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Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Today we sit down for a chat with Karen A. Phillips, author of traditional/cozy mysteries, middle-grade and young adult fantasy, and poetry. Plus, she takes boxing lessons! Learn more about Karen and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?

I started writing when I was very young. I also illustrated my stories. When I was in high school, I decided to pursue a career in art. Thus, my writing skills languished. I am a voracious reader and one day I read a mystery story and thought to myself, I can write at least this good!


How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?

Believe me, it has taken years to learn the craft of writing and many revisions until I felt the story was ready to publish. The story has been through two critique groups and reviewed by several beta readers. All have given me valuable feedback. I’ve hired a developmental editor and a proofreader. As a self-published author, I have done my due diligence and I hope readers find the story entertaining.


Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?

Indie published so far. But I’m open to being traditionally published. We shall see.


Where do you write?

At my dining table. Two large windows let in a lot of natural light, and I can watch birds flitting about in the tree outside.


Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?

Silence is golden for me. My mind wanders with music, and I just want to dance!


How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?

The plot for A Deadly Combo came from attending my first trailerfest. And my protagonist is a little like me. Her father is a little like my own dad. The boxing coach is similar to my own trainer. But all other characters are from my imagination.


Describe your process for naming your character?

Raquel AKA Rocky Nelson came about because I wanted the novel to revolve around a vintage theme — vintage trailers, memories and memorabilia from childhood, and old movies. The things I mention in the book are based on when I was born in 1960 and the things I grew up with. I realize my readers are going to be older and will appreciate those references. The name Raquel came from the actress Raquel Welch, who sadly passed recently. And the nickname Rocky came from her Dad, who is a boxer. He gave her the name after the movie Rocky came out.


Real settings or fictional towns?

Real settings. I’ve spent half my life in El Dorado County, California. I love the area and I hope I’ve described it well.


What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?

Opal is one of the vintage trailer owners. She is flamboyant and wears unique clothing, often showing off her voluptuous figure. She wears a Lucille Ball type of costume at the trailerfest, featuring a pin-up era bra to display her “best assets.” LOL


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

Funny question! I tend to speak before thinking and leap before looking. I’m amazed I’m still alive at the age of sixty-two. 


If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?

Open Season by C. J. Box, the first book in the Joe Picket series. I just love his voice. He keeps you turning the pages and every now and then throws in a little humor.


Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?

My do-over would be to have written and published novels much sooner. I also wanted to join the Peace Corps right after high school. I wish I had done that, too.


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People who are not kind. People who only think of themselves.


You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?

OMG! What a question. Pizza, Chardonnay, and a person to talk to. However, even a volleyball would do. I’d name it Wilson.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

Working as an artist for a soon-to-go-bankrupt printing press. There were holes in the walls and the ceiling tiles were missing or falling in. They held the press together with duct tape and chewing gum before they closed.


Who’s your all-time favorite literary character (any genre)? Why?

Pippi Longstocking. First of all, you gotta love her name. And she could get in and out of a pickle and keep you laughing. I’m of Swedish descent so that might have something to do with my choice. LOL


Ocean or mountains?

Can I choose both? I love the ocean for its negative ions and the mystery of life underwater. And I love the mountains for the fresh scent of pine and being above the smog. Also, the views are incredible.


City girl/guy or country girl/guy?

Country girl. I used to live in San Francisco, and I enjoyed my time there, but it was for a younger me. I moved to the country (where my novel takes place) because I love wide open spaces, and I always wanted to own a horse. I ended up with three!


What’s on the horizon for you?

Book Two in the Rocky Nelson Mystery series, of course. I better get on it!


Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?

I have several short stories in various anthologies. They are all listed on my website.


A Deadly Combo

A Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery, Book 1


What do boxing and vintage trailers have in common? Meet Raquel (AKA Rocky) Nelson, a retired single woman with an attitude and love for boxing.


Sisters Rocky and Bridget are enjoying each other’s company at a vintage trailerfest until they stumble over a corpse. The dead guy is none other than the local trailer restorer Bridget was overheard threatening to kill. Mounting evidence leads police to focus on Bridget as a person of interest. Desperate to prove her sister innocent of murder, Rocky dons her own deerstalker cap and goes sleuthing until she runs into police detective Thompson who warns her off his case in no uncertain terms. But Rocky is tenacious if not stubborn. Combined with a 78-year-old father who becomes her sidekick, Rocky uses her courage and skills learned in boxing lessons to protect her family and keep from becoming the killer’s next victim.

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Cynthia Sample said...

I was lucky enough to be a beta reader for Karen. A DEADLY COMBO is a wonderful mystery combining excellent character development and a myriad of twists and turns. Hurry up with that sequel, Karen!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading this interview and learned some interesting ‘Karen fun facts’ for example, boxing lessons, horses, etc..
Truly feels like this is your time to shine!
So very happy for you!

Karen A Phillips said...

Thank you for reading and posting a comment, Cindy Sample!

And thank you to "Anonymous" for commenting. I'm excited about promoting my debut mystery and participating in blogs. In particular, Lois Winston had some fun questions for me!

Laura Malone said...

Loved all the quirks you shared.. about you, and your characters. I’d show up on that island as Wilson, if you’ll share the Chardonnay