Liberty States Create Something Magical Conference Speaker Interview Series: Karen Stivali

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Today the Liberty States Create Something Magical Conference Speaker Interview Series continues with author Karen Stivali:

  1. What made you want to become a writer?

I’ve always loved to write and have been making up stories in my head since I was a little kid. There hasn’t been a single period of time since I first learned to form letters that I haven’t been writing something—letters (I had over twenty pen pals at one point back in the days of paper mail), plot summaries (I worked for a film agent for a while as a reader), case histories (in my social work days), blog posts and editorials (about everything from restaurant reviews to reality TV character/editing analysis)—not to mention thousands of emails. When I finally decided to be serious about writing one of the novels I’d had in my head for nearly a decade, there was no turning back.


  1. Is there one piece of advice you would give an aspiring writer?

Once you get an idea in your head and you know “this is the book I need to write” don’t give up until it’s done. There will be a million times when you might say to yourself “but if I change this it might be better” or “I can’t do this”—but you can. Getting to The End on your first novel is one of the hardest things to do and one of the best feelings ever, because then you’ve done it. You’ve written a book. Not a few chapters. Not some ideas for a book. The whole damned book. And once you have that finished draft, you can mold and shape it into whatever you want it to be. Don’t worry about making it perfect while you’re writing that first draft. A draft is like an unfrosted cake. Once it’s baked you can frost and fill and decorate it however you want. Before that, it’s just batter. Batter that has the potential to be the most amazing cake in the world. When it’s done.


  1. If you could co-write a book with any author, dead or alive, who would it be?


I’ve co-written before and would gladly do it again or try it for the first time with several authors I know, so I’m not going to name anyone alive because I’ll hold out hope that some of those might happen in reality. If I could choose one author from the past who I’d love to co-write with? I’d have to say Madeleine L’Engle. She was one of my absolute favorite authors when I was growing up. I loved her books and read them over and over. When I was around ten year old we were taking a family trip to New York City (I lived in Ohio at the time) and I read in the New York Times magazine that she was due to speak at the New York Public Library while we were going to be in the city. I begged my parents to take me, and they did. But the date had changed and when we showed up at the library we were told she wasn’t coming until the following week. I was crushed and the librarian took pity on me and said that if I wrote Ms. L’Engle a note she’d be sure to give it to her when she came. I did. And even back then I was cynical enough to think that she’d never get my message. Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later a letter showed up in the mail. One whole side of the envelope had a starry-sky looking print on it and a name etched into the design—Madeleine L’Engle. She’d written me back telling me she was so sorry we’d missed one another, that she hoped I’d keep writing and that perhaps one day our paths would cross. It was the coolest thing that had ever happened in my life. It still is. And I still have the letter.


  1. Who is on your bookshelf?

After contracting my eighteenth book I finally convinced my husband that the little kitchen desk wasn’t really cutting it for holding all my writing-related stuff, so I recently got my own home office. It’s still in the process of being turned into a real office so there’s currently a weird hodge-podge of makeshift furniture and what is actually on my bookshelf at the moment is my cat, BadKitteh. Pretty sure he thinks this room is his office, not mine. But once I unpack my things onto the bookcases there will be two filled with classics ranging from Russian literature to complete poetry collections, one filled with favorite books from my childhood (I saved my original copies of all the Judy Blume and Paul Zindel books I read growing up and acquired a signed copy of The Phantom Tollbooth at last year’s BEA), and one full of current favorites, most of which are written by authors I’ve gotten to know over the past few years and many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with—Tiffany Reisz, Andrew Shaffer and Karen Booth, to name just a few.


  1. Can you tell us about one of the most memorable moments in your writing career thus far?

The most memorable moments in my writing career all involve encounters with readers. Whether it’s an email telling me that they related to a character or that the story came into their lives at just the right time…or someone finding me at a conference and bringing one of my books with them because they were excited to meet me in person…or even someone friending me on social media because they read one of my books and wanted to get to know me—all of those things are mind-blowing to me. I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where it seems commonplace to me. Every single time it happens is memorable in its own way and they all mean so much to me.


  1. Tell us about your newest release/current work in progress.


My newest release is MOMENT OF SILENCE, which came out in late December 2015. It’s the fourth book in my LGBTQ (male/male) romance series Moments In Time, but it can be read as a standalone. Jason and Quinn were both secondary characters in the earlier books in the series, but they don’t meet until they start working together in Moment Of Silence.  I don’t play favorites with my books or my characters, but I have to say I have a soft spot for this story. I grew up in a half Jewish/half Catholic household and this novel is the story of a nice Jewish boy who falls in love with a man who’s about to take his final vows as a Catholic priest. It’s set in NYC, which is also very close to my heart as I lived there for many years. Here’s the blurb:

Growing up, Jason Stern led a charmed life complete with devoted sisters, a father who was one of Brooklyn’s most respected rabbis, and a mother who made the world’s best babka. He headed to NYU ready for anything—except falling for the wrong guy, coming out, and getting disowned by his once-loving family. In spite of that, Jason managed to graduate with honors. He’s got friends who treat him like family, and he’s proudly running the largest LGBTQ teen shelter in Manhattan. Life is good, but he’s still falling for the wrong men.

When charming, sexy Quinn Fitzpatrick begins work at the shelter, Jason falls hard and fast. Quinn is tall, blond, funny—damn near perfect. Only if Quinn’s gay, even he doesn’t seem to know it. If he does, he’s not telling anyone. And he’s about one ceremony away from becoming a Catholic priest.

Long hours of work turn to long nights of talking and laughter, and Jason dares to hope this time he’s falling for the right guy. But Quinn’s got a past to deal with and major decisions to make about his future. When Quinn leaves for a silent retreat, Jason knows the silence may change everything.

My current work in progress is the next book in the series (MOMENT OF FATE, which can also be read as a standalone). It’s due out sometime mid-2016 and you can get a steamy sneak peek at a chapter from it at the end of Moment Of Silence. This book is also set in NYC but has a very different vibe. Bryan is a musician in a fairly well known rock band and is finally finishing up his photography degree from NYU (which got put on hold when the band had its first taste of success) and Oliver is new to NYC and newly out after several years of planning to have a marriage of convenience with his lifelong female BFF. They’re instantly attracted to one another, but Bryan’s on a self-imposed sex hiatus and Oliver just wants to sew his wild oats—or at least that’s what he thinks he wants—so they convince themselves they’re just friends.  (Spoiler alert: they’re not ‘just friends’ for long.)

I also have two male/female contemporary romances releasing: the re-release of my award winning novella ALWAYS YOU (now with Tule Publishing and due out as part of a Valentine’s debut of their erotic romance line EROS) and FOUR DAYS TO FOREVER (a contemporary NA releasing in late March from Bloomsbury Spark).



Author bio:

author photo Karen Stivali 2015Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. She’s also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. She writes novels about love…like real life, only hotter.

Karen’s lifelong fascination with people has led her to careers ranging from hand-drawn animator, to party planner, to marriage and family counselor, but writing has always been her passion. Karen enjoys nothing more than following her characters on their journey toward love. Whether the couples are m/f or m/m, it’s guaranteed that Karen’s novels are filled with food, friendship, love, and smoking hot sex—all the best things in life.

When Karen isn’t writing (and often when she is), she can be found on Twitter attempting witty banter and detailing the antics of her fruit-loving cat, BadKitteh. She loves to hear from readers (and other writers), so don’t hesitate to contact/follow/like her at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/karenstivali/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenStivaliAuthor/

Website: http://karenstivali.com/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/karenstivali/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KarenStivali/

E-mail: karenstivali@gmail.com/

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