Act of Grace -author interview – Karen Simpson

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Join Karen Simpson, author of the contemporary speculative fiction novel Act of Grace as she virtually tours the blogosphere in October and Novemer 2011 on her first tour with Pump Up Your Book!


Act of Grace Book Tour

About Act of Grace

Why would Grace Johnson, an African American high school senior, take a bullet to save the life of a Ku Klux Klansman named Jonathan Gilmore?

The question hovers unanswered over Grace’s hometown of Vigilant, Michigan. Few people, black or white, understand her sacrifice, especially since rumor has it years ago a member of Gilmore’s family murdered several African Americans including Grace’s father. Grace doesn’t want to talk about it, but the decision to speak is not hers to make. Ancestor spirits emerge to insist, in ways Grace cannot ignore, that she bear witness to her town’s violent racial history so that all involved might transcend it.

With hindsight made telescopic by the wisdom found in African American mythology and the book The Velveteen Rabbit, Grace recounts a story of eye-for-an-eye vengeance that has blinded entire generations in her hometown. Faced with the horrific crimes that have disfigured her life, Grace wonders if in the end, she can do as the spirits have asked and lead Mr. Gilmore, the town of Vigilant and her own soul on a journey toward reconciliation, redemption and true grace.

Visit the author at her tour page with Pump Up Your Book

You can visit Karen Simpson’s website at www.karensimpsonwrites, her blog at or connect with her on Twitter at

Purchase your copy of Act of Grace in book or kindle format at Amazon



author Karen Simpson



Q:  Do you write on a computer or with pen/pencil and paper?

My first draft is written in long hand on narrow ruled yellow legal pad. Like many writers, I tend to be picky about the type of pencils and the quality of paper I’m using.


Q:  Do you work from an outline?


No I don’t work from an outline. I guess I always felt that a outline would stunt the natural and spontaneous growth of the plot or characters. I do sometime make a flow chart if I find I’m having time line issues.



Q:  Nicest rejection you’ve ever received?


My nicest rejection was from an editor at Algonquin Book. She told me she really enjoyed my novel, called me a talented writer and commended me for taking on the subject of race in such a different way. She explained that while she couldn’t see it on their list, she could see it doing very well in the young adult market, which she felt included some of the most riveting and challenging books out there in terms of fiction.

Even though it was a rejection, I still have the email hanging on my bulletin board



Q:  What are a few of your favorite genres and why?


I love reading and writing speculative fiction.  For those who might not have heard of the term, speculative fiction is use to describe the breadth of fantastic literature, ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to horror to folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern myth-making — and more. I write speculative fiction, in part, because it offers innovative avenues for looking at the world’s problems. Act of Grace is a contemporary fantasy that deals with issues of race and it is my hope that it leaves readers thinking about justice, community, tolerance, love, family, struggle and healing in new and different ways. I also hope my novel will enable readers to have more honest and hope filled conversations about these universal issues.



Q:  Time Frame: From start to finish


It took me eight years to finish Act of Grace and two more years after that to find a publisher.



Q: Advice for the audience, first time authors, those choosing the writing life.


If you are serious about getting published, work at writing as you would a career or job. Learn the craft by become a part of critiques groups and go to as many conferences as you can afford. Read all kinds of novels and writing book, but, in addition, read books and blogs about how to conduct the business side of writing. A good book to start with is The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry.


Q:  How did you feel holding your book in your hands for the first time?


It was strange to see my work as a bound book for the first time.  For ten years, it was just a file on my computer or a pile of papers on my dinning room table. It was a powerful moment to open the box from my publisher and hold in my hands the dream I had had since I was five. However, it wasn’t until I was doing a reading during my book launch party that the full meaning of what I had accomplished hit me and I almost started crying.


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