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The Ingenuity of Kara

 
You would think that someone doing a Masters degree in Creative Writing would wait before publishing their first book. But Kara Jorgensen clearly isn't that sort of person.

Instead she has written and published two books already The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden and she's working on the next one.

I caught up with her through the magic of the Internet and asked her some questions...
Steve: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
KaraMy name is Kara Jorgensen, and I am a writer of historical-fantasy novels, or more specifically steampunk. Currently, I’m working toward an MFA in creative writing at William Paterson University. For much of my life I have been infatuated with the Victorian era, medical history, and anything antiquated.
 
SteveWhen did you first write fiction?
KaraI think I have been writing for as long as I could string a sentence together. I remember banging out picture books on my grandma’s typewriter as a kid. When I was ten, I started writing Sherlock Holmes fan fiction, and as I got older, I began trying to complete larger works but failed. It wasn’t until I was in college that I actually finished a novel.
 
SteveWhat inspired you to write your first book?
KaraI wrote The Earl of Brass because I wanted to read it and I was never able to find a book that satisfied that itch. I saw pictures of pre-WWI prostheses, and I began to wonder what it would be like to be an amputee in the Victorian era when appearances were everything. This led to what it would be like to be a working woman in the Victorian era, and when they were combined, The Earl of Brass began to take shape.
 
SteveIs there a message in your work that you want readers to grasp? 
KaraBe yourself and love yourself. Most of my characters struggle with their identities and where they fit in their world. Eilian feels he’ll never live up to his father’s expectations. Hadley is alienated because she is a female artisan in a world where women are supposed to stay home. Adam is trying to come to terms with his sexual orientation while Immanuel is recovering from trauma and is struggling to reconcile his old and new self. One of my hopes is that readers will see themselves in my characters and move toward self-acceptance the way they do. I want my readers to know they deserve to be loved by themselves and others.
 
SteveIs there a writer you aspire to be like? What is it about them you admire so much?
KaraThis is hard because I’m torn between Oscar Wilde and Anne Rice. Both have a very sensual, evocative writing style that I envy, and both are as much personalities as they are writers. I would love to be outgoing and able to freely communicate and share with others. Despite a ninety years between us, I feel a deep connection with Wilde that I don’t fully understand yet.
 
StevePlotter, pantser, or gardener?
KaraProbably a gardener. Much like a gardener, I know what I want my book to look like overall, and as I tackle parts of it, I figure out how I need to go about attaining that goal.  But if it just so happens that daisies would look better than roses, there’s always room to change direction. My typical method is figuring out the major plot points loosely before I begin, then I make outlines as I write the chapters, so I’ll have maybe chapters one to three plotted and once I finish those, I’ll write a loose outline for the next few. I like to leave room for my characters to grow and stretch.
 
SteveDescribe your writing style in ten words or less.
KaraDorian Gray meets Tim Burton. (I spent ages figuring that out.)
 
SteveWhat is the hardest part of writing for you?
KaraStaying on task. During the semester when I have books to read for class or essays to write, it’s very hard to squeeze in time for writing and not get distracted by everything else. I rarely set a schedule for myself because I tend to have things come up even if I try my best to get ahead of my work. I’m also a bit scatterbrained, so either I’m hyper-focused or I’m refreshing Facebook every five seconds when I should be working.
 
SteveDid you learn anything from writing the book and what was it? 
KaraWhile writing The Winter Garden, I found that I enjoy writing evil characters as much as I enjoy writing highly emotional scenes. This story had a wide swing in terms of emotion. I was dealing with a traumatized character as well as a psycho who thoroughly enjoys his murderous ways, and I loved working on both. Writing certain scenes from the antagonist’s point of view were oddly fun and came out rather easily, which freaked me out a little bit.
 
SteveTell us about your current projects? 
KaraI published The Winter Garden in March, which is my second book in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, and currently, I am working on the third book in the same series, which is entitled The Earl and the Artificer. It involves Eilian and Hadley journeying to Eilian’s ancestral home, Brasshurst Hall, only to find that the house and its orangery are more than what they seem. Along the way they meet an Egyptologist and his wife, a creepy estate manager, and a writer with a horrible case of writer’s block who is accused of murder. At the same time, Eilian and Hadley are trying to navigate their new identities as earl/husband and countess/wife respectively.
 
SteveWhat do you do when you are not writing?
KaraRead and work on my schoolwork mostly, but I do love art. Luckily, I live close enough to New York City that I can get on a train and go to a museum when the mood strikes me. I also research antique medical techniques and other interesting tidbits of history and science, and more often than not, they end up in a future story.
 
