Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Dancing With Myself: KAREN DIONNE interviews KAREN DIONNE

Who is Karen Dionne?

Here’s my official bio:

Detroit native Karen Dionne is the internationally published author of Boiling Point, an environmental thriller about an erupting volcano, a missing researcher, and a radical scheme to end global warming. Karen's first science thriller, Freezing Point, was nominated by RT Book Reviews as Best First Mystery of 2008. Freezing Point has been published in Germany and the Czech Republic, and both novels are available in audio from Her short story, "Calling the Shots," appears in the anthology First Thrills edited by Lee Child.

Karen is cofounder of the online writers community Backspace, and organizes the Backspace Writers Conferences held in New York City every year. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, and the International Thriller Writers, where she serves on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology.

Karen blogs at The Huffington Post and writes about the publishing industry from an author's perspective at DailyFinance. She also reviews for The New York Journal of Books.

As you can probably tell, I’m insanely busy, but loving every minute.

You write science thrillers. Why did you choose that subgenre? Do you have a scientific background?

While I don’t have a scientific background, I’ve always loved science. When I was a teenager, I fell in love with Michael Crichton’s books. I’m also a huge fan of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s work, most especially RELIC and RELIQUARY.

So when I decided to take up writing about a dozen years ago, that’s what came out!

Your first novel, FREEZING POINT, is about a solar energy company that wants to ease the world's fresh water crisis by melting Antarctic icebergs into drinking water. Where did you get the idea for the book?

I got the idea for the novel when I read a small feature item in the newspaper about a 1,000-square-mile section of the Larson Ice Shelf that had broken off due to global warming. The image of that giant iceberg intrigued me. What if a researcher had been there when the ice shelf disintegrated? What if they were stranded on the newly formed berg? What if the disaster was somehow their fault?

Because I'm not a scientist, I consulted with microwave experts, explosives experts, and medical experts in the fields that are touched on in my book. I also read the online journals of people who'd spent time in Antarctica - though I lived for 30 years in Michigan's far north, so I knew and cold.

Your second science thriller, BOILING POINT, is about an erupting volcano, a missing researcher, and a radical scheme to end global warming that centers on geoengineering. You took an unusual trip to research this book.

I did. BOILING POINT takes place during the initial eruption of Chaitén Volcano, a real location in Northern Patagonia, Chile. Chaitén erupted on May 2, 2008 in a major rhyolitic eruption. The magma blasted 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) through Earth's crust in only about four hours, giving townspeople just 30 hours' warning. The plume climbed 12 miles (19 kilometers) into the stratosphere, covering much of Patagonia with volcanic ash and drifting as far east as the Atlantic. No one lost their life in the eruption, but the town at the volcano’s based was destroyed by a lahar ten days later.

When I was there a year after the initial eruption, the volcano was still erupting, still on Red Alert. I stayed in the small town at the base of the volcano, even though Chaitén Town remained evacuated, and had no electricity or running water. My guide took me to within one mile of the newly formed lava dome, where I saw steam vents, heard explosions coming from the caldera, and felt a small earthquake. It was an absolutely amazing experience that truly informs the novel.

Were you afraid?

I can honestly say I was not. While I knew that another pyroclastic flow was a very real possibility, I figured the odds of such an event occurring while I happened to be there were relatively small.

Instead, I felt nothing but awe. To be in an area of both destruction and creation and observe firsthand the forces that shaped much of our earth makes you feel very, very small. I understand now why the ancients worshiped volcanoes.

Is there another novel in the works?

I’m delighted to say that there is, though this book is not a science thriller. I was recently asked to write an original novel based on a popular U.S. television crime show and I’m very excited about the opportunity. It’s a unique kind of writing, since the story involves someone else’s characters, and the novel’s readers will be fans of the show.

Because it’s extremely important to be true to the characters, I’ve been immersing myself in the world of show. I’ve watched the first season episodes twice and taken extensive notes, read everything I can online about the show, and watched all of the cast interviews on the show’s website to see what the actors say about their characters. I’ve also been reading fans’ Facebook comments so I can get a sense of what they like best.

So to research my previous novel, I traveled to an active volcano. To research the new one, I watch television. Being a writer is never boring!



Freezing Point – US
Freezing Point – UK 

Boiling Point – US

Boiling Point – UK 


  1. Great interview, Karen.
    Standing on the verge of a volcano is truly awesome. I visited the Masaya Volacano in Nicaragua and was so impressed that I figured a way to write it into my current WIP. :-)
    Good luck with the new project. Must be nice to be paid to watch TV. Ha!

  2. Thanks, Jose! Your volcano experience sounds awesome. And thanks to Nigel for having me!