Guest Blog: Karla Brandenburg

Hey, Sassy Girls! Thank for having me.

Something a lot of people don’t know about me is that I believe in ghosts. I always “sorta” did, but in the past couple of years, I’ve had some encounters that convinced me—not the scary kind, more the comforting kind of encounters. A kiss to my temple along with a greeting kind of thing. These sorts of experiences helped inspire my EPITAPH series.

The first book of my most recent series almost ended up in the trash pile. I’d started EPITAPH years ago, but it didn’t feel quite right, so I set it aside and moved on to the next story idea, working through a different series, but every time I’d finish writing a book, I gravitated back to EPITAPH. So I’d try again. And still it didn’t feel quite right, and yet I couldn’t let it go. Onward to the next book, and always I came back to EPITAPH. After several years of stopping and starting, I finally decided, after finishing the NORTHWEST SUBURBS SERIES, that I was going to make a concerted effort to either make EPITAPH market-ready or throw it away once and for all.

EPITAPH originated when I did a cemetery walk. I’d imagined a woman more at home in the cemetery than anywhere else, which was going to necessarily make her a little “odd.” She’s tuned into a sort of radio frequency that the dead communicate on, a one-way conversation that she overhears. The story was there, the mystery, the suspense, but the characters were still sort of raw. Not fully developed. My hero had siblings, but I didn’t know enough about my heroine. As I considered what I was going to do with EPITAPH, I envisioned a series, spin offs that followed the hero’s siblings, and then I realized my heroine needed more family, too, and as I gave her more family, brothers, things came together. The “what’s missing in this story?” showed itself and the EPITAPH series was born. When an editor carried it to an acquisition meeting with her publisher, I realized I’d fixed my broken story.

Each of the books stands alone, but readers have fallen in love with the close-knit McCormick family and the quirky Benson family, not to mention the dearly departed who bring them together. Each sibling meets a ghost who needs help moving on, but who believes in ghosts? I had so much fun exploring places to take my characters, from the small-town where they live, to haunted New Orleans, to public gardens and museums.

Writing THE GARDEN was bittersweet, knowing I would be saying goodbye to my newly-created extended family, but the last of the Benson brothers, the “dumb one” who I didn’t know what to do with, found his way in the world, too. Sometimes its tough to be the youngest with older siblings who like to pick on you!

“With two older brothers, Brian Benson is no stranger to practical jokers. Taking on a horticulturist job for a fresh start, he had hoped to escape the perception of being the village idiot. Pranks are one thing, but if he can’t expose the guilty party behind the explosion in the greenhouse at Haley Gardens, he and his new boss, Gwen, might both end up dead.”

Karla’s latest book, THE GARDEN, is available everywhere, but here’s a shortcut to your favorite outlet:

Karla Brandenburg is an award-winning author of more than 15 contemporary romance novels which include paranormal elements. Now that her children have settled into lives of their own, she loves to go out into the world on adventures with her husband, from Milwaukee to the French Riviera, but the Chicago suburbs have always been “home.” She is an avid reader across multiple genres, is a member of the Romance Writers of America and is a card-carrying cookie-holic (we all have our vices).

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