Today I Feature the author of Wander Home, Karen A. Wyle.
Hello Karen and welcome. Glad you wanted to come over and tell us all about your book and a bit about yourself.
Let’s start of with the cover of your book Wander Home.
As they say, “A picture paints a thousand words.” Beautiful cover and a little sad at the same time, no doubt you’ll tell us all about it in a minute, but first the interview. That is what you came for, right? But first tell us where to get your book.
Amazon (Kindle): http://amzn.to/WeIrf9
bn.com (Nook): http://bit.ly/TymtxO
Smashwords (various ebook formats): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/239628
Amazon (paperback): http://amzn.to/Z8fFj0
bn.com (paperback): http://bit.ly/TkulFu
iBookstore/iTunes (Kindle): http://bit.ly/YgLOhT
iBookstore (paperback): http://www.ibookstore.com/products.php?i=148116709X
Can you give me your best Whoop? Unless you have another one which works better for you?
–I remember what an author said to me at a writing conference workshop. I’ll need a bit of history to explain why it mattered so much.
Since before I can remember — with an intermission I’ll explain — I believed I was meant to be a writer. However, I had years of trouble figuring out what I was meant to write. I started with novels, writing my first (and for decades, my only) one at age ten as a present for my beloved fifth grade teacher. She read parts of it to the class, a process which revealed its flaws as nothing else could. After that, I wrote poetry for years, but tired of my own style by my early college years. Then I took a class in writing short stories.
It was my second story’s turn for critique. The lecturer teaching the class, whose name I remember but will not repeat, remarked cheerfully to the class that I had done something-or-other quite well for someone who “wasn’t a born writer.”
After all my flailing about in search of subject matter and medium, this came as a last straw — and yes, last straws, plus all that come before them, can be crushing indeed. It took me many years to climb out from under that load.
Fast-forward to the workshop. We had a writing prompt and about five or ten minutes to write about it. I volunteered to read my resulting piece. If I remember correctly, it was in a chat later on that the author praised my mini-story and said something like, “It’s obvious that you’re an accomplished writer.”
“Accomplished” may not mean “born,” exactly — but it felt as if I’d come full circle.
So I remember that comment, as well as some more recent favorable reviews. I also remember rereading my own work and liking it, from time to time.
Okay, sounds like you are one who has a firm grasp on herself, but does it work all the time, even those times when the muse has gone and done a runner on you? And when did you first start with it?
–I haven’t yet found the perfect way to assure myself that I’ll continue to have something to say. When I have anything like writer’s block, it’s usually when I try to write short stories, because I don’t have a great process for them. So I tell myself that once I’m back to writing a novel, all will go swimmingly. Then I try to squeeze out another few words.
Right, sounds like you are on the right track there. Let’s do a few of the yada yada questions before we move on to the fun.
What is the title of the book you would like to talk about?
Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?
–That would be an understatement!
Wander Home wasn’t my first, second, or third choice, and it took months for me to finally find it. At one point, I had a six-page list of potential titles, all of which I checked out on Amazon to see how many times they’d been used.
My working title was Reflections, which I thought reflected (sorry) some of the themes and plot elements of the book. Beta readers found it less appropriate, as well as somewhat humdrum. I also found that there were quite a few books with the same or almost the same title, including one recent novel with some thematic overlap.
In trying to find a new title, I read or reread quite a few poems, as I’ve always liked book titles derived from poetry. This process led me to The Story of Our Days, from a poem by Sir Walter Raleigh. It turned out that the title reminded too many people of the soap opera The Days of Our Lives — and also misled some people into expecting a memoir.
Poetry yielded a few other possible titles, including Nor Whence Nor Whither, an altered version of a line from a stanza in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The problem: even people who liked the title had trouble remembering it. I also considered two titles drawn from Shakespeare, Fear No More and Rounded with a Sleep — but neither quite fit (and Fear No More sounded more like a murder mystery or thriller).
Finally, I followed some advice I found online, and made a list of every word, image or theme that came to mind when I thought about my book. Then I started throwing different words together until something stuck.
Very recently, I discovered one reason that the title had special resonance for me, once I hit on it. I watched Danny Kaye’s movie about Hans Christian Anderson for the first time in many years, and found myself tearing up in response to the song “Anywhere I Wander.” I then remembered that the song had always made me cry, back when I saw the movie in my (cough) youth. The possibly-key lyric (from memory): “Anywhere I wander, anywhere I roam, ’til I’m in the arms of my darling again, my heart will find no home. . . .”
Aw, that is just … Wow.
But I must ask you, if you would have to change the genre, what would it be then?
