Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed Karen M Wicks about her writing and her latest,Twisted Silver Spoons, a stunning tale of literary fiction. (Read the reveiw here). She holds a doctorate from New York University and has taught in middle and high school and at the college level. She has served as director for curriculum and instructional development at the
College Board as well.
Karen M. Wicks holds a doctorate from New York University and has taught in middle and high school and at the college level. She has served as director for curriculum and instructional development at the College Board. She and her husband Les created a supplemental education company. They subsequently co-founded the K-12 public school, Royal Live Oaks Academy of the Arts & Sciences Charter School, in South Carolina, where Karen has been the Executive Director/CEO since 2012. Her creative pursuits are wide-ranging: writing, singing, cooking, designing, gardening, and collecting art. Les and Karen have traveled widely and feel blessed to have made many long lasting friendships.
Karen has been journaling throughout her adult life, and writing a novel has percolated over time. She lives her life with an open heart and mind and is passionate about making a difference for others. One of her favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa: I alone can’t change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
What was an early experience when you learned that language had power?
My father planted and pastored churches in the remote mountain regions of West Virginia. He was also an accomplished tenor who, with us, his family, led the congregation in worship. My mother was the Sunday School and youth director, who wrote plays in which we performed. She taught us how to teach younger children and how to encourage nursing home residents and be welcoming to people we didn’t know. From the age of ten or so, I typed my father’s sermons on a Royal typewriter, so I understood as a youngster the value of carefully chosen words to minister to and exhort others. I learned that words have the power to heal or to hurt and can inspire action. Through the gift of music, I discovered that the songs that deeply moved me had the power to transform the listener’s thinking as well. After I left home for college, over the years my mother wrote letters that stirred my heart and sustained me during difficult moments. In the last few years of her life, she dictated to me some of her life story as a way of sharing her heart with my siblings and me. As a result of my parents’ example and mentorship, I have always known that language has enormous power and should be used judiciously.
How often do you base your characters on real people?
I believe that our lives inform our writing; the two are inextricably intertwined. However, none of my characters are actual people I’ve known.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have written 3 novels, two of which need rewriting and editing, and I have written sections of my memoir. I’m in the process of writing the sequel to my published novel Twisted Silver Spoons.
Do you find writing therapeutic?
Writing helps me process my feelings and provides perspective on my life experiences. When I write longhand, my inner critic is silent and my writing takes me where it wants to go.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing a novel?
The most difficult aspect of writing a novel is the process of rewriting, refining, and editing. I write in longhand to unlock my creativity. Once I type it, my editing brain kicks into gear, and my need to make it perfect both helps and limits me in producing a final product.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
The act of writing energizes me. The thought of sitting down to write enervates me, because my critical brain tells me that what I produce may not be good enough for others to read. I know that just writing whatever comes to mind creates flow and is the pathway to indescribable joy.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t listen to those who try to stifle your voice, your creativity, and the person you were created to be.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Over the course of my adult life, I have read widely, from historical works, biographies, autobiographies, classical literature (prose and poetry) in several languages, to spiritual books, books about leadership, and books on the writing life. This wide range of works has filled my creative reservoir. My perspective on the difference between writing to make money and writing to uncover the soul has changed over time.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing my first novel changed the trajectory of my writing. I now have different journals for different types of writing, and I jot down snippets of ideas throughout the day rather than waiting until I have a dedicated period of time to develop my thoughts.
How do you select the names of your characters?
The names of my characters are selected based on a particular trait I want to highlight or on individuals in my life who have had a profound impact on me, both positive and negative
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