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Karen Keeley

From Blog Hoarder's "Fiction Junkie Volume 1" comes a gripping page-turner from the talented Keren Keeley.

"Sideways" is the story of Detective Al Simms and his former partner Syd Malloy, now a private investigator.

The pair are hot on the trail of a jewel thief who is trying to ransom five thousand “smackeroos” for the return of the stolen loot.

There are twists, turns, lies and murder in this truly intriguing story about revenge and greed.

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and now live in Calgary, Alberta. In between, I lived in various cities across Canada before ending up in Whitehorse, Yukon, one of my favourite places, beautiful country and beautiful people. I returned to Calgary in 2014, now retired from the day job.

Does your city or town influence your writing?

All of the various places I’ve lived influenced my writing. For me, there was always a take-away tied into landscape, geography, culture and cuisine, even the weather, and most of all, the people.

How long have you been writing for?

I began learning the craft of writing fiction in the late ‘80s when I first lived in Calgary. Over the years, I took numerous creative writing workshops in Calgary, Thunder Bay, Ontario and Whitehorse, with the hope of getting better at this writing thing. ~wink, wink~

What is your favourite story that you have written?

All of my stories are my babies but I think a favourite would be the first that actually saw print. It’s called White Horse in a Snow Storm and it captured first place in a creative writing contest sponsored by the Chronicle-Journal way back in the summer of ’94. The story is based on my memories of my uncle’s suicide, told from the POV of a twelve year old kid.

Who is your favourite author?

Wow, something of a hard question because I truly love so many writers but my all-time favourite has to be Rex Stout who wrote the Nero Wolfe mystery novels and novellas. I first discovered them in Thunder Bay in the 90’s and fell in love with the voice, the tone, the wit, the humour, and the mystery.

Who is your favourite character that you didn’t create?

I supposed it would have to be Archie Goodwin, our narrator in all those Nero Wolfe novels and novellas.

What is more important to you, a story’s plot or its characters?

The characters.

If you could live in any time period, which would you choose?

Right here, right now. I was born in the ‘50s so, yes I’m one of the ageing Baby Boomers. I’ve seen a lot, Vietnam conflict, assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr., the deaths of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the rise of the Beatles, John Lennon’s death, and Neil Armstrong’s That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. My kids have said to me, “Gee—Mom, you were there when so-and-so happened.” I may not have been there literally, I didn’t travel to Woodstock from Vancouver, but yes—media covered it all, good old Walter Cronkite giving us the day’s events on the idiot box.

Do you believe in an afterlife why or why not?

Wow, novels have been written on this topic. The short answer, haven’t got a clue! As a kid, I attended whichever Sunday school was near home, believing the Almighty Father was the old geezer sitting on his heavenly throne, him with the long white beard looking down, and oh boy—I’d better behave! Then you grow up, and hopefully read or watch documentaries or have intelligent conversations with your peers, and you come to learn there are a multitude of different religions, faiths, beliefs and creeds but there is also science and evolution, anthropology and sociology and a host of other disciplines. Reason and logic tells me no—we live, we die. It’s as simple as that.

Are we alone in the Universe?

I’d say no—the darn thing is just so big! Science tells us, astronomers estimate as many as 40 billion Earth type planets orbiting suns similar to ours in the Milky Way and our galaxy is just one of an estimated 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe. That’s a lot of potential for life, whatever configurations it takes.

Who is your favourite historical figure?

I don’t have a favourite but something that always intrigued me were the stories I heard as a child, an uncle of my grandmother who worked as a purser on the Titanic and survived the sinking only to then get hired as a purser on the Lusitania and wind up in the water a second time. The story goes Uncle Billy became sick with pneumonia and died soon after that second rescue. My Nana showed us a commemorative Lusitania medallion his family was given, providing proof he’d been on that ship so I took the stories to be true despite never finding Uncle Billy’s name on either of the two ships manifests.

Where do you write and how often?

I try to write every day. I have a second bedroom in my apartment and I call it the computer room.

Do you read more than you write or write more than you read?

Probably half and half, writing in the mornings and reading in the afternoons. It depends on what I have on the go, which pull is stronger any given day.

What is the best writing advice you ever received and what is the best advice you could give?

Energy, movement, and surprise! I got that from Charlie Wilkins, one of my writing teachers. No matter what I write, I try to keep those three words first and foremost in my mind. If the story is boring me then it’s certainly going to be boring to the reader. Think energy, the pace of the storytelling which is captured through word choice, sentence length, dialogue versus narrative, and movement which is also energy in the writing but it’s moving the story through space and time, forward and backward, and surprise, the idea of giving the reader something they didn’t expect, something they didn’t see coming. Keep them wanting more. Advice for others, just that—the good advice I received from Charlie.

How often do you get writer’s block and how do you overcome it?

Not often. If I hit a wall, I shelve the story for the time being and move onto something else. Sometimes I go back to it, sometimes not. All of my writing goes into the stew pot and resurfaces in some way, shape or form whether it becomes a finished story, or not.

What is something that nobody knows about you?

Gosh—I’m pretty much an open book. I can’t think of anything somebody somewhere doesn’t know.

For anyone interested in my writing, I did self-publish a mystery (with my son’s help) on Amazon, Sticks and Stones (three murder mysteries). I also have a short story collection, Telling Tales with I’m also included in Mid-Century Murder (Darkhouse Books) and Round Midnight (Strangeday Books). I think in total, I’ve had about twelve stories published over the years, with four more in the pike, due out later this year with various publishers.

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