Local Author Spotlight: Karen Doornebos Is Living in Austen

CBR_Logo2Author Karen Doornebos is gearing up for what promises to be a busy few months.

With the impending publication of her second novel, Undressing Mr. Darcy, fast approaching, the Riverside-based author is finding her time consumed with the marketing and publicity aspects of publishing. Undressing Mr. Darcy is set to publish December 3, a little more than two years since she hit publishing gold with her first novel, Definitely Not Mr. Darcy.

9780425261392_UndressingMr_CV.inddNot that Doornebos is unfamiliar with marketing or publicity. Formerly an award-winning copywriter for the likes of Diet Coke and Johnnie Walker, Doornebos had at least an inkling of what it would take to promote her first novel—and, now, her second.

“It’s an overwhelming task that needs to be broken down into smaller pieces in order to make it manageable,” she says.

Not that she minds. Promoting her novels and connecting with authors has proven unexpectedly fulfilling, especially when she reads the many adoring notes coming in from her fans. “I’m not making a killing at this,” Doornebos says. “What’s so great is that it’s rewarding. I’m reaching out to readers; they’re reaching out to me.”

Indeed, in the midst of working on social media blitzes, author readings, book signings, and networking, Doornebos takes comfort in knowing that she’s connecting with her audience. “One of the greatest things about [publishing] is some of the fan mail I get,” she says.

In fact, after the publication of her first novel, Doornebos received a letter from a woman in California who wrote to tell her that the book helped her and her mother get through the elder’s cancer treatments. “Something like that is worth everything to me,” Doornebos says. “A book can really help a person through a tough time. Books can really make a difference. And that’s better than any review I could get.”

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy high res frontConnecting with fans is certainly rewarding, but Doornebos also has been blessed with fabulous reviews. Definitely Not Mr. Darcy has been praised as “charming,” “hilarious,” and “delightful.”

For a book that was sixteen years in the making, the reviews affirmed Doornebos’s decade and a half of work on the manuscript—perhaps one of the longest in the making. “It wasn’t on the front burner for me,” she says with a laugh. “It was in the drawer for a number of years.”

Work and life and children made writing the first novel a bit of a challenge. But it also allowed Doornebos time to research and dig deep into the world that would become Definitely Not Mr. Darcy and also would lend color to Undressing Mr. Darcy.

Both novels are richly colored in the tones of Regency England, Jane Austen, and the modern-day world. Doornebos, a life member of The Jane Austen Society of North America, wrote about what she loves. “I’ve had a lot of fun with both books,” she says.

KAREN BATH

Author Karen Doornebos in Bath, England

And, although promoting her books and getting ready for publication may bite into nights and weekends, it’s all worth it. It’s still fun. In fact, the entire process has been one that Doornebos has enjoyed—from connecting with her agent (the sixteenth she contacted) to rewriting, editing, and revising the manuscript to selling the project to Berkley. Her second book was on a relatively whirlwind schedule (no sixteen years in the making for this one!) as she was under contract and on deadline and had to work quickly to produce a manuscript for a publisher who was waiting for it—a process she calls “inspiring, encouraging, and exhilarating. I just ran with it.”

As it happens, Doornebos is still running—at least in some ways as she juggles publication with marketing and publicity. Indeed, she’s planning a few events to coincide with the book launch, including one with the local chapter of The Jane Austen Society of North America on December 7 and one at the Riverside Public Library on December 8.

Local events will continue into January and beyond, and Doornebos is thankful for such a supportive literary community in Chicago and the suburbs. “Chicago and Chicago authors and publishing professionals are a very welcoming, nurturing group,” she notes.

For someone who seems to nourish her fans through her books, Doornebos appears to know of what she speaks when it comes to nurturing—and fans are certain to welcome her new book with open arms.

—Kelli Christiansen

Learn more about Karen Doornebos
Connect with Karen Doornebos

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