Q&A and Giveaway with Karen Cantwell!

Today’s featured author is Karen Cantwell, author of Take the Monkeys and Run! Read below to discover more about Karen and her writing… and enter the giveaway!



Five Frugal eReaders will win a Gifted Kindle Copy of Take the Monkeys and Run! Just leave a comment on this post for entry!

See the bonus entry details after the Q&A!


Thank you for spending some time with us Frugal eReaders! Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me, Elizabeth! I’m afraid I live a fairly mundane existence in the suburbs raising a husband and four kids (not to mention a dog, three cats and a rabbit). Nothing too exciting to report, but that’s okay, because I love my family and my life! (smile)

When did you first know that you wanted to write? What inspired you to start?

I first caught the writing bug when I was in the 6th grade. I started a couple of “novels” that I never actually completed. But I remember even back then, knowing that I wanted to be a published author some day. I was inspired by some of my favorite books I had been reading at the time: The Phantom Toll Booth, Harriet the Spy, and Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret.

How would you describe the style of your writing?

Generally, I write humor because I like to leave people smiling. I also feel that I have a style that focuses on character development. I love to create quirky, loveable characters.

Take the Monkeys and Run was such a fun novel. How did you come up with the premise?

First, I’m so glad you thought Take the Monkeys and Run was fun, because when I sat down to write it, that was my primary goal:  give readers a fun time. The premise came to me in two parts. First, I had been wanting to write a mystery novel about a long vacant house and the secrets it might hold. Then, while drafting that idea, my neighbor told me her own story about finding monkeys on her roof one morning soon after moving into our neighborhood over thirty years ago. Somehow I combined those two ideas, threw in a nosy soccer mom with chutzpah, and my first Barbara Marr Mystery was born!

Barbara Marr is witty, gutsy, hilarious, and just all around fabulous. I love her! Is she based on anyone in your life? Do you share similar traits with her yourself?

I have to admit, I love Barb too. (smile) She’s sort of “every mom” I think. Living in the suburbs, I find that mothers all have very similar experiences, thoughts, feelings, fears, etc. so I fold all of those into Barb. She and I are similar in a few ways—we both love movies and either of us knows the joy of showing off cleavage. As far as being gutsy—that’s all Barb. I’m a true chicken to the bone and would run in the face of danger like a sissy, whereas Barb tackles it head on.

What were the challenges of writing this novel? What was your favorite part of writing Take the Monkeys and Run?

Take the Monkeys and Run was the first novel, so I would say the challenges were in actually completing it while keeping the plot unique and exciting. My favorite part of writing this book and all Barbara Marr novels is the aspect of creating fun, interesting characters.

What was your creative process for determining the final title and cover for your novel?

Originally, the book was titled Monkeys in My Trees, and I’m proud to say that under that title, it was a Semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.  But during a re-write to polish the storyline, I strengthened the movie theme and decided the title should reflect that. Take the Monkeys and Run is a switch-up of the Woody Allen comedy, Take the Money and Run. I thought it sounded fun and it’s my personal homage to Woody Allen films. Now all of my titles are based on popular movie titles.

Any advice to those who hold the dream of becoming an author?

My only advice—NEVER GIVE UP ON THAT DREAM. Work at it constantly and NEVER GIVE UP.

I know the follow up {Citizen Insane} was just recently released, however, are you working on anything new that you’d like to share??

Yes, Citizen Insane came out in June of 2011 and I’m hard at work writing Silenced by the Yams to be released in December before Christmas. After that will be Saturday Night Cleaver for June 2012.

What is one of your favorite passages from Take the Monkeys and Run?

My favorite passage – YIKES! I have many, but I am partial to the opening scene of the book, so here you go:

The sky was black, my toes were numb and I was a lunatic.

Forgetting that our recent October nights had turned colder, I had set out on my mission barefoot.  I had no idea what the thermometer said, but the ice-cold brick beneath my unprotected feet told me plenty.  And my worn-thin-through-the-years knit jammies were certainly no match against the biting air.  Evidently I had left my brains in the house along with my shoes and down-filled parka.  Indiana Jones, our orange Tabby, followed me and purred while he rubbed against my legs, offering a tinge of warmth at best.

I squinted into the darkness.  “Three thirty in the morning.  Am I totally insane, Indy?”


“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Yes, I’m a grown woman and I talk to my cat.  What’s the big deal?  My cousin Samson the psychiatrist tells the family I’m delusional and should be medicated.  Pshaw I say.  Samson has a psychiatrist of his own as well as a far more disturbing obsession with large farm animals, so I severely doubt his legitimacy.  As long as Indiana Jones talks to me, I’ll keep talking to him.

My name is Barbara Marr.  I’m not a lady coroner, bounty hunter or crime scene investigator.  I don’t fight vampires, werewolves or flesh-eating zombies destined to destroy humanity.  Even worse, I don’t knit, sew, bake gourmet goodies for sweet English ladies or refinish houses and flip them for a profit.  In fact, I lack a veritable encyclopedia of talents and accomplishments.  I have managed to give birth to three children, but when my teenaged daughter looks at me like I’m an alien from the planet Freak, I wonder at my parenting abilities.

