Karen Halvorsen Schreck is the author of two previous novels, Dream Journal and While He Was Away. Her short stories and articles have received various awards, including a Pushcart Prize, an Illinois State Arts Council Grant, and in 2009, first prize awards for memoir and devotional magazine writing from the Evangelical Press Association. Karen received her doctorate in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives with her husband and two children in Wheaton, Illinois.
What do you consider the best resources for historical research?
I drew on so many different resources when I wrote Sing for Me, and all of them supplemented each other, so I find it very hard to select “the best.” Here’s the tip of my research iceberg: I interviewed music critics, musicians, as well as friends who are old enough to have heard jazz in clubs and gospel in churches during the 1930s. I read autobiographies of musicians who were in their prime during the first half of the twentieth century, and listened to recordings of the music that is woven through the book. (Jazz and Gospel basically comprised the soundtrack of my life for nearly a year.) I watched movies made in the 1930s or set in the 1930s. Read books written or set during that time. I went on the internet and searched YouTube for home movies that showed Oak Park and Chicago during the Depression. I read blogs and Facebook pages concerned with similar subject matter. (It’s amazing how much I got out of a single blog devoted to vintage postcards!) And of course there were always my dad’s stories and family photographs, spinning around in my mind.
What or who inspired you to write inspirational fiction? Has writing for a general market publisher changed your vision for writing at all?
As a person of faith, I am thrilled to be able to write a novel that is concerned with the workings of faith in the world. And in terms of the second part of this question: I honestly just try to do the best job I can as a writer, whatever it happens to be that I’m writing.
What helps you maintain productivity as a writer? And what do you find most challenging about the business of being an author?
Do you feel you are more of a character driven or plot driven writer? How do you think it comes across in your writing?
I’m definitely a character driven author. I understand the people first, and they I work out what happens next. Plot comes slowly to me, and only after several revisions.
Would you like to share about what you are working on now?
I am developing another book set in the 1930s. I appreciate the richness of this era—the challenges it held that I feel are so present in our world today. And I’m exploring another region of the country that I love: the southwest and the west coast. I may not be able to spend an extended amount of time there right now, but at least I can imagine the places deeply.
Do you have any last words of wisdom to share with aspiring authors?
Read, read, read, and read some more. And don’t give up the faith.
Please leave a comment by answering the question Karen is asking below
for a chance to win her novel, Sing for Me. Don't forget to include your
email address in the form of name[at]domain[dot]com before 8:30 a.m.
EDT this Friday morning to qualify for the drawing.
How do you define or experience your “calling”?