Author Interview & The Keys: Voice of the Turtle by Karen Hulene Bartell

Please help me welcome Wild Rose Press Author Karen Hulene Bartell…

Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Alicia! I was born in Jersey City, NJ, to rolling-stone parents who moved annually. My earliest playmates were fictional friends in books. Paperbacks were my portable pals. Ghost stories kept me up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was my passion. Wanderlust inherent, I enjoyed traveling, although I loathed changing schools—seven schools by the time I entered ninth grade.

Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, I began my first novel at nine, but stopped after several days. (Said I needed to learn more first.) Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, I live in the Texas Hill Country with my husband Peter and my mews—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

Where did you get the idea for THE KEYS: VOICE OF THE TURTLE?

The idea for THE KEYS: VOICE OF THE TURTLE came to me as my husband and I drove Highway 1 through the Keys all the way to Key West. (Something about travel always spurs my imagination.) Key West itself is so chock-full of history and ghosts, the two apparitions almost wrote themselves into this Mainstream Fantasy. Even Key West’s original name evokes mystery. The Spaniards called it Cayo Hueso, meaning Island of Bones, because they found human bones scattered across the island’s white beaches when they first arrived. Since I love turtles, the underlying  message of this novel is saving one of the few remaining sea-turtle nesting beaches from being developed into a hotel and lost forever to the turtles.

Why did you choose the Mainstream Fantasy genre?

I like to read stories that include mystery, romance, nature, and the supernatural.  As a result, I write stories that include those four elements. Although a romance develops between Keya and a dashing sailor, this is not a “Romance,” even though a budding love develops between a thirty-something man and woman.

A body washes up on the beach and begins a whodunnit mystery, but two other mysteries also crop up. Though Keya finds buried treasure and love, can she save the beach? Can Ruth find the body’s murderer or help Bart solve his 400-year-old mystery? Despite all these mysteries to solve and resolve, this is not a “Mystery.”

I chose the Mainstream Fantasy genre because where else can readers join the characters’ adventures as they fall in love, mingle with ghosts, and talk with turtles?

Was there any anecdote about THE KEYS: VOICE OF THE TURTLE you’d like to share?

Yes, finding the name Keya for one of the main characters—who is Native American and a turtle aficionado—was kismet.

In the Lakota Sioux language, Keya means Turtle. The setting of the Mainstream Fantasy novel is the Florida Keys, and the premise is protecting sea turtles and their nesting beaches. The title is The Keys: Voice of the Turtle.

Are there any tricks, habits or superstitions you have when creating a story?

The only writing “tricks” I have are these two:

  1. I can only write in the morning when I’m fresh—which often means getting up at 3:30, so I can write before my day begins, and
  2. I write every day, which keeps the story going. Even afternoons, when I’m busy with other obligations, my mind continues thinking about what the characters will do next.

What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?

I love researching my books and going on “Tory n’ Mom” trips with my dog—for instance, going on Louisiana’s Creole Nature Trail and getting cornered by a bobcat or walking through the Wetland Walkway and meeting an alligator. I love nature and enjoy going on rock hunts near the Rio Grande in Terlingua’s mountains, or walking barefoot through White Sands, New Mexico, or climbing the Franklin Mountains, or sitting in an open cattle trailer at dawn, waiting for Nebraska’s Prairie Chickens to begin their “dance.”

Have you written any other books that are not published?

I have. My Master’s Thesis was my first unpublished book—although, I plan to rewrite it at some later time. I also began a book and could not find enough material or inspiration to finish it. However, I “cannibalized” what I wrote, reusing bits of it in several other books 😉

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Completely, yet not at all. Let me explain 😉 I take pieces of people—facial or other physical features, mannerisms, unusual speech inflections, or temperaments. Then, I combines these qualities into a wholly new character. Once in Taipei, Taiwan, I followed a man into a bookstore because he absolutely looked like the mental picture I carried of one of my characters.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, in THE KEYS: VOICE OF THE TURTLE, the underlying message is to save one of the Keys’ few remaining sea-turtle nesting beaches from being developed into a hotel complex and lost forever to the turtles.

How much of the book is realistic?

All of it, yet none of it. Let me explain 😉 Like I “piece together” characters, I merge real places (and sometimes events) with total fiction. Hopefully the result is a seamlessly “realistic” amalgamation that is plausible and could happen yet is rooted from my imagination.

How did your interest in writing originate?

Characters in books were my earliest playmates. Paperbacks were my portable pals. Ghost stories kept me up at night—reading feverishly. My mother didn’t care how late I stayed up—if I read. The result? Writing—it’s the natural extension of reading. Besides, what reader can resist creating her own ending?

