Interview with Karen Osman
What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
My novels fall into a sub-genre of psychological thrillers called domestic noir. Domestic noir novels usually centre around the family and are quite dark in nature. There is usually a thriller element as well as suspense and various plot twists.
What made you choose that genre?
When I wrote my first novel, The Good Mother, which won the Emirates Festival of Literature Prize, it wasn’t a conscious decision to write this genre. However, there are strong themes of motherhood in my book and I wrote instinctively most likely because I was pregnant at the time and also looking after a toddler. Saying that, I read a lot of psychological thrillers and crime novels, so this probably influenced my work as well.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I have written three books so far. The Good Mother took me a year to write, my second, The Home, around nine months, and The Perfect Lie, my latest book, around nine months as well. I’m currently working on my fourth book and I estimate six to nine months to write it.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
As I have a four and six-year old, I usually work around the academic calendar so as soon as I have dropped my sons off to school, then I will usually work first thing in the morning when I’m at my most creative. The early afternoons are for admin, marketing, meetings, and so on. I find writing a bit like exercise – if I don’t do it in the morning, it doesn’t tend to happen.
Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know.
I’m originally from the Lake District in the UK but left when I was 21 to live in Japan. Since then, I’ve lived as an expat in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East and currently live in Dubai.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I’ve written my whole life from a very young age, but it was only when I was 37 that I attempted my first novel, The Good Mother. I submitted that manuscript into a novel writing competition and won. The judge of that competition was a renowned literary agent and he sold The Good Mother as part of a three-book deal.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
In addition to writing novels, I also own a business which I set up in 2011 called Travel Ink. I also run an online book club, Karen’s Bookshelf, because I love to read, and this summer, I launched an online writing course for aspiring authors called Kick Start Your Book With Karen. To relax, I love working out, going to the beach, and spending time with my family.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I think there were two things: the first, how difficult it can be to write a book and secondly, how challenging I found the isolating nature of the job. I consider myself an introvert but sometimes I struggled working on my own for so long. The latter is one of the reasons I set up Karen’s Bookshelf and the Kick Start Your Book With Karen programme. I wanted to connect with other readers and writers as well as pass on book recommendations and writing advice.
How many books have you written?
I have written three novels and currently working on my fourth. For my latest novel, The Perfect Lie, readers can read the first chapters for free by clicking here.
Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?
Great question - I just Googled myself now to answer this! The first few pages are mainly about my books, social media profiles, and other interviews I’ve done but I also discovered another author called Karen Osman who has published a book about the Italian Renaissance!
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a war reporter when I was around sixteen and didn’t really understand what it entailed. I studied Linguistics and English Language at the University of Durham so I always knew I would work with words in some way.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have on your computer?
Just the one, thank goodness! I wrote a first draft, around 80,000 words, but realised the story didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. So disappointing! It took me a while to accept it but once I did, I had the freedom to start working on something else.
Link to join the book club: https://www.karenosman.com/join-karens-book-club
Link to join writing course: https://www.karenosman.com/writing-courses
The Perfect Lie (pub 2019)
The Home (pub 2018)
The Good Mother (pub 2017)
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