Karen Katchur is an award-winning suspense novelist with a bachelor of science in criminal justice and a master’s in education. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
Q&A with the Author:
Frequently Asked Questions
What genre do you write in?
I write mystery/suspense novels and describe my stories as mashups. They’re part character-driven crime fiction and part police procedural. A friend once described my stories as “writing into the dark spaces of our intimate family relationships.”
Do you need to read the books in the Northampton County Series in order?
No. They can be read in any order.
Do you do a lot of research for your books?
Yes. I have several books I rely on for police procedures and forensic techniques. I also use the internet of course. And I’m fortunate to have active duty and retired state police homicide investigators who are willing to answer questions I may have regarding specific scenes and plotlines. If I can get it right, I do. Sometimes though, due to story and character circumstances, I choose to get it wrong on purpose. I’m writing fiction, so I take creative liberties.
Although I have an intimate knowledge of the settings of my novels, I often return to the locations to take photographs and trace my characters’ footsteps so to speak. I find revisiting the locations helps me get a feel for the story. Also, I research the history of the area because who doesn’t like learning about the towns where they grew up? And I feel it adds another layer to the plot and characters. Which brings me to the next question-
Do you need a lesson in geography?
No, I do not need a lesson in geography, and I’m quite capable of reading a map. There seems to be some confusion about the mountain range mentioned in River Bodies, the first book in the Northampton County series. Blue Ridge Mountain is the correct name for the mountain range located in the Slate Belt in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. It is also part of the Blue Mountains. Confused? Well, we all are. But to avoid further confusion (or maybe add to it), I call the mountain in Cold Woods, Blue Mountain, although technically, it should be called Blue Ridge Mountain.
Here’s a quick history lesson of the area:
In 1848, pioneer Robert Jones (slate miner from Wales) settled near the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania, and founded the town of Bangor. More slate miners joined him, forming the towns of Bangor, Pen Argyl, Wind Gap, and Portland. These four towns became knowns as the Slate Belt, and the mountain range, Blue Ridge Mountain.
Now, I’m not entirely sure why maps label the mountain range just “Blue Mountain.” But if you ask the locals what the name of the mountain in the Slate Belt is called, they’re going to tell you, Blue Ridge Mountain.
What is your writing schedule?
I write between the hours of 9am and 2pm. Sometimes I’ll squeeze in another hour or two in the evening. This is the plan, anyway. It doesn’t always work out that way.
How long does it take you to write a book?
On average about twelve months, sometimes longer.
Cat or dog?
I love them both! And I have owned both. Currently, I have a flat coated retriever. He’s the best dog ever.