Karen White is a bestselling author in her own right in the mystery and Southern women’s fiction genres. And the Milton resident is part of a trio of authors – along with Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig – who have co-written the bestselling historical adventure novels “The Glass Ocean” and “The Forgotten Room.”
The novel-writing team is back together for “All the Ways We Said Goodbye,” a romantic drama about three different women’s adventures at the Ritz Paris hotel during both world wars and the 1960s. While Williams and Willig live in the Northeast, all three authors will visit White’s backyard together on Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. for a book event at the Sandy Springs Branch Library at 395 Mount Vernon Highway NE in Sandy Springs. Admission to the event is free, but advance reservations are required and can be found at the ticketing website here.
Via email, the Reporter asked White about her inspirations and the new novel, which hits the shelves on Jan. 14.
Q: Writing fiction in a trio is unusual. What is the best part of writing as a team? What is the most challenging?
A: The best part of writing as a team is the shared creativity. When writing solo, only crickets answer when we ask “what if” when stuck on a plot point. But with two other brains in the mix, it becomes an entire well of possibilities. The most challenging aspect is not living geographically close to each other. We’re great friends as well as writing partners and it would be a lot more fun to meet for coffee to chat plot points and characters (among other things) if we did live in the same corner of the world.
Q: You have mentioned the Nancy Drew mysteries as an early inspiration. How does she continue to influence your work?
A: I remember how excited I would get to find a new Nancy Drew book in the library or bookstore, and how I would stay up in the wee hours of the night reading because I couldn’t put the book down. And then I would re-read the book to experience it all over again. That is the feeling I want to give to my readers; an unputdownable read with characters that linger long after they turn that last page.
Q: Do you have any favorite local bookstores or other literary spots?
A: We are extremely lucky here in the Atlanta metro area to have some really fabulous bookstores! They’ve all been such great supporters of mine, and do a terrific job of recommending books and authors to readers, and hand-selling books. FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock is a favorite, as is Bookmiser and The Book Exchange, both in Marietta.
Q: The new novel is set in the Ritz Paris hotel. What was an interesting fact you learned about the hotel in the historical research?
A: There were many! The most interesting was that the hotel was used as the headquarters for the Luftwaffe, the Nazi Germany air forces, during World War II, as well as the permanent residence of fashion designer (and suspected Nazi agent) Coco Chanel. Oh, the stories those walls could tell!
Q: You’ve said that your grandmother Grace Bianca was an early influence on your interest in storytelling. What sort of stories did she tell?
A: I remember spending hours beneath my grandmother’s kitchen table in Indianola, Mississippi, and listing to her, my mother, my four aunts, and an assortment of extended female members of my family talk about life, about their gardens and fruit crops, about local gossip, and also reminiscing. My favorite story is how my grandfather, who owned the first car on the street, would pile the family into the car in the middle of a hot summer day (this was before air conditioning!), and drive around town with the windows down so they could catch a breeze.
Update: This story has been updated with ticketing information.