I spoke to indie author Karla Tipton about her new novel.
Karla Tipton cut her literary teeth on gothic romances, Edgar Allan Poe and the vampire soap Dark Shadows. Long before there were sparkly vampires roaming through the cultural consciousness, she wrote about ordinary women time traveling through history and falling in love with powerful men of myth and magic.
A native of Barberton, Ohio, Tipton earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Kent State University. After graduation, she moved to the Mojave Desert in California, working at the Antelope Valley Press as a staff reporter and editor for 14 years, specialising in rock journalism and historical feature writing. Tipton is a member of Romance Writers of America, and her writing has earned top honours in several RWA chapter competitions. When not at her government job or writing novels, Tipton plays guitar in a classic rock band.
Tipton’s first self-published novel, Rings of Passage, is a time travel romance set in medieval England. Time travel and magic are also at the heart of Dangerous Reflections, a romance about a 21st century post-graduate student and a wizard from the Edwardian era.
Tipton has been writing since she was in elementary school.
I was inspired by mystery, gothic romance and literary novels by the Brontes, Charles Dickens and Jane Austin. I was also influenced by the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and “Gone with the Wind,” as well as short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. Later I read Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books, and the “Thomas Covenant” fantasy series by Stephen R. Donaldson (a fellow Kent State University alumni), as well as the Anne Rice vampire and mummy series, and the Diana Gabaldon “Outlander” books.
Her ideas might come from history, either focused on one particular person, or a period of time.
Because I love to research and ferret out these odd details from history, sometimes a plot twist will be inspired by something I learn part way through the novel. This happened a lot when I was writing “Dangerous Reflections,” because I was researching London’s magical societies in the 1910s, alchemy in ancient Egypt, and what the landscape of the astral plane is supposed to look like. My research took me, and ultimately my plot, into some very unusual directions.
Giving the creative process over to her subconscious is one way Tipton loves to write.
When characters take over and drive the plot, that’s what you want to happen. Lawrence Block, and also Stephen King, have both said, if the writer is surprised by what plays out in the book’s story, then the readers will be, too.
Having faith in that creative process is her advice to aspiring writers.
Don’t panic about writing the next chapter. If you start it, then there’s a good chance it will write itself. Practice by writing some fan fiction and posting it online, chapter by chapter, in what’s called a WIP or work-in-progress. You will be encouraged by the reviews you get, and they will be clamoring for the next chapter. It’s a trial by fire. It’s how Charles Dickens wrote “The Pickwick Papers,” one chapter at a time, published in magazines, making it up as he went, and basing the next chapter on public opinion. After you finish a WIP under that pressure, you seriously begin to trust your process.
Tipton wishes she’s known about the sheer volume of promotional work she would have to do in order to get her books into the hands of readers.
If readers don’t know about your book, they won’t read it. The time I’m not working my regular day job is spent promoting. I haven’t spent a weekend writing my next novel for at least three months. I wrote a blog about the frustrations of this.
Her next project is a novel called Potionality Crisis, which takes place in the same magical world as Dangerous Reflections, but with different characters and a different story.
It’s a modern day tale and does not involve time travel for a change. The story revolves around two scientists. The hero Silas is a curmudgeon-y yet sexy university professor and chemist renowned for developing natural healing compounds, of which the patents are sold to fund the university. The heroine Ellie is his graduate student assistant with a secret: Her mother is a witch and Ellie, too, practices magic. Ellie’s professional aspiration is to merge magical methods of healing with the hard scientific techniques that Silas is famous for. But Silas has a secret, too – one that he is not even aware of himself. The love story begins when Ellie and Silas are showered with a volatile potion after a chemistry experiment explodes in the lab, resulting in their being compulsively, sexually attracted to one another.
Tipton is currently reading “Baudelaire’s Revenge” by Bob Van Laerhoven, which is a literary serial murder mystery centered on the legacy of poet Charles Baudelaire.
Another excellent recent read is a time travel story, “Marking Time (The Immortal Descendants series)” by April White. I’ve also been reading the Phyrne Fisher mystery novels, which take place in 1920s Australia.
To promote Dangerous Reflections, which is available from today, Tipton will be signing books and talking about her writing at the following locations:
1. Unicorn Books & Gifts, 738 Main Street, Ramona, CA 92065, Saturday, January 31, 2015, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. ;
2. Li’l Book Bug, 842 W Palmdale Blvd, Palmdale, CA 93551, Saturday, Feb. 28, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.