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Moondance cover

An addictive tale of awakening, soulmates and past lives

What readers say

“I just finished Moondance and I felt I had to write to tell you how much I loved it. I haven't been able to put it down and felt it totally resonate for me...”
Lynne Franks
Best-selling author
“Karen, it's Dee, I had to call and tell you that I've just read the first 119 pages of your book and oh my God it's absolutely incredible... I don't want to put it down, it's your fault. Congratulations, I can't wait for the next page.”
Dee Miller
Director, Renewed Strength

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Interview with Karen M. Black

Moondance is quite a ride. Your inspiration?

Moondance explores questions (and arguments) that I had about life in my thirties. It's the result of being bounced around in the corporate world, having some painful relationship experiences, and wondering why my life didn't turn out as I had planned.

I wrote the first 120 pages of Moondance in 1996 after a relationship ended. In a state of heartbreak, the words gushed out of me in a curious, unstructured wave (the first page I ever wrote was page 271). What I wrote was intense and emotional and it scared me. What I had created wasn't aligned with who I thought I was, which was logical, tough, steady and calm. I was creating scenes and dialogue I didn't understand with my logical mind. So I rejected it and finished my MBA instead.

Five years later, still single, with questions about my life mounting, I participated in a five-day retreat called the Trust Program. Trust was a turning point, a powerful experience which helped me understand who I am, what I believe and what's important to me. After Trust, I embraced my sincere belief in reincarnation and began to study karmic astrology while working full-time as a benefit communication consultant, something I never could have conceived of before.

Who is Moondance written for?

I wrote Moondance for me. I published Moondance for anyone who's had their heart broken by life or by love, and have the curiosity and the courage to ask why.

Do you have a dream that's requiring you to Trust?

Stay in the flow. Get “Six ways to know instantly if you're off-track (and six secrets to getting back on)” for free. Tell me more

What's your educational background?

I received my MBA in marketing from the Rotman School of Management from the University of Toronto, and a double major in biology and English at Erindale College at the University of Toronto. Grew up in cottage country in lovely northern Ontario. Yes I ski. I cottage more.

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An MBA learning karmic astrology. How did that happen?

I started my first job in the spring of 1987 after graduating from the University of Toronto, just before the recession hit. Over five years, I witnessed aggressive growth followed by mass restructuring, harrowing debt management (I worked in treasury), and ultimately the distress sale of each of my employer's divisions, bankruptcy, and the tragic death of the owner. Not a fun place to work.

Shortly after, I worked for Confederation Life, the first Canadian insurer to go into liquidation. I was single and living on my own. I learned early that I couldn't rely on employers to take care of me. When I decided to do my MBA, I was cynical and disillusioned. I had already experienced an internal shift away from traditional corporate success.

In 1996, during the second year of the MBA during which I was also working half-time, stress mounted, a relationship ended and while in a state of heartbreak, 120 pages flowed out of me in a curious, painful, unstructured wave. This turned out to be Moondance's climax, and most of those words are published as they were created. At the time, I was so terrified of my words that I put them away for five years.

Meanwhile, in business, I cared about traditional success less and less. I had some great clients, did some amazing work, and had fun during that time. Yet I didn't feel fulfilled by it, even held back at advancing too quickly, and my work began to affect my health.

Inside, I felt like a square peg in a round hole. I felt as if I was pretending to be someone else. Strangely, over time, what I found was that the less I focused on traditional corporate success, the more the corporate opportunities came, along with the financial rewards, which for me, bought a certain amount of freedom.

It all made sense to me in 2002 when I participated in a five day retreat called Living Leadership (also called the Trust Program). This program helped me to let go of the past and articulate what I believe about life (which includes reincarnation), and shortly after that, had my first karmic astrology session. What I learned about myself through the astrology is that the reason business didn't feel right to me, was that business was not my life purpose. Business is an important tool I have, yet it's not why I'm here this time around.

