From Short Stories to Longer Fiction – Author Karen Clarke on her Debut Novel

I’m happy to welcome author Karen Clarke to my blog today.  I’ve known Karen for several years now in my avatar as a (mostly wannebe!) short story writer.  I know for a fact that Karen’s success in the area of short story writing has been nothing short of phenomenal – she’s managed to hold her own and as I mentioned when I interviewed her, that’s really saying something in an era of shrinking print markets.  Her name is very familiar to readers of British women’s and family magazines.  That’s one of the reasons why I’m so pleased that her first novel MY FUTURE HUSBAND has just been published.  I know it’ll be an absorbing read.


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Karen, you’ve been successful as a short story writer and as I already mentioned that’s really saying something in these days of shrinking markets. What made you want to become a novelist? 

It sounds a bit greedy but I’ve always wanted to do both! Even before sold my first story to a women’s magazine I was writing a novel too, and that hasn’t changed over the years.

Which form do you prefer, the novel or the short story?

I honestly love both. They’re such different disciplines, but it’s very  satisfying tying up a story in a thousand words or so, and I like having several stories out on submission and the possibility of a sale. Novels take such a long time to write and rewrite (and rewrite) and although I enjoy the process immensely, it’s impossible to predict whether the end result will ever make it into print.

MY FUTURE HUSBAND was already published earlier,in Germany. How did that happen?

It was pitched it at The London Book Fair a few years ago, and created a bit of a stir. It went to auction in Germany and sold quite quickly to Random House/Goldmann, which was very exciting. We had high hopes for the same thing happening in the UK, but although I came close with a major publisher it didn’t happen in the traditional way. Instead my agent decided to submit my second novel, Put a Spell on You instead, and in the meantime published MY FUTURE HUSBAND as an e-book under her own digital imprint.

Can you tell us something about your main characters in MY FUTURE HUSBAND? 

Sasha is a very organised person, whose motto is fail to plan, plan to  fail so when her life is thrown into turmoil with the arrival of a man from the future a month before her wedding, she starts to unravel. Elliot is a reformed bad-boy with a tragic past, and Sasha’s best friend, Rosie, is loyal and funny, but her own love-life’s a bit of a mess.

How long did it take you to write the novel? 

The first draft was pretty quick – around nine months – but rewrites and revisions took nearly another year.

From submission to publication, what was the length of time it took? 

I was taken on by an agent at the end of 2009, on the strength of the first three chapters. My novel was submitted to publishers in 2010 and it was published as a paperback in Germany, and as an e-book in the UK in 2012. So quite a long time!

Did you get attached to your characters? 

Definitely – they felt like friends (or at least people I knew well) by the time I’d finished, and there’s a part of me that would like to write a sequel. I think that’s normal for most writers though!

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you write according to plan, or do you let it just happen? 

I have to have a rough idea of where the story’s going and how it will end, but I don’t write a detailed outline – I’ve tried, but I get tied up in knots. I like to be surprised along the way, and it’s amazing how well that works – 

most of the time.

What’s your daily writing routine? 

I wish I had a better one! At the moment I make myself go out and write in cafes for at least a couple of hours a day, because I’m not very good at motivating myself at home and will find other things to do. Once I get going I tend to forget what time it is, and have to force myself to stop.

Do you listen to music for inspiration when you write? Or do you need peace and quiet? 

I can’t listen to music when I’m writing, and prefer peace and quiet at home, 

but bizarrely when I’m in a busy, noisy café I can easily tune out the noise. I’m not sure what that says about me.


Karen has had over a hundred short stories published in women’s magazines in the UK, Sweden and Australia. Her first novel, MY FUTURE HUSBAND was published by Random House/Goldmann in Germany in July 2012, and in the UK as an ebook by The Paris Press in December. She has recently completed her second novel PUT A SPELL ON YOU. 

Karen lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, three children 

and dog, and when she’s not writing she works part-time in a 

library, which fits in well with her love of books and reading.


