Author On The Couch: Karin Shah

Author on the Couch: An Intimate Look into the Minds of Our Favorite Authors. Today I’m conducting a session with Karin Shah.   At the end of our session, I’ll provide instructions on how to win two copies of Karin’s newest novel HALFLING   Me: So Karen, tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life. Karin: At age 42, I had a stroke. I was lucky enough to have it in the visual cortex, so all I have have is a burnt out spot in my vision which my brain has learned to look past, but the shock of a healthy person (I had zero risk factors) having something that could have killed me happen out of the blue, made me realize how short life really is. I stopped pursuing New York publishing houses and agents, I didn’t feel I had the years to wait for them to get back to me. It’s been a few years now and I’m looking for an agent again for my middle grade/ younger young adult as NY is still where it’s at for that age group, but I’ve retained that feeing of the fragility and fleeting nature of life. Me: Whoa… A stroke at 42. That’s scary and so danged random. My husband is 42. Yikes. Hearing your story is a reality check. We just never know when stuff like that could happen. When it comes to writing, what personality trait of yours helps you the most as an author? Karin: I was picked on a lot as a child and I think that really steeled me against rejection. The ability to bounce back from the negative is vital for an author. Me: Kudos to you that you can take something so painful–being picked on as a child–and see it as a positive because it’s given you a thick skin. Reframing painful things like that is a valuable skill to have. And when it comes to this industry you are so true–rejections and bad reviews alone can be devastating if we don’t know how to handle them. Talking about positive personality traits, leads me to my next question. What personality trait of yours hinders you most an author? Karin: One the flip side, I still suffer from self-doubt, which usually manifests itself in chronic procrastination. Me: I think most writers struggle with self doubt. I know I sure do. When it comes to procrastination, most of the time it’s rooted in some sort of fear–which of course makes it a cousin to self-doubt. Tell me about your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest, on cloud nine, flying high? What happened? Karin: My first signing at RWA was awesome. I felt really good about my career at that time. Me: What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path as a writer, a time when you felt really crappy about your writing? What happened? How did you get over it? Karin: After my first book STARJACKED, a Science Fiction Romance, was published, I had a big slump. The sophomore slump is pretty common. I realized the distance between the first contract and the second could be far further than I thought it would be. I questioned whether I should write at all, but the ideas and characters didn’t stop coming, so I figured I might as well write them down. And if I was going to write them down, it just made sense to submit them. 🙂 Since then, I’ve had four more books published. Me: I had to show off my copy of Starjacked. I’ve had it forever. I think I got it at the 2010 RT Convention in Columbus! To anyone who likes Sci-Fi Romance–this is your book! Which of your characters are you most like? Karin: They all have pieces if me, but I’m probably most like Thalia, the heroine of my second book, Blood and Kisses. Ok, she’s a witch, but I gave her a disfiguring (more in her own eyes) birthmark that identifies her as the Witches’ Champion. She was heavily teased about it as a child and though I don’t have a birthmark, I share a similar history. I had severe cystic acne and was socially awkward to boot, so I was a constant target in elementary and Jr High. The overt mocking had died down by high school, but the damage was done. It took years for my self-confidence to re-bound. Now, I realize, though I wouldn’t have anyone suffer as I did, that surviving that emotional abuse allowed me to be the adult I am, to accept and move on from rejection and not worry too much about what people I don’t care about think. Me: “…surviving that emotional abuse allowed me to be the adult I am, to accept and move on from rejection and not worry too much about what people I don’t care about think.” AMEN. RIGHT ON. It’s amazing how many people I see every day who still struggle to deal with being verbally/emotionally abused by their peers in school. And I’m seeing them five, ten, twenty, thirty, years after it’s over. That kind of abuse can do serious damage. Karin: Many of my other characters, especially Deyna from Halfling, are ostracized, so I guess you could say that’s a recurring theme with me; the need for people to shed the conception of themselves imposed by others and love their true self, no matter what society may say. Me: Wow. Wow. Wow. So powerful! I had to create a Quotable from it! Me: We’re nearing the end of our session, so let’s switch gears a bit. What book do you wish you’d written? Why? Karin: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I love that series. The world is so deep. I’m always lost after I finish re-reading it, longing to go back inside and live with the characters. It would be fabulous to write something that sparks so much excitement … Continue reading Author On The Couch: Karin Shah