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


Flexibility and the Naughty Little Voices

October 12, 2007

Autumn Newsletter from the desk of Karen Brichoux


*Article: Flexibility and the Naughty Little Voices
*What Iím Reading


*October 14, 2007. I will be signing books and talking with readers at the River City Reading Festival in Lawrence, Kansas from 10-11 a.m. If you're in the area, please stop by. The Festival offers the chance to meet a large number of local authors of children's books, poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. For more information go to http://www.rivercityreadingfestival.org/

*I now have a Myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/karenbrichoux As a friend said, "You're only, like, three years out of date."

*I recently read an excellent blog entry by fantasy author Judith Tarr. If anyone would like to understand how it is that their favorite authors can disappear without a trace in the age of electronics (which should make disappearing awfully hard), hereís a nice explanation of how it works and why publishing is becoming the domain of debut fiction and best sellers; of trends without the variety provided by a healthy midlist: http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/post/PLNK20N2OQOOK1T1D

*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: Flexibility and the Naughty Little Voices

I am not flexible. I had a roommate who could stand in a door, put the bottom of one foot on the floor and the bottom of the other foot on the top of the door frame. She was flexible. She was also loads of fun, crazy as a goose, and willing to try anything. Her enthusiasm was infectious. In 1980s parlance, she said to me after reading my first short story, ďMy god, you are so a writer!Ē

I wish I were more like my old roommate. Instead, Iím an analytical sort of person. For example, my employer just handed out the group health insurance benefits information. Do I just sign up for what looks like the best plan? No. I read every jot and tittle, call every available person, ask all the right (and many wrong) questions. I hate to commit. (Especially when commitment means whacking a chunk of money out of my paycheck that is almost the size of my rent payment just so I can participate in what a recent news article on how children in the US get substandard care called ďthe highest-priced health-care system in the world.Ē)

Iíve committed whole-heartedly twice. To my spouse and writing. Iím crazy about both of them. The trouble with writing, however, is that it isnít a single entity. Itís a collective. The three Urges: Communication, Creation, and Storytelling. The Urges are pretty tame. Like slow-moving oxen, they plow the field at a steady pace and even when they balk, the balk has a reason quickly understood. But then there are the Naughty Little Voices. The Voices are like muses on steroids. They point out hundreds of new ideas for books every week. The only thing that will shut them up is routine, boring, day-to-day stuff (like my job-for-money-to-pay-the-rent-and-now-maybe-if-I-can-figure-out-if-I-can-pay-for-it health insurance). The Voices never enter the office with me. They hate buildings with no windows and spurn my cubicle no matter how well I try to color it up. They simply stop at the door, wave goodbye, and play in the leaves and sunshine for six and a half hours before meeting me when I walk out the door.

And they come up with new story ideas while they play in the leaves and whisper them to me as I drive home. The problem is, Iím not very flexible and the Voices are infinitely flexible. It doesnít matter to them if I am writing a modern, real-life story; they have an idea for a story about a treasure hunt on futuristic Mars.

My inflexibility used to be something of a necessity. An author has to be able to shut out other ideas while working on the current book. And generally, itís an unspoken rule that when an author sells a particular type of book to an editor, the next book the editor will see will be something along the same line. No editor is going to want to publish a story about a failing marriage followed by a story about two talking spaceships. Publishers are corporations and authors are their brands. I think it stinks, but Iím in the minority.

So, in the past, inflexibility has been a necessity. Sorry, Voices, but the talking spaceships are out.

Only now Iím not anyoneís brand. I actually have the chance to reinvent myself. The Voices are doing handsprings. And throwing out more ideas than ever before. The oxen are confused and milling around the field while I lean on the plow and try to decide if Iím going to plant wheat, corn, or blue potatoes. The Voices are sitting under the oak trees and making daisy chains.

Itís a crazy world. Crazy beautiful. And Iím trying to be flexible!

Play in the crunchy leaves and enjoy the best season of the year, no matter how flexible you are.


What I'm Reading:
THE ASSASSINI by Thomas Gifford
CROW LAKE by Mary Lawson
(and I'm waiting for and looking forward to Ann Packer's SONGS WITHOUT WORDS and Richard Russo's BRIDGE OF SIGHS)