Sunday, November 18, 2012

Author Interview with Karen Rochester - Be Brave

 Karen Rochester

Why was 'Be Brave' written?

'Be Brave' was published in 2011 and came about originally from writing for therapy.   After my serious motor vehicle accident in 1992, I discovered I was suffering from extreme and debilitating emotions.  My world seemed out of control and I found it very difficult to live a normal and productive life even though I tried extremely hard to make it look as though everything was normal and OK.  This in itself takes a lot of effort and energy.  The physical injuries I suffered from my car accident certainly didn't make things any easier.

Reader’s Haven: Hi Karen! Thanks for visiting our blog all week. Tell us a bit about yourself  that our readers might not know.

Karen:  Years ago I was very ill and incapacitated both physically and emotionally and I started writing for therapy on the advice of my psychologist.  It was a wonderful release as I could now express in writing what I had not been able to actually communicate verbally.  This gave me strength.  I used that strength to get through some major surgeries and intensive rehabilitation. After another year of recovery, I decided to try scuba diving.  This turned out to be a wonderful decision as diving has been the first activity that has allowed my mind to rest from intrusive and disturbing thoughts. The fish demand nothing, beauty is everywhere and the feeling of weightlessness on my damaged body has been a major relief.   It is wonderful respite for the mind.  The things I have seen and the places I have been diving in the last few years have made me very happy and really improved the quality of my physical and emotional life.  Also, I absolutely adore my husband and my fox terriers.  They are very positive influences in my life.

Reader’s Haven: What made you want to become a writer?

Karen:  Actually, to be honest, I never really had any major aspirations about becoming a writer.  I have a degree in economics and spent 12 years in the military.  Now I spend a lot of my time just trying to keep healthy and well.  My writing style and ideas developed as I wrote for therapy. Saying that, the more I write, the more I want what I write to be meaningful and helpful.  I take more time now than I used to and actually think about what it is I really want to say.

Reader’s Haven: Please share a bit about your new release without giving away any spoilers.

Karen:  ‘Be Brave’ is not a novel, it is a journey that every reader takes individually.  It is not a story as such, but it is potentially my story and every reader’s story.  I realize that may sound like double dutch, but readers read their own experiences in to the text.  The book I for 8 year olds and above and while I have heard some people say it is also for young teenagers, I have also had it referred to as a book from ages 8 to 80 years old!  This is because the book is not a story, it is a message and that message is for anyone and everyone.  The goal of ‘Be Brave’ is to encourage the reader to seek help if they have been hurt by another person.  It does not specify how someone may have been hurt; that is an individual circumstance.  What it does do is provide understanding and empathy to the strong emotions and thoughts that come from being hurt and tries to encourage the reader to seek assistance to help overcome the problem.  

Reader’s Haven: Do you write under a pen name?

Karen:  No not really, but I am using my maiden name.

Reader’s Haven: What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

Karen:  ‘Be Brave’ doesn’t really have a hero or heroine as such as it is all about the reader.  If I was to describe the type of hero / heroine I like best it would be those who are somewhat of an underdog to start with but are smart and can solve complex problems and situations. I like characters that can think on their feet and say clever things to manipulate the people and situations they find themselves involved in.

Reader’s Haven: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Karen:  I have a pretty common thread in all my writing.  I used to write poetry about pain and trying to deal with it, now I focus more on overcoming adversity with a more positive approach.

Reader’s Haven: How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

Karen:  Ages.  ‘Be Brave’ took nearly 7 years to write, edit and complete the illustrations.  While the editing and illustrations really only took a year, I kept tinkering with the words in the text and putting it down and coming back to it when I was in the writing mood.  I have to be in a certain frame of mind to write; it doesn’t come at anytime for me, it comes when it comes and I cannot force it.

Reader’s Haven: Do you have to be alone to write?

Karen:  Definitely!  I hate having music or television in the background – I find them very distracting.

Reader’s Haven: How do you go about naming characters?

Karen:  ‘Be Brave’ has no named characters and I planned this on purpose.  I didn’t actually want the reader to bond with a character as there was always the risk that some readers would not and thus the message would be lost.  The message is everything and the illustrations emphasize the message hopefully without alienating any reader.
Reader’s Haven: Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Karen:  ‘Be Brave’ was fully written before illustrations were even started.  The illustrations were individually designed to focus on the idea / message on that particular page.  While there are people in the illustrations, namely a boy and a girl, they have been very carefully designed to be almost non age or cultural background specific.  This is so most readers will accept them and be non judgmental towards them so again, not to detract from the central message.

Reader’s Haven: How do you pick locations for your stories?

Karen:  ‘Be Brave’ is not location specific so that anyone from any demographic in any town or city in any country can relate to the message.

Reader’s Haven: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

Karen:  I have a number of ideas but they are only ideas at this stage.  When the mood takes me it will all develop quickly.

Reader’s Haven: Where can readers find out more about you and your books? 

Karen:  I have a web site, and ‘Be Brave’ has a Facebook page and follow me on Twitter @BeBraveBook. Thanks Deanna and Louise.  I have really enjoyed our time. Details for my contest are below.

 'Be Brave' is a book about hope, learning to trust and understanding.  It is a book that encourages the reader to "tell someone" if they have been hurt by another person.  It is a simple, yet powerful message.  The book is not a story, it is a journey the reader takes as they read their own experiences into the text. 

"Every single person on the planet has to be brave at least once in their life, no matter who they are, how old they are, or how strong they are.  Being brave is about having the courage to do the best thing, even when it’s hard and especially when you’re scared to do it."  from 'Be Brave'.

A signed hard back copy of ‘Be Brave’
Leave a comment for Karen, say hi and let her know you stopped by, ask a question or tell Karen your favorite motivational book. 
Good Luck!



  1. Good on you Karen, you're an inspiration. The book is wonderful and will help many people, I am sure. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Shones for your very kind words. 'Be Brave' x