Pay It Forward! – Karen Mahoney!

Happy Friday, all!!!

It’s time to finish up our Pay It Forward Author Series with a great, great girl from across the pond…


1. Tell us about your book. (Publication Date, Publisher, One or two sentence description.)

1. THE IRON WITCH (Llewellyn*Flux, early 2011) is a contemporary fantasy set against the backdrop of a centuries-old war between human alchemists and the dark elves (who were kicked out of Faerie for being… um… dark). Aided by a gorgeous half-fey dropout, a girl with magical iron tattoos must race to save her best friend’s life – even if it means betraying the secret of immortality and confronting the very thing that destroyed her family. Secret societies! Adventure! Romance! Indian cooking!

Find out more at:

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?

Ooooh… The Journey! The thing with me is that I came to all this later than a lot of my writer friends. I always WANTED to be a published author of fantasy novels (preferably for teenagers), but I never had confidence in myself – for a lot of reasons that we won’t go into here. šŸ˜‰ I always wrote – well, apart from the 5 years I gave up completely – but in January 2007, a good friend took me aside and told me to stop whining about my ‘lost dreams’ and get back to work! REAL work. Which I did. (I am forever grateful to him, by the way, and not only is a character in THE IRON WITCH very loosely based on him, his name will be front and centre under: Dedicated to…)

Anyway, I digress. So I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote a LOT in the following year; I honestly believe that all the frustration during those five years when I gave up sort of poured out in one go. It was like a tidal wave of creativity! In January 2008 I started querying agents in the US with THE IRON WITCH. I’m from the UK – based in London – and I’d already decided that because I love urban fantasy so much (both YA and adult) I wanted to be published first and foremost in the US market. In July 2008 I signed with an agent who I can only describe as that very dangerous cliche: Dream Agent. We revised and went out on submission later that year. But! The road to publication is never smooth, and in January 2009 (there are lots of January’s in this story!) the publishing industry in the US got into some serious trouble which affected many writers out on submission, especially those looking for their first sale – myself included. We waited… and waited… and waited. To cut a long story short, after a total of 10 months on submission I finally started getting offers and signed with Flux in a two-book deal. Flux could not have been more enthusiastic about the book and the world I created, and I am so grateful to them for this opportunity! Not only do I get to see my debut novel on ACTUAL bookshelves, I’m able to write the sequel under contract. *beams*

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn’t you?

As I said in the previous answer, I sort of DID give up during my earlier incarnation as a writer, but I realise now that I just wasn’t ready back then. It wasn’t my time. When I started again in January 2007 I can honestly say that I never once thought of giving up. I’m not saying there weren’t ‘down’ periods (for sure, it was tough being out on submission with a wonderful agent but not getting any responses from editors at all) but I was never down enough to want to throw in the towel. Maybe I would’ve got there eventually, but I told myself: Just try for 5 years. If you don’t have a book on the shelves by 2012, maybe this isn’t for you. Luckily, my first book will be out in early 2011 so I didn’t do too badly.

Other things that helped keep me going: the writing community, especially those writing urban fantasy and YA. LiveJournal was such a source of inspiration during the first couple of years, along with VerlaKay’s blueboards and many other writers’ blogs. I am grateful for how generous the YA/MG authors community is! If it weren’t for the internet, I would never have met all my wonderful friends and CPs and fellow writers. I was also lucky enough to get introduced to editor Trisha Telep shortly after I signed with Miriam Kriss, and because Trisha had worked with Miriam’s clients on an adult anthology and they had a good relationship, I was given the opportunity to submit a short story to a YA vampire anthology. My story, ‘Falling to Ash’, seemed to go down very well and has enjoyed a lot of success and positive reviews in THE ETERNAL KISS (Running Press, 2009). I have a follow-up story coming out in another anthology this summer. While we out on submission with THE IRON WITCH, that anthology kept me going throughout last year – working on it, seeing it published and then getting emails and LJ comments from teen readers all over the world. It was wonderfully inspiring! šŸ™‚

4. Bonus: Favorite kind of cupcake? (NO cupcake is NOT an answer O_O)

4. Hmm… this is a difficult question, V. I do love cupcakes, but I’m definitely addicted to blueberry muffins. But okay, since you insist! *g* It would have to be a chocolate cupcake, there is absolutely no contest from any other kind. (Please see photo!) Mmmm….

Victoria, thanks so much for having me – you are one of those awesome and inspiring people that I’m happy to have met! Thank you for sending me many of these: *\o/* when I needed them most, especially in recent months.

Karen, you are incredible, and I’m happy to know you and to witness your ascent into rock star-dom šŸ™‚

Thanks everyone for joining me this week! Be sure to check out Karen’s blog HERE, and have a great weekend šŸ™‚ Thanks to all the authors for participating!

