Meet Karen Rose author of Say No More

This week sees the publication of Sunday Times bestselling US author Karen Rose's latest suspense novel Say No More and we're delighted to have her as this week's Thriller Women interviewee.  

Download the ebook of Say No More from Amazon or buy the paperback from Thriller Women's list at Bookshop.orgNB: if you buy books through this link we may earn a commission from, whose fees support independent bookshops.

Cults, crime and secrets are packed into this second novel in Rose's Sacramento series.

Book cover of Say No More by Karen Rose

TW: You used to be an engineer, how did you make the jump to crime writer?

KR: While an engineer, I would travel internationally very frequently. This was in the 90s and there were no ebooks back then. I’d often read all the books I brought with me within the first few days of the trip. I rarely understood what was on the television, so I began to write stories to keep myself occupied. It became a hobby, one that I continued even when I was back home with my husband and kids who were very young at the time. Writing was my “Calgon moment,” when I’d have quiet time. I wrote in secret for more than five years. My husband and a few trusted friends knew, of course. One day my husband came home with a used paperback he’d purchased for $0.25 cents. It was called “How to Market Your Romance Novel.”

I did all the things the book recommended, including choosing a pseudonym, creating business cards, and sending out query letters (I made a spreadsheet to keep track, lol). I got a lot of rejections, but several were very kind and encouraged me to continue. Fast forward two years and I’d signed with my first agent. Fast forward another eighteen months, and I’d sold my first book, Don't Tell. So it was a hobby to career progression.

TW: What are your tips for other people who want to follow in your footsteps?

KR: First, don’t write to be published. There are so many routes to publication these days and I fear that many new authors are in such a rush to the finish line that they don’t allow themselves the time to find their voice and hone their craft. I think that one of the best things about how my career began was that it was a hobby. I had time to write and rewrite and learn without the pressure of having to be perfect.

Second, if you’re very new to writing, find a writing organisation that provides instruction. There are several out there that are genre specific and will teach new writers the tricks of the trade. Some provide research and/or technical instruction (how autopsies are done, how crimes are investigated, how to research historical investigating techniques). Importantly, many will also discuss the business aspects of writing. (It’s not all fun and games.) I’m a member of both the Romance Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. There are many other organizations out there who will teach and, most of all, provide support from other writers who know exactly what you’re going through every step of the way.

TW: Which crime/thriller books would you recommend our readers look out for?

KR: I enjoy books by Michael Connelly and Lisa Gardner.

TW: You've had a long and successful career. How did you manage that?

KR: Just last week my twenty-six-year-old daughter said, “Wow, Mom, you’ve been writing since I was in the first grade.” That made me stop and think. She doesn’t really remember me doing anything else. I don’t often stop and think about how long I’ve been at this. I just write a book, then I write the next book. And I am sincerely grateful for every reader who’s spent time with my characters along the way.

I think some of my longevity has been good fortune. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful agent and editors who have loved and supported my work. They make me a better writer and I trust them. I’ve also been blessed with a supportive family. My husband keeps me fed with nutritious food while I’m on deadline, else I’d be surviving on Diet Coke, takeout pizza, and pretzels. I’ve also made a lot of friends along the way who help me find my way out of any plot holes into which I’ve fallen. They brainstorm with me and together we make our careers a lot less solitary. But most of what I have direct control over is the writing itself. I sit myself in my chair and write. One book at a time.

TW: Your latest book is second in a series. What are the particular challenges of writing series as opposed to stand alone novels?

KR: Well, all of my books are series books. Most can also be read as a standalone. It is a tricky line to walk. My series can be loosely associated, such as all of the characters interact on a team or within a family, but their stories are separate. Others are closely intertwined, such as the current Sacramento series which focuses on the remote cult of Eden. But all can be read alone, with (hopefully) just enough background to keep a reader from becoming confused.

I wrote my first true series (the Vartanian family/Die For Me) kind of by accident. I’d started writing Die For Me as a true standalone. But then a secondary character who was supposed to be a walk on, walk off character started doing his own investigation. By the end of the book he’d helped the hero and heroine defeat the bad guy AND he’d uncovered his own mystery. I was like, well, now I have to find out what happens next! So I wrote the second book. By the time I got to the third, I was realizing the folly of writing a series by accident. Weaving in the unplanned loose ends was very difficult.

When I started the Sacramento series, I planned most of the main plot points ahead so that I wouldn’t have too many loose ends to weave. There were still surprises along the way, which keeps things fun.

TW: Who is your favourite female thriller character of all time?

KR: That’s a tough one to answer! Top of my head answer is Nancy Drew, because I so wanted to be her when I was a little girl. But after giving it deeper thought, I think Sarah Conner from The Terminator. It’s not a crime thriller (I don’t watch a lot of those because they scare me), but she faces danger and draws on inner strength she didn’t know she had to defeat the bad guy. She can be vulnerable, though, and I think that’s what I like best about her. She starts out a waitress and ends up this badass heroine, allowing herself to fall for Kyle along the way. She fights for him and for herself and ultimately saves the world.

TW: What have you got up your sleeve for the future?

KR: I’ve completed book three in the Sacramento series and am starting a new series! No details yet, but it’s located somewhere very fun and my assistants are very excited to help me do location research once it’s safe to travel again.

Quick fire questions: 

TW: Murder weapon - knife or gun? 

KR: Gun.

TW: Celebrating your latest book - champagne or cake? 

KR: Both. 

TW: Plotter or pantser? 

KR: Semi-plotter. I plot the big points and let my characters take me from here to there.

Thanks Karen!

Photo of author Karen Rose

More about Say No More:

If they ever catch you, say nothing. Admit nothing. Never tell.

Mercy Callahan never thought she'd be able to talk about her past. When she arrives in Sacramento to make peace with her brother Gideon, and to help find the brutal cult that took away her childhood, she is finally ready to talk. But when Ephraim Burton - the man who made her life a living hell - follows her there, she realises she might never be safe.

Rafe Sokolov would do anything to have Mercy back in his life and would go to any length to protect her. But when it becomes apparent that Ephraim is more determined than ever to get Mercy back, even Rafe might not be able to stop the trail of destruction he leaves in his wake. As Ephraim draws near, it's clear it's not just Mercy who is in danger; those closest to her are firmly in his sights.

Will Mercy sacrifice herself to help bring Ephraim down? Or will he finally get what he's always wanted... 

Say No More by Karen Rose (Headline, RRP £8.99)


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