Thursday, January 30, 2014

Q&A with guest author (and fellow Italian) Karen Malena

I want to welcome author Karen Malena to my blog today. Karen is the author of Shadow of my Father’s Secret (Concerning Life Publishing), a powerful story of pain, rejection, ultimate redemption, and reconciliation. 

Mark: I’d like to start the discussion with your main protagonist, Aaron. I identify with him in many ways. Everyone has insecurities. I know I have a lot. In Aaron’s case, much of his insecurity springs from stuttering. How important was it for you to shine a light on this speech disorder in your story?

Karen: My son had a slight stuttering problem as a very young child and certain family members made a big deal from it. My own insecurities at times, cause me to stammer when speaking, therefore I chose for my main character, Aaron, to have the issue of stuttering. I wanted to showcase a stumbling block, something he had to overcome, even if the affliction didn’t leave him as it did with my son.
Through sharing this story with the stuttering community, I found them to be extremely warm and welcoming. I’ve partnered with them in raising awareness in bullying due to stuttering in part by sharing pamphlets from The Stuttering Foundation at my speaking engagements and also by supporting them financially. There are many misconceptions people have about stuttering. For example, many people falsely believe telling a person to “slow down” while speaking will help, when in fact, it has quite the opposite effect.
We all have dealt with insecurities in our lives either due to a childhood bully, an inconsiderate parent, or even a spouse who may have belittled us at one time or another.
I’d like this story to be an encouragement to perhaps show the reasons some people mistreat us, that everyone does, indeed, have a story or some type of pain in their own lives. It is through the healing power of God that we can choose to forgive and become the person we’re meant to be.

Mark:  Much of your writing deals with relationships, father and son, mother and daughter, grandparents, etc. We both come from an Italian heritage where family is so important. How much do you draw from your own heritage and memories in creating your storyline and characters?       

Karen: Heritage plays a major role in my books. Being Italian is something I’m proud of, yet I’m able to laugh at some of the truly dysfunctional events from the interesting upbringing I had. Italians are extremely vocal people, very passionate in their beliefs and quite hilarious in their actions. I can’t make up better characters than drawing upon some of the people in my own family, the quirks and traits, good and bad.

Mark: (Laughing) Oh, how I can relate!

Karen: My own memories while creating stories are easy to draw upon: some difficult, others, downright humorous, and still others, quite inspirational. In my upcoming book, “Reflections From My Mother’s Kitchen, A Daughter’s Memoir and Journey Toward Healing,” I cover some true events from my life such as the scoliosis I had as a child, and subsequent bullying from cruel children, the frightening time spent in Children’s Hospital and recovery afterward. I speak of my mother’s childhood fears of an abusive father and her life changing near death experience later in life. In many ways it has been quite healing to write about issues I’ve kept bottled up for many years.

Mark: How do you incorporate faith into your writing? 

Karen: I like to layer my faith based writing a little at a time. I believe the reader doesn’t like to be preached at or lectured to. I gently incorporate stories of faith and goodness to hopefully inspire a person who may never have heard the good news before. My stories cannot entirely be categorized as Christian fiction, but as family encouraging material, instilling old-fashioned values back into our world. There are moments, however, in “Shadow of My Father’s Secret,” that I do believe the book should be considered PG13. In my third book, “The Adventures of Piggy, A Cat “Tail” For the Young at Heart,” readers will get to see a creative, humorous side of me, with a family friendly novel about friendship and morals.

You can see more of my true, inspirational stories on my blog at

I’d like to thank Mark Venturini for having me as a guest today. I am the proud owner of his amazing fantasy novel, “Whispers From Forbidden Earth,” and am looking forward to the sequel.

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