Today, I’m not sitting anywhere except in front of my laptop, chatting on line with a very special person, Karen F. Riley. Karen’s written a serious and important book, not crazy fantasy stuff about alien men who just happen to fall in love with human girls or human guys who go around blasting those alien men. Karen’s book “Healing in the Hurting Places” is about a personal experience of childhood sexual abuse and it provides outreach to other victims and those who want to help them.
Naomi: So, let’s get on with our interview. Do you do anything else besides write and if so what is it?
Karen: I own a graphic and website design company which specializes in brand promotion. We also have a book publishing division to help budding authors not only with their publication, but their platform and marketing. And of course, I am a voracious reader, when I can find the time. And I also have a ministry for childhood sexual abuse victims and those who care about them. The focus is on healing, prevention and education.
Naomi: That’s incredible, Karen. How do you find the time to do all that?
Karen: I’m operating at “warp speed.”
Naomi: Ha! A little attempt at Scifi humor there. What’s the ugliest thing in your closet?
Karen: Probably some clothes from my high school days that really need to be gotten rid of. Even if they come back into vogue, I don’t think I could pull off the look. I probably couldn’t then, either.
Naomi: Bless you if you can fit into your high school clothes. What’s your favorite game? Would your favorite character play it and be any good at it?
Karen: My favorite board game is Monopoly. I think it speaks to most of the characters in my book because someone who has been abused has a desire to control and trust issues; two characteristics that can make Monopoly interesting.
Naomi: For what it’s worth, I have never trusted the Top Hat….ever. Did you ever wonder if you were a little crazy for writing a book?
Karen: I prefer non-fiction because as they say, truth is stranger than fiction and I don’t have to hassle making up names and keeping my characters straight. It is challenging, however, to make sure that I am honoring the characters since these are real people and being authentic to who they are.
Naomi: I guess that is a distinct advantage to Non-fiction. Everybody is already named and already has personalities. As a fiction author, it’s sometimes very disturbing to discover 400 pages in that you’ve got seven characters all named Pete. What’s the hardest part about writing your book?
Karen: As the main character in my latest book, it was hard to put on paper my less positive qualities since I was the ultimate people pleaser. I wasn’t initially comfortable letting my audience know that I harbored a lot of bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, etc. and I wasn’t always proud of how that came out in some circumstances and affected those around me.
Naomi: What’s the easiest part?
Karen: I will steal a line from Steve Saint, author of The End of the Spear, and say that “my name is on the cover of the book simply because God graciously allowed me to hold the pen while He wrote His story.” And that is the truth. When I stopped fighting to write the sanitized version where I looked like a good person and just “let go and let God” the words literally poured out onto the page. I was pretty shocked when I looked back and read what was there, but it is the parts that I was most ashamed of that my readers seem to relate the most to. There is nothing more rewarding than to hear someone say that they thought they were alone and no one else ever felt like this or had this experience until they read my book and now they know it was not them, but what happened to them.
Naomi: You know, that is so true even when writing fiction because so much of what we put into fiction is our own thoughts and feelings. When we try to sanitize, make politically correct or copy what we think is popular, it tends to be boring and not have the same impact. Passion in your writing makes the writing interesting regardless of what it is you are writing about. There, I’ll get off my soapbox and continue our chat. Did your friends and family support you in this effort?
Karen: Actually, my friends were my biggest supporters. They wanted me to write this book more than I did at first. While I was reluctant to show the uglier side of myself; they already knew it, and loved and accepted me anyway. They were the ones that showed me that I needed to be authentic so my readers could relate because they were struggling with the same ugly issues and didn’t want to read the sanitized version because they couldn’t connect.
Naomi: Karen, after speaking with you, knowing a little about what you have and are going through, I truly do not think there is an ugly side to you. You are an extremely brave and admirable woman and I wish you only the best. The rest of you, please look for Karen’s book on line at: