Karen Brichoux

Current and Upcoming Books

Available Now
"Draws the reader into the story and never lets go." --RT Bookclub
"Brichoux reminds the reader how powerfully the landscape of 'home' can define a person." -- High Country News
Previously Released
"An exceptional novel." --Melissa Senate, author of The Solomon Sisters Wise Up
"A coup. Warm, smart, and original." --Kirkus Reviews


Fear and Loathing in My Office

October 5, 2004

October 2004 Newsletter from the desk of Karen Brichoux


*Article: ďFear and Loathing in My OfficeĒ
*What Iím Reading


CONTEST: Yes, given that October is my favorite month of the year (I love Halloween--all-natural decorations and NO PRESENTS to buy...what more could a person ask for?), I am having another contest. Itís fairly simple. All you have to do is visit my website (http://www.karenbrichoux.com), go to the Books page, and look at the cover for my new book THE GIRL SHE LEFT BEHIND. Now, what is the color of the womanís shirt? E-mail me the correct answer, and Iíll enter you in a drawing for your choice of a signed first- edition copy of either COFFEE AND KUNG FU or SEPARATION ANXIETY. Why am I doing this? Because....

COVER: ....Because I just received a smashing-good cover for THE GIRL SHE LEFT BEHIND. It captures perfectly the tone of the book, the weary determination of Katherine Earle, the long journey sheís taken to come full circle, and there is a lovely shot of the Montana mountains in the background. Iím so happy about this cover, I decided to have a contest that would get everyone over to my website to see it!

Article: Fear and Loathing in My Office
Melissa wrote:
ďI think a good idea for a newsletter topic would be the fear of writing. Putting your words down so you can write that novel that's been inside your head screaming to get out.Ē

Given the spooky season, I chose Melissaís question based purely on the idea of fear. I'm afraid of people sneaking up on me while I'm in the shower (I had a cat slide open the shower door once while my eyes were full of soap--scared me half out of my wits). I'm afraid of heights. But writing is one thing I am not afraid of. Iím afraid of not having an idea in my head screaming to get out!

When I first started writing full time, I did a lot of listening to other (usually wildly successful) authors. Most talked about nailing your butt into your chair (ow!) and making sure you wrote every day. Horrors! The terror of not being in front of my computer! I went at writing with this idea that if I didnít write fast enough, hard enough, and suffer enough, I wasnít really an author. I was a fake.

After suffering through two miserable failures that I can hardly call ďbooks,Ē I nailed the ďbutt in the chairĒ idea into a coffin and buried it.

Iíve been writing all my life. I love writing. It doesnít scare me. I donít need to nail my butt in the chair because I love actually putting the words down.

So butt nailing wasnít my problem. My problem was what I will call....Piddling Ideas. Ideas that are too small. Ideas that are too weak. Ideas that are too tired, too shriveled, too used up to be any good.

My ideas take a very long time to develop. At least six months, sometimes as long as nine months. Iím currently writing a draft for my fourth book. The initial germ of an idea came to me last December. It stayed dormant until this past August. During those eight months, the idea grew, changed, twisted, and metamorphosed into something that resembled the original germ about as much as a butterfly resembles a caterpillar.

The first time I let my ideas sit until they had grown to novel size, I was terrified. I thought I would never have a good idea again. I thought I was finished. Washed up. I was so desperate, that I grabbed onto the first idea I could come up with and started writing a book. At page 60, the book died a desperate death because the idea simply didnít have enough fuel to last for 330 pages. Alas.

Now that I know how long an idea takes, itís a little easier. I no longer panic when Iím not writing on the next book the week after I turn in the last.

That doesnít mean I donít write every day. I do. In between novel manuscripts, I write short stories, scenes, descriptions, and dialogue. Usually weird, twisted stuff that would land me in some kind of an asylum--and might yet, if I ever get enough of them to contemplate a collection.

So, in answer to Melissaís question, writing doesnít scare me. Waiting for the new idea to pupate scares me to death.

*What Iím Reading:

POST-CAPTAIN by Patrick OíBrian

And that, sadly, is it for the month. Iím busy writing and canít bear to sit still on golden autumn afternoons, so reading is taking a back seat to planting tulips, settling the fifty or so tropical plants into their indoor spots, that kind of thing. Happy Fall!