Karen Lynn Nolan on Appalachian fiction
Karen Lynn Nolan is an award-winning writer of Appalachian fiction, mystery/suspense, and memoir. Her years in the eastern Kentucky mountains instilled a love of storytelling, mystery, humor, stubbornness, and deep faith. Her debut novel is Above the Fog, set in the mountains of eastern Kentucky.
Tell us about your newest book.
Above the Fogtells the story of Coreen and her struggles with her abusive father and rejection by her mother. On the eve of Coreen’s thirteenth birthday, the outlook turns even darker and out of desperation she prays to a God she’s not sure exists. The answer to her prayer sets off an adventure no one expected—an adventure that forces them to choose between survival or devastation.
What inspired you to write Above the Fog?
When asked to write a scene during a local writing class, Coreen popped into my head. At the following class, the instructor asked for more detail and dialogue. Coreen and her family came to life for me and I had to tell their story. That one scene became a story I knew God wanted me to tell.
How would you describe this book to someone in a 30-second blurb?
Growing up in a coal mining camp is difficult enough. But when Coreen Shell’s abusive father makes a promise for her thirteenth birthday that could destroy what’s left of her life, she resorts a desperate prayer to a God she’s not sure exists. The next day, a flood washes through the coal camp, like a backhanded answer to her prayer. Coreen, her mother, and her crippled grandmother next door must climb the mountain to find refuge in a nearby church. Then, news of a murder changes everything, in a way Coreen never imagined. Will Coreen and her damaged, dysfunctional family conquer all the lies, secrets, hardship, and hatred … or be destroyed by them?
What genre do you focus on and why?
Appalachian fiction. I grew up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky and have come to realize no matter what I do or where I travel, I am an Appalachian mountain woman. These are my people.
Who is your main character, and how did you choose that name?
Coreen is my main character. I had recently reconnected with a high school friend, Corinne. When I reached into my brain to find a name, Corinne popped up. I changed the spelling only because non-Appalachians would need help in knowing how we pronounce it.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?
My first book didn’t have a schedule. I wrote when I had a chance. Some days I spent 8-10 hours writing. Other days I spent one hour. As I work on my second book, I must split my time with marketing. And life. I have chronic illnesses that sometimes interfere with my ability to sit at the computer and think. I attempt to write 3-4 hours a day on my good days.
What is the hardest part of being an author? Why?
Marketing. It takes me away from the creative side I enjoy and forces me to do left-brained activities that are more challenging.
What’s the best part of your author’s life? Why?
When I began the process, it was being in the zone so deeply that the story acted out in front of me and became a part of my life. After the release, I find great joy in reading reviews and comments about how the story touched readers’ hearts and gave them hope. It’s exciting knowing my hard work is not in vain.
What’s one thing your readers should know about you?
I’ve had an adventurous life. I have a degree in music and theater, spent six years in New York City, and performed at Carnegie Hall for three seasons with the New York Choral Society.
How have you changed or grown as a writer?
When I returned to writing fiction after so many years, I quickly learned how much I didn’t know. I pushed myself to learn everything I could learn, be teachable, and have a thick skin. Through social media, I went from an isolated and lonely writer to a writer with an abundance of fabulous friends. Writers’ conferences have become my support system of knowledge, networking, and friendships.
What is your favorite pastime?
I love mystery. My favorite way to chill is to read mystery/suspense novels or watch them on TV.
Do you have other books? We’d love to know.
I have contributed to several anthologies with Yvonne Lehman (Coolinary Moments, Christmas Moments, Stupid Moments, and Moments with Billy Graham) and will have a story in a new book, Horse of My Dreams, set to release from Revell on September 17, 2019.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on another novel set mostly in eastern Kentucky about Sparrow Massey. Sparrow believes she ended up in Appalachia by accident and spends her life trying to find her place in the world where she is loved and has worth. Her journey takes her through a series of natural disasters that force her to make hard decisions. Those choices result in even more disastrous situations, including assault, homelessness, and marrying a man who makes her a slave to his narcissistic desires.
Link to book: https://amzn.to/2voZUrR
You can contact Karen at http://karenlynnnolan.com.
Social media links:
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