Saturday, July 18, 2020

2020 Interview: Karen Malena

Hello everyone. I’m Karen Malena. For almost forty years I’ve worked in the dental field as an assistant and office manager. It’s been a great way to care for people. My husband Jim and I have been married for fourteen years and we have four kids between us. My son Matt is a popular YouTuber and shares his enthusiasm for children and families in arcade videos. We also have five grandchildren.

Do you have any hobbies?

My favorite soothing hobby is to crochet. I learned as a little girl from my Italian Nonna, and now I make handmade purses and lap blankets. I love to read, sit outdoors and bird watch, take small trips with my husband, and also draw.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

We love small day trips and two-day weekends, so for now I’d have to say that the sweet little town of Ligonier is a favorite place to visit.

Do you have pets?

A few years ago we heard about brother and sister kittens that were left at a local veterinarian’s office. My heart melted when I saw the two gray long-haired kitties. We named them Rocco and Bella. Rocco is the strong, silent type, very loving and follows me around like a dog. Bella is the diva, and won’t leave me alone very long. They’ve grown into beautiful adult cats with gorgeous long coats that spew tumbleweeds of fluff all over the house.

What is your favorite color and what do you love about it?

I love blue and yellow together. They are cheerful and remind me of a glorious summer day.

What was your favorite book as a child?
My first favorite book was called “The Littlest Angel” in fourth grade. It seemed to soothe me and give me the comfort needed during some rough times.

What is one thing about yourself you’d like to change or are trying to work on?

Insecurity. I am learning to be happier with who I am body-wise, age, and talent. I want to love me.

What music genre/singer/band is your go-to for a bad day? For working? 

Though I don’t listen to music as I write, I do love movie soundtracks when I’m home cleaning or to help chase the blues away. Favorites of mine are from “Lord of the Rings,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “Titanic.” I also love waltzes and older music that my parents played all the time.

Do you re-read books? If so, is there one in particular?

Oh yes. I have quite a collection of favorite books and authors. I’ve re-read many Stephen King books, the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon, and my all time favorite “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

How many places have you lived? 
I’ve lived in Western Pa all of my life except for a six month period where I lived near St. Louis, Missouri due to a husband’s job.

What was your first job?
My first and only job has been in the dental field. I worked for a wonderful man in my small town of Ambridge, Pa for twenty-seven years. I began when I was nineteen.

Are you an outdoor type? Have a green thumb?
My Nonna and Dad were plant lovers and taught me how to care for flowers and vegetables. I adore my plants to the point that I do speak to them lovingly and tell them just how beautiful they are.

If you could live inside a movie, which would you choose and which character would you be?

Wow, this is a fun question, but I’d have to say at this point in my life I wouldn’t want to live anywhere in the movies. Too many of them have so much drama and I’m at a point in my life where I just want peace.

Are you the type to take a dare?

Not at all. I like my feet planted firmly on the ground and I like to be in control of my situations.

Do you have a favorite motto or quote that applies to your own life?
There are numerous Bible verses that I love. One in particular is “Do not fear, I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my right hand.”

What is one thing you’ve learned through experience that you’d love to pass along to others?

When you are young, don’t spend time wishing you were someone else, or better than you are. Take a good look at the gifts you’ve got, and the beautiful person you are and love them unconditionally.

What books, other than your own, would you highly recommend?

Some favorites are any by Mitch Albom, “The Shack” by Wm Paul Young, and books on NDE’s (Near Death Experiences).

On to writing: what inspired you to start creating stories/non-fiction? How long ago?
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved and needed escapism from scary situations. I longed to be other people in books and movies. I began writing sappy short stories when I was about fourteen. Then in the eighties, the music videos came along. Each was like a mini story and they inspired me to want to write more than ever.

How do you choose your settings (fiction) or topics (non-fiction)?
Whatever inspires or is something dear to my heart would be what I’d choose to write about. As I began looking around a few years ago at people not talking in restaurants, sitting and staring at their phones, I wondered, “hmm, what would it be like if we weren’t permitted to talk any longer. If we lived in a society that monitored our homes and places of work.”

