Karen Faris was nice enough to take time out of her hectic schedule to chat with us today. It’s great having you here today on the release day for your third novel in the Grumbles series, Grumbles the Novel, Book Three: How Many Pills Did You Take?
It’s great to be here, Mousey.
Karen, what made you first want to be a writer?
Some sort of brain chemistry imbalance I’d imagine. LOL!
On a serious note, writing is a way of ordering the world, of putting in the pieces you want people to see and omitting things so that there’s space to notice different things. I write because in addition to seeing the trees and the forest, I see the spaces between things and want you to see them too.
What do you write?
Lol! Such a good question because it sounds simple and it’s not. I am a marketer’s nightmare! I write everything, often in the same book. Grumbles the Novel is a platform book in the same way that Harry Potter is a platform book (although that’s where the resemblance ends, apologies to J.K. Rowling for invoking her amazing books) in that a new world is offered to you for discovery and you have to read beyond the beginning to understand it. But once you get the concepts, understand the names and the food and the setting and so forth, you are off and running.
In Grumbles, don’t expect witchcraft, expect pills instead of food. Beer instead of water. Expect the post office to be an agent of change. Expect an evil weatherman. Expect toxic bubbling pools. Houses made of Legos and duct tape. People living in their vehicles. Invasive plant species. Animals that have been altered. People who have been altered. Trollmen. A princess. A politician and a partridge in a pair tree. No, that last one’s not right. How about three twins? How about people arrested for growing and harvesting real food. And of course, there are pirates because no story is complete without a role for Johnny Depp. It’s a comedy. It’s a romance. It’s Grumbles the Novel. It’s all about trust.
That sounds very interesting, and comical. Why do you choose the genre you do?
I have a special affinity for science fiction or speculative fiction or the latest category, climate fiction. These genres explore ideas and the relationships of people to their societies. I can’t tell you how many times I read the Asimov Foundation series and Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Read the books. Listened to the radio series. Saw the television show. What they all have in common is that they talk about our present world under the guise of tomorrowlands and otherworldliness. It seemed like a perfect genre for Grumbles.
Also, you can overthink these things. I started the story and this is how it came out.
Climate fiction is very important. It helps get a message out through storytelling. What do you hope readers will take away from your stories?
Oh gosh! How loaded a question is that. First and foremost, I hope they come away feeling that the time they’ve invested in the story was worth it and that they were ‘entertained’ in whatever way is most meaningful to them, whether it be for the cautionary tale of environmental woe, the spoof on spies, the romance, the political satire or the puns, jokes and wordplay, that they got their entertainment value out of it. There’s just so much in these books. I hope readers come for one part and stay for the whole thing.
The other thing is that I hope these Grumbles novels give people pause to wonder why the world looks like it does. One percent of the population should not have so much of the wealth. If this keeps up, it’ll be a very scary future for most of us.
So, tell us, Karen, what is your creative process like?
Interesting question. There’s a lot of humor and funny bits in Grumbles. I love word play. Love it! Every time I tried to write a straight story, in walked the snark to write the jokes so I just had to meld that into the Grumbles books to get it out of my system.
For me, writing humor is often a multi-step process. Sometimes the joke is obvious and right there. But most of the time, you lay down part of the joke and you know it’s going to work but don’t exactly know all the details yet and you have to keep going back to it to get the shiny bits of golden nugget guffaws out of it and every time you change something, that means other things change too. It’s very mercurial. Having said that, it’s like any other creative endeavor. You have an idea and that’s the fun part. After that you slog away, day in day out trying to perfect it. Days, weeks, months, sometimes years go by and there you are sitting at your desk pulling out your (by now) grey hair wondering why you do it. Then you read Asimov’s answer to the question of why do you write where he says he writes because he breathes and he’d die if he didn’t do this and you think oh yeah, that’s why, I don’t want to die. But I’m just as partial to the chemical imbalance of the brain idea.
What kicks the brain into gear when you have writer’s block?
I’m not a big believer in the “writers block” phenomena. Not that writers don’t experience periods of stagnation and times when everything seems impossible, but when that happens, best to take out a different project and work on that or keep sitting there and eventually, that feeling will fall away and the words will start to simmer and boil over again. If that doesn’t work, then I go for a run or a swim or a bike ride and relax enough to let the answer float to the surface. You always know your own answers.
Have you ever traveled? If so, what is your favorite place you have ever visited?
Florence, Italy. The art, the people, the food. Please, I’m clicking my heels. Send me back!
It’s fun to travel. My pal Doggie and I travel a lot. We have a tons of fun accomplishing so much during our visits and chats with people. What would you consider one of your greatest accomplishments?
Not giving up on the writing of the Grumbles the Novel. Writing something that is layered and nuanced takes a long time. It can’t be done in two months. It’s very isolating. Many people don’t believe that when you are writing you are actually busy, that it is an activity and constitutes productive work. It’s a strange attitude we have towards the makers of art. We want their product but belittle and devalue the time it takes to produce it.
I’m glad you didn’t give up. Grumbles is a wonderful, humorous story. I chuckled a lot while reading it. What is your favorite part about being a writer?
Please don’t think less of me for saying my favorite thing about being a writer is writing! It really is. I love being in what I call the bubble world. When I write, it’s not me who’s writing. The characters are alive to me, living their own lives. I’m just the typist of the transcript. Just the other day, I was out on a run and in one of my new stories, Heather, the protagonist, is looking for televisions that have been left at the curb. Well, I ran by a television and seriously thought, oh look, there’s one. I should tell Heather where it is. As if she really existed. That’s my hard-wiring. I exist therefore my characters do.
What makes you see red?
You sure you really want to ask me this one? You do know that the trilogy is called Grumbles the Novel? At its most basic level the thing that really gets me worked up is people not respecting other people. The other way to look at it, and it’s the same as the above, is the way that the government and its leaders have aided and abetted the corporate culture for profit at the expense of the average person’s well being. I guess that’s it!
If you could offer any piece of advice, what would it be?
Use your powers for good. Surround yourself with positive people, with people who believe in you and who respect you for who you are.
Oh boy…. I’ve been slawed.Karen, please tell us where we can find you around the web.
Social Media & Links for Grumbles the Novel
I hope you enjoyed the interview with Karen Faris. Please join us in congratulating her on
her latest release: Grumbles the Novel, Book Three: How Many Pills Did You Take?