My purpose is to commit to exploring emotion and creativity in an unconventional way, something which intrigued and terrified me (that's the interesting thing about one's purpose - it may be the scariest thing you've ever done, but it yields the richest reward).

For me, karmic astrology answered questions that business or logic never could. Once I made this internal shift, my full-time work supported me while I studied astrology, wrote my book, and (later) went freelance. Things started to flow. And I had a purpose, a rich foundation upon which to envision my life.

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Is Moondance about your life?

Moondance is fiction, but the themes it explores are true to me. My life unfolded in ways I never imagined. Over the years, I've asked the questions my main character Althea has asked. I've raged at the universe like Althea has, wondering about life's injustices and why things are so easy for some people, and so difficult for others. Like Althea, I've experienced heartbreak.

I never planned to be 40 and single. I never pictured myself as anything but conventional. I figured I'd get married in my 30's and I'd work at a job that fulfilled and regularly promoted me. It took a while for that dream to die, and another to replace it.

Now, I'm so happy with who I am, I can't imagine myself any other way. But it hasn't always been easy.

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Any real people in Moondance?

The character Michelle is based on astrology and tarot card reader Yvonne Karkas, a woman I knew for twenty years. Yvonne was wise, compassionate and humorous, kicking me in the butt with love when I needed it. She approved of Michelle, but sadly died before she could read the entire book.

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When did you know you were onto something with Moondance?

When I read a wonderful book called The Courage to Write. It described the many levels of fear associated with writing. The author says that when he has a student in his writing class who's scared of what's inside them, he encourages them even more, because generally what they have to say is powerful.

Very cool to have all of this confirmed when Moondance won a number of awards after it was published.

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What would you compare Moondance to?

I'm not sure if there's anything I can compare it to — Moondance may be in a genre all its own. However, I was swept away by Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. When I read it, I cried. It was particularly compelling to me because of Alice's experience of being raped when she was a student. What Alice did with the book was amazing... the book is drawn from a deep well of experience and emotion, yet delivered through a haunting, fictional tale.

Moondance would make a great movie or TV show... it's so visual. My favourite TV show ever is Six Feet Under. I love how it explores the mystery of death and does it in edgy, contemporary, entertaining way, through characters who are utterly fallible. One minute, I'm laughing, another minute I'm close to tears, and another minute, my jaw drops.

Moondance is also modern and slightly edgy, exploring universal themes. It's not only the ideas Moondance explores that make it unique, but how it explores them. Intelligently. At a compulsively readable pace.

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Your thoughts about the symptoms of spiritual awakening?

I'll be sharing much more on this topic. What I'll say here is that personal development, change, awakening, consciousness, whatever you want to call it, to me, isn't linear. Here's an article I wrote on my sister site The Soulmate Site on the signs of spiritual awakening. You can also read the signs of spiritual awakening on this site, as well.

It hasn't always been easy. It hasn't always been comfortable. Sometimes, since I'm being honest, I felt I was dragged there kicking and screaming. Yet surrendering to the process has also been the best thing I've ever done.

In the corporate world, I was rewarded for being logical, deadline oriented, detailed and intellectual. But true growth doesn't occur in our heads — it takes place in our hearts - and every heart is different. There isn't a quick fix. There isn't one book I can read and get all the answers. I think the key is to just keep asking questions, to listen to the Whispers of our hearts and to trust.

I believe that if people get stuck in one spiritual philosophy while rejecting all others, that it's not only limiting, but dangerous. I'm always consciously exploring and expanding my own 'truth'. Which is different than 'TRUTH' as 'TRUTH' so readily twists into fundamentalist thinking. Extremism of any kind is scary to me.

So I'm reading and seeking all the time, but most of all, I'm open to the lessons of my heart. I'm open to learning and re-learning about myself and my place in what I call the universe.

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Why did you self-publish?

Well, I researched the publishing process. I created synopses, a log line, even query letters. During this phase, though, I didn't like what I was learning. I don't like how little money the author actually sees, plus the control they give up creatively and on the marketing side.

