Today I have tidied up around the place and made the tea all special-like, because I have a super-lovely guest stopping by!
Photo by Karina Cooper
Karina Cooper is the author of The St Croix Chronicles, which you may have noticed me reviewing (okay, gushing about) here just yesterday. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, then between that series review and this interview I certainly hope I can nudge (okay, shove) you toward doing so!
On that note, without further ado, etc., ladies and gentlepeople, the Lady Karina of Cooper!
Firstly, hi and welcome! Mind the gap…
Hi! Thanks so much for having me. You know, when I was a little girl and living in New York, I’d take the subway periodically and always wondered how easy it would be to get my foot stuck in the gap. After reading The Midnight Meat Train by Clive Barker, I’ve never looked at the underground in quite the same way.
Secondly, for the benefit of the uninitiated, can you tell us about yourself and your work?
Sure! Nice to meet you, uninitiated! Stick around, they give out coffee mugs after the ritual sacrifice. I mean snackrifice. I mean that we’ll have you over for lunch.
Anyway…My name is Karina Cooper and I am a writer. I write lots of things, but what I primarily write falls under the heading of “paranormal”.
I am, outside of writing, a geek. I enjoy a lot of things, from gaming to steampunk to wrestling (what? I regret nothing!) to cosplay. I just like storytelling in some form or another.
Let’s talk a bit about the St Croix Chronicles. Cherry’s (mis)adventures take place in an alternate-history version of London that, as a steampunk/alt-history fan, I loved from the very start – high-society London above, and filthy smog-ridden London below… What made you go down that particular route when it came to creating Cherry’s world?
Aw, thanks so much! I’m glad when people love my worlds. While I’ve used the “rich on top” trope before in my Dark Mission books, in this case, it was more along the lines of “inevitable” for this alt-history steampunk world. When the wealthy complained about the peasouper smog so rife in the late 1800s, Her Majesty’s advice—to “rise above it”—became the thing. They hired engineers and brilliant minds and took the best parts of London above the smog, Jetson’s style! Since much of commerce is run on airships (which we see some reference to, but they don’t fly in the city proper), it made sense to make the most valuable travel commodity on the same level as the rich who use it.
In the end, a proper segregation between those who could keep up appearances and those who can’t. The perfect setting for a young miss torn between two very distinct worlds!
Now on to the romance element – while I expected that much from the books, I was still pleasantly surprised by how easily and thoroughly I enjoyed it, as it’s a genre that I often find hard to connect with, much less enjoy. In your own opinion, what makes a good romance?
Ha! I love that you call it a good romance. To be honest, it’s not technically considered a romance, as the urban fantasy feel—the setting, the fact the focus takes up so little focus, etc—strongly outweighs the romantic aspect. That said, I strongly believe that no matter what is going on, sex and romance are part of the human condition.
In my opinion, a “good romance” is one where the people involved are not just flawed, but act according to those flaws—and then find the strength from somewhere to balance them, over come them. Whether it’s straight romance, LGBT romance, poly, or what have you, whether it involves humans or paranormal critters or aliens, a romance only really works when the reader is cheering for them to overcome the obstacles placed between them. This doesn’t mean that the character has to be perfect or even completely likable—let’s face it: Hawke isn’t the most likable, and Cherry’s got enough flaws to fill a well. But I like to think that the draw between them, the effort they put forth and the consequences they suffer for it, helps paint the picture of characters who are stronger than they appear.
I don’t know, really. It’s hard to quantify what makes a good romance. If there’s heat and sparks and personality between them, if they’re strong characters on their own and made stronger by being together, of they balance each other in ways that may not even be clear to them, it’s good.
Tempered, the fourth book of the St Croix Chronicles, is out this month. What comes next on your writing agenda?
I am so excited for this book! Corroded was really dark, and while it had to be given Cherry’s situation, Tempered marks that flip—that point in a hero’s journey where she has to quit wallowing with the tide and start swimming.
After Tempered, there are two more books slated for Cherry’s misadventures: Engraved and Transmuted. These will be the final books in the St. Croix Chronicles, ending the tale of London’s only female collector and slightly mad heiress.
Aside from these, I do have several other projects int he works, but I can’t really talk about any of them yet. Ooh, except for my short story Four Tons Too Late, which will feature in Fireside Fiction Company’s magazine. I loved this story, sort of a noir Inspector Gadget.
Do you see yourself ever crossing over from romance/urban fantasy into other genres? If so, which ones interest you the most?
Oh, absolutely! I don’t believe in limiting one’s self to one genre, if that is not one chooses to do. I have stories all across the board, some with more or less romance. I’ve got plans for more urban fantasies that run the gamut of history, from alt. history to insanely futuristic, plans for fantasies, for romances, you name it. I love writing. I’ll take a stab at any genre that captures my fancy.
And on a reading note instead of a writing one – which books and/or authors do you enjoy most?
My favorite book is actually a non-fiction, called A Monk Swimming. It’s written by Malachy McCourt, Frank McCourt’s brother, and bears the distinction of a bajillion 1-star Amazon reviews because it, in essence, doesn’t have the miserable gravitas of Frank’s books. It’s heart-tuggingly irreverent, and I love it.
My second two favorites are The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley. However, I have been devouring books by Chuck Wendig, Stephen Blackmoore, Emma Newman, and Del Dryden. Del has this totally sexy geek-centric series that I just love.
What was the last book you read that you found difficult to put down?
I can’t answer this fairly! I’m a great book devourer—once I start reading, I won’t stop ’til it’s done several hours later. I just don’t put them down. I spend a lot of time working, so on those rare occasions when I get to read, I completely absorb it. I don’t dare stop mid-book, or who only knows how long it would take for me to get back to it!
That said, the last book I tore through was Chuck Wendig’s The Cormorant, part of his Miriam Black series. An awesome read.
Okay, I’ll let you go here. Thank you very much for answering my questions!
Thanks so much for having me! I assume that lunch is after this, right? Is the main course here yet…?
[Note: There are no sacrifices here. Messy business. However, anyone who gets their foot stuck in the gap is on their own.]
You can find Karina elsewhere on the web, such as on Twitter and on Facebook, and you can buy her books at the links below: