Karoline Barrett and The Art of Being Rebekkah

Posted December 10, 2013

Author Karoline Barrett and her debut novel, The Art of Being Rebekkahthe-art-of-being-rebekkah

Kathleen: How does it feel to go from being a writer with a fiction manuscript to being a published novelist? There is a difference.

Karoline: Thank you for having me on your blog, Kathleen. Yes, I agree, there is a difference.  It feels awesome! This has been my dream for so long, and I’m very excited to share The Art of Being Rebekkah with my readers.

 Q: Give us a brief summary of the book. What is your genre and who is your target audience?

karoline barrett pic
Karoline Barrett

A: When talented Jewish artist, Rebekkah Gelles finds out her husband has a frightening dark side, she wants out of her marriage; but her life gets complicated when she moves back to her parents’ home in Park Slope, Brooklyn and falls for the charming Italian detective who’s investigating her estranged husband. Convinced he’s all wrong for her—he’s not Jewish for one thing—Rebekkah struggles with love, faith, family, and a surprise pregnancy. It’s women’s fiction with a romantic element. My target audience is women (ages 19-99), although I have given Advanced Readers Copies to a few men, including my sons and a Rabbi, and hope they enjoy it, too!

  Q:  How long did it take you to write the book? Can you talk a bit about the process? Do you write from an outline, notes, or do you wing it? Did the story change over time from the original vision you had in your head or did any scenes appear that surprised you?

A: It took about a year to write The Art of  Being Rebekkah.  I outline, outline, outline! I also have notes all over. I need to see where the story is going before I begin writing. The story definitely changed from the original version; I started over when I got to chapter fifteen because I realized I had no idea where this book was going. In my original draft, I had a totally different bad guy.

Q: Your literary agent (Frances Black) is also your publisher (E-LIT Books). How long did it take you to find an agent and can you elaborate on this new trend in publishing – where the agent is also the publisher?

A:  I finished The Art of Being Rebekkah in November 2011. I began querying in January 2012. I signed with Fran in October of 2012. The publishing world is changing so much these days; I fully support agents being publishers. It’s creating more opportunities for writers who don’t get a publishing deal right away, but who have written terrific books. E-Lit Books and DJC Communications have done a fantastic job publishing and promoting their authors.  

Q:  Before I started the query process to find an agent for my second novel, I hired a copyeditor to help me polish the manuscript before I sent it out into the world. Did you hire a copyeditor or did your publisher provide the editing?

A: I worked with an editor while I was writing my book. I’d send her two or three chapters at a time. My agent also gave me suggestions, which definitely improved my book.  

Q: According to your website, you were born in upstate New York and you’ve lived in many places. I am fascinated that you lived in South America at one time. How old were you then and how long did you live there? Will this experience ever inform your fiction?

A: My family moved to São Paulo, Brazil when I was one and stayed until I was twelve. I loved it! My favorite things were the food and the beach. I’ve never used that experience in my writing. So far.2

 Q: I love that you modeled your detective character after a man that visited your home to collect rubbish. What was it about this gentleman that grabbed you? Was it his looks? His gestures? His personality or all of these things?

A: Actually, he came to my in-laws co-op in Queens, N.Y. His name was Dominick (my detective is named after him), and I just loved his name, good looks and personality. Very take charge and outgoing. I knew someday I’d have to use him.   

Q: I read somewhere that you don’t like math. This cracked me up as I have a huge fear of math.  I even gave this same fear of math to my protagonist in my latest novel. How old were you when you realized math was not your favorite subject?

blog picture kr
Karoline with her mother and brother.

A: In grade school when my father (an electrical engineer) tried helping me with my math homework; I just didn’t get it! I still don’t—even though math plays a huge part in my “day” job.

 Q: What were your favorite subjects in elementary school, and what is the first book that had an impact on you?

A: English and history. My mother, a great reader herself, instilled a love of books in me at a very early age. The first books I remember liking were Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers series.

 Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Besides writing, what other jobs have you had?

A: I’ve always wanted to write. It just took me a while to get here! I’ve worked for the phone company, a public library, and now, as I mentioned, I work with math all day as my “day job!” I think God has a sense of humor! 