When Sasha meets Elliot a month before her wedding to Pete, the news he brings seems incredible. He claims to have arrived from the future, explaining that their timeline was knocked off course in 2010, preventing them from meeting, and begs her to find him in the present day. 
But Sasha’s wedding plans are underway and though she’s curious, Elliot turns out to be feckless, rebellious, and engaged to a glamorous and pregnant Belle. He’s not remotely her type and is instantly suspicious of Sasha’s motives for tracking him down, convinced his disapproving father has sent her to spy on him. 

Sasha decides to ahead with her wedding, but a previous connection with Elliot’s father finds her doing the catering at a dinner party at his house. With the help of her best friend, Rosie, she soon discovers that Elliot has sadness in his past, and that Belle is up to no good…..

Get your copy here:  AMAZON      AMAZON UK

46 Replies to “From Short Stories to Longer Fiction – Author Karen Clarke on her Debut Novel”

  1. Hi Maria and Karen!

    This was a great interview. I loved reading all your answers to Maria's questions Karen!

    The blurb sounds interesting and intriguing!

    All the best!


  2. I find that I just have to shut everything out of my brain when I write at home.

    Unfortunately, that's not always advisable in the setting I'm in. Some of the folks around start saying you're 'playing on your computer and neglecting the kids.' Not an ideal situation. Going out is probably the best option.


  3. Thank you Sally, Nas and Colette :o) I can highly recommend being part of a writing group by the way, the support and feedback is invaluable.

    Anonymous – e-book publication is every bit as valid as traditional publishing these days, as long as the same care has been taken with proofreading, copyediting, layout, cover design etc. Why not try reading my book, and see what you think :o)


  4. Dear Anonymous, as already mentioned, Karen's calibre as a writer has been proven again and again in recent years as her short stories have consistently appeared in periodicals in the UK, at a time when getting a short story published has been well nigh impossible. There is an incredibly high standard of writers out there and the markets are shrinking. As for your query about whether getting her book published as an e-publication by her agents imprint 'really counts', I'd like to ask you 'really counts' as what? This is the digital age and we are moving into the era of self publishing. As a freelance editor, I have edited the work of independent novelists for self publication. Many self published works do very well. And Karen did not publish this book herself.

    Many excellent books don't find a publisher because they don't fit into a certain mould, not because they're no good. Just live and let live.


  5. Another great interview, Maria. Karen- I'm sorry to say I haven't yet read your book but it sounds absolutely intriguing and I'm going to get a copy as soon as possible – and I think the fact that your agent has published your book is a fantastic compliment.


  6. Whoops, just realised I can't get a copy as it's an ebook (which is the whole point of the interview!). Is there any prospect of it being published as a paperback in English, Karen?


  7. That made me laugh, Kath. Don't worry, I know what you meant! I haven't actually got a Kindle myself yet, but have a Kindle app on my PC so I can download ebooks :o)


  8. Kath, I use print books and ebooks. You can download the Kindle reading app for your PC and then you can download the book from Kindle. After I had the reading app for a while, I got myself a Kindle and I am happy to say that I enjoy both ebook and print books. I till read my Kindle book on my computer sometimes because when the computer is switched on and you're waiting for an email or something you can read for a while. Like I say, ebooks and print book have their ues.


  9. Great interview – good luck with the book! Your story success is awesome. And Kath – get a Kindle. I promise you won't regret it! I read in both formats but I wouldn't be without my Kindle now. x


  10. Thanks Lydia :o) I know a couple of people who do a bit of both – Kindle and paperback reading, and I'm coming round to that idea. I do read on the PC sometimes, via my Kindle app, but it's not the same.


  11. Best of luck with My Future Husband Karen! I'd like to get into writing short stories this year-have only done novel writing and flash fiction so far, but writing short stories is something I'd like to master.


  12. Apologies for arriving so late to the party. Just wanted to say huge congratulations, Karen. I look forward to reading ‘My Future Husband’
    I loved the interview. It’s always great to hear how other writers work.
    Thank you for hosting this, Maria. x


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