SteveWhat can you tell us about the challenges in getting your first book published?
KaraI wish that when I was first publishing The Earl of Brass that I actually looked up self-publishing before I actually did it. I had no idea what I was doing at first and probably made a bit of a mess at first. Within a month, I got it straightened out, but it’s panic-inducing when you know you’re struggling. If you’re going to self-publish, make sure you read a bit of info about the process ahead of time.
 
SteveWhat technology do you use for writing?
KaraMicrosoft Word and pen and paper mostly. I usually write on my laptop, but sometimes when I’m stuck or feeling particularly easily distracted, I write by hand in a notebook and only use my phone to do quick research if I need to. Not sure if this counts as technology, but I am specific about my pens. If they don’t flow well, I can’t use it for very long, and I prefer bright colors, like light blue, pink, or purple, when I write. I think it breaks me out of black and white mode.
 
SteveWhat's coming up next for you?
Kara: Currently, I am working on The Earl and the Artificer (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #3), and I plan on writing book four after, which will be about Adam, Immanuel, and Emmeline from The Winter Garden. Between those projects, I am hoping to write a book that will contain two novellas and a short story or two to fill-in the gaps between books three and four. At some point, I also want to work on a fantasy series that I have knocking around my brain. I’m sure there will be more Ingenious Mechanical Devices books, but that’s all I have planned out thus far.

Links:
Website: http://karajorgensen.com
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Kara-Jorgensen/e/B00L4KTO0W
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kara-Jorgensen/e/B00L4KTO0W
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8328801.Kara_Jorgensen
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorkarajorgensen
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/authorkaraj
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

I read the book by Susanna Clarke when it came out and was overcome by its wonderful depiction of a fantastical England. Now the BBC have a seven-part series starting this coming Sunday, 17th May. Of course one can never be entirely sure they've got it right until you've seen it, but the trailer looks promising.

This is appointment TV. You can read The Guardian article as well, here:  http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/may/09/jonathan-strange-mr-norrell-susanna-clarke
LAST ISSUE I completely forgot to include the links to Shen Hart's book. So here they are:
 

What I've been reading...

I want to be Joss Whedon when I grow up, especially because he's younger than me. He is one of the best screenwriters (and comic book authors) in the world today. Aaron Sorkin may write cleverer dialogue but nothing beats Joss's command of character.

This official biography provides an excellent understanding of where he came from and how he rose to the pinnacle of his profession. And it doesn't gloss over the low points. It also gives an excellent understanding of the insanity that is Hollywood.

Amazon (anywhere): http://bit.ly/joss-whedon
 
News from the desktop

The writing for the Harry in the Wild novella is continuing and I'm about 20% of the way through. Quite exciting the way it's turning out, I'm enjoying the lightness of it in comparison to the emotional wrenching that goes on when I write a Maliha Anderson book.

I've had some initial feedback from one of the editors about Maliha Anderson #5: Thunder over the Grass and she's very upset. Why? Because she doesn't want to wait until September for the next part. (So, good news there.) Here's a sneaky peak of the still-needs-some-work cover:

Available books

Click the link, and by the magic of the internets, you will be transported to your nearest Amazon store. But you can also buy the Maliha Anderson books from iTunes, Kobo and most other places as well now. Go to this page.

The Maliha Anderson series: The Frozen Beauty series (free to newsletter subscribers): The Harriet Edgbaston series: Miscellaneous stories: The Patterner's Path series:
  • Elona
  • Jaymis (due out in '16)
  • Kisharuk (due out later in '16) 

What I'm doing this year

These are the books I'm publishing in the coming twelve months, over on my website I now have clever progress-bar widgets for displaying where I'm at with the books. Look! (I'm updating the word counts but I really must get round to doing the rest.)
  • MA4 Wind in the East ~ RELEASED
  • FB2 Ladies' Day ~ RELEASED
  • HE1 Harry Takes Off ~ RELEASED
  • MAx Broken Vows ~ RELEASED
  • MA5 Thunder over the Grass ~ May '15 (novel)
  • HE2 Harry in the Wild ~ Jun '15 (novella)
  • FB3 Crawling... Crawling... ~ Jul '15 (novella)
  • HE3 Untitled Harriet Edgbaston ~ Aug '15 (novella)
  • MA6 Under The Burning Clouds ~ Sep'15 (novel)
  • FB4 Untitled Frozen Beauty #4 ~ Oct '15 (novella)
  • FG1 Untitled Françoise Greaux #1 ~ Nov '15 (novella)
  • VA1 Untitled Voidships Anthology #1 ~ Nov '15 (novel length)
  • TP Untitled Teslapunk ~ Dec '15 (novel)
  • MA0 The Taliesin Affair Maliha's first case ~ Jan '16 (novel)
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