Guest Post: How I Came To Write Twin-Bred By Karen A. Wyle
Twin-Bred owes its existence to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short, or NaNo for shorter). During NaNo, authors or would-be authors all over the world attempt to write a rough draft of a novel, at least 50,000 words, entirely within the month of November. As a child, I had dreamed of being a novelist — indeed, of being the youngest novelist ever to be published. I was quite unhappy to learn, at age ten, that a nine-year-old British girl had pulled that ambition out from under me. Fast forward several decades. Inspired by my older daughter, who did NaNo for the first time in 2009, I decided to give it a whirl in November 2010.
I have been a science fiction fan most of my life, so when — at the end of October — I sat down to come up with some book ideas, science fiction kept happening. (I have since written and published “The Baby,” the first in a series of stories based on one of those ideas.) At about the same time, I read an article about amazing interactions between twins in utero, captured on video. The researchers had found synchronized movement, touching, even kissing. Either the article or a comment on the article mentioned the traumatic, often devastating, impact on those whose twin — identical or fraternal — had died in utero or shortly after birth.
Straining this information through the science fiction filter in my mind, I imagined a scientist seeking to overcome the comprehension gap between two intelligent species by way of the bond between twins. It would be natural for the scientist who conceived this idea to be a twin. It would add emotional depth to the story if she were a twin survivor. And for added strangeness and interest, what if she had somehow kept her lost twin alive as a companion, who could be a character in the story?…
I have always been fascinated by communication issues and the struggle to understand what is different. I also find myself returning constantly to the themes of family relationships, unintended consequences, and unfinished business. All these threads wove together to form the story of Twin-Bred.
When I started writing, I had only my main character, scientist Mara Cadell, and her lost twin Levi, plus a few notes of possible scenes. I believe I was at least one week into NaNo before I had any notion of how the book would end. For me, the process of writing a novel confirmed Stephen King’s description of the novelist as akin to a paleontologist uncovering a fossil, piece by piece. I often felt that I was discovering my plot and characters rather than creating them. (I would add that like many a paleontologist, I was not always sure of the proper arrangement of my fossil fragments.)
I spent much of the next ten months after NaNo 2010 editing and expanding the rough draft of Twin-Bred, and finally self-published it as a paperback and ebook in mid-October. I completed the process on October 15, 2011 — my novel-writing daughter’s twentieth birthday.
Writing Twin-Bred was an immensely gratifying experience. I went on to write the rough draft of a second, unrelated novel in August 2011 during a somewhat stripped-down summertime version of NaNo called “Camp Nano.” As I write this post, I have just finished NaNo 2011, during which I completed the rough draft of a sequel to Twin-Bred.
Synopsis: Can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb? After seventy years on Tofarn, the human colonists and the native Tofa still know very little about each other. Misunderstanding breed conflict, and the conflicts are escalating. Scientist Mara Cadell’s radical proposal: that host mothers of either species carry fraternal twins, human and Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Mara lost her own twin, Levi, in utero, but she has secretly kept him alive in her mind as companion and collaborator.
Mara succeeds in obtaining governmental backing for her project – but both the human and Tofa establishments have their own agendas. Mara must shepherd the Twin-Bred through dangers she anticipated and others that even the canny Levi could not foresee. Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely?
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005VDVHQ2
Smashwords (various ebook formats): http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/94490
CreateSpace (paperback): https://www.createspace.com/3541557
About The Author:
Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee. Her father was an engineer, and usually mobile for that era: she 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. She now considers herself a Hoosier.
Karen’s childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9. She finished that novel nonetheless, attempted another at age 14, and then shifted to poetry. She made a few attempts at short stories in college, and then retired from creative writing until starting a family in her mid-30’s inspired her to start writing picture book manuscripts. She produced startlingly creative children, the elder of whom wrote her own first novel in 2009, at age 18, with the help of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Intrigued, Karen decided to try NaNo in 2010. She completed a very, very rough rough draft of her science fiction novel Twin-Bred and spent the next ten months editing it. She is self-publishing Twin-Bred with a rollout date of October 15, 2011 — her older daughter’s birthday.
Karen’s principal education in writing has been reading. She has been a voracious and compulsive reader as long as she can remember. Do not strand this woman on a plane without reading matter! Karen 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 most useful preparation for writing novels, besides reading them, has been the practice of appellate law — in other words, writing large quantities of persuasive prose, on deadline, year after year. Whereas in college, a 3-page paper would require hours of pacing the dormitory hallway and pounding her head on its walls, she is now able to sit down and turn out words with minimal angst. She has one professional writing credit, an article published in the Indiana Law Journal Supplement and, with minor modifications, in the monthly magazine of the Indiana State Bar Association. This article was a “third place recipient” of the Harrison Legal Writing Award. Whatever that means, it comes with money, a plaque, and a free lunch.
Karen has completed a rough draft of a second novel, tentatively titled Reflections, which is general fiction. It has two alternative elevator pitches: “Death is what you make it” and “Do you need courage in heaven?” She hopes to start the sequel to Twin-Bred later this fall.
Karen’s 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 law practice. 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.