I am thrilled to welcome Katarina Bivald, author of ‘The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend to Meditating Mummy’s Mostly Bookish Blog.
This book is such a warm and inviting character filled story, about why we live our lives with a yearning for words. It celebrates a small but strong community in Broken Wheel Iowa, as they welcome a complete stranger into their midst. She, in turn, opens their hearts and minds to the beauty of reading and healing their wounds, through the magic of a community driven bookstore.
Tell us about the writing process, how do you handle the early stages of writing?
Not well. I kill all my plants. I promise myself faithfully to spend at least for hours by my writing desk (the kitchen table), coming up with “ideas”, and after five or ten minutes I find that it’s very boring to sit staring into space. So I take a walk around the apartment. And after a few turns in it, I start to feel slightly silly. So I pick up the watering can, just so that I can have something to do, and then I top up the plants a little. And apparently, if you water your plants four or five times a day, they die.
Do you listen to a particular genre of music when you read or do you need absolute silence and perhaps a cup of tea?
I need coffee. That’s vital. And I generally listen to country while I write: many of the great country songs are stories in their own right.
When you travel, how do you find the most comfortable place to read?
I find a place. That’s usually all it takes. It certainly helps if I can sit down, but I don’t really need anything else.
Did Sara and Amy speak to you as you began outlining the book?
Yes, and no. When I began writing the book – and I had no idea what I was doing, so it wasn’t really a matter of “outlining” it – someone spoke to me. Someone always does. But it wasn’t the Sara and Amy of the latter versions. They evolved gradually. But they certainly speak to me now.
Did Sara’s character have a mind of her own and direct you to Broken Wheel or did you have a different journey for her?
All my characters most definitely had a mind of their own. It’s what I love most about writing.
Was her relationship with Amy based on a pen pal you’ve had?
No. If anything, it was based on the pen pal or friend I dream about having.
I love how you crafted Sara and Amy’s relationship in layers, I began to feel such an emotional pull to them, Was this easy to maintain throughout the book?
Yes and no. It did take quite a lot of editing to make it work, especially since the whole book is sort of circular: the beginning marks the end of Sara and Amy’s friendship. So Sara knows quite a lot about the people of Broken Wheel, but the reader don’t, so it had to be balanced. Perhaps not difficult for any experienced writers, but I certainly wasn’t when I wrote it.
At the same time, Amy’s letters was perhaps the easiest part of the book to write: they sort of just wrote themselves. They still do: if I need advice on something in my life, I can still hear Amy’s words in my head.
All of your characters are lovable; they are a solid group. George had unexpected depth, I wanted his happy ending the most, did you enjoy creating his story and why?
I love all my characters, but I do have a particular fondness for George.
My favorite character is Caroline, underneath all that bravado there was a yearning to be someone else, How did you make her character so bold, so womanly and completely vulnerable?
I love all my characters, but I do have a particular fondness for Caroline. She appeared in my mind as a strong, no-nonsense sort of woman, active in the church; the kind of women that carries small towns on their shoulders, whether or not they get any credit for it. Then I asked myself: what would challenge her?
If a book has an impact on you, do you carry the story around with you for a while?Can you tell us about a book whose characters called out to you?
Yes, I carry the stories with me for a long time afterwards; sometimes years, sometimes all my life. A lot of characters have called out to me during the years, and they are with me still, as reliable friends to return to. Elizabeth Bennet, Idgie Threadgoode, Jack Reacher, to name just a few.
Tell us about life in Sweden. Other than reading, what do you like doing in your spare time?
I write, I read, I attend aqua aerobics in the middle of the day. It’s me and some twenty retired women; I am the youngest by at least thirty years. And whenever I can get my friend, who has a driving license, to take me, we go on small mini road trips together.
The Oak Tree Bookstore has done wonders for Community Based Book stores, Thank you so much for this beautiful book that reinforces for all of us who live in a world of words, why we read with such joy.
And thank you! Community based bookstores are incredibly important, I think. Anyone can order books they’ve heard about from internet based bookstores, but you need a community bookstore to discover the books you didn’t even know you were looking for.
A big thank you for visiting my Blog today.