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Multiple IR Approved Author Karen E. Osborne on her Writing Process: “Characters speak to me. Demand I tell their stories.”

True Grace received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Karen E. Osborne.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

True Grace, September 7, 2023.

What’s the book’s first line?

The first time my husband died, I felt fear, shame, and guilt. The second time he died…

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

A powerful story about love, courage, sacrifice, resilience, and hope. Set in 1924 during the Harlem Renaissance, it chronicles the journey of an immigrant, mixed-raced woman from the Congo, to England, then Jamaica, and eventually to New York, fighting for her family’s survival. Inspired by my paternal grandmother, Grace navigates the misogyny and racism of the courts, banks, child welfare system, and bad actors to hold her family together. One reviewer wrote – “With its wicked-fast plot and stunning heroine, True Grace immediately snags readers. A propulsive family saga with vivid historical detail.”

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

My paternal grandmother lived an extraordinary life. I had the benefit of years of conversations, 300 pages of handwritten letters, and five books written about her father that included information about his wife and children. I’d always wanted to write about her. The event that propelled me was a heartbreaking listing in the 1925 New York Census  about all seven of them — Grace, her husband and each of their five children — that left me in tears.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

The roaring twenties and Harlem Renaissance were fastening times. Women won the right to vote, were throwing away their corsets and raising their hemlines, drinking in speakeasies, and starting businesses like the famous Madam Walker. The cultural scene was rich. Jazz musicians and famous writers flourished. The era had a dark side too. Suppression of women was still real despite the gains. Discrimination against immigrants and people of color, corruption, and crime were rampant. Grace, a homemaker whose life turns upside down, must rely on her wits, grit, and grace. What would you have done in her place? It’s thought-provoking, inspiring, and compelling.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Grace never loses her “grace.” Every chapter finds her in another mess. Fear, pain, worry, hunger, and indignities come at her and her five children. Despite everything, she stays true to her values and beliefs and fights for her family until the very end. She reminds me of the amazing heroine in Kristin Hannah’s Four Winds. 

When did you first decide to become an author?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write or wanted to be an author. Under my high school graduation picture at 16 years old, it read “Ambition: Writer.” I wrote short stories and bad poetry. But one day the two protagonists who star in my first novel began talking to me. I got serious and wrote – Getting It Right – a family drama that Essence Magazine featured as a Best Read.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

I have four published novels. In addition to Getting It Right that I mentioned earlier and True Grace, I wrote a murder mystery – Tangled Lies – and another family drama – Reckonings. My WIP is a story about two murders – one in 1968 (an extraordinary year) and the other happens in the present day.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

I’m retired from a 45 year career as an international consultant, teacher, and motivational speaker for education, health, and other nonprofits. Now, in addition to writing, I’m a serial volunteer.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I try to write every day. Sometimes it’s for an hour, other times three or four.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Characters speak to me. Demand I tell their stories.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

I’m a Shakespear nut. Read, re-read, and watched many times each of his plays. They are so instructive and compelling. My list of authors I admire is very long. Kristin Hannah, Michael Connelly, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, August Wilson, Nora Roberts. Many more

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