Welcome to Reviews and Interviews first interview with an author from BK Walker Books virtual book tour. Here is a listing of the full schedule.
Please tell us a bit about your newest book, Swimming with Wings:
Swimming With Wings is largely a romance, but unlike your typical bodice ripper, or gothic romance, the sexual tension between the characters Lark and Peter is set amidst their coming of age stories in a time when New Age spirituality was just budding. Imagine a town where folk medicine, church non-attendance, and ancestry are as much a marker for discrimination as is race. Set in the 1970’s , a time mired in cults and evangelism, and based on an actual Savannah River town, where the largest U.S. population of Irish Traveler gypsies resides, Swimming with Wings is a soulful romance. It’s about finding a compass amidst the nebulous co-ordinates of spirituality and the pressures of small-town gossip; searching for the lodestone to personal truths in order to come together with a true soul mate against all these odds.
What inspired you to write this book?
Swimming with Wings was written partially in response to my observation of a lack of fiction that addresses new age spirituality, but also because it’s a story I’ve carried around inside of me for a long time. It was spun off of a short story I wrote over twenty years ago and it always would nag at me to be written in novel length. It expresses much of what I myself went through while growing up. Faced with ever-increasing conflicts in a world of religious diversity, I’ve always been a soul searcher. So this novel tells that story of finding spiritual connection in a world constrained by religious dogmas.
What kind of research do you do to make your novels realistic?
My research is integrated as I go along in my writing process and sort of happens organically. Though a lot of my work is initially inspired by my own experiences and places I’ve been, the story expands well beyond that as it should, in order to take on a life of its own. As I touch on a subject, such as the Irish Traveler gypsies, or the town of Polignano a Mare in Swimming with Wings, I’ll dig through several sources, books at the library, reports at historical societies or the internet, until I have attained a true handle of the facts. I enjoy this part of writing as it often will spur on a whole new direction in the story and in the end it adds true depth to the novel.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been one to express myself creatively from the time I was a child. I think visually and paint in acrylics and watercolors and I have been writing from the time I first was able to form letters and words with that big fat green pencil they give you in first grade. I received a very exciting beginning to writing when in second grade I won second place, a beautiful gold watch, in a county-wide writing contest on fire prevention. That meek beginning was the type of encouragement which can be life-altering for children, and in my case, it certainly was. Later I majored in English, even though I had started out as an art major, and all of my real world careers have had me writing in one capacity or another, from exhibit copy for an art museum to advertising copy to medical text editing to promotional media in real estate.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My most interesting writing quirk is that I usually write the ending first. The rest is the journey I create to get there.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write in spurts that would be classified as hyper-time or overdrive, rather than what you would term full-time. When I’ve got a story living and breathing inside of me it has to come out, so I’ll sometimes stay up until 4:00 am. This is largely due to the fact that my time is otherwise so compartmentalized. I’m the mother of five children, mostly all grown now, except for my two remaining high school students; I work about 30 hours a week as a Real Estate Assistant; and I paint as well. Both my painting and my writing are a creative outlet that fuels the rest of my life.
There really is no regularity to my workday. I’m constantly having to switch gears, but this is something that I’m used to after twenty-one years as a working mother, and I actually embrace this mode now, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to accommodate the fullness of my life. This is not to say that there is no consistency. While scheduling may be irregular, I think I’ve mastered organization and the ability to role switch very efficiently and thereby maintain continuity within each one, including the content of my creative projects.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your newest book?
The most surprising thing that I learned while writing Swimming with Wings, was a synchrony I discovered about myself and Benjamin Paul Akers, the true life sculptor of the Dead Pearl Diver, a statue that takes center stage for Lark, the female character, and her outlook on life. In addition to being a sculptor, he was an art critic for The Atlantic Monthly in the 1860’s and his critical theory was very much in alignment with my own musings about the role of art to the artist, namely that expression is a form of communion with the universe, or what many call God. I found this to be a very progressive, even New Age-like idea for someone in the 1860’s. And I discovered this after I had already written many parts of the story that address this idea.
Where can folks learn more about your book?
Swimming with Wings, can be purchased at the Web site, where three different venues are linked for their convenience.
I will also be doing a live chat on May 27 at 7:30PM EST as part of the tour.
Lee, thank you for your time today. Good luck with your book, and have fun on the virtual book tour!
My next guest for the tour is April 13, Lillian Brummet.