Karen Stephenson writes on a subject close to my heart: abuse. She’s a feature writer for Suite101 and has several exciting projects in the works. Enjoy this interview!
You’re the feature writer on the subject of abuse for Suite101. I think your articles are terrific. How did you get started writing about this subject?
Thank-you Cherie! Back in the 90’s I graduated college with high honors earning my Social Service Worker diploma. Having worked with youth for many years, mostly youth who have been abused and struggle with addictions, I have been frustrated with just how judgmental so many people can be when accusing youth of having bad behavior. I use my gift of writing to try to help educate people about abuse and addiction and how it affects all people, not just youth. This issue hit home for me when I discovered a family member sexually violated one of my children when she was very young.
What has been the article you’re most proud of?
I am proud of any of my articles that can make a difference in a person’s life. However, outside of abuse issues, I wrote a mini-biography about Jesse Ventura that included a two hour telephone conversation with the former Minnesota Governor. I wrote this for a Colorado-based print publication. Having the opportunity to speak with Jesse was memorable!
What was it like meeting Dr. David Suzuki? What did you take away from your discussions with him?
I met Dr. Suzuki in 2002. I was so nervous for an entire week beforehand because I knew I had to drive him to Toronto after the conference. Once I met him my nerves calmed down; he was down-to-earth and very pleasant to converse with. I took away many things, but the most important was changing my travel coffee mug. When he got into my vehicle and saw my plastic travel coffee mug he was very quick to educate me that plastic leaches and these should never be used, especially for hot liquids.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy so many activities. Those I engage in frequently are: playing Scrabble with my family, working out, photography, gardening, volunteering, painting rocks, writing letters (pen and paper) to my pen-pals, rock and mineral hunting at various sites and quarries and going for walks.
Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
I have thoroughly enjoyed being a writer since the mid 1990’s. I now have three goals. One is to become an investigative journalist; I thrive when involved with “digging for hidden facts.” I want to cross the line from being a writer to becoming an author. This goal will not only be met once, but four times in 2011. I have several projects on the go and all are headed for publishers. My third goal is the most important goal in my life and it is one that never changes – to reach out and help as many abuse victims and their family members as possible to provide support through my writing.
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
Great Lake Stories by Mark Bourrie – I love reading maritime folklore about the Great Lakes.
My favorite fiction authors are Farley Mowat and Ray Bradbury. My favourite non-fiction writers are Dr. Vandana Shiva, Riki Ott, Chalmers Johnson and Dr. David Suzuki.
Book you’re currently reading?
I have just started And Yet, You Still Chose Me by Kimberly Ray and Sharon Chinn. This is a novel about a woman who was sexually abused as a child and overcame the odds. It’s based on a true story.
In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?
The measure of a successful writer, in my opinion, is a writer who is happy with where they are. Many people work for online or print publications and are frustrated or miserable. Being able to earn a living writing what you want to write about is true success.
Advice for other writers?
Writing is a very difficult business to start off earning the “big bucks,” even with post secondary education. Getting to where you want to be will take time. Always follow your dreams and don’t let anyone bring you down. Remember to be very patient and always persevere!
Where can we learn more about you?
Is there anything else you want to add?
Stay tuned for my new website. Child Sexual Abuse is just at the starting gate, but hopefully by the end of October it’ll be where I want it to be – full of information for parents of children who have been abused.
Additional Writing Resources: