Monday, September 29, 2014

Interview with Karen Tuft author of Unexpected and Reality Check - GIVEAWAY!!!!

Karen Tuft was born with a healthy dose of curiosity about pretty much everything, so as a child she taught herself to read and play the piano. She studied composition at BYU then graduated from the University of Utah in music theory as a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Kappa Lambda honor societies. In addition to being an author, Karen is a pianist, composer, and arranger, and has spent countless hours backstage and in orchestra pits for theater productions. She also has a 75 percent success rate when it comes to matchmaking and is a big believer in happy endings. Among her varied interests, she likes to spend time with her hubby and kids, figure out what makes people tick, wander through museums, and travel--whether by car, plane, or paperback.

Karen's most recent novel is Unexpected:
Eleven years ago, Ross McConnell was devastated by the betrayal of the woman of his dreams. Time does not heal all wounds, and after more than a decade, Ross is no closer to finding love. When his well-meaning family attempts to play matchmaker, he concedes by creating a list detailing his perfect mate. Perhaps he’ll give love another try, if such perfection exists . . .
Natalie Forrester is no stranger to heartache. After two failed marriages, the single mother is determined to make it on her own. Without a college degree, she starts at the bottom: working as a housekeeper may not be glamorous, but it’s her first step toward independence. And then Ross and Natalie meet . . . and meet again. And following a series of awkward encounters, Ross is shocked by his growing attraction for this woman. Natalie couldn’t be further from his ideal woman, and she is firm in her determination to keep her heart closed to love. But as their tenuous friendship develops and deepens, will the unlikely pair have the courage to set aside the disappointments of the past to catch hold of a bright new future?

Karen's writing is fresh and clever, her characters interesting and memorable. If you're looking for a book to entertain you and keep you up late, this is the one for you! And if you post a response to this blog post you will be entered into a giveaway for a free autographed copy of her book Unexpected.

Here is my interview with Karen Tuft...

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

K.T.: I didn’t know I wanted to be an author! I spent the majority of my life being a musician and dabbling in other creative arts. But life has an “unexpected” (pun intended!) way of throwing us curve balls. A dozen years ago, I experienced a significant loss of my eyesight following failed LASIK surgery. As a result, I had to redefine who I’d always been and find a new creative outlet for myself. And writing became that outlet.

M.B.: How wonderful that something so great could come out of something so horrible. What is your writing and educational background?

K.T.: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory, although I have always loved English and am constantly reading. My initial writing experience came mostly through school essays and limericks for friends (seriously). Interestingly, music and literature are structurally similar, so my college education helped me a lot when I made the transition from music to writing fiction.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

K.T.: I think every human being is discouraged at some point, regardless of what they choose to pursue. The trick is to have yourself a little cry, evaluate if you really have the potential and desire to continue, and then move forward with a realistic outlook and a healthy dose of optimism.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

K.T.: I believe everyone has a story, and it is a story worth telling—at least to someone. (That’s the genealogy fanatic in me speaking.) As a writer of fiction, however, I think the trick is to discern what makes the story relatable and compelling to others.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

K.T.: My main character in Unexpected, Natalie, made choices and mistakes early in her life that took her down a challenging road. My hope for the readers of Unexpected is that they will realize that while we have to live with the consequences of our choices, it doesn’t mean that God loves us less or that we can never have hope or love in our lives.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?

K.T.: Through trial and error, I’ve learned that I work best if I have a basic skeletal structure for my entire story, and then allow myself the latitude to fill in the details as I go along. If I get too detailed in my outline I feel hamstrung, but I like having an outline that makes it clear where I’m heading and where I’ll end up at the story’s conclusion.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

K.T.: You’d think, as a musician, that I listen to music, but NO!—I need absolute quiet to write!! I can’t go to “that deep place” I need to be while writing with music or conversation going on around me—especially music. Because of my training, I automatically revert to “musician mode” if music is playing—I start paying attention to the choice of instruments, the chord progressions, everything!! **groan** It’s too ingrained!

