Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome Karen E Olson!

When I sent out an invite to join
us in the Kitchen, I was lucky enough
to get a couple of takers, so this week
is a twofer for me! First, we had
Gayle Trent on Sunday and today, I'd
like to give a warm Mystery Lover's
Kitchen welcome to Karen E Olson!

Welcome, Karen!

-What inspired you to become a mystery author?

I started reading mysteries only about 20 years ago. A friend gave me a couple of books to take on vacation with me: Sara Paretsky and Marcia Muller. I had no idea that mysteries could be so good, with such strong women protagonists. I began to read as many mysteries written by women as I could, and since I'd always wanted to try my hand at writing a novel, decided that this was the kind of book I wanted to write with a protagonist who could match the others I was reading.

-You have two series that you're writing - one is the Anne Seymour Series about a reporter (which is a former profession of yours) and the other is the Tattoo Shop Mysteries (a profession you have not worked in, right?). What are the differences in the series? The similarities? Do you find one easier to write than the other?

I'm no longer writing the Annie Seymour series, but I constantly get emails from readers asking me to! There are big differences between that series and the tattoo shop mysteries, in that the Annie books are a lot more gritty, more hard boiled. I call them journalism procedurals. Since I spent more than 20 years in newsrooms, I wanted to write about a reporter accurately. Annie is also very tough, although she has a vulnerable side. She's in a dying business, and she knows it.
When I started writing the tattoo shop series, my publisher indicated that they wanted something a little more cozy, although tattoos in Las Vegas did mean that there would be an edge to it, regardless. Brett Kavanaugh is younger than Annie, she owns her own business that's successful, she's much more comfortable in her own skin. And unlike Annie, she does not cuss. She's got good friendships, whereas Annie is more of a loner.
Both protagonists are strong women, and they are both curious. Annie, however, has to be curious for her job; Brett is what her brother Tim calls "nosy." While Annie is a compilation of people I've known throughout my career, I suppose you could say she was a little easier to write, although the more I've gotten to know Brett, I like her and am more and more comfortable writing about her. Also, the Annie books are set in my hometown of New Haven, and Brett is in Las Vegas, a city I've visited only three times but is easy to capture on the page because it's so crazy and quirky.

- Do you have any advice for writers looking to be published?
Stick with it. Perseverance can definitely lead to publication.

- What would your protagonists consider the perfect meal?
Neither of my characters cooks, but they do love food. Annie loves Wooster Street pizza in New Haven, particularly at Sally's Apizza. White clam pie. It's fantastic. Brett likes a good burger, mostly a Double Double at In-N-Out Burger, a fast food chain that sadly we do not have here on the East Coast.

- Do you have a recipe you want to share with our readers?
I don't cook. My husband does. But I do make a mean meatloaf,
the only thing my husband can't make!
2 pounds of freshly ground beef
a couple of slices of stale bread
1 egg
a dash of ketchup
1 package onion soup mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Crumble up stale bread into a bowl and add a
dash of water to make it moist. Add the egg, ketchup
and onion soup mix, then mix in the ground beef. Use
your hands, it mixes better that way. Form it into a
loaf and put it into a loaf pan. Bake for an hour.
It's easy and very tasty.
Thanks so much for having me here!!

Thanks for joining us today, Karen!
I used to live in New Haven, and I am a huge fan of Wooster Street
pizza -- Sally's and Pepe's. Since I live so far away now, I have enjoyed
visiting with Annie, who brings it all back.

For more information on Karen's soon to be released
Driven To Ink (Sept 7th), check out her website:


  1. Thanks for stopping by, Karen.
    I love BOTH series and you just
    can't go wrong with
    meat loaf!

  2. Hey Karen, thanks for the visit. First, got to hang on to that man that cooks. They are the best.

    and inquiring minds want to know... do you have any ink???


  3. Thanks for stopping by Karen you have given me more books to add to my TBR list :). I enjoyed reading the interview. Meatloaf is always good thanks for sharing your recipe.

  4. Always enjoy meeting new to me authors. Karen, I have your book 'Driven to Ink' on my desk to read. It does sound intriguing. I didn't realize you had written another series. I'll definitely have to check on that one since I'm a journalist. Best of luck and your meat loaf recipe sound delicious.

    Thoughts in Progress

  5. Lucky lady, having a cooking hubby! But your meatloaf recipe shows you know your way around the kitchen, too!

    Best of luck with your tattoo shop series--I bet it's fun to write!

  6. Hi Karen,

    I can't wait to get my copy of Driven to Ink.

  7. Thanks for having me over here today!

    I do know how lucky I am to have a husband who enjoys cooking and makes fabulous meals!!

    Dave, in full disclosure, I have no tattoos, but I have a lot of friends who do and did extensive research before beginning to write the series. And it's interesting, but after writing four books in the series now, it hasn't made me want to get one!

  8. No ink here, either, but then the Hub
    has enough tats for the both of us!

  9. Hi Karen - Welcome back to the kitchen! My husband also cooks. (Men who cook are so much sexier, aren't they?) Love your interview. Great advice to aspiring writers, too. :)

    Have a great day,
    ~ Cleo

  10. Hi Karen!
    Welcome to the Kitchen!!! Meatloaf is one of those meals that my husband is in charge of...I am not a big fan but he and the kids love it!! I;ll share this with him tonight as they will have the weekend without me :-) I saw your books at our library yesterday! My 20 yr. old daughter was thrilled to see a Tattoo Mystery series...she is an "ink" fan!! Said daddy allowed her to get a memorial tat for a dear family friend...I've never been the same!
    Looking forward to "checking out" the series!

  11. Just ordered the first in the tattoo series. What an intriguing premise!