Thursday, May 16, 2013

Interview with Karen Frankola

tell me about yourself, and your writing.

I was a journalist for many years, writing for places like CNN and MSNBC.  More recently my day job has been writing corporate communications.  I have lived in ten different states and England.  I now live in Durham, North Carolina with my husband.  I have done creative writing for most of my life and started out writing screenplays.

How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?

I have been writing creatively for many years, but Appetites is my first published book.

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?

The first book I wrote is actually a memoir of what is was like to work at a steel mill at the age of 18, which happened just after women were first allowed to work there. It focuses on my struggle to become an independent adult while connecting with a father I had long been estranged from,  while dealing with an inappropriate romance with a co-worker.

I hope to publish it soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to explore fiction, where you have no constraints on where your story can og.

Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?

A little of both.  I had a general idea of where I wanted Appetites  to go, along with an outline, but I couldn’t determine the entire plot until I knew Sarah and Max better.  I struggled very, very hard with the ending because I wanted to stay true to both of them.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I’m a morning person, so I will start writing by 7 a.m.  I will write pretty continuously and sometimes will quit around noon.  If I have the time, I might go back to it for a couple of hours after lunch, but usually, five hours is more than enough.  I would also write often for just an hour before starting my regular job during the week.  You have to just plug away regularly.  I found if I took a week off, it was really hard to go back.

I’m lucky to have a dog that keeps me company while I write, often curled up under my desk.  He also reminds me to walk him, so it’s nice to take a short break and go outside to clear my head.

Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?

In chick lit, I really like Jennifer Weiner – Good in Bed is a classic and I’ve enjoyed all her books .  I love humor, so Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary is amazing. The most recent book I really liked was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, although I wasn’t happy with the ending. And I like murder mysteries too, especially Patricia Cornwall’s Kay Scarpetta series.

What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

I want to publish my memoir, Girl of Steel.

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?

I would like to read other people’s minds, but only when I want to.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?

A dolphin that I could communicate with.  I was obsessed with Flipper when I was a girl and fantasized about having a house with an enormous pool where we could swim together.  But it would only work if I could understand his clicks and he understood my words.

Tell us a little about your latest release.

Appetites looks at what it’s like to be so desperate to change that you would do almost anything. It explores a lot of themes from my own life.  I have wondered whether I would be less obsessed with food if I had some other vices! And I’ve also wondered what would happen if a man that I loved in the past came back into my life.

Appetites  is the story of two New Jersey sisters—Sarah and Max. Sarah is on the wrong side of forty, fat, and the only sex she gets happens during her dreams. Her demanding job in Manhattan pays well, but a clueless bitch of a boss makes her life miserable.

And then, one day, Sarah hears from Harry, the British man she almost married twenty years ago. He’s coming to New York in four months, but Sarah knows she can’t see him unless she loses a lot of weight—FAST. She decides the only way she can change her life is by asking her younger sister Max to lock her in the basement so Sarah can stay on a diet.

Max, a struggling waitress, agrees begrudgingly. She has her own set of appetites—for drink, drugs, and great-looking losers. Sarah believes a summer in Max’s basement will give her a new body, a fresh start with Harry, and even the friendship she’s long craved from her sister. But things soon go wrong. 

What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)

It’s a toss-up between my iPad and my dog, Rascal.

Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?

I actually spoke to my sister about writing Appetites together. We have a great relationship (nothing like Sarah and Max!) and she is a wonderful writer herself.  Unfortunately, she was too busy to do that, but she read several versions and gave me great suggestions.  I hope we can write something together in the future—perhaps a murder mystery, which I would love to tackle.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?

I would go for a walk with Steve Jobs and ask him what he thinks the future will bring.

What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?

I love travelling, especially internationally.  I also enjoy biking, hiking in the woods with my dog, and going to the theater and concerts.

If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?

(Don’t understand this question – any book?)

What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?

My husband is an engineer who understands how things work and can fix almost anything.  It’s like he’s Superman!  I wish I had even ten percent  of that ability.

