Author interview with Karen Musser Nortman of ‘Trailer on the Fly’

Author Interview with Karen Musser Nortman


Lynne McBriar owns a vintage camper that is a time portal. Although she is reluctant to use it, a tragic story from a client moves her to travel back ten years to a Sisters on the Fly gathering in Missouri and try to save the life of the client’s friend. In doing so, she endangers her own life and causes other changes in the time line she didn’t expect.



Vintage camper trailers travelling through time can only mean one thing. Karen Musser Nortman has returned to to chat with me about an instalment in her Time Travel Trailer book series. Karen, it’s lovely to see you again today, the last time we caught up was in October 2016 to chat about ‘To Cache a Killer’, the fifth book in your The Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries series so it’s good to see that there’s a new tale that we can bring to the minds of readers today. What was in your mind when you started thinking of the story within the pages of ‘Trailer on the Fly’?

This is the second book in the series and one of my readers liked the first so much that she wrote and suggested a sequel involving the Sisters on the Fly, a group of women who enjoy outdoor adventure and restore vintage campers.



In our last interview you mentioned that you are a keen camper, which inspires your novels. Have any of the women that you’ve met from your travels directly inspired this group of women that you follow within this book?

Some characters are loosely based on people I have met; others are a combination.



Do you think that some or even all of the personalities of these characters where heavily influenced by the plot, or instead do you feel that the plot was more influenced by the strength of personalities within these female characters?

I think that the plot was definitely informed by the characters, just as in life, I feel that the actions of people have more effect on the course of their lives rather than overarching or outside events.



Were you inspired by any events in your life while constructing these events within your plot?

The setting is a Missouri State Park based on the actual park, Johnson’s Shut-Ins south of St. Louis which did have a flash flood because of a breach in a dam. I have attended events sponsored by the Sisters on the Fly and been amazed by these independent women as well as entertained by their activities such as a ‘cowgirl prom.’



*Laughs* Who wouldn’t love the idea of a cowgirl prom! I want to go to one! As this book has largely been inspired by your own travels, have you found that there was much place for research with this book, or its predecessor?

I had researched the trailer model, a 1937 Covered Wagon, when I was writing the first book.



What do you feel is the most important aspect that readers should take away from this adventure of time travelling trailers?

Things aren’t always as they seem.



Very true, and I’m keen to see how that plays out within the pages. Apart from highlighting the truth that the things are not often as clear-cut as one might expect, what did you find most satisfying about writing this novel?

As a former history teacher, I am fascinated by cause and effect in history. Even on the individual level, it’s interesting to consider how small changes might have brought about others.



I have to admit that looking back on little choices in history and considering ‘what-if’ is endless enthralling for me too! Are you already working on another exploration of the enthralling nature of small changes or perhaps the nature of individual cause and effect within the Time Travel Trailer series?

Yes, I’m writing the third book in The Time Travel Trailer series, as yet untitled, which involves Route 66.



I’m sure that Route 66 has so tales to be inspired by that it might be hard to choose just one! When you start working on a new writing project do you always picked where you want to end before you start writing?

I don’t know how it will end. Even if I have a fairly detailed outline of the plot, as the small details are fleshed out, they often require changes in events or characters.



And do you ensure that all of these small details line up within editing yourself, or is editing a process that you like completed by a third party?

I do a great deal of the editing. I write with Scrivener and there is a speaking feature so that I can have the chapters read back to me. This really highlights errors, awkward wording, and other problems. I also use the word count feature, which will tell me how many times every word is used to avoid over use of some words, passive verbs, and adverbs.



Software like Scrivener almost acts like your own editing team so I can see why you try to tackle the majority of editing yourself. Before I let you return to the time where you time travelling trailer has landed, I’d like to take a few minutes to show a little more of the person behind the pages with our quick fire question round questions. Let’s kick it off with: What is your day-job, and how does it influence your writing?

I am retired but was a history teacher for 22 years, which has been useful in my time travel series. I also spent 18 years as a test developer. I found my training writing test items has been extremely useful when I work on my camping mysteries. Multiple choice test items require several well thought out and believable wrong answers as well as a reasonable and defensible right answer. So does a good murder mystery.



It sounds like you’ve been in mystery writing training for 18 years without even knowing it! Now to something else we may not know, where is the line between insanity and creativity?

I believe that insanity is destructive–of relationships, balance, life goals, self, etc. Creativity should never be.



Wow, thanks for taking up the challenge of defining the line from that question. I love those fascinating insights of that great answer. If they made a movie from your book who would you choose to play the main characters?           

I would choose Meg Ryan to play Lynne McBriar.



I haven’t seen Meg in anything for a while, but I certainly feel that she’d do a fabulous job with Lynne! What is your favourite flavor of ice-cream?

Tin Roof Sundae.



I could go for one of those right now :). Finally, is there a single line from your book that you feel will make readers want to delve into the world of time travelling trailers today?           

My first reaction was resignation, and then, a few moments later, out and out panic. What if my trailer got washed away? I would never get back to my own time.



Karen, thanks for joining me today to chat about your experiences within the writing world, and I look forward to seeing you in the future with another camper classic!


Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Trailer on the Fly ( ASIN: B01EPGYMD0 )‘.

Want to find out more about Karen Musser Nortman? Connect here!