Fangtastic Friday – Interview with Karen Hulene Bartell


Please welcome Karen Hulene Bartell, Lyrical Press Author of Untimely Partners.   

Thank you for having me today, Dawn. It’s a real pleasure being a part of Embrace The Shadows! 

ETS – Please tell us a little about yourself.   

An only child, I began writing at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating my own happy endings – usually consisting of large families. 

As an adult, writing has become my “second” job, where I squeeze in time between my day job and “life.” When I travel, however, I’m freed from my daily concerns. Everything is new. Not only does travel open my mind, travel triggers my muse. Gotta’ admit it, I’m a peripatetic writer. After my first book was published, I returned to school and received my MA in English. Then I began writing in earnest. 

ETS – Untimely Partners is the first in a series, correct?  How did you come up with the premise? 

The inspiration for UNTIMELY PARTNERS was a trip my husband and I took to Teotihuacan, Mexico. Traveling always gives me ideas for stories. The locations spark ideas/plots/characters/conflicts. You could say that geography is the basis for my ideas.  

For instance, a double rainbow that occurred on a walk in Teotihuacan was the inspiration for one of the opening images of UNTIMELY PARTNERS. A white dog that I met at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun actually became one of the central characters in the plot. 

ETS – How would you describe Keiranne, your heroine?  

KEIRANNE WEST is a passionate and compassionate woman, who is compelled to traverse time to save the man she realizes she has always loved: TLALOCELOT. Haunted by a childhood fear of dying at age thirty, as did her mother, Keiranne confronts her terror and, along her journey, she finds self-actualization as well as an ageless love. 

ETS – Are you an introvert or an extrovert? 

Have always heard that the definition of an introvert is that s/he needs to be alone to “recharge,” while an extrovert needs to be in the company of others to energize themselves. By that definition, I’m definitely an introvert, although aren’t most authors – simply by the nature of our careers? 

ETS – How long does it take you to write a novel, from thought to submission? 

I conceived of UNTIMELY PARTNERS in May, wrote through the summer, and finished the first iteration by Labor Day (yes, it was a labor of love ;^) I began submitting it immediately. However, it took another year before it was accepted, and during that time I changed the ending to include a numinous, incense-laden ritual that transformed the climax. 

ETS – Pantser or plotter? 

Have to admit, I’m a combination of the two. Although I do plot extensively in the beginning, the story always seems to evolve a direction (AKA life) of its own. Then ending of UNTIMELY PARTNERS is just one example. 

ETS – What’s coming next in this series?  Can you give us a sneak peak? 

Next in the series is a time travel set in Tenochtitlan, ancient Mexico City. 

ETS – So, you must have done a LOT of research for these books.  What turned you on to the Mayan and Aztec cultures? 

My short answer is one word: travel. My husband is an avid diver (while I’m chicken of the sea). However, while he’s on these exotic dives, I’m visiting the ancient Mayan ruins. Add to that my love of reading, particularly about the Mayan and Aztec cultures, and I become immersed in them. 

ETS – Alfred Hitchcock or Stephen King? 

Definitely Stephen King. Although I admire the slow build-up of momentum, of which Hitchcock was a genius, I prefer faster paced novels. 

ETS – Describe your perfect hero. 

He has to be polite, intelligent, with a sense of humor. Of course, being incredibly handsome and great in bed help, too. 

ETS – What authors did you grow up reading, and who are your auto-buy authors today? 

I read everything and anything growing up. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, my earliest playmates were fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became my portable pals. 

ETS – What advice would you give to aspiring authors? 

What’s my advice for inspiration for writing? Travel to an unfamiliar (or exotic) destination; be open-minded; experience all you can…just taste life…literally and figuratively! Add imagination, stir well, and serve up as a novel. 

What works best for me is establishing working relationships with other authors in my area. Join local writing groups; speak at authors’ meetings, or give readings at local clubs, all the while quietly promoting your name, not just your latest title. Word-of-mouth and networking really do open doors, which lead to new speaking opportunities that ultimately help sales. 

ETS – Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us! 

Thanks again for interviewing me today, Dawn. It’s a real pleasure being a part of Embrace The Shadows! 

ETS – You can find out more about Karen Hulene Bartell and her novels by going to her website, her author page, and here.   

Don’t forget to leave a comment or a question!  One lucky poster will receive a copy of Untimely Partners.  🙂

19 Responses to “Fangtastic Friday – Interview with Karen Hulene Bartell”
  1. Congrats on your book, Karen! I love time travel novels and this sounds fascinating. I’m especially intrigued by the idea of a “numinous, incense-laden ritual”… Good luck with the rest of the series!

    • Thanks, Jennifer! Yes, time travels combine history (another of my loves) with adventure, yet keep it partially in the present. Ah, if you like “numinous, incense-laden rituals,” I truly think you’ll enjoy Untimely Partner’s climax. Thanks again for your kind words!

