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Leena Hyat caught up with Karyn Monk in March to chat about her current release, THE WEDDING ESCAPE.

Karyn Monk is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of historical romances that have received critical acclaim for being sensual, powerful, and filled with her own special warmth and humor. After graduating from university she worked in advertising before turning to writing. She quickly found success with her passionate first novel, Surrender To A Stranger, and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Aspen Gold, the Barclay Gold, and the National Readers' Choice Award. Karyn is married to a wonderfully romantic husband, Philip, whom she allows to believe is the model for her heroes.

Visit Karyn's website at www.KarynMonk.com.

March 2003
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June 2001
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Writerspace: Please tell us about your latest release, THE WEDDING ESCAPE.

Karyn Monk: THE WEDDING ESCAPE is a funny, passionate story about a very spirited American heiress who flees from her arranged marriage to an aged duke and tries to steal the carriage of Jack Kent, a reformed thief, who reluctantly feels honor-bound to help her get away. Determined to build a new life for herself, Amelia finds herself sailing towards Jack's Scottish home, and straight into his heart. But Jack is tormented by the secrets of his past, which soon drives them apart. It takes a considerable amount of interference from his lovable family, a few zany antics and a lot of courage to bring both of them together in the end.

Writerspace: Jack first made hisappearance in one of your previous novels, THE PRISONER. Did you always know you would write his story one day or did he spring the demand on you out of the blue?

Karyn Monk: As I was nearing the end of THE PRISONER, I found myself really unable to let go of the characters I had created in it. There was this entire crazy, colorful family of assorted urchins and thieves who had demonstrated such fortitude and love for one another, and I found myself wondering what happened to each of them when they grew up?

Although Jack is one of the last of the brood to find love, it seemed natural to tell his story first, because he was such a strong, angry, poignant character. I had to let readers know that he was ultimately going to be okay.

Writerspace: What sort of research did youhave to do for this novel and how long did it take you?

Karyn Monk: Research for me is always ongoing; it takes place every day. A few years ago I found a wonderful book that told the stories of a number of young American heiresses who were taken to England by their ambitious parents, with the intention of marrying them to the highest-ranking English lord possible. When I started reading about these American beauties, who confounded English society with their lively personalities and their strong, independent wills, who went to England dreaming they were going to marry a wonderful Prince Charming, and instead usually ended up marrying a man who regarded them with contempt and who cared only about their money, I knew I had to write a story about one of them. From there the research grew.

Writerspace: Let's talk more about gorgeous Jack. *g* He's an intense, tortured hero, (sigh!!!) and his childhood was so rough too. I like the ease with which he combined both the worlds, and found a neat balance. I loved his sense of honor, his feelings that he's not good enough and also, the way he tries to do what's best for Amelia. How could anyone 'not' love a guy like this! How did you go about creating his personality?

Karyn Monk: The foundation for Jack's personality was laid in THE PRISONER, in which he is already fourteen years old. As I wrote THE WEDDING ESCAPE I knew I had to be careful to maintain the tormented, tough, street survivor aspect of Jack's personality, but that I also had to let his weaknesses and his gentler side filter through. Jack is deeply wounded by everything he has been through--he is very aware of who and what he is, which is why he believes a woman as fine and privileged and rare as Amelia could never love him. If I had just let Jack become a proper, educated gentleman with a secret past, this would not have allowed for the same depth of emotion and conflict that the two of them go through as they gradually come to understand their feelings for each other. By the end of the book we know that Jack is going to learn to accept who and what he is, because Amelia does.

Writerspace: Does Charlotte get her own book? Could you share something about her story with us? When will your fans get the opportunity to read it?

Karyn Monk: I am currently writing Charlotte's story, which is scheduled for release in the spring of 2004. I know many readers were expecting that Charlotte and Jack would get together romantically, but for all the reasons that are explained to Jack near the end of THE WEDDING ESCAPE, I believed they would not be the best love interest for each other. Because of Charlotte's injured leg and her quiet personality, people tend to see her as a victim. In her book, she will meet Harrison, who instead sees her as a woman of singular strength and determination. There is an excerpt from her story at the end of THE WEDDING ESCAPE, for readers who want to get a little preview.

Writerspace: Is there a certain place in your home where you find yourself most inspired to write or can you write anywhere, anytime?

Karyn Monk: I write in a bright, sunny office in my home that overlooks our back garden, where I can see the lovely waterfall my husband built for me. I have never been particularly good at writing on a laptop in any other place. I find I just get too distracted, even if it's just by birds flying overhead or the caress of the wind against my skin. So that keeps me from actually wandering into the garden to write; if I did that, I would never get anything written!

Writerspace: Prior to your career as a romance author, you worked in the field of advertising. What made you decide to switch gears from that path to writing romance? Which do you prefer and which has proved to be more stressful?

Karyn Monk: My work in advertising was extremely hectic, fast-paced, challenging and stressful. I loved it most of the time. But deep within me there was also a desire to write a book; and as that desire became stronger, my work began to seem less fulfilling. Long hours kept me from actually being able to find the time or the energy to write. My husband could see my frustration,and so we put together a plan in which we saved money each month, to put aside for my “writing sabbatical.

When I resigned from my job to become a writer, (or unemployed, depending on how you look at it!) I had no idea whether I would even be able to actually finish a book or not. Actually, I still feel that way every time I work on a manuscript! I find there is stress in writing, but it is far less noisy and tempestuous and political than the stress one feels in an office environment. Ultimately, I enjoy both, but I really do love to write.

Writerspace: Of all the books you've written to date, which is your favorite? Why?

Karyn Monk: I honestly don't have a favorite book. Some are lighter and funnier, some are darker and more historically detailed, and each one is an extension of me at that particular time in my life as I wrote it. I shall always have a special fondness for SurrenderTo A Stranger, however, because it was my first published novel, and it was written with such love and hope and uncertainty. The moment I discovered it was going to be published was one of the most wonderful moments of my life.

Writerspace: What was the most fun scene to write in THE WEDDING ESCAPE? The most difficult?

Karyn Monk: One of the scenes I really enjoyed writing was in Chapter 15, when Dr. Chadwick arrives at Amelia's parents' home and starts nattering away, saying the most hopelessly outrageous things! As for difficult scenes, the love scenes took a long time to write, because I was trying to blend Jack and Amelia's intense passion with their extremely raw emotions.

Writerspace: What advice would you give aspiring writers today?

Karyn Monk: Write, write, write. Work at your craft. Read widely. Be open to new ideas and inspiration: it is all around you. Celebrate every victory, big and small, whether it is a finished manuscript or a wonderfully well-written page. Be disciplined, be persistent, and above all, don't give up. Remember that you are writing for yourself first, and try very, very hard not to get discouraged by the things that are beyond your control. You are a writer. That in itself can be an enormous source of both pleasure and fulfillment.

Writerspace: Karyn, thank you so much for your time! I've really enjoyed chatting with you and look forward to your next release quite eagerly. :)


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