Favorite color?

Deep blue.

Weather: Hot or cold?

In the 70s with no humidity.

Favorite place to read?

On the chaise lounge in my screened-in porch.  Or a cruise ship when you have a sea day and don’t have to feel guilty about spending the whole day reading!

Favorite meal

Surf and turf – filet mignon and lobster.  With a frozen mango daiquiri.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink.

Ice tea – it’s a big reason I left New Jersey for North Carolina.  They brew it fresh here and give you free refills. In Jersey, they make it from formula and charge you $3 a glass.

If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?

A round-the-world cruise for a year.  I want to see everything!!


When Sarah suddenly hears from Harry, the Brit she almost married twenty years ago, she decides now is the time to change her life. Sarah has a great job in Manhattan, but she considers herself too fat to have a boyfriend. Harry is visiting New York in four months and she wants to turn back into the girl he fell in love with. Since she can never stick to a diet, she comes up with a drastic solution. 

Sarah asks her sister Max to lock her up in her basement and feed her nothing but healthy meals. Max, a struggling waitress, agrees begrudgingly. She's skinny, but has her own set of appetites—for drink, drugs, and great-looking losers.

Sarah thinks a summer in Max’s basement will give her a new body, a chance to reconnect with Harry, and the friendship she’s long craved from her sister. But things quickly go wrong. Max's drinking leads her to neglect Sarah, who figures out how to get out of the basement. Sarah develops an obsession with Max's boyfriend and manages to fulfill a sexual fantasy by pretending to be something she's not.

Can Sarah turn back time with Harry or will she and Max kill each other first? Can either sister ever learn to say no?

Review Rating: 3.5 LIGHTNING BOLTS

Review: Get ready for a bit of laughs, frustrations...and sisters. Different as night and day, but they are family. No matter how much they drive you nuts. matter...I promise...

Sarah has a thing about food. She loves it. it's one of those things that is overly binged on when she's stressed. She knows it, and it's a struggle with her. But she's ready to make a few changes in her life.

Her sister, Max, has a few issues herself. It starts in the beginning, too. We see from the start the problems that lie within both women.  They're your typical but yet not so typical sister relationship.  They fight, nit pick and get on each others nerves. 

Quite a bit.

In some ways, I can relate to Sarah. In others, she annoyed me and often.  But I understand a lot of her struggles. It's just at times she can be overly negative, rude, and frustrating. I understand that she's got a lot going on for her. 

The first part of the book was interesting, with the sisters, but then for awhile after that, it went into a lot of narrative that seemed to go on and on in Sarah's head about how she feels with 'skinny' people, when she's at the gym. It was just overdone to me.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I love the relationship with the sisters and how they come together to work on some of their struggles.  If you're a fan of contemporary women's fiction, then check out Appetites. 

Author Bio:

Karen Frankola wrote Appetites to explore the hard choices women make in love and work. Karen spent much of her career writing very short stories at news organizations like CNN and MSNBC, so creating a novel was challenging. She now does a variety of writing for corporations and nonprofit organizations. Karen is lucky enough to work mostly from home, with her dog Rascal curled up under her desk.
Karen grew up near Pittsburgh, where she spent much of her childhood reading books in the cemetery that bordered her family’s backyard.  Karen moved to nine different states and England.  Some of her favorite jobs were teaching journalism at the University of Missouri, working as a television news director, and handling video shoots for Deloitte around the world.  She also spent a summer repairing motors at a steel mill and hopes to soon publish a coming-of-age memoir about that experience.
Karen and her husband Troy now reside  in Durham, North Carolina, where they enjoy watching deer in the woods behind their house, lots of live music, beautiful biking trails, and great neighbors.
Karen is working on a sequel to Appetites and would love to hear what you think of it.

Connect with Karen!

Amazon Author Page:



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  2. Good interview! Thanks for spotlighting this book and for the review - sounds like an interesting book - nothing like siblings and the situations we find ourselves