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Karen OddenKaren Odden<div class="ExternalClassE8F8F8417B6E4DE3930E2D3FED7F4928"><h2> <em>Down a Dark River</em> by Karen Odden</h2><p> <a href="" target="_blank">eBook</a><br><a href="" target="_blank">eAudiobook</a></p><p> Karen Odden earned her Ph.D. in English from NYU in 2001, writing her dissertation on Victorian railway disasters and the medical, legal, and fictional literature written about them. Subsequently, she taught English literature at UW-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays to numerous journals, written introductions for novels by Dickens and Trollope for the Barnes & Noble Classics Series, and edited for the academic journal Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge UP). For her first novel, she built upon the research for her dissertation, and all of her books are set in 1870s London. <em>A Lady in the Smoke</em> (2015, Random House) was a <em>USA Today</em> bestseller; her second and third novels, <em>A Dangerous Duet</em> (2018) and <em>A Trace of Deceit</em> (2019) have won awards for historical fiction and mystery. In her fourth novel, <em>Down a Dark River</em> (2021), a former thief and bare-knuckles boxer named Michael Corravan becomes an inspector at Scotland Yard in 1878, and he is faced with the murder of a prominent judge's beautiful daughter, whose corpse is put in a boat and sent floating down the Thames River. The sequel, <em>Under a Veiled Moon</em>, will be published in October 2022. Karen is a member of Sisters in Crime National and two local Phoenix chapters, Mystery Writers of America, and the Historical Novel Society. An avid desert hiker, Karen lives in Scottsdale with her family and a ridiculously cute rescue beagle named Rosy. She loves to hear from writers and readers; she has a fun, newsy e-newsletter that comes out every 6 weeks and includes "behind the book" essays and book giveaways by other women authors; she periodically offers online seminars for writers; and you can connect with her at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p><h3>Q + A</h3><h4>What inspired you to write this book?</h4><p> For my first three books, I was inspired by some aspect of Victorian culture—for <em>A Lady in the Smoke</em>, it was railway disasters; for <em>A Dangerous Duet,</em> thieving rings, seedy music halls, and the Royal Academy of music; for <em>A Trace of Deceit</em>, the art and auction world and the Slade School of Art in London. But for my fourth book, I was inspired by an article about race, injustice, and the law in the US in the 21st century.</p><p> The article included an account of a young Black woman in Alabama who was jaywalking across a quiet street when she was hit by a car, being driven far too fast by a wealthy white man who was intoxicated. She suffered terrible injuries, but when her family sued, the judge awarded her a mere $2,000, justifying it by saying that she was jaywalking. This story felt deeply disturbing to me, but what snagged my attention especially was the aftermath. The victim's outraged father took an unusual step: he threatened the judge's daughter. To my mind, he did so at least in part to show the judge what it was to almost lose a child. He wanted to make the judge feel what he was feeling; put another way, he wanted empathy and understanding. He wanted the judge to "get it." Now, the story presented to the judge in the lawcourt hadn't succeeded in bringing this about; but forcing the judge to take a few steps in his shoes might.</p><p> This got me thinking about the nature and purpose of revenge—and how the phrase "an eye for an eye" is too simple, too glib; it obscures just how complex revenge can be. It raised other questions as well: What role can empathy play in mediating the desire for revenge? When is an injury "worthy" of notice by society? Does it matter who the injury belongs to—and who speaks of it—and where and how it is presented and discussed? These are some of the concerns at the core of the book.</p><p> However, most of all, I wanted to write a book that entertains and keeps readers turning the pages long into the night! <em>Mystery and Suspense</em> magazine calls this book "A superbly written Victorian mystery. Dark and atmospheric." That's what I was hoping for! In addition to former thief and bare-knuckles boxer Inspector Michael Corravan, an interesting cast of characters populate the novel, including Belinda Gale (a novelist and his love interest), young inspector Gordon Stiles, the irascible newspaperman Tom Flynn, the new and very proper Director at the Yard Mr. Vincent, and Corravan's young cousin Harry Lish. I hope readers enjoy getting to know them as much as I enjoyed writing them.</p><h4> What attracted you to this genre?</h4><p> Mysteries have life-and-death stakes, so they make room for authors to explore large themes such as social injustice, problematic laws, political and economic structures, and the way the power to speak and act is determined (in part) by someone's class, race, and gender. While Down a Dark River has a hero (my inspector) and the villain (the murderer), the resolutions aren't black and white; within the constraints of the genre, I can explore the gray areas. That is, a villain is never a villain in his own head; he has a worldview that he has come by honestly, that has been shaped by his experiences. I'm curious about how people come to have world views that are peculiar or warped and what they do because of it. Also, writing historical mysteries enables me to address current concerns, such as gender inequality or distrust of the police or newspaper bias, for example, within a different framework.</p><h4> What book are you currently reading?</h4><p>I'm reading four at the moment: Ruth Ozeki's <em>The Book of Form</em><em> and Emptiness</em>; Kate Quinn's <em>The Diamond Eye</em>; <em>Inside the Victorian Home</em> (for research); and <em>Memoir of a Victorian Woman: Reflections of Louise Creighton, 1850-1936</em> (for research).</p><h4> Are you writing anything now? If so, when will it come out?</h4><p> I just turned in the manuscript for the sequel to <em>Down a Dark River</em>; it is entitled <em>Under a Veiled Moon</em>, and it's about a (true) historical disaster on the Thames River in September 1878. The Princess Alice was a wood-hulled steamship that carried day-trippers up and down the Thames. One night, it collided with the Bywell Castle, an enormous, 900-ton coal ship with a steel hull. The Princess Alice broke into three parts and sank in four minutes, throwing all 650 passengers into the icy river. Most of them drowned—and because there was no passenger list, no one knew who was on the boat. Early clues about who caused the disaster point to the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and Inspector Corravan (who is Irish himself) must determine whether it was an accident or a purposeful act of destruction. The book will come out on October 11, 2022.</p><h4> If you weren't a writer, what would you do?</h4><p> I would probably teach writing. During the pandemic, I've been offering Zoom classes on elements of craft—backstory, secondary characters, and voice—and really enjoying it. I love meeting writers around the country!</p><h4> Do you use your local library? If so, which library is it and what do you do there?</h4><p> Yes, I use the Mustang Library all the time! I belong to 4 book clubs, so I borrow books there; I find my research materials for my writing there; and I pop in at least once a month to take photographs of my author friends' books "in the wild" to post on social media.</p>​<br></div>





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