I am delighted to welcome Lola Karns to share a little of her writing journey. Her new release, Bad Traveler–look at that cover!–features a remarkable story from small town America. She also shares a recipe that made me laugh, even after I spent a 13 hour stretch at the day job. Be sure you read all the way through to the most useful cookies you might ever find! Let’s get a little bit of Lola’s perspective on this new romance and the writing life in general.
Lola, you have a new release, Bad Traveler, coming out on August 22nd. Before we talk about the newest release, what would you like us to know about your work up to the moment?
Bad Traveler marks my debut as a multi-published author. My first book, Winter Fairy, came out in 2012.
I grew up in a small town, and love small towns as setting—and really sometimes, as characters—in stories. Tell me a little about the town and residents we’ll meet in Bad Traveler?
I created a college town, the sort of place dominated by bars, cheap eats and a seasonal population of students. The idea of placing my hero and heroine in this sort of place appealed. They met at the college, but are in different stages of life when they independently return. So far as residents, Gwen’s parents are both academics. Kyle works for the college, but Gwen’s sister, Keira, serves as voice for the year round residents. She’s fun. She might deserve her own story.
You know what’s better than a single title small town romance? A series! Hint, hint.Your heroine and maybe especially your hero caught my attention—their problems are so current and so difficult to resolve. How did Gwen and Kyle come about?
Gwen developed in part through conversations with other women who expressed the fantasy of owning their own bakery and in part through my own parenting moments where I thought “I need help.” I’m fortunate that my husband is involved with my children’s lives. Single parents have a difficult road. Kyle evolved from my experience living near Virginia Beach and Norfolk VA. With a large military presence, I became acquainted with a number of active duty members of the military who were thinking about what happens after retirement. The local newspaper, the Virginian-Pilot, ran a series of articles about wounded warriors, who face unique challenges in adapting to civilian life. The range of responses discussed in the paper inspired me to think more about the reintegration of these brave individuals into civilian society.
Miranda Lambert wrote a song called “Everybody Dies Famous in a Small Town.” What would Gwen and Kyle be proudest and most ashamed of in their town?
Kyle is most proud of Gwen and how she opened her own business. She is proud of her business too, but her daughter Chloe, always comes first. So far as what would shame them most, no doubt, gossip.
Small town gossip is both the best and the worst. Depends a lot on the situation! What do you want readers to take away from Bad Traveler, or any Lola Karns story?
I hope that readers find something that makes them smile, something that offers food for thought and something that makes them want a cold shower.
What didn’t I ask that I should have—something important, silly, funny, strange—just something you want to add?
I asked Gwen for her brownie recipe, but she refused to share. Instead she offered this recipe for Aggression Cookies used in a pivotal scene.
From the kitchen of Gwen Jones
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips (I also like a blend with butterscotch)
Dump all ingredients into a large bowl. Mash, squish, pound, punch until thoroughly mixed and you’ve mostly forgotten why you were mad in the first place.
Roll into 1 ½ inch sized balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. If you’re still mad, you can smash them into place with the side of your palm dipped into sugar.
Bake 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven
A warm cookie and a glass of milk will ease any left-over hostility.
Having worked as a bartender, shipping clerk, concierge, document translator, European history doctoral candidate, and more as she moved through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia, and Virginia, Lola decided she needed a more portable career. Writing fit the bill.
Lola currently resides in Minnesota with her husband, two children, two hairless cats and a fluffy ex-stray cat. When not writing, she enjoys baking, reading and drinking coffee.