Monday, August 18, 2014

Author Interviews--Karen Cantwell

We're back from vacation, and one of my favorite mystery authors is in the hot seat. Karen Cantwell is an incredible woman and she has an equally-incredible series featuring Barbara Marr, a rural Virginia housewife-cum-movie blogger with the knack of finding trouble when it really isn't timely, shall we say.

Karen, welcome to the blog.

Sean Sweeney: Barbara Marr is a doll of a housewife, an expert on movies, and a crack amateur sleuth! How did Babsy come into being?

Karen Cantwell: One day, while scribbling vague, preliminary ideas for a humorous mystery series, Barb whispered in my ear, "Hey, hey. If you need some crazy stories, tell mine." I wasn't keen on the idea at first, I admit. I mean, a soccer mom, living in the suburbs? How crazy can her life get? I kept working on other, more sensible characters, but Barb kept pitching me. She was tenacious, I have to say. Finally, I gave in and the Barbara Marr Murder Mystery Series was born.

SS: Is there a little of you in Barbara? I'm sensing there is.

KC: There's probably more of me in Barb than I'd like to admit. I'm a movie lover, so is she. I have curly hair, so does she. I'm a mother, she's a mother. She often says things out loud that I would only think quietly to myself. On the other hand, Barb gets kidnapped quite frequently and I do not. And while my husband is a handsome fellow, he does not look like George Clooney. Most importantly, Barb remarkably courageous while I possess a remarkable amount of cowardice. And thank goodness for her bravery, or the stories would be very short and very boring.

SS: Other than the lovely Mrs. Marr, you have quite a few, shall we say, quirky characters. Let's talk about all of them. You have one mobster-turned-chef, another housewife that has her undies in a twist, and another that may be a tad, shall we say, loony. Let's talk about their formations and how they all came about.

KC: Their formations are rather simple. I think of a basic type of person who should be in Barb's life, give him or her a name, and some small personality trait, then start to type. What happens after that is a magic I just can't explain. They develop lives and personalities and quirks all on their own. It's like watching a friend grown before my eyes. That aspect of the writing process is the most fun and most exciting for me, I have to say.

SS: One of the things that I love about your books other than the plot or the characters: it's your branding! You have movie titles and turn them into parody titles, along with bright, vivid imagery on your covers. How did all that come about?

KC: The movie title parodies started when I wrote Take the Monkeys and Run. Since Barb was a film lover, I decided to take a movie title and give it a fun twist. Now I try to do that for all of my titles. Not only is it very fun to do, but I also think readers love connecting to a title through the familiarity.

SS: Tell us a little about Karen Cantwell the mom and housewife, and how does the mom and housewife compete for time with Karen Cantwell the author (or is it the other way around? Does Karen Cantwell the author compete for time with Karen Cantwell the mom and housewife)?

KC: Oh boy, you're opening a can of worms with that question!! All I can say is, it ain't easy man, it ain't easy. Both Karen Cantwell's compete and clash on a daily basis and it's usually not a pretty sight to behold. 

SS: I know you've been a starlet with the ebooks.... how is B.M. handling the audiobooks?

KC: I have been very lucky, indeed, that Barb's stories have done really well in the ebook world. As for the audio experience, having a talented and professional actress bring Barbara Marr and my other beloved characters to life has been a joy. I'm really looking forward to getting the next three books produced for audio as well. I hope audio readers enjoy them as much as I do.

SS: What's next in Barbara's adventures?

KC: In just a couple of weeks, readers will have a chance to see what happens when Howard and the girls leave town and Barb finds herself alone for a few days. The book is the fifth in the series, Dead Man Stalking, and Barb will meet possibly the quirkiest characters to date.

Thank you for interviewing me about Barb, Sean!! I'm very honored.

SS: No, thank YOU, Karen. It's an honor to have a great storyteller in my hot seat.

Folks, check out for more information on Barbara Marr!