RIVER CLUB — On the outside, Karen Rose blends perfectly within the East County fabric. She is unassuming; you wouldn’t do a double take if you passed her in the grocery store.
But from her mind come things that will taunt the imagination and incite its darkest fears.
On Aug. 5, the award-winning author released her 10th book, a romantic thriller, “I Can See You.”
The River Club resident cast her youngest character, Eve Wilson, into a starring role — one that brings Eve immense pain but also great redemption.
“This was Eve’s salvation story,” Rose said. “When the story first starts, Eve believes she’s reclaimed her life, but she’s not confident. I didn’t want to make her completely healed or completely beautiful. I made her healed just enough.”
Having survived an attack by a serial killer, Eve has moved from her hometown to Chicago, where she hopes to build a new life. As a graduate student, she keeps up with players of a role-playing game on the Internet. Meanwhile, homicide detective Noah Webster is busy investigating some suspicious suicides that he believes may be murder. He and Eve join forces after one of Eve’s online friends is added to Webster’s caseload.
In a story carefully woven to stir the imagination and create plenty of psychological suspense, Rose blends in many of her own life experiences and stories. The strategy has proven successful for Rose, whose books have been on The New York Times and The (London) Times bestseller lists and won other awards.
But when she started writing for pleasure in the early 1990s, she never expected it would become a career.
“I was a chemical engineer,” Rose said. “It happened more out of circumstance than a real plan.”
After college, Rose had planned to work as an engineer only long enough to support her husband, Martin, as he finished a doctorate in psychology. But Martin’s work with the violent offender population took its toll one night when he was attacked and nearly killed by one of his clients.
“It was very life frightening and a life-changing event,” Rose said. “He came home from work that night and said life had to change. We had two young children.”
So Martin settled in to become a stay-at-home dad.
In 1993, Rose took job with Proctor & Gamble that sent her all over the world. Martin had just finished a battle with cancer, and Karen Rose was terrified to leave her family for fear of what could happen. She also was terrified to fly on airplanes, but she filled the long flights with conversations with those sitting nearby until one man bluntly told her to read a book instead.
“I’d forgotten how to read for pleasure,” Rose said. “I went to the library and read everything to see what I liked.”
Romances drew her interest because of their happy endings.
“As I started to read, I started to see scenes in my head that I knew I hadn’t seen or read before,” Rose said. “I would wake up at night. One of those scenes became my first book.”
At first, no one, not even her husband, read her work. But after she’d spent several years writing, her husband finally begged the question: “You work so hard on it, so why don’t you do something with it?”
With his encouragement, she sent samples to publishers.
“I got some really nice rejection letters,” she said.
The process made Rose realize she had much to learn about the book industry, so she got involved with a women’s writing group and has since risen to the occassion.
Her novel “Die for Me,” for example, won the Romantic Times Romantic Suspense of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award and the HOLT Medallion Award.
Rose has her first group book signing for “I Can See You” from 1-2 p.m., Aug. 8, at B&L Books in Alamonte Springs.
Contact Pam McTeer at email@example.com.
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