Interview with Karina Cooper, part 3

Welcome back as we conclude talking with Karina Cooper, author of The St. Croix Chronicles, which includes Tarnished, Gilded, and Corroded. Karina can also be found in The Steampunk Museum.

Part One can be read here.

Part Two can be read here.


Airship Ambassador: What do you do to keep a balance between book, and tour life, and the rest of your life?

Karina Cooper: I don’t tour much, so that’s one thing off my plate. I do attend cons now and again, but even those will come and go depending on whether it’s a lean year or not.  Honestly, it really does come down to a balance between writing and real life. I’m very fortunate in that Aron understands that writing is as much a part of his wife as breathing, food, and coffee is. I try to structure my writing days so I write when he’s at work, but sometimes, deadlines mean I spend 14 hours at the computer. He’s very tolerant—and it really gives him time to play video games.

I won’t lie, though! My career comes first in a lot of things, and my few close friends really understand that, but it can be difficult. My husband and I recently attended therapy together so that we could figure out ways to get the most out of our limited time together, and it really was the best thing we’ve done. It’s a lot of work to be this busy and still make sure those around you are getting the time they need. Good marriage takes effort; I’m down for that.

I think that’s true of any couple whose jobs are demanding, though. We don’t have kids, so it really is just us to maintain a personal relationship. It’s worth it to us to make that effort, so we do. It’s not easy, but it’s rewarding. I get my words and my husband, and that’s great.


AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?

KC: Yes and no! I’m not much one for brainstorming and group plotting. The main reason is that my writing schedule is insane—I write four books a month, not including short stories and novellas. Nobody really has the time to keep up with me, and I don’t have a lot of extra time for reading other peoples’ work. It’s really just a question of time supply. That said, we’re always talking about the industry, the projects we’re working on and that sort of thing.

Honestly, hanging out with authors is like hanging out with your support group. Sometimes, you make headway on a project, but mostly you just reach out and touch base with people who really understand when you complain about deadlines, emails, reviews, or that sort of thing. It reminds us that we may be crazy, but we’re not alone.


AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?

KC: I am so not going to answer this. Primarily because I can’t—I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure I have. But ten years from now, I’ll read whatever I write here and laugh and laugh. I can’t answer this without sounding all sanctimonious and righteous, so I won’t. I have grown, I feel like I have, but I’m a long way from all grown up.

When I grow up, I want to be like Malachy McCourt, with a thousand great stories and a wicked alcohol tolerance. That’s all I know.


AA: Well, I can certainly back you up on the not-growing-up part… oops, inner voice. Anyway, how is the Pacific Northwest for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc. Also, I’ve heard that a move is pending in your future?

KC: The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived. It’s green and filled with wildlife and water and great people.

It’s also rainy, gray, dreary and summer is way too short.

Look, I think one of the reasons Seattle has so many writers around is because we can’t do anything else in the wet seasons—which is 340 days of the year. I know people who love it here. If it had more sun, I’d love it here, too. I love people who live here, that’s for sure.

Problem is, it’s way up in the corner of nowhere, so getting anywhere except Seattle is very expensive for con and tour travel. The cost of living is also very high, so if we ever plan on owning a house, it’s ridiculously expensive. Yes, we need a house—I can’t get a dog until we have one!

I’ve been very open about my struggle with depression, and I’m sad to say that the rainy weather only aggravates it. Unfortunately, I don’t write very well when depressed—which kind of flies in the face of every story about writers ever. So, much to my dismay—and relief—the mancandy and I will be moving in a year or so. We’re planning to move to Atlanta, GA, where we have friends and my family is close(r) to.


AA: I’ll certainly miss you both when you move to MUCH warmer climates. I’ve heard that chances of spontaneous human combustion are much higher in Atlanta. Less than Phoenix, Arizona, surely, but still great than Seattle. You’re living on the edge! And when we are on opposite coasts, it will be a harder for all of us to meet for dinner, except at conventions. Hmm, Dragon*Con… OK, back to you, you’ve written some other series, too. What are those, and have you heard from crossover readers? What kind of reactions have you received?

KC: I’ve written a paranormal romance series called the Dark Mission, which starts with Blood of the Wicked. The series takes place in a post-apocalyptic Seattle, at a time when witches are accused for the destruction of the world and a war brews between the persecuted and the order hunting them down. It’s been called “paranormal romance and urban fantasy crossover done right” by reviewers and “intensely gritty and sexy”. I have a lot of crossover readers, which I am very grateful for, and some readers exclusive to one or the other. As a rule, I find that a lot of the romance readers aren’t too happy with the lack of romance in The St. Croix Chronicles, while non-romance readers say there’s too much romance in it.

