Friday, August 14, 2015

Getting to Know Us — Karen McCullough

Yes, we all have bios on this website, but there is so much MORE to know about our Classic and Cozy bloggers.  So the 2nd Friday of each month is dedicated to getting to know us better.  This month I'd like to introduce you to Karen McCullough. 

Okay, inquiring minds want to know…why a writer? Certainly not for the fame and fortune…or maybe it is? 
Good question and I’m not sure I have a good answer.  Definitely not for the fame and fortune.  Not that I’d mind the fortune, but I’d just as leave skip the fame part. It’s just that being a writer is part of what I am.  My imagination is always at work and seems to bring up new story ideas and characters regularly. They begin knocking at my brain and demanding release.

When did you first put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to create your classic and cozy characters?
I wrote my first short story when I was eleven or twelve. It was a mystery and three pages long, which seemed like a lot of writing at the time. I wrote my first serious short story in 1980 and submitted it to a couple of magazines. They all turned it down, but a couple added nice remarks about my writing, which was all I needed to keep at it. I think I finished my first complete novel somewhere around 1984 or 1985 and sold my first novel (the sixth complete novel I’d written) to Avalon in 1988.  It was published in 1990.

Do you have a set writing schedule?
I wish I did, but I have a full-time job (though I’m working my way toward retirement from it) and family commitments. I try to save a couple of hours a day for writing and try to get 500 words done per day, but it doesn’t happen every day, and I don’t beat myself up about it when it doesn’t work.

Is there a certain routine, food/drink, or location that summons forth the muses for you?
Not really. I often re-read the second I wrote the previous day, making corrections, and that gets me into the story enough to get the ball rolling. If I’m having trouble, I allow myself one game of solitaire while I’m thinking, but then I have to write one sentence before I can play another game. Weird as it sounds, it works and gets me rolling. However, a cup of coffee always at the ready nearby is a definite necessity

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I watch sports on TV - Carolina Panthers football, Duke Basketball, Atlanta Braves baseball, along with going to games of our local minor league team, the Greensboro Grasshoppers.  I also putter in the garden, play computer games, and travel. 

I imagine you’ve been reading all of your life (all great writers have.)  What was your favorite book as a child?
Yes, I have a lifelong addiction to reading. I remember tearing through every Nancy Drew book I could lay hands in my pre-teen years. When I couldn’t find any more new ones, I went through the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift and a couple of other series whose names I don’t even remember now. But Nancy Drew was always my favorite.

Do you re-read books?  If so, which one have you re-read the most?
Yes, although not many. I’ve re-read the books of my idols, Mary Stewart and Barbara Mertz (aka Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters) numerous times, but the book I’ve re-read most often would have to be The Lord of the Rings.

But there’s more to life than reading, writing (and arithmetic)…what is your most memorable adventure in your life?
Hmmm.  That’s a hard one since I’ve done a few.  But, yes, the most memorable adventure happened in 2005.  Along with our two daughters, my husband and I went over to England for our son’s wedding.  (He attended graduate school at the University of Bangor in Wales, and while there met his future wife, a young woman from Kent in England.)  We decided to use the opportunity to see more of the United Kingdom, so we flew into Edinburgh, Scotland and spent a few days there, before we headed for a few days in London, and then down to Hastings to the hotel on the waterfront where we’d stay for the wedding. It was my first time in the UK and it was all new and wonderful. Sharing it with family made it extra special, and then the culmination in the wedding was marvelous. Another thing that made the trip so great was that in Hastings we got to meet so many members of the bride’s family and spend time with them, learning more about how they lived, etc. I recall that every moment was packed with things to do, see, and talk about!

If you were on American Idol, what song would you sing to WOW! the judges?
Ouch, this is a little painful because there was a time when I could actually sing. I had vocal training as a kid and sung in a number of choirs in school, then later in pop/rock groups, cover bands, and a couple of church music groups. But ten years ago I had two rounds of surgery to remove some things from my sinuses that weren’t supposed to be there, and my vocal cords were damaged, resulting in the loss of almost all of my range. (Same thing that took Julie Andrews’ wonderful voice.)  But if I were still able to sing, I’d probably cover Both Sides, Now, by Joni Mitchell, or Memory by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  

What are you currently working on? What can we readers look forward to seeing from you?
I’ve recently turned in the second book in my Market Center Mystery series to Five Star. The first in the series was A Gift for Murder, released in hardcover in 2011. The sequel is titled Wired for Murder. I have no idea yet when it will be released. I’m currently working on a novella in the series which I’ll likely self-publish myself to support the series.  My working title for it is A Gift for Destruction, but that could change. And finally I have a short story just released in July as part of the Frostgrave: Tales of the Frozen City anthology, which is connected to the Frostgrave game world.  My story is titled, “Best Served Cold.”

Last question…movie rights…who’ll play your current main characters when Hollywood comes knocking on your door? 
Oh, dear.  I don’t know…  Jennifer Lawrence in a dark wig would make a wonderful Heather McNeil.  For Scott Brandon, maybe Chris Pine.

Catch more of Karen McCullough the second Saturday of every month here on the Classic and Cozy Blog.   

For a complete list of Karen McCullough’s books click on over to her website

And be sure and check out her blog


  1. Nice interview. It's a pleasure to get to know you better, Karen. Love the title Wired for Murder. Will look for it. Let is know when you have a release date.

  2. Karen, you've led an interesting life, especially with the singing. So sorry the surgery took away your ability to sing. It's amazing how many multi-talented authors we have on this blog.

  3. Karen, I now know more facets of you!

  4. Hi Karen--
    What a magical trip to the U.K. you had. We have somethings in common: I too loved Nancy Drew books and I am still a Duke Blue Devil B-ball fan :-)
    Good luck with your books!