Q&A: Karin Kaufman
It may be only days before Christmas but in Elk Park, Colorado things are about to get very, very creepy for Anna Denning. Anna is a genealogist and she's just found one of her clients dead. Now she's doing what she does best - asking questions and uncovering truths. But these questions have put her on a hit list. Now she'll have to draw on every ounce of her wounded faith to protect her as she enters a world of wicca and paganism - reminders of a past she buried long ago - in order to find the secret behind the witch tree.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE THE WITCH TREE?
Several things led me. First, I’ve loved mysteries since I was a child, and I’ve always wanted to write the kind of mystery I like to read. Second, about ten years ago I started researching my family tree, and as anyone who’s done that knows, genealogical research is a lot like detective work—gathering clues, putting the pieces of the puzzle together (I should mention that the “tree” in my book’s title is a family tree—in this case, one full of witches.) Third, and most important, in my twenties, even though I considered myself a Christian, I dabbled in wicca. I feel tremendous empathy for young people caught up in wicca, witchcraft, and neopaganism, and I wanted to make use of my experiences, of the years the “locusts” ate. I wonder sometimes if there isn’t anything more important to a Christian than knowing that his or her experiences in life have meant something, and that God can turn them into something good.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
When I first fell in love with mysteries I especially liked reading Ngaio Marsh, P.D. James, Catherine Aird, and Dorothy L. Sayers. I soon discovered Elizabeth George and Martha Grimes, then later, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Margaret Coel, and others. About ten years ago, I finally read my first Tony Hillerman mystery, and with that book, Hillerman immediately moved to the top of my favorites list (where he still sits). As far as nonfiction goes, I’ve always been a huge C.S. Lewis fan, and I like J.P. Moreland, Beth Moore, and Peter Kreeft.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
My faith influences my writing in the same way it influences everything else in my life. I can’t separate anything in my life from my faith, whether or not what I’m writing or doing is explicitly “Christian.” Even if my writing didn’t mention Jesus, it would still be Christian fiction in the sense that my characters would deal with God and faith—or the struggle with God and faith. One of the things I like about Christian fiction is that it allows my characters to openly talk and think about God—something I find not only normal but absolutely necessary. And it’s something that’s lacking in most contemporary fiction. How do fictional characters go through the misery their authors put them through and not think about God?
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
I remember writing a lot when I was young. Grade school age or so. But I don’t remember thinking specifically that I wanted to be an author until I was well into my twenties. I didn’t think it was possible, or practical, until then. I didn’t get down to the serious business of writing until about five or six years ago.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
I hope they have fun. I imagine readers curling up with my book, as I like to do with books, and just having a good time, a few hours of enjoyment in their busy lives. If they get anything more out of it—that God can redeem our lost years, that Christians should treat neopaganism in all its forms as a serious threat to young people—that’s a bonus. I hope they have fun. I imagine readers curling up with my book, as I like to do with books, and just having a good time, a few hours of enjoyment in their busy lives. If they get anything more out of it—that God can redeem our lost years, that Christians should treat neopaganism in all its forms as a serious threat to young people—that’s a bonus.