Sunday, December 6, 2020

Q&A with Karen Schaler


Karen Schaler is the author of the new novel Christmas Ever After. Her other books include Finding Christmas. Also a screenwriter and journalist, she is based in New York City.


Q: How did you come up with the idea for Christmas Ever After, and for your character Riley?


A: Christmas Ever After is loosely inspired by my own life in a “what if” kind of way. As a romance writer myself I actually had someone interviewing me once and ask about how I can write about romance in my movies and books when I’m single and haven’t found the “one.” Seriously! So that was directly taken from my life.


The “what if” comes from how I’ve created a real-life Christmas Camp experience bringing my Hallmark Christmas Camp movie and my books, Christmas Camp and Christmas Camp Wedding, to life at a resort.


Right before I hosted my first Christmas Camp event I heard from not one, but two ex-boyfriends, completely out of the blue, hadn’t talked to them in years, and I wondered what would happen if they both showed up at my Christmas Camp wanting to talk more and I wouldn’t be able to escape?


Our imagination is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Then I was thinking of Mamma Mia and The Bachelorette and felt like Christmas Ever After would be the perfect combination of both and a book idea was born! 


Q: What was it like to write about a writer?


A: That’s a great question. I honestly never thought about it since I was inspired by true life events of my own and that’s where Riley came from.


Come to think of it, I also did this with the original Netflix movie I wrote, A Christmas Prince. In that movie Amber is a journalist, just like I was when I visited the UK.


Only on my trip I wasn’t chasing Royals, I was shooting a segment for my Travel Therapy TV show in Wales. I was on the Isle of Anglesey, as a guest of British tourism, highlighting places known to be the favorites of Prince William and Kate Middleton when they lived on the island.


So, I think for me, it’s very easy and comfortable to write about a writer, since like they say, “Write what you know.”


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make changes along the way?


A: That’s one thing about my writing: I always know my beginning and the end before I start on page one, but I don’t outline. I always know how I’m starting and where I’ll end up and then I let my characters take over from there. I feel like having an outline stops my creativity and I’d rather let my story surprise me.


When it comes to the middle of the story, in both my movies and novels, I often change some scenes around or add in new scenes as fresh ideas come to me. I believe the end of any novel is the most important part and I often see the endings in my mind even before the beginnings. But never say never, maybe someday my characters will want a different ending, and then I’ll have to listen.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: This story is close to my heart for so many different reasons. I think we’ve all had great loves in our life or people who were important that have made us wonder “what if?”


I also believe that we can grow with each relationship. Sometimes someone that wasn’t a fit in the past can be a great fit in the future. Other times, it’s best to take all you’ve learned and move on. That’s the decision Riley will have to make in Christmas Ever After.


I would love if readers are empowered by this story and always remember that no matter what road you’re on, it’s okay if you get lost. As long as you’re following your heart, you will end up where you are meant to be. 


This was written to be a fun, lighthearted, easy story to read, an escape from all that is going on in the world right now.


Last but absolutely not least, I hope people reading this story appreciate that one of the main characters, if not the star, is Christmas. I want all my holiday movies and novels to be a love letter to Christmas.


When people watch or read my Christmas stories, I want them to remember the magic of Christmas and what really matters most, family, friends, faith, love, community, and giving back. I always write about the power of believing and having faith that anything can happen at Christmas.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Thank you for asking! Right now, I’m in development for my next Christmas movie. I can’t say too much yet, but I hope to have some exciting news to share very soon.


I’ve also just finished a Christmas feature film screenplay that I’ll be looking for a home for and of course creating the screenplay for this novel, Christmas Ever After. I love thinking about who will play all the guys, Riley, and of course Comet the dog!


I’m also working on my next Christmas novel for 2021. It’s a wonderful story that I can’t wait to share with my readers and yes, I’ll also be writing the movie. I fall in a love with the stories and characters I create so I try and make sure I bring them to life in as many ways as possible so I can share them with everyone.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: One thing I hope people will find inspiring is that for this novel, Christmas Ever After, I had to leave traditional publishing in the middle of this pandemic and pivot quickly to make sure this novel could still come out this year.


It meant starting my own publishing company, HawkTale Publishing, from the ground up, when I had no idea what I was doing. I was fueled forward by my readers and viewers who were reaching out asking for my next story, wanting and needing some holiday happiness and hope.


It has been a huge learning curve but I’m very proud that Christmas Ever After has come out, as planned, in trade paperback, hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.


Refusing to let this pandemic steal our Christmas spirit, I’m doing virtual Christmas Camps, writer chats, book clubs, library readings, you name it. I’m making sure all these fun and festive events are free.


While everyone is thanking me for doing this, honestly, they are the ones giving me a gift. I love connecting with my readers and viewers. I learn so much from them every single day. I am very grateful and thank you so much for your time reading and sharing more about Christmas Ever After


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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