–I haven’t stuck to one genre so far — my first published novel, Twin-Bred, and the two I now have in the pipeline are all science fiction, while Wander Home is a hybrid, a family drama with mystery and romance elements set in a re-imagined afterlife. The genre I’d like to try, but am so far too lazy to try, is historical fiction.
Just to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.
What don’t you like about writing, or whatever you need to do marketing wise?
–Aside from a constant battle with incipient carpal tunnel syndrome, I dislike having to spend a lot of time doing something I’m not very good at, namely promoting my work. I enjoy doing interviews (really!) and corresponding with readers, once they are readers — but the process of trying to make my work visible to the reading world takes a great deal of time and doesn’t pay off very quickly.
Tell me, when your muse is visiting and you’re on a roll, what would seriously drive her/him away?
–A family emergency, I’d guess.
What does your muse look like?
–Like whichever character is most willing to speak to me at the time.
Do you ever speak to your characters and do you get along all the time?
–I guess I just answered that question!
I’m sorry, you’re right. But the second part of my question still needs an answer though.
I believe my characters become exasperated with me at times, but they don’t say so directly. They just sulk and hide.
Can you name the food and drink that will surely get you started?
–Coffee doesn’t hurt. Dark chocolate cake can momentarily distract me.
Would you be able to come up with an excuse on why you haven’t written a whole day, and have me believe it too?
–How about a cluster of them? I’m between novels, and I’m waiting for beta readers to get back to me on the next novel to be published, and I’m busy asking for reviews, and I’m answering some particularly clever interview questions . . . .
And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?
–Well, to return to my opening theme: I was born to do it.
Also, I love to read, and the thought of giving someone else a book to read delights me.
Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂
–No dogs? Well, all right (sigh) . . . .
I haven’t said anything about Wander Home except its hodge-podge of genres, its title, and how long it took me to find the title. So even though others have heard it before, I hope you’ll pardon me for including my teaser for the book.
Please do! I can’t wait to hear it.
Death is what you make it. . . .
Eleanor never wanted to leave the daughter she loved so much. The overpowering urge to wander — to search, without knowing what she sought — drove her away. She left little Cassidy in her family’s loving care. But Cassidy and the others died in an accident before Eleanor could find her way home.
Now, they are all reunited, in an afterlife where nothing is truly lost. Places once loved may be revisited, memories relived or even shared. One may be any age suitable to the mood and moment. Surely this is a place where Eleanor and her family can understand and heal. And yet, the restlessness that shaped Eleanor’s life still haunts her in death. Somehow, she must solve the mystery of her life — or none of them will be at peace.
. . . What that doesn’t really convey is that there is a romance angle of a sort. I’m of two minds about whether and how much to emphasize it when I first describe the book to people. It’s not a “romance novel,” and I’m not sure whether it would disappoint someone who picked it up with that expectation.
I’m writing (with some difficulty, as I mentioned) a short story based in the same afterlife as Wander Home and including one of its characters. If and when I finish it to my satisfaction, I’ll post it as a freebie in various places, in the hope that it’ll lead people to the novel. Tentative title: “The Library.”
The two science fiction novels I’m editing are the sequel to Twin-Bred, tentatively titled Reach: a Twin-Bred novel, and a stand-alone SF novel involving conjoined twins and future technology.
Given the invitation to reveal either real or make-believe secrets, I’ll start a round of “two truths and a lie,” and let you and your readers respond:
–I live in a low-probability universe.
–I’m missing a toe on my left foot.
–I’m drinking a truly luscious cup of cocoa as I write this.
Oh! Great a riddle, let’s say anyone who posts the right answer to it as a reply get’s to call themselves winner. 🙂 And those who just want to know should read tomorrows post.
You are very welcome. I do hope you aren’t leaving without telling us a little bit about yourself? Come on, spill, give us that bio.
Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but moved every few years throughout her childhood and adolescence. After college in California, law school in Massachusetts, and a mercifully short stint in a large San Francisco law firm, she moved to Los Angeles, where she met her now-husband, who hates L.A. They eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University.
Wyle has been a voracious and compulsive reader as long as she can remember. Do not strand this woman on a plane without reading matter! Wyle was an English and American Literature major at Stanford University, which suited her, although she has in recent years developed some doubts about whether studying literature is, for most people, a good preparation for enjoying it.
Her voice is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of practicing appellate law. Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.
Very interesting Karen, and nice to know you gave up on law, 🙂 to trade it in for literature. Now tell us where can we find you online?
Author website: www.KarenAWyle.net
Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/KarenAWyle
Blog (Looking Around): http://looking-around.blogspot.com
Twitter handle: @WordsmithWyle