Friday, 28 November 2014
Author Interview: Karen J. Hicks
About the Author:
Karen J. Hicks is retired and lives in Henderson, Nevada. She recently published her second novel, The Coming Woman, based on the life of the infamous feminist Victoria C. Woodhull, who was the first woman to run for U.S. President. Her first book was a self-help book titled The Tao of a Uncluttered Life. Karen served as in-house editor for author Steve Allen and has written several screenplays, as well as poetry, short stories, and essays. To learn more, go to http://www.karenjhicks.com/
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
I’m more of a seat of the pants writer. I get an idea for a story and sit at the computer and dash out a brief synopsis or short story of it. Then I start adding details – various “scenes” that expand on the idea. I think using scenes comes from my days of writing scripts. THE COMING WOMAN was actually written as a script first, as is the novel I am currently working on.
Once I get scenes visualized, I print them out and then arrange them in an order that seems coherent.
When I start putting them all together on the computer, I visualize myself as the reader and what I want to read next – what questions I need answers too, etc. – so the scenes get moved around even more, as well as some added and some deleted. I print out a first draft and then the real process of writing begins: the editing!
THE COMING WOMAN was a bit different, however, because history provided the sequence of events. The biggest problem I had with this book was that there was so much material I really had to pick and choose carefully to keep the book focused.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Because my first book was a non-fiction self-help book, there were no characters and with the second book being historical, the characters’ actions were already a part of history. But in the book I am currently working on – a romantic novel – they have certainly had a say a time or two on how they want to react. I feel more like I am channeling them than creating them.
What is your favourite food?
I love sushi, but I also crave a good steak every so often.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I’m definitely a morning person. Being raised on a dairy farm probably set that pattern. Living in Vegas, the summers get pretty hot so I get up before dawn to walk. I like to write in the mornings as it is so quiet and my mind is refreshed from the night’s sleep.
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
I’m actually not a big traveler. My son was married in the south of France (Nice) so that was an incredible experience to go there, but I’ve never wanted to see the world. I love being an armchair traveler, though, and learning about other countries and cultures. I prefer to drive to more local areas and visit national parks and nature rather than cities.
Do distant places feature in your books?
Not so far.
Do you listen to music while writing?
I listen mostly to ocean and rainforest environmental sounds and Native American flute when writing, although I occasionally add such artists as Enigma, Vangelis, Enya, Ottmar Liebert, R. Carlos Nakai, and Cusco. A lot of times I just like the quiet though.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
THE COMING WOMAN is based on the life of the infamous 19th century feminist, Victoria C. Woodhull. Victoria was the first woman to run for President (1872), before women could even vote. She was also the first woman to enter the male-dominated halls of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she petitioned for woman’s suffrage. A popular orator, she and her sister and side-kick, Tennessee Celeste (Tennie C.) were also the first women stockbrokers on Wall Street and the first women to run a mainstream newspaper. Victoria’s nemesis is the famous Brooklyn preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, whose hypocrisy she saw as epitomizing the hypocrisy of society during what Mark Twain called The Gilded Age. When his secret affairs are exposed by Victoria, it causes life-changing consequences to not only the individuals involved but society as well.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
You just have to be brave and persistent and what you write will find its intended audience.
Is there anything you would do differently?
I would have been braver and more persistent earlier in my life.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
My high school English teacher had the biggest impact on me. Rather than follow the usual lesson plans, one semester she had us each write a novella, each week including the words from our spelling/vocabulary lists. She would read parts aloud in class and mine was frequently shared with high praise from her. Since I was a small child, I had enjoyed making up stories, but her praise made me realize I would like to someday use what talent I had in my career. I kept in touch with Mrs. Carlson until her passing at age 96 earlier this year and she has continued to push and inspire me to pursue this dream.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
No one else can tell the story like you so listen to yourself and remove any naysayers from your life. And just do it.
What are three words that describe you?
Loyal. Organized. Approachable.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
I have so many. I don’t think I’ve ever met a writer I didn’t like. Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb amazes me with how versatile she is in her writing. Shel Silverstein was a genius. My friend Kinky Friedman’s mystery books entertain and enlighten.
Running for President wasn’t Victoria’s only first as a woman. She was also the first to own a successful Wall Street firm, the first to publish a successful national newspaper, and the first to head the two-million-member Spiritualist Association.
She was the first woman to enter the Senate Judiciary Committee chambers to petition for woman's suffrage, her argument changing the entire focus of the suffragist movement by pointing out that the 14th and 15th Amendments already gave women the vote.
In her campaign for the Presidency, Victoria Woodhull boldly addressed many of the issues we still face today: equal pay for equal work; freedom in love; corporate greed and political corruption fueled by powerful lobbyists; and the increasing disparity between the rich and the poor, to name only a few. Her outspoken and common-sense ideas may shed a new perspective on the parallel conundrums of today’s world.
This bold, beautiful, and sexually progressive woman dared to take on society and religion. To make an example of the hypocrisy in what Mark Twain dubbed The Gilded Age, she exposed the extramarital affairs of the most popular religious figure of the day (Henry Ward Beecher). This led to her persecution and imprisonment and the longest, most infamous trial of the 19th century. But it did not stop her fight for equality.
Victoria’s epic story, set in the late 1800s, comes to life in a modern, fictional style, while staying true to the actual words and views of the many well-known characters.
The Coming Woman was published by Sartoris Literary Group in August 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Genre: Women’s Fiction / Historical
Praise for The Coming Woman:
"If you have a heart, if you have a soul, Karen Hicks' The Coming Woman will make you fall in love with Victoria Woodhull." - Kinky Friedman, author & Governor of the Heart of Texas
"What kind of confidence would it take for a woman to buck the old boy's club of politics in 1872? More than 140 years pre-Hillary, there was Victoria Woodhull. This book takes you back with a breathtaking, present-tense bird's eye view into a time when women's liberation was primarily confined to one woman's very capable, independent mind. I couldn't put it down." - Ruth Buzzi, Golden Globe Award winner and Television Hall of Fame inductee
"The Coming Woman is a great read and a long overdue biography written beautifully by Ms. Hicks. Victoria Woodhull comes alive in each and every paragraph; a vital strength and spirit in Woodhull propels her to run for president of the United States when women weren’t even allowed to vote! What a woman, what a book! An inspiring must read for every woman and any adventurous men! Thank you, Ms. Hicks for finally telling her colorful story." - Jennifer Lee Pryor, author of Tarnished Angel: A Memoir and President, Indigo, Inc.