As promised, I have the interview with Karen Wyle for you today. I asked Karen a series of questions, some of them serious, writing oriented questions and others a little silly. Karen was a fantastic sport and provided us with some interesting insights into how she works at completing her novels, what she’d take with her if she was stranded on an island, a little bit about what genre she might like to try next and what is coming up in terms of her writing projects.
Interview with Karen Wyle
1. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Perhaps it happened before I was born (see below 🙂 ). For whatever reason, I started writing in around second grade. In fact, I loved books even before I could read them, let alone write. I would sit in bed with a stack of picture books and go through the whole pile.
2. What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Taking the long view, rather than requiring instant success; realizing that different readers will have very different responses to your work; writing what you want to write, not what someone else wants you to write or what you guess will sell.
3. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read, take photographs, go for walks, watch a few TV shows, and eat. I’m happy doing these things either by myself, or with my husband and/or one or both daughters.
4. A psychic has just told you about your past life. Who were you?
I was probably a writer. Why I think so: I’ve seen myself as a writer as long as I can remember.
I lived in Paris. Why I think so: every time I’ve been there, I’ve had a short-lived but definite feeling of coming home.
After some traumatic period in my life, I fled to Venice, Italy to recover. Why I think so: the one time I traveled there (in this life), it had a thoroughly calming and cheering effect on me, and I felt as if I’d spent a much longer time there than I actually did.
5. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
Writing; talking about subjects that interest me, including (God help me) politics and religion; taking candid photographs of people.
6. You are now in charge of the dictionary and need to remove five unwanted, overused or otherwise irritating words from our language. Which do you choose and why?
If I may include phrases, I’ll do my husband a favor by removing one of his pet peeves, “double down.” To that I’d add “diversity,” which is too often the excuse for shortsighted or counterproductive policies; “pro-choice” and “pro-life,” which oversimplify the sides of a complex and difficult issue; and finally, “like” when used as a meaningless interjection. (Hey, at least one of my choices has no political implications whatsoever . . .)
7. You’ve told me you’re working on a new book that’s not related to Twin-Bred, have you thought about writing a sequel/prequel to Twin-Bred?
I’ve actually written the sequel — but it still needs a lot of editing. That’s my next project, once I publish the unrelated book, Wander Home. I like the idea of a Twin-Bred prequel!
8. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Stay in touch with your friends. (This should be a lot easier for the newborn than it used to be for people of my vintage.)
9. What is your favourite character from Twin-Bred and why?
I’m not good at choosing favorites, but it might be Levi, Dr. Mara Cadell’s never-born fraternal twin.
10. Your new best friend is a character from a book you’ve read. Who will it be, what book, and why?
I only wish I could be a friend of Anne Edwards, from Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. Anne is loving, nurturing, smart, and screamingly funny, and she cooks for people :).
11. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
That’s a tough one. I’d guess it would be some imprecisely-remembered moment when either (a) I reread something I’d written and really liked it, or (b) one of my daughters demonstrated her creativity or originality.
12. Tell us about your writing style. Do you sit down and write for large blocks of time or do you flit around on different projects? Why do you think this is?
I usually do my rough drafts as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, or (once, so far) its summertime equivalent, Camp Nano. During NaNo, I do much of my writing on my desktop computer, but also attend several write-ins a week with our local NaNo group. Whether I’m writing or revising, I’m in and out of the computer room all day, writing bits at a time. (I’m self-employed, which makes that easy.)
So far, I’ve never worked on more than two projects at a time. I did that only when I was simultaneously editing Wander Home and the sequel to Twin-Bred. I had both of those books to edit at the same time because I’d done NaNo and Camp Nano in the same year. I probably won’t do that again — I think I’m more comfortable trying to write, edit and publish one book a year, and writing short stories if I have extra time.
13. Twin-Bred was a science fiction story, what genre would you like to try your hand at and why?
With Wander Home, I’ve already given general fiction a try (though it might also be called metaphysical fiction, or as one editor put it, “posthumous fantasy”). I’ve always liked reading historical fiction, and admired those who put in the time and effort to write it. I’m a bit intimidated by the thought of the amount of research necessary, but I may work up to it one day.
14. If you were shipwrecked on a deserted island and you could only have 5 things with you, what would they be and why?
I assume it would be cheating to include a replicator and transporter a la Star Trek — or even a cell phone . . .. Based on that assumption, I’d choose:
–A desalinization setup, so I’d have drinking water whether or not I could find a stream;
–A large bottle of sunscreen, to use while I built up a protective tan;
–Fishing gear suitable for use by an unskilled novice;
–A chest full of books, including some old favorites and some promising ones I’d never read, and also containing several pairs of reading glasses in case my eyes got worse before I was rescued; and finally,
–A photo of my family, in some sort of weatherproof casing.
Thanks for the interview!