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


Keep Yourself Alive

April 30, 2006

May Newsletter from the desk of Karen Brichoux


*Article: Keep Yourself Alive
*What Iím Reading


*See the article.

*If you would like to be added to my snail-mail mailing list to receive a postcard informing you of upcoming releases (this amounts to one postcard a year and is the only thing I will send you), send me your mailing address at email@karenbrichoux.com Please put ďmailing listĒ in the subject line. The amount of spam lately is making it difficult to figure out what is legitimate e-mail (this goes for all e-mail). I try to always respond when I receive an e-mail (even if it takes a few days), so if you donít get a reply, I probably didnít get your e-mail.

*Article: Keep Yourself Alive

Any of you--and Iím dating myself--who are Queen fans will recognize the title as the first song on Queenís first album (which is one of my two favorite Queen albums; the other is Queen II). I spent some time debating the efficacy of writing this newsletter. I figured that some people would think it was an attempt at gaining sympathy; others would see it as a whetstone for grinding an ax. Neither is true. I want it to be a glimpse into how writing is like any other job (filled with insecurity), while also allowing me talk about the value of surrounding yourself with people--real, famous, or imaginary--who are able to inspire you.

First, my publisher, New American Library, and I have decided to part ways. FALLING INTO THE WORLD will be my last womenís fiction novel. This is, frankly, somewhat terrifying. Before I became a published author, I had the naive belief that being published was the big goal. Reach that goal, and you were good to go. From there on out, it was only a matter of turning in manuscripts and watching your name move up the ranks to the best seller list.

Itís not quite like that. (Understatement.) Believe it or not, itís actually easier to write books when you arenít under pressure to produce something the publisher will not only like but will know what to do with. Publishing is a business. A creative business, yes, but itís still a business. For both the publisher and the author. And sometimes, parting company is a necessity for one or both.

So, Iím striking out in a new direction and writing a book which I think better suits my voice and style. The book Iím working on is different from anything Iíve attempted before. My vision of the world and people wonít be different, but I want to be free to explore my naturally cynical and satirical voice within the framework of a story about humans and humanity, communities, and hope. I havenít always been able to do that comfortably within the womenís fiction framework--a fact my publisher pointed out.

Do I have a publisher for this new book? No. And just like I did before I was published, I will find a job to pay the bills while I write the whole book (my writing style does not lend itself to proposals); then Iíll start beating a path to editorsí doors. I may even have to beat a path to agentsí doors, should my agent not like this new direction. But those are risks Iím going to have to take to follow this dream of continuing to publish on my own terms.

Which brings me back to Queen and the importance of surrounding myself with people who inspire me. While Iím writing, I like to listen to music written by people who have gone all out and stayed true to their particular vision. That usually has me reaching for CDs by Queen and Led Zeppelin. Iíve adopted them as unofficial mentors. Here are some lessons theyíve taught me:

* Be willing to wait for the right moment, even if it means delaying a release by three years.
* Protect your work at all costs.
* Refuse to take the industryís word for what will and what wonít work. If everyone listened to what other people tell them won't work, there would be nothing new under the sun.
* Trust your instincts; trust your unique vision.
* Do whatever job is necessary--including selling used clothing at market fairs--to keep yourself alive while you follow your creative dreams, but donít give up.
* Constantly feed the creative urge.
* Maintain some ambiguity.
* Never settle for less than you deserve.
* Never settle for less than your best creative work.
* Love your audience.
* Love the world around you. Itís an exciting place.

So, as the song says: ďKeep yourself alive. Itíll take you all your time and money; honey, youíll survive.Ē

In the meantime, newsletters may be a bit sporadic for the summer months; however, Iíll pick things back up in the fall.


*What Iím Reading:


GOLDEN AGE by Kenneth Grahame

SUMMERLAND by Michael Chabon


THIEF LORD by Cornelia Funke