Meet Karen Beintema, winner of the 2015 Free Publishing Contest : Fiction Category, for her novel Retribution: a historical romance of love and betrayal with some unexpected twists!
WAP: What was your reaction to winning the contest?
KB: Very surprised! There are a lot of talented authors out there with amazing manuscripts just waiting to be noticed, and I am very honoured to have been chosen from among them.
WAP: Tell us abou t yourself. What’s your background?
KB: I received a love letter from a boy when I was in Grade 5 and ten years later I married him. We are living the dream on a small acreage with our three beautiful daughters, horses, dogs, cats and a menagerie of small critters in the house.
WAP: How long have you been writing for?
KB: From a young age, I’ve always enjoyed writing stories but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I was really bitten by the writing bug. I’ve since written about 15 manuscripts and delved into a bit of self-publishing.
WAP: What do you do when you’re not writing?
KB: I keep busy with my family and animals, I also love to draw and paint and do custom portraits for clients. I work a couple of mornings a week at our daughter’s Christian elementary school as the Administrative Assistant and also volunteer there as librarian and am currently on the PTA as well.
WAP: What is your favourite genre to read? Do you have any favourite authors or books?
KB: Historical Christian Fiction. I love reading Karen Witemeyer, Jody Hedlund, Tamera Alexander just to name a few.
WAP: We get a Jane Austen vibe from Retribution, but you certainly put your own spin on things. How do you keep your writing fresh when you’re working with such a classic genre?
KB: I think that having a modern take on a 200 year old story line keeps it fresh. I try to come up with ideas that haven`t been used before. Diving deeper into descriptions and emotions without becoming overly flowery keeps readers interested.
WAP: Where did you get the idea for Retribution? What do you hope your audience will take away from this novel?
KB: Sometimes certain events or places will trigger an idea for me, but the plot for Retribution came to me last year in July as we were travelling home from our summer vacation in Northern Ontario. Not sure what triggered it, but by the time we arrived home I pretty much had the entire plot formatted in my mind.
I hope that readers will see the power of the Lord and that by putting their faith in Him, understand that no matter how grievous their sin, if they repent they are saved by the Grace of God.
WAP: We love the historical details you include in Retribution! What sort of research did you have to do for this book? What drew you to this era?
KB: I have read a lot of books from this era, so didn’t have to do much research as far as fashion, etiquette, etc., but for the battle scenes, I did a lot of reading online and also watched a few documentaries. I have to be careful because I am a history buff and one minute can be reading about the Battle of Waterloo and then I click and click and am quickly several subjects away from my original research project, but still enjoying myself immensely. ;-)
WAP: Without giving too much away, we do see a strong focus here on how much a person’s reputation can affect her life—an act that many people today would consider inconsequential had the power to destroy a woman’s life in the Napoleonic era. Do you draw any parallels between the dangers your characters face and problems faced by contemporary society?
KB: Unfortunately, I believe people still have the power to destroy someone’s life through their words and deeds. Someone’s trust is often earned over the course of a long time and so easily broken. Faith and comfort sought in the Lord certainly can ease the suffering.
WAP: How would you say Retribution relates to your own faith journey? Do you see yourself in any of these characters?
KB: I was very blessed to be raised in a family where the Lord came first. I was fortunate to be able to attend the same Christian school that my children now attend. As I have grown and raised a family, my faith has also grown as I have seen the blessings that have been given me.
I suppose that my closest character tie would be Daphne for her faith, though I have never been tested as she was. I think that every author, whether inadvertently or purposely, passes on some form of characteristic, personality trait or opinion to their characters.
WAP: What are your goals as a writer?
KB: It would be amazing to become a main stream author, but no matter what happens, I feel very blessed to be able to share my ideas with whoever chooses to read them. No matter the size of my audience, I love writing and will, God willing, be coming up with ideas for a very long time.
Karen Beintema has been happily married for nearly 17 years to the boy who wrote her a love letter in grade 5. They have three beautiful daughters, and are very involved in our church community. They are living their dream on a beautiful small hobby farm with several cats, a couple of dogs, a herd of Arabian horses, a bird, a hamster and a few fish. She write when she can and also paints or draws custom animal portraits. Busy, but loving every minute of it!