  2. Sounds so interesting…your travels and your book:) We’re glad to have you with us at EtS today!

  3. Chandra Ryan says:

    Great interview! The book sounds fascinating. I’m off to check out your website to find out more about it 🙂

  4. D. L. Little says:

    Thanks for a very interesting interview. ‘Untimely Partners’ is a book I will definitely read, time travel intrigues me. :o)

  5. OOhh Time Travel. I’ve noticed we haven’t had time travel books in a long time. Great Post, please count me in.

    cindyc725 at gmail dot com

  6. Don’t forget – one lucky poster will receive a copy of Untimely Partners!

  7. Although it isn’t Valentine’s Day, let’s be honest? Is there a bad time to discuss chocolate? (This is especially true since chocolate plays a role in Toltec Teotihuacan, the setting for Untimely Partners.)
    Today, as in the ancient past, chocolate is regarded with mystery and awe. The Toltecs and Mayans believed chocolate imparted spiritual wisdom, enhanced sexual prowess, and increased stamina. They valued chocolate as a nuptial aide and served it at weddings. Montezuma was said to drink a cup before entering his harem. Expensive and potent, this drink was reserved for royalty, nobility, and the upper echelons of the priesthood. Later, it was used by Aztec warriors in battle. Compressed into easily carried tablets, it was forbidden to use except during warfare.
    The Spaniards quickly grew accustomed to the drink. Believing in the restorative powers and hoping to profit from the new health food of the New World, they wrote, “…a cup of this precious drink could enable a man to walk for an entire day without taking food.” Chocolate was even thought to calm upset tummies.
    Many Aztec rituals were performed when cocoa crops were planted. Some included celibacy, bloodletting, or painting their face with chocolate. Human sacrifices were occasionally fed large quantities of chocolate prior to having their hearts cut out and offered to the gods. Perhaps that’s the basis for believing chocolate heals broken hearts ;^)
    Early on, chocolate was considered a gift from the gods, as well as a source of vitality and life. Mayans used chocolate medicinally as long ago as the fourth century. Sorcerers prescribed cocoa, both as a stimulant and soothing balm. Later, Aztecs mixed cocoa with ground human bones to cure ailments.
    Spanish doctors in the sixteenth century classified illnesses and their causes into cold and warm categories. They classified chocolate as a cold element and taught that it needed to be warmed in order to restore balance: hence, hot chocolate. In France, they believed chocolate cured a broken heart, “the most universal of all gallant illnesses….” Could that be true?

  8. Try this hot, *spicy* chocolate to COOL (that’s right, cool) your July mornings the “original” way!
    Cocoa was used by the Aztecs and Mayans as a sacred drink. It was brewed with various spices and drunk unsweetened as part of ceremonies. This recipe uses pure cocoa and several spices, including chili peppers. The flavor is very rich and aromatic, like a dark perfume. Experiment with the sweetness to your liking.
    * 4 cups milk
    * 1/2 cup cocoa powder
    * 1 teaspoon flour
    * 1/4 cup brown sugar, or to your taste
    * 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    * 3 whole cloves, crushed
    * 1/4 teaspoon chili pepper, crushed
    * 1 cinnamon stick, broken up
    * 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    1. Heat 4 cups of milk in a double-boiler at medium-low. If you don’t have a double-boiler, then put a small pot inside a larger pot. If you don’t have two pots, stir it constantly. Sift the cocoa powder and flour. Add a bit of milk and stir the cocoa/flour mix until it becomes a paste.
    2. Slowly add milk and continue to stir to avoid getting clumpy cocoa.
    3. Finally, when all the cocoa and flour are a paste (no more dry flour,) add the remaining spices (sugar, nutmeg, cloves, peppers, and cinnamon.).
    4. Add the cocoa/flour/spices mix to the hot milk in the double-boiler. Stir constantly to keep it from burning. If you want it thicker, add some corn starch. Add as much corn starch as you like.
    5. When the cocoa is ready (it takes only fifteen minutes until it’s nice and hot), use a slotted spoon to scoop the cloves and cinnamon off the top and add the powdered sugar and vanilla.
    6. Serve in heavy mugs. If you like, put a dollop of whipped cream on top and add a stick of cinnamon.

  9. Armenia says:


    Thank you for that interesting and entailed bit of history on chocolate. Makes me wonder if the phrase “death by chocolate” means more than just glutonizing oneself into a chocolate stupor. The movie “Chocolat” with Johnny Depp was also intrigueing, in that, the candy made by chocolate had wonderful mystical powers.

    Thanks for the recipe. I lived in Napa and learned how to pair good red wine with certain chocolates, and have heard about chili pepper in chocolate but have never tried it. Now’s my chance.

    UNTIMELY PARTNERS has a beautiful cover and I just love time travel stories. I’ll check out your web site for more info.

  10. Dawn McClure says:

    Thanks so much for being with us today, Karen. 🙂 Your cover is gorgeous. It caught my eye right away. Before I started my paranormal series, I was always studying history in hopes of writing a historical. I absolutely love research – and traveling. 🙂

    Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us. 🙂

  11. Beverly G says:

    welcome and what a cool way to be inspired to write the opening scene i love when authors tell how they came up with some of the textual imagerymakes reading the book that much better and this one sounds awesome

  12. Elaine G says:

    book sounds great.I look forward to reading it

  13. Suzanne Rock says:

    Welcome Karen! Great interview. You’re book sounds so interesting! And thanks for giving us the extra information about chocolate. Yum! 🙂 Thanks for sharing and for stopping by to chat with us!

  14. Cybercliper says:

    Great interview!! I’ve always been fascinated by the Mayan and Aztec peoples – there is this mystical quality left behind for us to study. They left so many unanswered questions, but an intellectual brilliance that’s mind boggling. Untimely Partners is going to be a great read!!

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