#GuestPost: The Point Of Writing Fiction By Karen A. Wyle
When I was a child and believed wholeheartedly that I was “born to be a writer,” I don’t think I asked myself the point or purpose of writing fiction. (In retrospect, I’m somewhat surprised at that. After all, I did ask myself such metaphysical questions as whether I would be, in the morning, the same person who fell asleep the night before.) To the extent I made assumptions on the subject, they had something to do with public acclaim. I intended to become a famous novelist, and that was for some reason a very important goal.
I did, of course, love reading. Before I could actually read, I would sit in bed with a big stack of picture books and leaf through one after another. One of the greatest continuities of my life, from about age seven onward, is the desire to spend any arguably spare moment engrossed in a book. I do manage to pull myself away to take walks, take photographs, take photographs on walks, and spend the occasional hour with friends; but I love reading almost as much as my family and more than chocolate. And I do love chocolate.
Not until the last few years, when I finally fulfilled my childhood ambition of writing novels, did it consciously occur to me that I was providing other readers with the satisfaction I have for so many years found in reading. I’ve also discovered that the thrill and awe of writing fiction – of creating characters, the worlds they live in, and the journeys they make – has very little to do with the size of my audience, which I’ve never really attempted to calculate. My characters, especially, have, for me, a tangible, independent, continuing reality, and their existence fills me with joy.
Stephen King, in his marvelous book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, mentions another benefit authors receive, often without expecting it. King states (and I paraphrase, as I put the book in some especially clever location) that writers don’t so much create their stories as discover them, like a paleontologist or archaeologist digging up a fossil. Writing fiction is full of surprises. Scenes veer off from the path the writer had charted for them; characters refuse to follow directions. Or, most exciting, one may discover that a particular fragment has greater importance than one initially assumed. A detail that initially looks like unimportant set decoration can later reveal itself as the pivot on which the plot turns.
Authors may also stumble upon truths about their own preoccupations. Romance author Roni Loren explains (at http://roniloren.com/blog/2012/8/29/finding-your-novels-theme-and-your-universal-theme.html) that it took a friend’s comment to show her that her novels “are all about healing and self-acceptance.” I haven’t had such a concise moment of revelation; but describing my books in various places has helped me to realize that relationships, communication issues, and unfinished personal business recur in my work and must be among my fundamental concerns. (Science fiction is a terrific tool for addressing all sorts of themes, from personal to social to political.)
In sum, I am deeply thankful that I found a way to return to my childhood dream, which had so much more to give me, as well as others, than I realized at the time.
Can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb? This is the question that launched the Twin-Bred series.
As the series begins, humans have lived on Tofarn, planet of creeks and rivers, for seventy years, but they still don’t understand the Tofa. The Tofa are an enigma, from their featureless faces to the four arms that sometimes seem to be five. They take arbitrary umbrage at the simplest human activities, while annoying their human neighbors in seemingly pointless ways. The next infuriating, inexplicable incident may explode into war.
Scientist Mara Cadell’s radical proposal: that host mothers carry fraternal twins, human and Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Mara knows about the bond between twins: her own twin, Levi, died 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?
The saga continues in Reach, Book Two, and in the newly released Leaders, Book Three.
Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. She now considers herself a Hoosier. Wyle’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.
Wyle is an appellate attorney, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two daughters. 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 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.