend to stay pretty much on track with the road map I originally mapped out, but my characters do take me down some interesting side roads that I don’t always expect. Minor plot points change and secondary characters take on new personalities sometimes, but I tend to keep them in line for the most part. Ha!

RR: Yes, that sounds a lot like what I do. I always love a good plan, but it is fun when an exciting detour comes along. So when is your best time in the day to write?

KW: I tend to be more productive in the mornings when my energy is highest and my brain is freshest, but with my day job, I usually end up writing later in the day. The only time I never write is late at night. After about 8:00 p.m. my brain turns to mush.

RR: Oh definitely! It is always good to know that though so you can use that time best to your advantage. How do you know when you have a great story idea?

KW: Some ideas just resonate and feel right. Others I have to work at refining and developing until they seem worthy of the 9-10 months of work it will take to bring them to life. The only two story ideas that truly felt right from the very beginning for me were the ideas for “To Win Her Heart” and “Short Straw Bride.”

RR: That is very true! As an author, you will be spending SO much time with your characters so it is good to make sure you are ready to do that. Out of all your books, which has been your favorite to write?

KW: I think my most recent project – a novella called “The Husband Maneuver” that will be out in January as part of a collection – has been my favorite. The shorter format allowed me to keep the plot simple which made writing it much easier, plus it entailed two characters that were introduced in my latest novel, “A Worthy Pursuit.” So I already knew the characters, the setting, and I had set up the potential for romance in the previous book, so I knew where I was headed. The most fun part for me, though, came in writing scenes from a Dead-Eye Dan dime novel to start every chapter. I had so much fun writing this over-the-top western prose. I think I channeled all the old TV westerns I watched as a child. It was a blast!

RR: I love novellas, especially when they are based off of characters from other books! Let’s move on to your book To Win Her Heart. How did you come up with that story idea?

KW: Have you ever wished there was an epilogue to Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son? I have. When I decided to write “To Win Her Heart,” one question prompted the plot development: What happens after the Father welcomes the prodigal son home? So often we focus on the wonderful homecoming the lost son received, but have you ever asked what life was like for him after the celebration was over? How did he relate to his bitter older brother or the servants and townspeople who were only too aware of his past arrogance and wild living?

In “To Win Her Heart,” I play on those very questions. My hero is a man recently released from prison who has returned to his faith roots and rededicated his life to the Lord. The heroine is a woman who has been disappointed by men in the past and has little tolerance of those who don’t meet her high standards. In an effort to make a clean start, Levi hides his past and Eden believes she has finally found a man of honor and integrity. But when his prodigal past comes to light, old hurts are exposed, and Eden must decide if she can give her heart to a knight with tarnished armor.

RR: That is so interesting to know – and yes, I can totally see that. Are the characters Eden and Levi based off of anyone you know?

KW: No. I rarely create characters based off of people I know. There are nearly always aspects of myself in my characters, however (usually their flaws). And of course, there are many romantic aspects based off my relationship with my husband. But the characters themselves are purely figments of my imagination.

RR: Characters from our imaginations are just as good as based off of real people! So why do you like writing historical fiction?

KW: I write historical fiction because it is my favorite genre to read. As a girl, I read “Little House on the Prairie” and “Anne of Green Gables.” As I grew older, I read books like “Christy” and “Jane Eyre.” Then I discovered historical romance novels and became addicted. I’ve always been drawn to historical stories. They seem to enhance the fairy-tale feel for me. I don’t know – maybe it’s the long dresses or the rugged heroes. They certainly provide an escape from the real world. And since it is my favorite genre to read, there was no question in my mind what genre I would choose to write. You’re supposed to write what you love, what you’re passionate about. And for me that is historical fiction.

RR: Oh yes! I love historical fiction for all those reasons! How much time was spent researching verses writing in this book in particular?

KW: I usually spend several weeks researching location, occupations, time period, etc. before I dive into a project. But since most of my books are set in roughly the same era, researching has become less time consuming than it has been in the past. I will often stop writing to scour research books for details I need to add authenticity to a particular scene, but the majority of my time is spent on the writing of the story.

I tend to focus on characters in their everyday lives instead of on major historical events, which grants me a little more freedom. However, it is very important to me to get the facts straight and portray an accurate picture of the time period my characters live in, so the research in continually ongoing.

RR: It is refreshing to read about characters in every day life and it gives the reader a glimpse of what happened back then. To conclude, is there one tip that you could share that has really benefited you in your writing?

KW: The best lesson I ever learned (one that I must constantly keep in the forefront of my mind when writing) is using deep point of view. This is a more advanced technique, but there is nothing more effective for bringing characters to life on the page. At its most basic, deep point of view is being so far into the head and emotions of your character that you write in her voice instead of your own. Readers don’t just listen to the story; they experience it directly with the characters. They feel the characters’ emotions firsthand and are privy to their thoughts. This draws the reader in and bonds her to the characters so that she becomes personally invested in the story’s outcome.

RR: This was great, Karen! Thank you again!

And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to read my review on Karen’s book To Win Her Heart.


Karen WitemeyerChristy Award finalist and winner of both the ACFW Carol Award and HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes Christian historical romance for Bethany House, believing the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

You can also visit her at her website or facebook.

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1 Comment

  1. Kaitlyn

    Even though I’m not really a fictional writer, I got sucked into this interview! It’s lovely seeing authors from a personal aspect, and not just seeing who they are based on their works or the back of the book — although those are always great. As always, awesome job, Rachel! 🙂

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