Really, both series are wildly different. The end result is that while a lot of readers seem to like both series on their own merit, you just can’t please everyone—and that’s okay. I just hope everyone has a good time reading; that’s invariably my goal!


AA: Looking beyond steampunk and writing, what other interests and topics fill your time?

KC: Uh… Um. Every single one of my hobbies involves storytelling. No lie. I read (when I can), and I play Live Action Role Playing games (which is basically storytelling). I enjoy RPG video games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect (storytelling!), and that’s about all the time I have. When my work lasts from 8am to 8 or 10 pm, there’s not a whole lot left over.

I guess that’s why they say everyone should get a job doing what they love. It’s work, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoy it!


AA: What other fandoms are you part of in some way? (as a fan or other participation)

KC: I am a terrible person. I’m not really involved in any real fandoms, more of a fringe enthusiast. Obviously, I enjoy dressing up for my live action games, and I like costuming, but I’m not really a cosplayer. I dabble in video games, but I’m not really a hardcore gamer anymore (for the Horde!), and I have friends involved in many things, but I only occasionally go play. I love steampunk, but I’m not completely saturated in it the way some of my favorite steampunks are. I love reading yaoi—I refuse to call it a guilty pleasure, since I don’t feel guilt!—and watching anime.

I don’t know if I necessarily identify with fandoms as I do with a broad “geek” interest.


AA: Oh, that is sad. Yes, you are a terrible person. It’s probably why everyone loves you so! How do those interests influence your work?

KC: Everything influences my work! I don’t know, how does oxygen fuel your brain? I get inspired by everything, anything. A word, a laugh, a look, the color of the sky when I get up in the morning, the taste of my coffee, a line in a movie. A wayward thought.

I don’t know. I’m inspired. I guess that’s a good way to be?


AA: Overall, who would you count as your inspirations and motivators?

KC: Neil Gaiman is the reason I’m writing. I was inspired by his concept of a writer’s gazebo, and upon learning about it, I decided then and there I’d be a writer so I could have one. As a person, I am inspired by his choice to live the way he chooses to live—more people need to live this way.

Terry Pratchett is the reason I’m published, inspired by a riff he made from Dorothy Parker’s classic, wherein he said, “Too many people want to have written.” I thought, Screw that, I’m gonna write! And I do. I love writing—the chaos, the deadlines, the frustration, the long hours, the edits, and pain, and all the happiness that comes with.

Cherry Adair is the reason I got published to begin with. She taught me how to plot, and made me sign a piece of paper that said I’d get the book finished, polished and sold. That book was Blood of the Wicked. It’s a debt I will never be able to repay.

My husband is my motivator. I want to make it big one day so that he can quit his job, get whatever low-impact job he wants to do for fun (so he can get out of my hair) and keep him as a “kept man”. Which is all a roundabout way of saying I write because he supports me, because he told me I could when I was sure I couldn’t, and because I hope to one day use my writing to support him. That’s how I show my love—I give things. I want to give him a life earned with creativity.


AA: Quick random questions – what is your favorite fabric, danish, and quote?

KC: Favorite fabric: silk! Especially when it’s really soft and cool.

Favorite danish: cheese! I would murder for a good cheese danish.

Favorite quote: From Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett:

God moves in extremely mysterious, not to say, circuitous ways. God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players*, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

Footnote to above: * ie., everybody.


AA: Yes, yes, and to repeat one of our common tweets, “All your Danish are belong to us!” LOL!

KC: Ahem. All your danish are belong to me.


AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers

KC: Life is weird. It’s also beautiful and busy and interconnected and scary and boring and not boring, and pretty much altogether too short. So, you know, enjoy it. I really just want readers to enjoy the things I write, and if they don’t, to go read something they will enjoy.

I mean, if I could have one wish, I’d wish this: Be happy.

So, to you, my dear Ambassador, and to all your readers: may you be happy! And thanks for letting me burble for a while. I assume the bourbon is in the cabinet…?


AA: It’s behind the … well, you’ll find it.

Thanks for sharing Cherry’s story, and part of your own, with us! You are always such a delight to spend time with!

Keep up with Karina on her website, and grab a copy of her books,

Tarnished, Gilded, and Corroded.


Published in: on October 13, 2013 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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