Your favorite…

Movie ~ Gone With the Wind

Music ~ Classic oldies

Place you’d like to visit ~ Ireland

Food  ~ Any new ethnic dish

Thank you, Karen. Great interview. Gone with the Wind is my favorite movie too!

Now, Karen has a question for you…

Question for readers ~ If you could write a book, what would be its theme?

THE KEYS: VOICE OF THE TURTLE Blurb:

Finding buried treasure and love, Keya moves forward, but can she save the beach? Can Ruth find Maita’s murderer or help Bart solve his 400-year-old mystery? Join their adventures as they mingle with ghosts and talk with turtles.

THE KEYS: VOICE OF THE TURTLE Excerpt:

“These nesting grounds are the reason I’ve fought to keep this property intact. If this beach is developed, the impact will destroy it, but fighting the lawsuit is expensive. I’d hate to sell this place to pay court costs.”

“But you said keeping the nesting grounds intact is only part of the reason you stay.” Ruth gave her a sympathetic smile. “What’s the rest of it?”

“Call it my legacy.” Keya stood up straight. “When I’m gone, I’d like this beach to remain as nature intended it…for the turtles. Since I’ve never had children—”

Earnestine meowed.

Keya grinned. “That is, except for my furry, four-legged kids, I’ve never had children. I have no one to leave it to other than who or what will make the best use of it. Conveying this land to the turtles would be my way of leaving the world a better place.” She turned toward Ruth. “Does that make sense?”

Ruth nodded. Her cousin’s intentions were clear. “But legally, how can you will the property to the turtles?”

“Easy. I leave it to the Turtle Refuge.” Keya chuckled as they meandered along the beach. “And this is where you come in. When you’re writing the brochure, add a few paragraphs about planned giving and charitable bequests…” Keya stared as if in a trance.

“What’s wrong?”

Her hand shaking, Keya pointed to a shady patch of beach half hidden by sand dunes. A lifeless hand lay tangled in seaweed, its fingernails broken and bloodied.

THE KEYS: VOICE OF THE TURTLE Buy Links:

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2XV2wO1

Paperback: https://amzn.to/316xbWM

KEEP IN TOUCH WITH KAREN HULENE BARTELL:

Newsletter: info@karenhulenebartell.com

Web Page: http://www.karenhulenebartell.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenHuleneBartell

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KarenHuleneBart

22 Comments

Filed under Author Blog Post

22 responses to “Author Interview & The Keys: Voice of the Turtle by Karen Hulene Bartell

  1. winonabennettcross

    Loved this interview and the facts behind the story. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jennifer Zander Wilck

    Great interview! Best of luck with the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Diane Burton

    It was so interesting learning about you, Karen, and your new book. The story sounds fascinating. I always like learning about what inspired a story. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I spent one whirlwind afternoon on Key West after the long drive down the island chain. I never had the chance to explore it’s history and hidden niches like I wanted. I look forward to experiencing it vicariously through your book. Best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. LOVE Key West! Great interview.
    Good luck and God’s blessings with your book.
    PamT

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations on your book, Karen. It sounds fascinating. And I’m loving GWTW and classic oldies too! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • karenhulenebartell

      Thanks, Vicky! Yes, GWTW had a HUGE impact on me at age 13 (read it 17 times ;)) We must be birds of a feather! Glad you stopped by!

      Like

  7. Great interview, ladies! I love Florida! It’s the setting for several of my books. The Keys are especially lovely and remind me of New Orleans! Congrats on your release!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I, too, am a morning writer and I often get so absorbed in my research that I have to stop to take time to write the book! Sea turtles are awesome creatures; sure your book is awesome, too. Continued best success to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • karenhulenebartell

      Susan, thank you so much for your kind words! Sounds like we’re two of a kind regarding research and critters 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  9. D.V. Stone

    Wonderful interview. Best of luck with your book. 🦉

    Like

  10. rollingwithrawhide

    Congrats on the book Karen! I LOVE your cat, Marmalade. I’m a dog person myself but I do like cats, I’ve just always had dogs. I was on the board of my local animal shelter for many years. Is she a rescue? Roni Denholtz

    Like

    • karenhulenebartell

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Roni! Yup, Marmalade and all our “furry kids,” past and present, are rescues. Right now we have three cats and one “CAT”ahoula Leopard dog 😉 Good for you for being such an activist for the critters! And thank you for stopping by!

      Like

  11. Interesting interview! Sounds like a great book!

    Like

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