Can you tell us a bit about your path to publication?

It wasn’t until I was in my early fifties that I met a published author in my church and spoke with him about my desire to write. He began a writing group and we learned so much from one another which led to my first published books and meeting local people who would publish them.

Finally, please tell us about your books and add your website so we can find you:

My first book which is no longer available was called Shadow of My Father’s Secret.
 An old man’s cryptic words of prophecy. . . A young man at odds with the father he loves. . . A father’s childhood secret which threatens to tear his family apart. . . In a small southwestern Pennsylvania town, a near tragedy changes lives forever, sets faith in motion, and leads a family to discover the healing power of redemption.

The second book is Reflections From My Mother’s Kitchen
When Kate Anderson discovers a haunting, old photograph, little does she know it will open a door to her family's past and her future.
In the quaint, old steel town of Ambridge, Pennsylvania, Kate has known adversity. From scoliosis as a teenager, to a failed marriage in her early twenties, insecurity and self-doubt have been daily companions. While she and her mom share the stories that molded their lives, Kate begins a journey of self-awareness and hope.
But when tragedy knocks on a seemingly innocent morning, will the warmth of a mother's love be enough to carry her through?

My children’s or cat lovers book is called Piggy
What do a cat and mouse have in common? One little kitten is about to find out. “We don’t always have to fight or prove ourselves to be big and strong. Sometimes it’s the smallest of creatures who can teach us life’s greatest lessons.
to find out.

Then I wrote the two-part love stories I call “The Ligonier Golden Years Romances.”
Part One:
Rose Warner sits alone. An old baby doll she’s hidden most of her life is her only company, and crocheting, her only comfort as she ponders the strained relationship with the daughter she loves.
Harry McMillen is losing precious memories. Once a charming ladies’ man, the ravages of time and health issues begin to plague him. The bond with his children is fragile, and an unforgiveable act of betrayal by his son threatens to pull their family apart.
In the quaint town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, Harry and Rose meet in their golden years. A warm friendship is forged and their lives become intertwined in ways even they won’t believe.
But will Rose's secret from her teenage years, something so terrible she's never shaken it, tear their new found friendship apart? Will the sins of Harry’s past revisit him and shatter all hope for happiness?

Part Two:
In the historic small-town of Ligonier, nestled in the Laurel Highlands, romance may be in bloom along with the spring wildflowers.
McKenna O’Malley, a young housekeeper at a senior care facility, has always longed for love. Though she harbors a dark secret, she dreams about breaking free of the legacy of her father—a convict she’s never met--and the shrouded mystery surrounding her mother’s death.
Tim McMillen struggles with his own demons. Plagued by alcohol, fueled by anger, he finds himself jobless, homeless and alone.
When Tim and McKenna meet, they find one another as kindred spirits. But the challenges they face may threaten all chances for happiness and even push McKenna to the very brink of sanity.
In the sequel to Love Woven in Time, we revisit Harry and Rose McMillen, whose love in their senior years is an inspiration to all who know them. But as Rose senses that her beloved is losing precious memories more rapidly, she begins to wonder how long they really have together before the ravages of time and age erase precious moments forever.
Step into a quaint Pennsylvania town that will welcome you, warm your heart, and take you into a journey of longing, faith, and ultimately, lasting true love.

My dark dystopian novel is Sound of Silence
A dark, all-encompassing law blankets the country.
Driven by one terrible secret, a powerful politician brutally suppresses speech for the sake of order and holds the country in the palm of his hand.
Ray Warren does the unthinkable. In a bold gesture he seals his fate in a moment of kindness, a moment that marks Ray, his wife, and beautiful daughter as dangerous fugitives and sets a society toward rebellion.
In Sound of Silence an ominous new society is introduced leaving us with the question: What if?

I am also published in Guidepost magazines writing articles about my mom’s journey with dementia and our family’s bond through it all.

You can find me on my website:, or my heartfelt blogs,, The Finch’s Nest.

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