(KH): Well, it’s a Regency-set comedy about Arabella Templar, who reluctantly takes on the role of the Grail Guardian, and William Marstone who almost equally reluctantly takes on the role of the Grail Knight. Nevertheless, spurred on by duty and patriotism, they work to keep the Grail (and the Spear of Destiny) from the hands of Napoleon’s minions.
It’s what I call one of my “kitchen sink” stories. There are times I’ll hit on a random number of different story elements, and then take on the challenge of improvising on them. This time, the elements are the Holy Grail, Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, Napoleon, the Regency era, and “Where’s Waldo.” Guns, rock-laden reticules, and puking (only once) are also involved. I call it a cross between Jane Austen and the Da Vinci Code.
(BBB): Who is your favorite (of any fictional or real) grail quester?
(KH):Hmm. It’s a toss-up between Indiana Jones (I had a crush on Harrison Ford in my youth), and Percival, one of the Knights of the Round Table. Percival because he was genuinely a nice guy, strong of arm, pure of heart, and who eventually settled down and married his true love, unlike many of the other Knights of the Round Table.
(BBB): Can you share anything about what you are working on now or next?
(KH): I’m working on a novel set in 1798 Ireland, just after the Irish Rebellion. It also features a member of the Marstone family (a relative of William, in my Grail story, and descendants of Jack Marstone and Catherine de la Fer from my book Dark Enchantment), an Irish lass, magical knitting, and a werewolf. With any luck, I’ll see about including a pattern for an Irish-knit sweater at the end. I can’t say for sure about that until I’m done with the book.
I have had this this big family tree in mind for ages for other books that feature the descendants of the de la Fers (from Night Fires), and the Marstones (from Dark Enchantment).
(BBB): What is your favorite food?
(KH): Chicken yakisoba. That’s stir-fry chicken and vegetables and noodles with a special yakisoba sauce. My mom used to make it when I was a kid. Next to that is genuine New York cheesecake. My dad, who grew up poor in New Jersey and New York during the Great Depression (in other words, really, really, really poor), said that there is nothing like real New York cheesecake. He was right. I used to eat cheesecake whenever I could get it, but I went to NYC once and had some from Roxy’s on Broadway, all others paled in comparison. Now I’m very picky about the cheesecake I eat and thus eat it rarely, which is just as well, because it’s not like I need the calories.
(BBB): Did you enjoy working on an anthology more than a single novel?
(KH): Well...it varies. Writing “Miss Templar and the Holy Grail” was the most fun writing I’ve had in ages. I really feel I can let loose in this format, because I don’t feel constrained by publisher or market expectations, other than to write the best I can and to have fun with it. Plus, if I foul up, I not only have my wonderful editor to catch my flubs, but I also have the fabulous Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, and Barbara Samuel to make up for any faux pas I may commit in the course of my writing. So, I do feel like I have a “safety net” of sorts and thus feel free to experiment and have fun.
That said, my favorite whole novels—ones I’ve enjoyed writing the most--have been conceived and mostly written when I’ve not been under contract, so I think that’s probably the way I’m going to go from this point forward.
(BBB): It was an honor to host you today Karen. As you well know, you have been one of my favorite authors for years :)
To learn more about Karen Harbaugh or this book check out her website!
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