Thursday, April 7, 2011

Film lover Barbara Marr is a typical suburban mom living the typical suburban life in her sleepy little town of Rustic Woods, Virginia. Typical, that is until she sets out to find the missing link between a bizarre monkey sighting in her yard and the bone chilling middle-of-the-night fright fest at the strangely vacant house next door. When Barb talks her two friends into some seemingly innocent Charlie’s Angels-like sleuthing, they stumble upon way more than they bargained for and uncover a piece of neighborhood history that certain people would kill to keep on the cutting room floor.

Enter sexy PI Colt Baron,

Barb’s ex-boyfriend who would love to be cast as new leading man, filling the role just vacated by her recently estranged husband, Howard. When Colt flies in from out of town to help Barb, events careen out of control and suddenly this mini-van driving mother of three becomes a major player in a treacherous and potentially deadly FBI undercover operation. It’s up to her now. With little time to spare, she and she alone, must summon the inner strength necessary to become a true action heroine and save the lives of those she loves. The question is can she get them out alive before the credits roll?

Besides writing, Karen loves reading, gardening, watching movies and spending time with her family. She will be releasing the second Barbara Marr novel, CITIZEN INSANE, in May and is beginning the third in the series, SILENCED BY THE YAMS.

What will readers like about your book?

I wrote this book to entertain readers and make them laugh. They do say, after all, that laughter is the best medicine. If a reader puts this book down and says, "Now that was FUN!" then I've achieved my goal.

Why did you self publish?

I wanted to find readers for the book and I wasn't getting anywhere breaking into publishing through the traditional route - finding agents or publishers. Amazon made it very easy with publishing to Kindle and put me on a more level playing field with the traditionally published, so I went for it!

What is your writing process?

I write a chapter by chapter outline, then just start writing. The first draft is always thin - many times heavy with dialogue. Then I go through five or six more times, filling in detail, fixing plot holes, fleshing out the characters.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?

About three months.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I wanted to write a mystery and had this idea about a long-vacant house holding neighborhood secrets. Then my neighbor told me her true story about moving into my neighborhood thirty years ago, and finding monkeys in her trees one day. An unidentified group of people dressed in safety suits and masks came for the monkeys when she called police, but no one would ever explain to her where they came from. I loved the story, so incorporated it into my vacant house tale and a book was born!


The sky was black, my toes were numb and I was a lunatic.

Forgetting that our recent October nights had turned colder, I had set out on my mission barefoot. I had no idea what the thermometer said, but the ice cold brick beneath my unprotected feet told me plenty. And my worn-thin-through-the-years knit jammies were certainly no match against the biting air. Evidently I had left my brains in the house along with my shoes and down-filled parka. Indiana Jones, our orange Tabby, followed me and purred while he rubbed against my legs, offering a tinge of warmth at best.

I squinted into the darkness. “Three thirty in the morning. Am I totally insane, Indy?”


“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Yes, I’m a grown woman and I talk to my cat. What’s the big deal? My cousin Samson the psychiatrist tells the family I’m delusional and should be medicated. Pshaw I say. Samson has a psychiatrist of his own as well as a far more disturbing obsession with large farm animals, so I severely doubt his legitimacy. As long as Indiana Jones talks to me, I’ll keep talking to him.

My name is Barbara Marr. I’m not a lady coroner, bounty hunter or crime scene investigator. I don’t fight vampires, werewolves or flesh-eating zombies destined to destroy humanity. Even worse, I don’t knit, sew, bake gourmet goodies for sweet English ladies or refinish houses then flip them for a profit. In fact, I lack a veritable encyclopedia of talents and accomplishments. I have managed to give birth to three children, but when my teenage daughter looks at me like I’m an alien from the planet Freak, I wonder at my parenting abilities.

Then of course there is my marriage. Not long ago I would have bragged to anyone about our solid bond. True love. True fidelity and commitment. That was before Howard dropped the bomb and moved out. So perpetuating matrimony can be added to the list of things I don’t do.

When reviewing the list of lifetime achievements for which I am proud, being mother to my three girls sits at the very top, followed by the time I saw Yul Brenner in a convenience store and discreetly let him know he had ketchup on his chin. He was so thankful that he autographed a bag of Fritos for me.

And most recently I got familiar with the video camera again and shot a music video with my daughters. We called it Four White Girls Do Madonna. I posted it on You-Tube and got over twenty-five views. It was very exciting. Still, I’m not exactly setting the world on fire.

So when Howard left, I decided it was time to resurrect my dream and write about movies. I love the movies. Old movies, new movies, musicals, dramas, comedies, westerns, action, science-fiction, and anything starring Meryl Streep. Some years ago, in between changing diapers and potty training, I had bought a domain name,, with the intention of building a movie review website. I kept the domain name, but got side-tracked by little things like ear infections, strep throat, pre-school, elementary school and baby number three. Now, with my life deteriorating before my eyes, the time had come to take the bull by the proverbial horns and start anew.


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  1. This is such a funny book. I love the opening, which hooked me right away. I write the same way Karen does—very thin first draft with the details added in on multiple rewrites. Very much looking forward to Citizen Insane.

  2. Barbara Marr is going to become one of those iconic suburban legends. She's got such spunk and appeal you can't help but root for her no matter what5 mishaps she falls into or what characters she runs across in her attempt to straighten out her own life.

  3. I love to hang out with Barb Marr.
    Oh the trouble we could get into.
    This was a delightful interview.
    Thank you, Karen.