I jokingly call our rescued “CAT”ahoula Leopard dog and three rescued cats my “MEWS.” The cats either lounge on my desk or my lap while I write, and the dog sleeps beside my chair on his bed, so I’m surrounded by my “MEWS,” but I wouldn’t say they inspire me.

I think everything we’ve ever read, seen, heard, and thought mingles and merges in our brains as we sleep or meditate. When inspired ideas crop up, I believe our minds recollect (re-collect) that information and reassemble it into the prose we write, but inspiration for that reconstruction is harder to pin down.

For me, travel sparks inspiration. When I visit provocative places, encounter new experiences, sample different ethnic foods, and chance upon stimulating people, I’m inspired. Ideas flow. (I should’ve been a travel correspondent.) There’s something about traveling that takes me out of my rut and propels me into new realms of possibility.

I’ve written some of my best concepts sitting in airports or hotel bathrooms at midnight (so I don’t wake my husband with the light). Being out of my element and in new environments stimulates my imagination. Traveling inspires me.

Each of my novels takes place in a different setting because as I visit those destinations, I’m infused with innovative ideas. I envision scene after scene, like vignettes flowing into the next and the next.

For instance, when my husband and I visited Key West, the colorful history of Key West, as well as its bigger-than-life residents, like Earnest Hemingway, stimulated me. I knew buried treasure, pirates, sea-turtles, and the keys’ raw beauty would have to play roles in my Mainstream Fantasy, The Keys: Voice of the Turtle.

A fun town that doesn’t sleep, the city island is a continuous party that starts at breakfast with cafe con leche, Cuban toast, and mimosas. The festivity runs throughout the day in bistros, pubs, brasseries, or munching on food-cart conch fritters and Key West pink shrimp scampi. It reaches full swing at Mallory Square’s Sunset Celebration with to-go cups in hand and then continues long into the night on a Duval Crawl.

Key West is a wide-open town that historically attracted pirates and wreck salvagers. Today, the island’s sheer beauty, tropical vibes, and distinct culture draw vacationers, sailors, sun-lovers, and mavericks, as well as real-estate developers and hoteliers, who also play roles in The Keys: Voice of the Turtle.

So what inspires me to write? Traveling to unique destinations, where I can experience a distinctive ambiance. The atmosphere sets the tone. Then the characters emerge, and finally a story unfolds.

Let's stay in touch!

Stories that enchant, embrace, & explore!

Welcome, all!

Thanks for stopping by my home on the web, where you'll find books full of revealing journeys, fun facts, newborn love, marvelous mysteries, and more!



Sign up for my newsletter and learn about new books, launch parties, workshops, contests, giveaways, and lots more fun!     


The Keys: Voice of the Turtle

Order NOW!

Karen Hulene Bartell

What Triggers Inspiration?

Sail through time as you discover buried treasure and the ghosts that haunt the seas!