HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Karen Lynn Williams

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketKaren Lynn Williams


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That’s like asking which of my four children is my favorite. The pat answer is they are all special for different reasons. Some have given me more head aches than others. Kondi from Galimoto is still selling best.

2. Tell me about your travels.
I have backpacked around Europe twice, so long ago that hitch-hiking was still safe and the cheapest way to go. Since then I have lived in Malawi, Africa for 4 and a half years where my husband delivered my son, Christopher while the nurse brushed giant flying ants off my belly. I have also lived for 3 years in Haiti, traveled overland from there to the Dominican Republic. I have returned to Europe several times in recent years, sadly not backpacking but mostly visiting friends in Germany, Holland, Austria, France, Ireland, and Scotland. Most recently I traveled to Calabria, Italy. I highly recommend this little visited parted of the world. We did the required cross-country road trip with 4 kids in a van with a pop-up tent and we survived, mostly in tact, as a family. I have also lived and worked in Cape Cod and traveled from Maine to Florida. Last year I spent 5 weeks in Kenya speaking at the American School of Kenya and doing research- Magnificent! My dream is to have a writers cottage on a beach anywhere or just anywhere even without a beach....

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
Quilt, cook, entertain- we do it every other week, dinner parties, open houses, poetry readings, kids birthday parties(not so much now but just consider four kids times 10 b-day parties each give or take…..) I also love to garden but I am very haphazard about this. If I stick it in the earth and it grows all is well unless of course I dig it up again by accident.

5. Who are you reading right now?
James Michner. The Drifters because there is a line in there I think I remember from when I read this book in the seventies and I need it for a poem about my father. At 768 pages we are talking a needle in a haystack and the quote may not even work. Who said poetry was easy? I am also reading Mark Doty, Heaven’s Coast- well because I want to write like him. I am reading Looking for Alaska by John Green because I think he has a great voice for YA and technically this is in my genre. I am also reading: Louise Gluck, Langston Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Pablo Neruda, Robert Haas, Joy Haro and Rainer Maria Rilke, Donald Hall. I want to write like all of them. And I am almost finished with Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Everywhere and anywhere. From my travels. About half my books are set in other countries. Otherwise from my children when they were still around the house. They would introduce friends saying, “This is my mom. She is a writer and anything you say, can and will, be used in a book.”

9. Food you could eat everyday.
Chocolate. I can eat a bag of chocolate chips in one sitting and that’s not even good chocolate. Peanut butter but I can’t stand the combination, chocolate and peanut butter. Potatoes, boiled, baked, fried, French, scalloped and cold. So you see I have a heck of a time with weight control.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I jogged 4 miles a day forever until knee surgery took me down. I bike 20-40 miles on weekends in the summer, less on week days. I love cross country skiing and wish I could do it year around. Down hill skiing too but there is the knee thing again. Hiking and walking, of course. Would love to do an extended hiking or biking trip across country or in France or Ireland.

11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Mostly, yes and yes. I like to know where my character starts out and where he or she will end up-how the protagonist will change or grow by the end of the book before I begin. I usually don’t begin a project until I know these things and a few things that will happen in the middle like a critical point or turning point in the story. After I have been writing for a while I might go back and make an outline that is more of a list of scenes that need to happen or the order they need to happen in.

13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
I don’t know how to turn on the TV. But I used to be a big fan of Mr. Magoo.

Karen Lynn Willimas grew up in New Haven Connecticut and attended the University of Connecticut where she received a BA in Speech Pathology. She also has an MA in Deaf Education and has taught hard of hearing children in Connecticut and in Malawi. She also taught English in a secondary school in Malawi. Currently Karen is writing at home in Pittsburgh and teaching in graduate writing programs at Chatham University and at Seton Hill.


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