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


The Sum of Parts

April 12, 2007

April Newsletter from the desk of Karen Brichoux


*Article: The Sum of Parts
*What Iím Reading

*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 your address to email@karenbrichoux.com Please put ďmailing listĒ in the subject line. 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: The Sum of Parts

I was recently introduced to a short film called ďTygerĒ (you can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij1fZ25KaUI ) . On his main page, the film maker, Guilherme Marcondes, talks about how he wanted to bring disparate pieces together to create a meaningful whole. He had each piece of the film--the animation, live shots, puppetry, music--created by people who had no contact with or knowledge about the other pieces. All they had was the script. When all the pieces were finished, Marcondes brought them together and created this wonderful daydream based on William Blakeís poem.

While writing and film are--and should be--separate methods of communication, I found it fascinating to see the similarities between the conception of ďTygerĒ and my own current work-in-progress. While I wasnít able to hand four different people my idea and have them write a section of the book, I have worked through three or four ideas which have almost reached completion only to be rejected. The characters remain the same, but the story continues to change. Itís almost like the characters have pieces of their own and are, in their own ways, giving me disparate stories that I am trying to understand and piece together.

The main character is happiest when heís silent. He keeps all his thoughts to himself and nothing seems to reach him. Iíve been working with him for almost a year, and yesterday was the first time I actually began to understand him. Getting to know him has been one of those raw, painful, bloody experiences. His sister, meanwhile, hides behind a grating personality that has me wanting to strangle her, but underneath she is a mix of vulnerability, fear, anger, bitterness, and inherent goodness and concern for her family. His best friend . . . You get the point. These characters are all pieces of the whole, and unless I have each piece, the book is incomplete.

Iíve read any number of writing guides that talk about the creation of characters, but I think they create themselves. Yes, I know that logically they are merely pieces of my memory, imaginings, forgotten events, candy wrappers, all the things that float around in that big rattley space called my head, but itís not until those pieces come together than each character becomes, like the velveteen rabbit, real. And once they are real, they bring themselves to the book, allowing me to piece them together into a whole.

I only wish it werenít taking so long...

Have a wonderful spring!


What Iím Reading:
AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman (probably the best book Iíve read in years)