Here are the other Pay It Forward Interviewers…
Elana Johnson, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Beth Revis, Leah Clifford, Kirsten Hubbard, Susan Adrian, Dawn Metcalf, Carrie Harris, Amy Holder, Kathy McCullough, Gretchen McNeil, Kim Harrington, Tiffany Schmidt, and Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins.

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18 thoughts on “Pay It Forward! – Karen Mahoney!

  1. kaz_mahoney says:

    Thanks so much for having me, V!! *hugs*
    p.s. I am now officially blogging here:
    Even though I’m still trying hang out on LJ when I can, I’m not crossposting at the moment. It’s just toooo much!! šŸ™‚

  2. dawn_metcalf says:

    Well, I’ve been dying to read this book for a while (Hi, Kaz!) but after reading the blurb and the paved way to stardom, this is going to the top of the TBR pile! I’m biting at the bit!
    Great interview, V!

  3. soniag says:

    Yay Kaz! I didn’t realize you took a chunk of time off from writing — I think it REALLY worked for you because you’ve been incredibly productive since then. Can’t wait to read your book (and see the name of this mysterious person who spurred you on)!

  4. kaz_mahoney says:

    I’ve been dying to read yours!! I still have to read your interview, too. šŸ™‚
    “paved way to stardom” LOL!! Yeah… I dunno about that. heh. Maybe one day? We can dream, right?

  5. kaz_mahoney says:

    I didn’t write – apart from journal entries – for FIVE years. O.o I’m amazed I didn’t explode or crumble into dust… Heh.
    I’ve written a LOT of words in 3 years. I’ll have to figure out how many – that would be fun. And scary. šŸ˜‰

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi! this is Rachel Simon (@_rachelsimon)/seeyouupside on LJ. in school library so I can’t sign in
    But I wanted to say that I stopped writing for 4 years (all of high school), and I’ve never known anyone else like that. Karen I know yours was 5 years but it just made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this worried-I’m-not-good-enough breaking point…. I feel like since that 4 yrs of not writing I’ve become a better writer. šŸ™‚
    great interview!
    p.s. Karen I got my dates for London–we should talk!!! šŸ™‚

  7. veschwab says:

    Gah, sorry!! Fixed it šŸ™‚

  8. patesden says:

    Great interview. Karen, your story is an inspiration. I am a bit irritated that I have to wait so long to read Iron Witch šŸ™‚

  9. shvetufae says:

    I adore Karen, and I could not be happier for her. She truly is an inspiration: she set a goal, worked hard, and achieved her goal. And she never lost her sense of joy in the process!
    I can’t wait for her book to come out, so I can wave my copy in the face of everyone I know and tell him or her to buy it, too. *grin*

  10. lisa_laura says:

    We’re so glad you didn’t give up for good šŸ™‚ Great interview…another great book I can’t wait to get my paws on!

  11. elanajohnson says:

    Wow, you are my hero for the day. 10 months of waiting?? I’m so glad it sold — and you deserve a medal for sharing your journey with us. I think I can wait through anything now. Thanks!

  12. kaz_mahoney says:

    Rachel, finally I am replying!! šŸ˜€
    I love knowing that I wasn’t alone, too. I wonder if our dates are similar? I didn’t write throughout the whole of 2002-2006. Started again in Jan 2007.

  13. kaz_mahoney says:

    Aww… You’re so lovely. *hugs*

  14. kaz_mahoney says:

    I ā¤ you too, babe. šŸ™‚
    You are awesome – thank you!

  15. kaz_mahoney says:

    Thank you so much, ladies! It’s been fun getting to know you more over on the elevensies. šŸ™‚

  16. kaz_mahoney says:

    Elana, thank you! You’re are so sweet. And honestly, you CAN wait through anything. I have friends who have been on submission for longer than me & are STILL waiting for a sale. I have no doubt that they will get there – you just have to hang on and keep writing. šŸ™‚

  17. seeyouupside says:

    I stopped from 2005-2008. We’re close….
    For me, I just read ALL the time and was constantly frustrated by the fact I couldn’t keep an idea down. Or when I got an idea, it sucked compared to every other story in the entire world.
    …I was far too hard on myself.
    But I think those years were good–even if they sucked–because they allowed me to write better NOW. And look at my work differently now. Especially my work vs. others.

  18. kaz_mahoney says:

    But I think those years were good–even if they sucked–because they allowed me to write better NOW.
    Yes, totally! I think that happened for me, too. It’s like I was still learning – just be reading as much as I did, and living life, and just scribbling in my journal. When I came out of the end of that… things were different. *I* was different – and my writing came back to me.

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