Interview: Karen E Olson

NRR: Can you share with us how you got started in writing?

I always wanted to be a writer. I started writing stories when I was in elementary school, and when I went to college I became an English major and took a couple of creative writing classes. It wasn't until I was 30, though, that I started reading mysteries. I'd thought all mysteries were like Agatha Christie, and when I discovered kick-ass heroines written by Sara Paretsky and Marcia Muller, I decided that's what I wanted to write. So I did. 

NRR: How were you inspired to write the Tattoo Shop Mysteries?

My editor actually asked me if I'd be interested in writing a series with a tattoo shop owner as the protagonist. I wasn't sure, since I don't have tattoos and didn't really feel qualified. But after doing some research, going to a tattoo shop, talking to friends with tattoos, and reading a great book about the history of women and tattoo, I decided to take on the challenge. I've developed a real respect for the art form. I've had such a wonderful time with this series and the characters. 

NRR: What is your guilty pleasure?

Good bad movies, like Dirty Dancing and Flashdance. 

NRR: What was the most challenging part of writing Ink Flamingos?

The whole series has been challenging because it's gone against the whole "write what you know" edict. Everything about this series is what I don't know: tattooing, Vegas (I've only been there a couple of times). But by this fourth book in the series, those things have gotten a little easier. What was more challenging with this book was the romantic angle. I'd had an idea from the first book how I wanted Brett and her friend Jeff's relationship to progress, and in this book, I wanted to make it happen. But in their way, not anyone else's. I also had to have this happen around the fact that someone is stalking Brett. 

I needed to keep the suspense up. 

NRR: What is a day in the life of Karen E Olson like?

I have a part time day job editing a medical journal at Yale, so after I work out, I go to work. I'm home for lunch and before my daughter gets home from school, I check email and Facebook. After she gets home, I have to take her to her various activities, and while she's at those, I write. I usually write about one to two hours a day, as long as it takes to write five pages. After that, I pick my daughter up, we have dinner, watch a little TV, and I'm in bed after The Daily Show. As I'm writing this, I realize I have a pretty boring life :)

NRR: What is in your to be read pile?

I've started reading young adult books that my daughter recommends. 

Next up is HELL'S BELLS by John Connolly. 

NRR: Can you share with us the storyline to Ink Flamingos?

As the book starts, Brett Kavanaugh discovers that her longtime client and friend Dee Carmichael, lead singer of the band The Flamingos, has been found dead in a hotel room in Vegas. She has a botched tattoo and there are ink pots and needles in the trash in the room. A picture surfaces on a tattoo blog, and Brett discovers that the blogger must have been there. She also discovers that the blogger has taken pictures of her and posted them without her knowing. 

NRR: What can fans expect to see from you next?

I am currently working on a crime novel that's very different from my two series. I'm writing a male protagonist for the first time, in the third person point of view, and the book is a lot darker than anything I've written before. I also have a young adult novel out on submission, and an idea for another young adult book is percolating. 

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