Our first interview is with the incredibly talented writer, editor and publisher, Karen Comer who amongst her many talents, also trained us on all aspects relating to story-telling. To get in contact with Karen and subscribe to her fabulous newsletter, simply visit www.karencomer.com.au
1. Tell us your story …
I’m Karen Comer. I’m a writer and editor. I’ve always loved books and stories, and read voraciously. I have always wanted to escape in a story and as a kid, I wanted to read a book about a kid exactly like me and since I could never find that book I decided to write that book. So I do freelance editing from home and I’m also working on a children’s series and I write adult stories.
2. The Interpreters spend a lot of time trying to understand client customers, segments within the market and people. When it comes to writing, how do you know that what you’re writing is going to appeal to your target audience?
I think it’s about picturing one specific person in mind. If you try to please everyone, you won’t. So you need to have your ideal reader in mind and write for that particular person. And whether that’s a 10-year-old you haven’t met or a 53-year-old woman who lives down the street from you, whoever that is, you write just for that person.
3. We do a lot of problem solving at The Interpreters so we’re interested in how other people solve problems. How do you solve a problem like a writing block?
I think you can attack it in two ways. You can use your conscious, analytical, logical mind or you could choose your sub-conscious, dreamy, creative mind. Both approaches work equally well and in different ways. Some situations will call for a very analytical mind and some situations call for an unconscious approach. Most people tend to start with the analytical way of thinking about things which is fine and when that doesn’t work, you should stop thinking about in a rational way and allow your unconscious mind to take over. That could be through giving yourself time, it could be through meditation, it could be through a good night’s sleep, it could be through going for a walk, it could be a mind map. Both approaches work in different situations.
4. Interpretation is subjective but a key part of our analysis. We’re always interested in the ways other people might interpret key trends or things of interest from their specialism. So how do you interpret the rise of Donald Trump?
That his story resonated more than Hillary Clinton’s. That for whatever reason, people were able to relate to him more or that they hated him less than Hillary Clinton. He reached a wider audience with his show The Apprentice and people related to his character or persona on that show as it had more of a narrative to it.
5. Thank you for taking part in 5 in Five – the last question comes with a gift as an appreciation of your time. Because we firmly believe that Information is Beautiful, we would like to give you a copy of Information is Beautiful, ‘a stunning visual journey through the most revealing trends, fascinating facts and vital statistics of the modern world’. In the last minute, and because first impressions matter, have a scan through and for the 5th question, tell us which visualisation caught your attention and why.
The first page I turned to, the title was Stories. The different colour squares reminded me of a paint palette and as I like painting, that appealed to me. I was intrigued by the sub-heading P = The Protagonist, and once I had a closer look, I loved how the stories were divided into different types – quest, underdog, rags to riches, metamorphosis. This information came from Robert McKee’s well-known book for screenwriters, Story – I have a copy of it on my bookshelves.