Q: When my first novel was released in 2008 by a small traditional press, I had to do most of the promotion myself. I didn’t have the funds to hire an expensive publicist so I became a one-woman-marketing-machine. How do you plan to promote your book? Will you and your publisher work as a team? Do you have speaking engagements and book signings lined up in your area or out of town? If so, please include them here or a link to your website.

A: I have a wonderful publicist who has arranged a whole package of blog tours (you’re one of the stops on it!) for me, she also arranged for me to do an article for JMag, the magazine of JDate, the premier Jewish online singles community, and they are promoting my book. I promote it on Twitter, Facebook, online writing groups to which I belong, and wherever else I can. I do hope to have both speaking engagements and book signings in the future.

 Q:  What are you working on now?  

A: A cozy mystery called (so far) An Apple A Day Can Be Murder. It’s set in upstate New York, and I hope it will become a series. It features Molly Tyler, owner of Batter Up Bakery.

 Q:  God forbid, but if you were to suddenly lose the use of your hands, would you find a way to still write?

A: That’s quite a question. I’d like to say yes, but on the other hand (no pun intended), how would I manage that? 

art of being rebekkah button

Bio: Karoline Barrett was born in upstate New York and has lived in South America, Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. At the moment, she lives in a small Connecticut town with her husband.  When she’s not writing, she loves reading, spending time by the water, traveling, and doing anything that has nothing to do with math. She’s currently working on her second novel, a cozy mystery set in upstate N.Y.

Website:           Karoline Barrett

Facebook:         Karoline’s Facebook author page

Twitter:            @KarolineBarrett

Pinterest:          Pinterest

Email:               karoline@karolinebarrett.com

Agent:              Frances Black, Literary Counsel  

E-Lit Books:    E-Lit Books





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Author of the novels The Final Salute, Johnnie Come Lately & Seven Wings to Glory. Former contributor to Family Circle Magazine and Military Times. Future work represented by agent Diane Nine, Nine Speakers Inc.

13 thoughts on “Karoline Barrett and The Art of Being Rebekkah”

  1. I enjoyed this immensely. What an interesting story! Thank you for sharing this with us, Kathleen. Your blog guests always offer such compelling information that it is virtually impossible for me not to read each post!! And that math? Oh. My. Goodness. Perish the thought!

    1. Karoline – I enjoyed our chat and it was fun learning more about you. I look forward to reading your novel. Good luck with the rest of your blog tour. And enjoy every moment of your launch. 🙂

  2. Kathleen and Karoline, I relate to all the details of publishing and marketing, although the process of writing memoir differs a little. Still, I had to learn to follow fiction narrative techniques to write an engaging memoir. Karoline also encourages me (along with my book development editor at Swenson Book Development and my publisher) to use twitter. I’m active on FB and LinkedIn and have resisted spending more time on social media, but it’s time to take this on. Thanks to both Kathleen and Karoline for your conversation and insights into the world of writing and publishing. Book tour, here I come, but not until fall 2014.

  3. Thanks Kathleen! And thank you Elaine for the comments. I love memoirs. Hope to hear more about yours! Happy writing!

  4. I thought it was interesting that Karoline hasn’t yet incorporated her time in South America into her fiction. I spent 13 years in Germany (grew up there), and I’ve never included that, either. You would think it would happen naturally…

    This was such an interesting interview. Love the questions and answers both, and best of luck to the author with the new maybe-series. 🙂

    1. Kris,

      Thank you so much for taking time from your busy day to read Karoline’s interview, and even more thanks for taking a moment to leave a comment. As you know from your own writing background, coming up with good interview questions takes time and effort. I find other authors’ backgrounds so interesting. I grew up in New Mexico and yet I’ve not set a novel there yet. But I am tinkering with the idea.

  5. Hi Kristen – thanks for commenting. I don’t know why my living in Brazil has never factored into my writing. I’ll have to think about it for a short story maybe! Thank you for wishing me luck; hopefully you’ll want to read my book and if so, hope you love it. Thanks again!

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