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Interview with KARI LEE TOWNSEND

September 12, 2011

Kari Lee Townsend lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, her three busy boys, and her oh-so-dramatic daughter, who keep her grounded and make everything she does worthwhile…not to mention provide her with loads of material for her books. Kari is a longtime lover of reading and writing, with a masters in English education, who spends her days trying to figure out whodunit. Funny how no one at home will confess any more than the characters in her mysteries!

Kari writes fun and exciting stories for any age, set in small towns, with mystical elements and quirky characters. You can find out more about her on her website and also on the group mystery blog she cohosts, called Mysteries and Margaritas, at

What prompted you to become a writer?

I always knew I loved to read and write; I just never knew what I could do with it. I did start out writing poetry and short stories, then became an avid reader and decided to try my hand at writing a novel. I loved it, and the rest is history.

When did you first know that writing was more than a hobby for you?

When I had my first child, I decided to write during naptime because I loved it. When I realized I could actually finish a book and loved the feeling of accomplishment, I decided to pursue writing as a career. I had no idea at the time it would take 14 years to sell, but I consider it time well spent. I have learned so much along the way.

What part of writing do you find most satisfying?

There is nothing like the feeling of writing “The End!” Knowing you were able to finish a book and pull the story together is amazing, then the fun starts. I love polishing. That’s when all the sparkle gets added, and the more I read something, the more ideas pop into my head. Funny lines. Really cool twists. Awesome details and description. I never try to do all that while I’m writing a first draft. That’s more about getting the plot down. The rest is what makes it shine.

What part do you find most difficult?

Actually, writing doesn’t come hard for me anymore. I’ve learned enough over the years about what process works for me as a writer. Selling is hard enough. Staying sold is ever harder. The most difficult part for me is balancing my writing time with all the necessary promotion an author needs to do in order to spread the word and make her book a success. You cannot rely on your publisher to do all the marketing and promotion for you.

What comes first for you? Characters? Story? Setting? Or something else?

First I come up with a story idea like a fortune-teller series, and where it will take place. Then I come up with my main characters. Next I try to figure out who will die, how, and why? Finally, I come up with my list of suspects. Who knew the deceased, what was their relationship, what issues did they have between them, and why could they possibly want them dead? And last I choose who the real killer will be and why. I don’t always know all the suspects right away. They sometimes present themselves as I’m writing. Same with plotting. I know the bones of the story, but many cool twists come to me about half way through the book. I love great surprises like that when they happen.

Tell us about Tempest in the Tea Leaves.

Tempest is about a big city psychic named Sunshine Meadows who moves upstate to the quaint town of Divinity NY to open her fortune-telling business. She gives a tea leaf reading to a frazzled librarian and predicts murder. When the woman winds up dead, hard-nosed, cynical Detective Mitch Stone names Sunny as his number one suspect. She has to clear her name before the real killer puts an end to her future for good. Also, she holds her readings in an ancient Victorian house that is presumed haunted, but Sunny suspects the mysterious cat living there is the one doing the haunting.

I found the details about preparing the tea and reading the leaves fascinating. Did you do a lot of research for this part of the story?

While my main character is psychic, I am not…bummer! But I find the whole process fascinating. I’ve had my tea leaves read, my palm read, my tarot cards read, and even a past life reading. So I draw from my own experiences as well as doing a lot of research online. I tried to combine several techniques to make the reading more authentic. Each one of the Fortune Teller Mysteries will focus on a different fortune-telling tool.

Sounds like fun. I look forward to reading them. What about that little town in New York? It feels very real.

While the small town of Divinity is fictional, I grew up in and still live in upstate New York. I tried to combine elements of a few different “real” towns to come up with someplace fun and authentic sounding. Often times, especially in cozies, the town almost becomes a character itself.

What other projects are in the works?

I just finished book two CORPSE IN THE CRYSTAL BALL which comes out in June 2012, so now it’s time to start book three TROUBLE IN THE TAROT which comes out in March 2013. I hope the rest of the series does as well as book one because I’m having a blast and would love to continue writing these books for a long time.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I have four children (3 boys and 1 diva) so I am usually running the roads or at sporting events, etc. When I do have a few rare moments of peace, I love to travel, take pictures, go on wine tours, and pretty much do anything adventurous. I am the dare devil of my family.

Do you have a schedule for writing or do you squeeze it in when you can?

When my kids were little, I wrote during naptime every day. Now that they are in school, that pretty much has stuck. I tend to do promotion and social networking in the morning, then take a break, and finally write in the afternoon until they get home from school and the chaos starts.

What refreshes you creatively?

Having a brainstorming session with my longtime CP, Barbie Jo Mahoney aka Barb Witek. We’ve been together from the beginning and pretty much share one brain. I always walk away with the best ideas after we’ve brainstormed everything from new story ideas, to plots, etc. Another thing that absolutely gets me fired up to write is attending writers’ conferences. The energy is incredible!

Thanks for taking time from your busy life to answer my questions. If we want to know more, where can we find you on the internet?

I am everywhere. Check out my website at and my group mystery blog at Follow me on Twitter at Like my Facebook Author Page at I know I have more, but if you check out my links page on my website, you’ll find out everything. Thanks so much for having me, and I hope you all enjoy Tempest in the Tea Leaves.

Here’s the blurb for Kari’s book:

TEMPEST IN THE TEA LEAVES: A Fortune Teller Mystery

In the fortune telling business there are a lot of pretenders, but Sunshine Meadows is the real deal—and her predictions can be lethally accurate…

Sunny is a big city psychic who moves to the quaint town of Divinity, NY to open her fortune-telling business in an ancient Victorian house, inheriting the strange cat residing within. Sunny gives her first reading to the frazzled librarian and discovers the woman is going to die. When the woman flees in terror, Sunny calls the police, only she’s too late. The ruggedly handsome, hard-nosed detective is a “non-believer.” He finds the librarian dead, and Sunny becomes his number one suspect, forcing her to prove her innocence before the real killer can put an end to the psychic’s future.

OK, Readers, your turn. Any psychics out there? I’m sure Kari would love to hear from you.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2011 6:03 AM

    Thanks Sandy! This was fun 🙂

    • September 13, 2011 8:09 AM

      It was fun for me too. I love getting to know new authors, especially when they write fun, quirky books.

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