Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.
This week author Karen Bass joins us to talk about her passion: Star Wars, or maybe writing.
Karen, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … Okay. Not quite, but I did hone some of my writing skills penning Star Wars fan fiction. What I am is a first generation Albertan, which means nothing to my U.S. friends but trust me when I say it’s a rarity since most people have moved to Alberta (a Canadian province) from somewhere else. Like Luke Skywalker, I was raised on a farm and wanted to be a whole lot of things growing up, but never a writer. It wasn’t until I went to work at the local library that the urge to write fiction took hold. Perhaps not all that surprising since I’ve always been an avid reader.
Once I’d started, writing became almost an obsession. Now I can’t imagine a future without it. My first YA novel, Run Like Jäger, was published in 2008, followed by Summer of Fire in 2009 and Drummer Girl this fall. After sixteen years, I left my library job this spring and am now a full-time writer. Someday I might even make a living from it, but until then my “patron of the arts” (aka my hubby) is willing to support me as I pursue my dream.
I’ve got a patron of the arts also. Also known as a shlepper. Every author needs a support system.
Congratulations on your books, Karen. Tell us more about your most recent book, Drummer Girl.
I’m really excited about my latest novel, Drummer Girl. It has already garnered good reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, plus a few book-reviewing bloggers. It’s off to a great start and I can only hope it continues to rock its little corner of YA lit, and few other corners as well. Isn’t that what any writer hopes for his or her new book?
Drummer Girl is the story of 15-year-old Sidney who desperately wants to be a drummer in a rock band. How far is Sid willing to go, and what will she do to get what she wants? The story tackles the issues of peer pressure, identity & image, in a fast-paced, enjoyable read.
Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.
1. Top 3 snacks to munch on while working: (Does coffee count as a snack? Because I almost always have a cup on the go, though if I’m really caught up in my writing it tends to get cold.)
1. Bowl of raw almonds and dried cranberries. This is what I reach for when I’m feeling conscientious about eating healthy, though I really do like this mix.
2. Dark chocolate. I buy oversized bars, then only take one row as my snack. I’m sure dark chocolate stimulates the imagination.
3. Hawkins Cheezies. Apparently this snack is only available in Canada. I truly feel sorry for my American friends because Cheezies beats all those Cheetos snacks hands down. I have to limit myself to little Halloween-sized treat bags because they are so very addictive.
2. Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.
1. Steam Engine Operator. Okay, so this isn’t exactly a profession in the strictest sense, but my grandfather had a working steam engine that he fired up once a year (on July 1st, Canada Day), and I seriously thought about getting my boiler engineer papers so I could drive it. I loved riding on it with him and getting to blow the whistle.
2. Veterinarian. Maybe this is a career most kids raised on farms consider at some time or another. Living around and loving animals makes it a natural fit, but though I did fine in biology classes all those Latin names scared me away from any kind of medical science.
3. Artist. I did apply to a fine arts university program but didn’t get accepted, and I did paint for many years, right up until I got serious about writing. I was a decent watercolourist but not quite good enough (in my opinion) to be a pro. Anyway, it seems I only have enough energy for one artistic endeavour at a time so writing is it.
3. Top 3 authors (this is an impossible question for an avid reader but I’ll list three whose latest books I never miss reading, and I’ll stick to YA writers even though there are many adult writers I also enjoy):
1. Laurie Halse Anderson – I adore pretty much everything Laurie has written. Wintergirls was almost too hard to read, not because it wasn’t brilliantly written (it was) but because it was such a gut-wrenching story. My favourite story is probably Twisted, with Forge coming in a close second. If I were granted a wish to write like someone other than myself, it would be Laurie.
2. Arthur Slade – When I worked in the local library, I was always the first patron to check out Art’s newest book. (One of the perks of working there.) He’s a Canadian author, so American readers might not know him, but hunt down his books (many available in the U.S.) because he tells a fantastic story. Lately he’s into steampunk, lots of high octane adventure. He’s won awards galore in Canada and deserves them all. If you’re looking for great reads for boys, his books are a fine starting point.
3. Janni Lee Simner – I think Janni is one of the most under-appreciated writers out there. Her prose is exceptional and lyrical, and she tells a riveting story. I love everything about Secret of the Three Treasures (except, perhaps, for the title, which was the publisher’s choice, not hers) – it’s written for upper elementary but adults will also adore the quirky main character,Tiernay. For writers this book is a superb example of a book written in the first person with a unique and captivating voice, something difficult to achieve. And for what it’s worth, I think Janni’s YA fantasy, Bones of Faerie, is the best apocalyptic story in the genre I’ve read.
Great recs. Thanks for sharing them, Karen. Where can our readers find out more about you and your work?
Karen was kind enough to teach me some Canadian. I already have the accent, so I should know the language, eh?
Thanks for stopping in and visiting us on Strands of Thought. It was so much fun getting to know you.