Karen Rose: On Characters Showing Up in the Writing Process

Award-winning author Karen Rose discusses the surprising joy of secondary characters in her new romantic suspense novel, Quarter to Midnight.

Karen Rose is the award-winning, #1 international bestselling author of 25 novels, including the bestselling Baltimore and Cincinnati series. She has been translated into 23 languages, and her books have placed on the New York Times, the Sunday Times (U.K.), and Germany’s der Spiegel bestseller lists. Learn more at karenrosebooks.com, and find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Karen Rose

Photo by Deborah Feingold Photography

In this post, Karen discusses the surprising joy of secondary characters in her new romantic suspense novel, Quarter to Midnight, her advice for other writers, and more!

Name: Karen Rose
Literary agent: Robin Rue, Writers House
Book title: Quarter to Midnight
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: August 2, 2022
Genre/category: Romantic Suspense
Previous titles: Say You’re Sorry; Say No More; Say Goodbye; and 22 more
Elevator pitch for the book: Gabe Hebert’s homicide-detective father’s “suicide” was really murder—he’d gotten too close to a case someone powerful wanted covered up. Gabe hires Molly Sutton of Broussard Investigations to find his father’s killer, but they must first find his father’s secret witness.

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What prompted you to write this book?

I had the basic idea of someone witnessing a murder during the chaos of Hurricane Katrina—and the lengths the killer would go to in order to keep his identity a secret. It grew from there.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

The idea didn’t really change all that much. How they caught the killer wasn’t clear at the beginning, but the main concept didn’t change. It just got filled in as I wrote. Sometimes books just flow and QTM was one of these. I think I wrote it in two months?

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

There are always learning moments, but usually those are writing and/or plot related.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

I think one of the nicest surprises in the book was the cast of secondary characters that become Xavier’s entourage. The only planned character was Xavier’s best friend Carlos, but suddenly there were three more people watching Xavier’s back. I fell in love with them. The surprises are usually the characters that pop up along the way.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

First, I hope they enjoy unraveling the mystery along with Gabe and Molly. I hope they love Xavier’s circle and I hope they love Burke Broussard and his investigators. Sometimes my characters have born families and sometimes they’re made. QTM has a little bit of both and they all join together to do the right thing.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Fall in love with your characters. They add the emotion and humanity that transforms your plot into the full, rich story your readers will love.

Do you yearn to write a romantic story? If so, you need to know what sets romance writing apart from other types of fiction. This course explores why romance is the same, yet different. Some essential components of romance are unique to the genre, while some romance requirements are identical to those of any good fiction story. Neither Stephen King nor Tom Clancy could sit down and write a romance unless he first familiarized himself with the specific factors that create a successful romance.

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