The Wishing Steps
|Karen Helene Walker|
I would like to welcome writer and author Karen Helene Walker to my blog today. Karen has been a published writer for many years and has recently completed her début novel, The Wishing Steps, which is available in print and e-book format at the end of the month.
Welcome, Karen. I am honoured and very excited to share my blog with you today.
Thank you so much for having me here.
Firstly, I would like to ask you about your writing journey and what inspired you to write The Wishing Steps?
I was happily writing nonfiction and had been doing so for 35+ years. While vacationing in Scotland, I was exploring the 2,000-year-old burial ground at Balnauran Clava when a voice that wasn’t mine but was inside me said, “Tell my story.” I asked it to go away, since I was on vacation, but it returned while I was standing on the wishing steps in the forest surrounding Blarney Castle in Ireland. When I returned home, I had to find out whom the voice belonged to and what story it wanted me to tell. The Wishing Steps is the result.
The story is about three women bound through time by a mysterious calling. Please will you give us a brief insight into their story?
Brighid, Ashleen and Megan: Bound through time by a curious light, a mysterious voice and a call they dare not ignore. Yet in obeying this strange force, the women not only see their lives alter beyond recognition, but must navigate the violence and scorn of a world that cannot accept their unorthodox ways.
The women can and do, but not before facing soul-searing trials that call into question everything they know and believe — about themselves and about the world around them.
The cover is amazing, Karen. Did you input into its design?
Oh, Nicola, you have no idea how happy that makes me. Yes, I had input. I had a vision of the cover – a full moon, a dense woods, and women in a circle, but in order to create that I would have had to find an illustrator who could capture what I imagined. Instead, this wonderful photographer, Kathleen Messmer, said she could create something using Photoshop. What you see as the cover is her creation of the images I envisoned.
During their journey towards ‘widsom’ the three main characters endure immense pain, both physical and emotional. How difficult was it to write about their suffering?
Very. I think that’s one of the reasons the book took six years to complete. There is a rape and domestic violence in Part I. After writing the rape scene, I think it was months before I could return to the book because I didn’t want to know how it had affected Brighid. There is torture and a witch burning in Part II. These are not graphically depicted, so readers need not worry about being grossed out, but emotionally, as a writer, it was gut-wrenching. I don’t think you can write realistic scenes without feeling what your characters are feeling. At least I couldn’t.
The journey begins in Ireland and later returns to Scotland and Ireland. Do you have links with these Celtic countries or what made you choose this setting for your story?
I have no Celtic heritage whatsoever that I am aware of. I studied Celtic mythology and a Celtic form of Wicca for years. My spiritual journey is eclectic. I was born Jewish, became Christian in my twenties, and have been a “spiritual seeker” ever since. Scotland and Ireland were mystical, magical lands to me and for whatever reason, this voice, whom I’ve come to call Goddess, came to me while I was there. She comes to me still at home in New Mexico, too.
When I develop characters, I tend to draw on some of my own traits, negative and positive as well as the characteristics of people I’ve met in life. Did you do that when developing your strong female characters or are they purely created from your imagination?
I’m sure there are aspects of me in all the characters in this story, including the men, since they came from me, but it wasn’t conscious on my part. This story flowed through me almost as if it were automatic writing, especially the Goddess wisdom.
You have been a successful writer for many years Karen and in 2009 you published your memoirs, Following the Whispers. How did the discipline of writing your novel differ from your other work?
The two experiences were vastly different. First of all, the first words out of my mouth when I returned home from Scotland and Ireland and realized this voice wanted me to write a novel were, “I’m a nonfiction writer. I can’t write fiction.” That belief made this journey all the more difficult. The craft elements of fiction such as use of metaphors, similes, and writing lush descriptions, etc., do not come naturally to me. I am lucky enough to have a writing coach and editor whom I respect and love right here in Albuquerque, Mark David Gerson. His gentle guidance helped me overcome the fear.
Is there another novel in the pipeline?
Oh dear, there probably is. I’ve had an idea for one for years. If it returns and doesn’t leave me alone, as this voice didn’t leave me alone, I will write it. But for now, Goddess is asking me to write a companion piece to The Wishing Steps – one that contains the wisdom and guidance I received from Her while writing this book. I’m committing to that once The Wishing Steps is launched into the universe.
It has been a pleasure to interview you Karen and I wish you lots of success with The Wishing Steps. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy and can’t wait to delve into the story.
It’s been a pleasure answering your questions, Nicola. I love sharing parts of my spiritual journey and writing this book was a huge part of that journey for me.
Pre-order your copy of The Wishing Steps now at Amazon.