A conversation with prolific grit-lit author Karen White

Karen White, photo courtesy of the author

Prolific New York Times bestselling author Karen White has written over 18 novels throughout her industrious writing career. The majority of White’s books are set in the heart of the South — the South Carolina Lowcountry. Her latest book, No. 20 in her list of published works, is The Sound of Glass, released on May 12.

White reads and signs The Sound of Glass at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe on Sunday, May 31, at 3 p.m. Free.

Mountain Xpress: Many critics have referred to your work as “grit-lit” — a version of Southern women’s fiction. What does this term mean to you, and do you find it applicable in your writing?

Karen White: I really don’t think my books fit neatly into any category. They usually contain mystery, history and romance but don’t fit into those genres either. But the settings are definitely Southern, so I guess the best fit is Southern women’s fiction.

What is it about the Lowcountry that appeals to you and makes a good location for your work?

The Lowcountry is a gold mine for my writing soul — the natural landscape, the pluff mud, the people, the history, the architecture. I recognized its uniqueness the first time I stepped foot in the Lowcountry almost 20 years ago.

soundofglass book coverYou have more than 18 books published, and your first two novels, In the Shadow of the Moon and Whispers of Goodbye, are set to be re-released in fall of this year. Where does your inspiration for so many novels come from? What does it mean to you to have your very first novels available to be experienced by your readers?

I’ve already been a storyteller (my mother called it something else) with an active imagination. That, coupled with news stories and what I hear people around me talking about, means I’m never at a loss for ideas. I’m eager for readers to experience my first two books. I love the stories, and I’ve had the opportunity to edit them a bit so that hopefully readers won’t recognize them as being my first attempts at novel writing.

What is your favorite book and how many times have you read it?

Gone With the Wind is my favorite book. I’ve read it cover to cover at least five times, and frequently go back and read favorite sections.

Would you call your fiction “escapist” fiction? What do you hope that readers will get out of your stories?

I think my novels contain too much gritty reality to be called escapist fiction. I like to write about how ordinary people can overcome obstacles and move forward with their lives. I hope readers can see a bit of themselves in my heroines, and recognize the strength that we all have.

And finally, what are you most excited to see when you visit us here in Asheville this month?

The downtown area — it’s gorgeous! Love the architecture and all the green space.



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About Melissa Sibley
Melissa Sibley is from a tiny town near the coast of North Carolina called New Bern, and will be a senior next year at UNC Asheville. She is a Literature major with an emphasis on Creative Writing, and a Psychology minor. She plans to stay in Asheville after graduation and continue to work on her personal and public writing through internships/employment with local publications. Follow me @MissMelissaSib

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