While some people dream about writing a book someday, one Brookfield resident has turned that dream into a reality not just once, but twice in the last year.
In July, Karen Berg-Raftakis celebrated the publishing of her second murder mystery novel titled A Dance with Death. The latest book was released only three months after the April publication of her first novel, Murder on the Church Council.
Berg-Raftakis’ two novels are the first in what she calls the Arianna Archer murder mystery series, which centers around a 35-year-old television and murder mystery addict who works to investigate and solve murder cases with the “expertise” she has garnered over the years from her love of murder mystery television shows and books.
Berg-Raftakis, a huge murder mystery novel and TV addict herself, based the main character on both herself and her love of the genre.
“When I was thinking of my main character, I thought it would be really interesting if she was a big reader like I am,” Berg-Raftakis said. “Part of it came from myself, but she’s fearless compared to me. She’s a lot braver than I am, and she’s a lot more rude.”
While the two novels are the first Berg-Raftakis has published, she is by no means an inexperienced writer. For a number of years, she has written many spiritual essays and poetry. But, the two novels are the first mysteries she has ever written.
“What happened was, last year I was reading a bunch of mysteries and they were kind of like mediocre, and one of them was actually really bad,” she said. “I thought, ‘My gosh, I could definitely write a better book than this.'”
Berg-Raftakis says it was not easy to write her first book, because she would always be intimidated by the thought that her work was mediocre.
“As soon as I would start one I would be like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is horrible. I can’t possibly do this.'”
Berg-Raftakis’ hero is famed author Agatha Christie, and while writing the first book, she was worried the book would turn out terribly and nothing like the murder mysteries she has loved all her life.
“Originally, I set out to write a very serious murder mystery/whodunit, but as I was writing, all this humor started coming out. I thought ‘This was too funny, this is not like an Agatha Christie.’ It finally dawned on me; I’m not supposed to write like Agatha Christie. They’re very tongue-in-cheek.”
Berg-Raftakis also drew inspiration for her novels from various plots in some of her favorite TV shows including “Sherlock,” “Homeland,” “Nurse Jackie” and “The Sopranos.”
With Murder on the Church Council, Berg-Raftakis originally wanted to go through an agent to get her book published, but knew it would take months or years to hear a response.
Eventually, a friend of hers who works in the book distribution industry inspired her to self-publish. She credits her success with the two novels from her advertising with traffic on Amazon, word of mouth and local libraries.
Berg-Raftakis is currently working on the third book in the Arianna Archer series and envisions four or five books total for the collection.
“It just depends on how inspired I am,” she said.
Murder on the Church Council and A Dance With Death are available for purchase on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle editions.