Monday, January 20, 2014

Karen Brees, The Esposito Caper

Author: Karen Brees
Title: The Esposito Caper

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

Thinking I should be thinking about writing/editing. Seriously. There really isn’t a time when I’m not thinking about plot, characters, and other weird stuff that could find their way into a book. I’ve got a notebook where I write down snippets of conversations, random comments, scenes, possible conflict situations. I love fast food restaurants. People reveal so much in loud tones that it’s impossible to ignore them. Then I look at their faces/bodies and consider who they might be, what they’re like, who their friends may be, what their problems are. It snowballs from there.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

It’s the worst part of the process. I hate it. But if you want your book to sell, it’s up to you. Social Media is touted as essential to success and it’s true. I’ve got Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and it’s still not enough. You could easily spend your entire day online promoting and get little in return for your efforts. The direct approach is best. Word of mouth sells books. Make specific requests to your friends and family – don’t send out blanket appeals to your 18 million “connections” or “friends” to buy your book and expect instant results. You’ve got to give if you’re going to get.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

Mostly I’m guilty of procrastinating. I have arguably the neatest sock drawer in the Pacific Northwest. There’s only one way to get past it. Sit down and write. Write about anything – socks, apples, your income tax problems, the last fight you had with your spouse/friend/partner – Then think about one of the characters in your book and put them in your shoes – how would they handle those problems? By the time you’ve answered that, you’re back into character development, inciting events, conflict, and some possible scenarios to take the plot.

What are your current projects?

Working on Volume Two of the Katrin Nissen OSS Agent Series: Crosswind. Also thinking about a 19th century romance set in Port Townsend, Washington.

What do you plan for the future?

I’d like to keep breathing on a regular basis. Also, I’d love to see Ireland and Germany and set a couple of novels there.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

Your characters will do what their characters require them to do, regardless of how you try to force them to follow your own line of thinking. They will, that is, if you’ve created strong personalities and given them freedom to lead their own lives. Makes for interesting plot development.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

Here’s the synopsis from my website:

The Esposito Caper
Crime is easy. Family is what’s tough. And for Gino Esposito, family obligations could be the end of him. His grandfather wants to prove he’s the genius behind another artist’s works. All he needs is for Gino to steal a diary that’s currently in the possession of the Mafia.
Gino will do almost anything to work an angle, but he’s thinking this task could be his last. He needs help, but all he’s got is cousin Carla, exotic dancer with aspirations of opening a ballet studio with 100K she's stolen from the Mob, and girlfriend Francesca, whose boss has got her framed for embezzlement.
It’s a recipe for family problems only faith, luck, and some really good mojo will solve.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?

My husband. He’s a great source of ideas and said, “What would happen if an artist was actually forging another artist’s works with that artist’s permission?” That was the basic idea and what I did with it surprised the heck out of him. I don’t think he was expecting Carla or the rest of the crew to step in.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?

I have a general idea of where I want the story to end up. For the WWII series, there’s a great deal of research, so that requires an outline to keep me on track. For mainstream fiction, the beginning and the end come to mind, but the middle is a muddle until I get going.

What comes first: the plot or characters?

The idea comes first. Theme, if you will. The theme for The Esposito Caper is redemption – second chances at getting it right. But characters drive plot. Always have and always will.

How did you decide how your characters should look?

That’s the fun part of research. Magazine photos provide all kinds of inspiration. I cut out pictures from catalogs. I’ve got a scrapbook full of pictures. Then I write biographies for all of them, along with physical descriptions, personality traits – everything.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

A plot that transports me to another time and place with characters I can love or hate. I have to care about them. Also description that’s well done and pertinent to the scene. Put me there and let me be part of what’s going on.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?

A few things. Characters I don’t care about. Why bother reading about people who bore you?
Grammatical mistakes that should have been caught during the eleventeen hundred edits.
Info dumps.

Agendas. I read for enjoyment these days. I’ve done my time as an English teacher, university professor, librarian, and working professional. If you’ve got an agenda, you’re going to lose me as a reader. I know some people commit to finishing a book once they’ve started it, but if I’m not hooked after the second page, I’m done. Too many good books out there to waste time on those that fall short.


  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Penny. Your blog is terrific!