I also learned that signed authors often have to invest their own money and time in promotion and marketing anyway, yet there isn't much flexibility in the contract in recognition of this effort. After giving away complete control and profits, the vast majority of debut novels lose money-making the prospects of publishing a second novel with the same publisher grim.

Self-publishing non-fiction is commonplace. Self-publishing commercial fiction is not. Yet the more I weighed the pros and cons, the more self-publishing made sense for me.

I know myself — when it comes to business, I really like control. With my business background, I am accustomed to creating strategy and with my communication consulting background, I understand the publishing and production process. I knew I wanted input on the cover and layout design. I knew I'd want to be involved in the marketing. I began to wonder if the traditional route was the best way to go for me.

During this time, I met the former President of MacMillan Canada, now an agent and publication consultant. After some discussions, he confirmed my suspicions. As the publisher — which is different from vanity publishing and print on demand publishing like lulu or Trafford by the way — I control the entire process.

I get to keep all of the profits, and have to sell fewer copies to break even. I also take all the risk. Yet early readers responded well to Moondance — I knew I had a great product. With the internet, I have global reach. Why not give it a shot? More on self-publishing here

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Would you consider working with a commercial publisher?

Yes, if there was a good fit, I would definitely consider it.

Ultimately, I want Moondance to reach as many people as possible. That's why I've created The Soulmate Site and my e-newsletter Moondancing, to help people connect deeply with themselves, and create the life and love their souls intended. After all, Mooondance ultimately is a novel about losing and then finding, love. With a few addictive twists and turns along the way!

So yes it would make sense to join forces with a commercial publisher at some point. But I'm patient. Until I find a compatible partner, I'm content to create my own destiny as an independent.

Nice thing is, unlike some non-fiction, Moondance doesn't have an expiry date...

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What do you read for pleasure?

I like books that keep me guessing and that move. I grew up reading Stephen King, Dean Koontz other horror and supernatural stuff and was an early Anne Rice fanatic for a while. So commercial fiction, with a dark and sensuous twist was my thing. I also read thrillers — Dan Brown before he was famous, James Patterson, and Greg Isles who has a wonderful knack of creating flawed, believable characters at a lightning pace. My fav in the thriller genre is John Sandford as he's so fast and smart and keeps you guessing. If John wrote a book every month, I'd be a very happy girl.

I also like books that make me think, and influence how I feel. So I read a great deal about astrology, plus other spiritual, philosophical, psychological and metaphysical topics - Conversations with God series, Linda Brady's Discovering Your Soul Mission, Brian Weiss' Many Lives Many Masters, Many Mansions (Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation), F. Scott Peck, Further Along the Road Less Traveled, Power vs. Force, among many, many others. I also really liked Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold.

Althea's reading list at the back of Moondance is an approximate list of what I was reading during the time I was writing the first draft. Far from an exhaustive list, but a great start!

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Are you or anyone you know members of a Book club? If so, I'd love to hear from them!

Favourite movies?

Hard to pick a favourite — please don't make me! I love Red by Krystof Kiezlowski (the entire Three Colours trilogy is magical) and believe it or not, Apocalypse Now. Talk about Scorpio. Recently, I saw The Lover and Fugitive Pieces and really liked both. Like my music, my taste in film is eclectic.

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What do you do when you're not writing or working?

When am I not working?! Moondance and The Soulmate Site is a full time job.

I also work as a freelance benefit communication consultant — I have a wonderful client base and I'm so grateful for that. Moondance has been an investment in not only time, but money, so working this way has helped me bring Moondance to life and keep practical things going, like paying my mortgage, and traveling occasionally.

When I do have free time, I cook, read, meditate, expand my music collection, learn about astrology, do pilates, shop in Chinatown, bike, and spend (not enough!) time on the water. Like my characters Althea and Sophie, I love food, cooking and eating. I've featured a few of my favorite restaurants in Toronto in Moondance, like Starfish, Gamberoni and Pearl Court Chinese (they deliver). Check them out!