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

K.T.: I stare out the window a lot (I’m only half-kidding). I read a lot. I ask myself “what would happen if . . .” a lot. And I keep a notebook handy so if I see a random quote or have an idea pop in my head I can jot it down.

M.B.: You are so much like me!!! Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

K.T.: I’ve had a lot of great support from family and friends as a fledgling writer (the lovely and talented Michele Ashman Bell included—thank you so much!). My husband has been and remains my biggest champion in all of my creative endeavors. I mean, he used to cook dinner for his kids and put them to bed so I could go to community theater rehearsals! The guy’s a prince among men.

But the “aha moment” of my writing journey came from a children’s author named Bonny Becker ( I was sitting in a breakout session at a writing conference, and she explained the structure of writing fiction in a way that was like unraveling the universe in a single paragraph, or finding the key to the secrets of the Rosetta Stone. And she writes about a bear!

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the characters in your books come to life?

K.T.: Making them real. People are layered in real life, and characters need layers, too, especially main characters. There has to be something empathetic or compelling about them, or else we as readers won’t be interested enough to keep turning the pages.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

K.T.: I don’t use a critique group. It’s too structured of a setup for me, personally. I do ask people I trust to critique my writing occasionally, if I find myself stuck or want specific input, though.

M.B.: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

K.T.: Chocolate anything, anytime! Specifically, DARK chocolate anything—although I’m not so picky as to turn down chocolate in any form if it’s available for consumption.

M.B.: What are you working on now?

K.T.: I'm working on a story involving Lucy Kendrick Glass’s (my heroine in Reality Check) brother, Andy Kendrick. This one has taken a little longer for me to complete—life keeps getting in the way (it needs to stop doing that!)—but I’m hoping to have it completed and submitted soon.

M.B.: YAY!!! I'm so excited! Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

AUTHOR: Unexpected and Reality Check can be found at any LDS bookseller, including Deseret Book (, Seagull Books (, and in either soft cover or e-book formats.,,


Camy said...

I love music and reading too! I love reading those books that make love seem possible again even after such grand heartache. It puts into perspective how much God cares for us!
What instrument does Karen play?

Nichole said...

Entering giveaway. Thank you

Mindy said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I also review books and am always looking for great books to pass to my readers.

diney said...

I had a list of what I wanted in a companion and my 2nd husband was brought into my life through the death of his wife. I too was never going to marry again. I've been married 17 years now to a wonderful man!

Would love to read your new book, Karen! Thanks Michelle for your interview and also looking forward to your new book!

Thanks for giving us the opportunity to win with your giveaway.

Jennica Failner said...

I loved reading your interview! I just started my first day at school after 25 years, I'm focusing on taking writing classes so I can be like both of you! Thanks so much for your inspiration! Sheri Rokus :)

kersten campbell said...

Love this interview!

kersten campbell said...

Love this interview!

kersten campbell said...

Love this interview!

Emily said...

I enjoyed Reality Check, and have Unexpected on my "need to read" list!

Laurisa White Reyes said...

Both books sound like stories I'd love to read.

dk said...

Boy this one seems to hit it on the dot for me. I love this kind of novel. One I can relate to in so many different ways. I will look forward to finding where I can get a copy to read. Your fan Debra

JoAnn Arnold said...

Thank you for the giveaway.

Lisa And Randy said...

I really enjoyed reading about Karen and her book. I love music and reading. I also love to review new books on my blog and on other places. Thanks Michelle for keeping me informed of new books.

Wendy Seaman said...

You are both wonderful writers! Fun reading the interview! Love all your books.

Janell Leary said...

Karen, I am so happy for you. I loved Reality Check, and if I don't win this giveaway, I will have to resort to buying your book!! Love you -- Janell

Karen Tuft said...

Thanks everyone, for entering the drawing for a copy of my novel, Unexpected. The lucky winner is Kersten Campbell. (I only put her name in once, in case you're wondering . . .) :) Congratulations, Kersten!