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Oct 02, 2023 by Karen Janowsky

Dear Prudence has been out for a little over a month, and I've been blown away by the reviews it's getting. These characters and this story are near and dear to my heart. It's my first romance novel and my first commercially published novel. This month, I especially want to share a review and interview from Literary Titan (I'm also a little fried from grading lots of essays, so I don't have much more to report this month).  So, if you've been wondering who the person behind the computer keyboard is, now's your chance! Thanks so much for your continued support of my work. 

The Interview:

Living Without a Safety Net


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Dear Prudence follows two people whose lives cross while they are each on a journey of self-discovery and find an unexpected connection. What was the inspiration for the love story and the relationship the characters have?

I had the Beatles’ song, “Dear Prudence” in my head for a week or so, and Pru slowly emerged in my head. There are some lines in the song, “Dear Prudence, open up your eyes…the sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you.” My “Pru” seemed afraid to experience life and risk getting hurt. It’s such a beautiful, encouraging song, and I think my (not yet written) character needed to hear it. As far as Shawn…I read a lot of contemporary romance, and one thing I noticed about many of the heroes is that they tend to be movie-star-perfect. Since the book switches points of view between the two characters, I wanted him to have at least as complex of a life as Pru did, and I wanted his personal journey to parallel hers. I decided I wanted to write a story about two very flawed, realistic human beings looking for direction in life and realizing that when they’re not hiding from reality, they’re more than capable of giving and receiving love.

Pru’s character struggles with finding herself after leaving an abusive relationship, while Shawn struggles with living up to everyone’s expectations for him but himself. Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your characters’ lives?

Well, yeah. In fact, when some of my friends and relatives read the book, they saw me, my personality, my past personal issues, and many of my experiences in both characters.

My inspiration for Matilda was a poorly trained yellow lab I had back in the nineties named Sophie, and my golden retriever, Daisy, who I recently lost to cancer. Matilda is partial wish fulfillment. Her personality very much mirrors my dogs’, but she’s a lot better trained than either of them ever were.

There is a sense of love and innocence throughout the novel. How were you able to capture those feelings and put them into words?

I’m sort of hopeless about romance, but I’m also the first person to roll their eyes when two characters inexplicably fall in love. So, I wanted Pru and Shawn to gradually feel genuine raw emotion while they fight off the chemistry between them. They’ve never completely, fearlessly loved someone before, and they don’t know what to do with those feelings. In that sense, I think there is a kind of innocence to their love because it’s part of their own self-discovery. They’ve come to a place in their lives where they’re living without a safety net.

So, that’s one answer. The other answer is a little boring. My writing focus, until a few years ago, was always poetry, and I’ve had some amazing teachers. I used a lot of the lessons about evoking emotions with a few strong images and tried to apply them to fiction—hopefully with some degree of success.

What is the next book you are working on, and when will it be available?

My book Her Name Was Lola, another contemporary romance, is currently with Extasy Books’ in-house editors and should hopefully be out sometime in early to mid-2024. It prominently features Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid and includes tropes like professor/student, age gap (not a huge one, mind you), forced proximity, and grumpy/sunshine. It was a lot of fun to write and I hope everyone loves it.

The Review:

Dear Prudence by Karen Janowsky is a captivating romance novel that defies genre cliches with its unique and relatable characters. The story revolves around Pru Blum, a cellist in a professional orchestra in Georgia whose life is anything but ordinary. Struggling with anxiety and haunted by a persistent stalker ex-boyfriend named Cliff, Pru’s journey takes unexpected turns when she crosses paths with Shawn Levinson, a yoga teacher and versatile handyman, in search of his true calling. Their connection is undeniable, yet both are hesitant to embark on a new relationship, haunted by the shadows of their pasts.

Janowsky breathes fresh life into the romance genre by virtue of its distinctive characters. Pru, in particular, stands out as an unconventional heroine with a rich and layered personality. Her battles with anxiety and low self-confidence, stemming from an abusive past relationship, make her journey towards self-discovery and resilience all the more relatable. Shawn complements her as a believable hero, complete with an intriguing backstory. He’s a sensitive soul who often quotes Shakespeare yet possesses the strength to support Pru in her struggles.

Janowsky’s writing strikes a balance between action, dialogue, and descriptive elements, ensuring a well-rounded reading experience. The narrative offers numerous twists and turns as we follow Pru’s personal journey, keeping readers thoroughly engaged. While the character development in Dear Prudence shines brilliantly, I couldn’t help but yearn for a more immersive exploration of Georgia as a setting. My curiosity was piqued regarding the state’s potential impact on the characters’ daily lives and how its unique attributes might enrich their experiences. The narrative tantalizingly alludes to the Southern heat’s ability to kindle passion, a notion subtly reinforced by the vividly depicted love scenes.

Dear Prudence is a must-read for romance readers who seek a contemporary love story with genuine and multifaceted characters. Karen Janowsky skillfully weaves a tale that stands out while maintaining the core elements that make romance stories appealing. This book rekindles the belief in modern love and offers readers an engaging journey through the complexities of romance, self-discovery, and the resilience of the human spirit.