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Tell me about the music and quotes you used in Moondance

I thought you'd never ask! I'm an eclectic music fanatic, and for my first draft of Moondance, I literally had an entire soundtrack picked out based on the lyrics of certain songs. I spent days going through my CD collection. Then when I got closer to finishing, I stripped them out as there was no way I could afford the rights.

My characters Althea and Sophie love jazz. I'm more eclectic and enthusiastically recommend Radio Paradise featuring the best of most genres. The soundtrack in my mind remains. Yeah I know. I'm obsessed.

  • The Tea Party (The Edges of Twilight) Pretty much the whole freakin' album: Fire in the Head, The Bazaar, Sister Awake, Turn the Lamp Down Low, Shadows on the Mountainside, Drawing down the Moon, Ianna - very Scorpio.
  • Talk Talk (Spirit of Eden) If I was forced to choose, this would be my favourite album: perfection. Desire, Inheritance, Wealth
  • Tori Amos (Under the Pink) Bells for Her, Cloud on my Tongue
  • Shawn Mullins (Soul's Core) Shimmer
  • Neil Finn (One All) Secret God, Lullaby Requiem
  • Crowded House (Woodface) All I ask, Italian Plastic
  • Radiohead (OK Computer) Karma Police
  • Jane Siberry (When I was a Boy) Calling all Angels
  • Nine Inch Nails (Downward Spiral) The Becoming, I do Not Want This
  • Willy Porter (Falling Forward) The Line, Sowelu, Tribe
Preferred title track
  • Nada Surf (The Weight is a Gift) — I just love “Always Love” off this album. It's pop-rock at its best and I envision it blasted at the very end of the movie. There's a link to this song on my new site, under soulmate lyrics. Dance with abandon. Play it loud!!
About the lyrics I kept
  • Willy Porter (Falling Forward)

    The Line “I've been half in love before / I can't live here anymore”

    Sowelu “What you journey to become / you already are”

    Sowelu “You're only beginning, you've only begun / You're only beginning to become”

    Willy is a talented singer/songwriter from California that I have seen live. Go out and buy all his albums. Now. They're all solid! Early in his career, he toured with guitarist Michael Hedges, who I also had the privilege of seeing live twice before he died. Willy is a great lyricist who digs deep and keeps his sense of humor. I really wanted to use a couple of lyrics from Willy, so I contacted his manager directly.
  • Bill Hicks, comedian (1961 – 1994)

    Bill Hicks: “Life is like a ride in an amusement park.”

    In the spring of 2007, I visited my cousin Bronwen in the U.K. and her boyfriend introduced me to comedian (and I believe, visionary) Bill Hicks, who died in 1994 just as his career was taking off. I watched his documentary It's a ride, and it reminded me of a scene in Moondance. I came home and read everything I could on him, and came to deeply admire his idealistic vision and his uncompromising desire to speak what he believed to be the truth, no holds barred. Warning: Bill Hicks is not for the faint of heart.

How are you doing in your soulmate search?

Find out! Get my popular report “The 10 big mistakes spirit-oriented women make while seeking a soulmate (and how to avoid them)” for free (my sincere gift to you). Tell me more

What are your proudest moments?

In no particular order...

  • Having the courage to take the Trust program and living it years later
  • Leaving the corporate world to become a freelance benefit communication consultant, so I could focus on Moondance
  • Diving head-first into another passion project, The Soulmate Site
  • Finishing my MBA full-time while working part-time
  • Writing Moondance during weekends, while working full-time as a benefit communication consultant and completing a three-year astrology internship
  • Assisting at the Trust program
  • Getting comfortable with being vulnerable (a work in progress).

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What do you desire in the future?

More experiences to help me understand who I truly am

Free time to write more books

To continue to deeply appreciate my life in every moment

And a few other things. That's between me and me. :-)

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