Karlene Heinkel is the author of the novel, Irreparable Damages. She took the time to answer a few questions about her book and her life. Thank you, Karlene!
Lesa - Karlene, would you start out by giving readers a quick summary of your book, Irreparable Damages?
Karlene - Michael Stanford, a successful business man in the small town of Hillcrest, with an impending marriage to his longtime girlfriend, is living his version of the American dream. His idyllic life comes to an abrupt and brutal end when he is murdered in cold blood. Sheriff Charlie Whitman has seen his share of problems since his days as the star high school quarterback. Three failed marriages and a shady past have led him back to his hometown. Michael and Charlie were close friends in high school, but as the decades came and went, so too did their friendship, as did others in their clique. But Michael's death and ensuing murder investigation causes the group's closely guarded secrets to unravel. Lives are shattered and friendships are broken in the quest to find the truth. The events and characters are loosely based on happenings in my life.
Lesa - Press releases for your book said that you grew up in a rural community, and small town living isn't everything that it's perceived to be. What can you tell us about that lifestyle that is different from the media representation?
Karlene - Small town and rurual areas are infused with gossip. It is one of the less pleasant aspects of small towns. Another aspect that is misrepresented is the lack of crime. There is probably more crime per capita. It's just personal - nothing random. We still don't lock our doors and we don't lock our cars. But if a person values his life, he better not try to steal anything. Everyone is armed and only a fool would trespass on someone's property. And probably the biggest misconception; small towns are not populations of 10,000 people. Those are cities!
Lesa - So, how does your book deal with small town life?
Karlene - It deals with the issues of walking alone on deserted roads. It deals with gossiping. It deals with unplanned pregnancies. It deals with infidelity. During my marriage, we had two issues that I wove into the plot. We had a twelve-year-old baby sitter attacked in our home. My husband chased the attacker down the street as he fled in his car. He didn't go to jail, even though he got six years. I was also the last person to see a girl alive shortly after her cheating boyfriend beat her. This was the second girl he beat to death. I came across her on a country road late at night. Her boyfriend was watching.
Lesa - Do you have a favorite character in Irreparable Damages? If so, tell us a little about that person, and why you like them.
Karlene - Charlie Whitman is probably my favorite character. The reader follows him through the past thirty years, some of it vague. He is a flawed character who is on a mission to find internal peace, but he doesn't know how to read the road signs.
Lesa - I understand you and your husband bought a hobby farm. Would you tell us about that? Tell us about your background. What led you to writing?
Karlene - We were both raised on dairy farms. When we married, we continued the tradition and dairy farmed for a decade. We sold our cows and moved to Missouri. We began our business - rebuilding transmissions, shortly after moving. We continued to raise cattle for another five years after the inception of our business, to help pay living expenses. after that, the farm became a hobby. We both love animals, so it was natural for us to raise every kind of animal we could think of. We raised everything from a pot-bellied pig to jaguars. Our kids grew up with lots of pets. When they left home, our pets decreased drastically.
My love of writing started when I was in the fourth grade, and my English teacher took maternity leave. She took a handful of students to her home and taught a creative writing course. I was the youngest in the group of students that included every grade from fourth to twelfth. It was a rewarding experience.
Lesa - What are your plans for future books?
Karlene - I am currently working on another.
Lesa - Karlene, I'm a public librarian, so I always end with a question about the role libraries played in your life.
Karlene - I married at the age of seventeen, and I am still married. While growing up, my parents never had books or any kind of reading material around. They hated to read. I read everything I could get my hands on. When I was finally old enough to be a librarian at the school, I readily took the responsibility. With unlimited access to books, it was my dream job. After marriage, I bought books, and we began to amass boxes full. We remodeled our house and built a library. For a while, we had all of our books on shelves. But now, we are overwhelmed with books again. Because of my upbringing and the lack of books, our children (now grown) were given a bedtime of eight on school nights, without a lights out rule; they could stay up all night reading if they wanted. That was the only exception to the bedtime rule.
Lesa - Thank you, Karlene. And, good luck with Irreparable Damages!
Irreparable Damages by Karlene Heinkel. i-Universe, Inc., ©2007. ISBN 978-0595443222 (paperback), 326p.