Then of course there is my marriage.  Not long ago I would have bragged to anyone about our solid bond.  True love.  True fidelity and commitment.  That was before Howard dropped the bomb and moved out.  So, perpetuating matrimony can be added to the list of things I don’t do.

When reviewing the list of lifetime achievements of which I am proud, being mother to my three girls sits at the very top, followed by the time I saw Yul Brynner in a convenience store and discreetly let him know he had ketchup on his chin.  He was so thankful that he autographed a bag of Fritos for me.

And most recently I got familiar with the video camera again and shot a music video with my daughters.  We called it Four White Girls Do Madonna. I posted it on YouTube and got over twenty-five views.  It was very exciting.  Still, I’m not exactly setting the world on fire.

So when Howard left, I decided it was time to resurrect my dream and write about movies.  I love the movies.  Old movies, new movies, musicals, dramas, comedies, westerns, action, science fiction, and anything starring Meryl Streep.  Some years ago, in between changing diapers and potty training, I had bought a domain name, ChickAtTheFlix.com, with the intention of building a movie review website.  I kept the domain name, but got side-tracked by little things like ear infections, strep throat, pre-school, elementary school and baby number three.  Now, with my life deteriorating before my eyes, the time had come to take the bull by the proverbial horns and start anew.

After putting the girls to bed, I needed a way to keep my mind off Howard.  I plotted and planned a grand design.  The website would contain reviews of current release movies as well as DVD releases of older classics.  I would also have a weekly blog where I waxed enthusiastic on different subjects of the cinema.  Since I had just recently watched a Men of Mystery Film Festival on the Classic Movie Channel, my first blog title would be, “Charlie Chan or Sherlock Holmes?  Whodunit Better?”

At two a.m., I was too tired to think about the website, but too upset about my marriage to sleep, so I turned on the TV.  Movie fare included The First Wives Club, A Bill of Divorcement, An Unmarried Woman and The Breakup on HBO.  Disgusted, I turned off the TV, turned out the lights, and contemplated learning voodoo so I could hex Howard with a festering urinary tract infection.

By three a.m., I had been crying for at least twenty minutes when I heard the rumble of a truck outside my bedroom window.  Suddenly, I had something else to occupy my frazzled mind.  The truck was back at House of Many Bones.

And that was how I ended up outside on a cold, fall night with no shoes on.

Thank you so much for taking the time to let us learn more about you and your book! I wish you the best!

Thank you, again, for having me here and letting me talk about my books.  It has been fun and I’m especially happy since The Frugal eReader is one of my favorite websites!


Soccer mom, Barbara Marr, just found monkeys in her trees and a severed human head in her neighbor’s basement. Could her day get any worse? When she gets a little too snoopy for her own good . . . you betcha it does! 

237 pages of laugh-out-loud fun.

“This fun if light novel’s quippy, hilarious narrator, Barbara Marr, has so much warmth and genuine gumption, you’d certainly want her on your criminal investigative team.” – Publishers Weekly

Click here to read more about and purchase Take the Monkeys and Run from Amazon for $0.99

Connect with Karen:

Website: www.KarenCantwell.com


How to enter the Take the Monkeys and Run Giveaway:

Leave a comment on this post!

Bonus Entries {leave an additional comment for each one!}:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Beth says:

    Would love to read this it looks interesting!

  2. Terrie Urban says:

    Sounds like a fun read. I’d love to win a copy!

  3. Terrie Urban says:

    Of course I had to “Like” it to share with my Facebook friends and family.

  4. Melissa Jackson says:

    I share an account with my mom and she’s mentioned several times that she thinks this would be a good book. We read the same books and would love to add this one to our collection!

  5. Susan Crismon says:

    Sounds like a fun, lighthearted read with which to end the summer – and I live starting with a new heroine at the beginning of the series.

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE this author!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. FHC says:

    too cute to miss this! TY “)

  8. FHC says:

    i’ve subscribed woohoo!

  9. FHC says:

    no gfc showing… happy to join

  10. Dfitch says:

    It sounds like something I would like to read, a funny mystery!

  11. CaliSue says:

    Several people have recommended this book to me, and it has great reviews. I’d really like to read it!

  12. CaliSue says:
  13. Deb Nelmark says:

    I’ve heard great things about this book and would absolutely love to have it to read! Keep up the great work!

  14. CaliSue says:

    I shared this on Google Reader for a bonus entry.

  15. Norma Falcone says:

    This book sounds interesting. Can’t wait to read it.

  16. Penny Tuttle says:

    I’m a huge mystery fan and this sounds like a fun read. I’d love to win a copy. Thanks for the interview.

  17. Margaret says:

    This looks great! Hopefully I can still be considered! Thanks!


  18. Margaret says:

    I’m already on the emailing list


  19. Margaret says:

    Already subscribe to RSS feed


  20. Margaret says:

    GFC follower already also.



  1. [...] away five copies of his screenplay Creative Spirit, based on his 2004 paperback The Manor. Just leave a comment on this post for [...]

Speak Your Mind