Hi Karen. Welcome to Coffee Time Romance & More’s Interview Hot Seat! We have an entire bar of beverage choices from coffee to tea so grab your favorite brew and get comfortable as I’m very excited for readers to hear about Twyla’s Last Trip.
What an amazing storyline and beautiful tale and by that I mean “tale” not “tail” LOL although Dakota the adorable bloodhound is oozing with attitude and tends to want to hog the story.
First of all, why don’t we begin with some insights into Twyla’s Last Trip and then we’ll interrogate, I mean, obtain insights into Karen Mueller Bryson, the artist.
Tell us what inspired you to write Twyla’s Last Trip?
On the surface, one would not expect the death of a dear friend to be the inspiration for writing a romantic comedy but in my case, that is exactly what happened. I met Martha when we were both freshmen in college. We quickly became the best of friends and remained friends for the next 24 years. Although over time, our lives took us in different directions and we moved to separate parts of the country, Martha always remained in my heart. Unfortunately, as we approached middle age, Martha began a long battle with cancer. When she passed away in her mid-40s, she left behind a husband and pre-teen daughter. After her death, Martha’s husband and daughter decided to take an extended trip traveling across the country on Route 66. They took Martha’s ashes with them. It was a trip Martha had always wanted to take but never got the chance to. Martha’s husband and daughter chronicled their Rt. 66 trip through a blog they published online. Reading the blog every day, I felt like I was taking part in the trip with them. I also had the opportunity to see them when they passed through Arizona and my husband and I spent the day with them in Sedona.
Martha’s death struck me very hard. When she passed away, I felt like a big piece of my past was lost forever. I have very few memories of college and my early 20s that don’t include Martha. She was the Lucy to my Ethel. I decided to write something in Martha’s honor and Twyla’s Last Trip was born. The Rt. 66 trip that Martha’s husband and daughter took became the seeds of my romantic comedy about a young woman, Lucinda Starr, who must take her mother’s ashes on a trip on Rt. 66 in order to fulfill the requirements of her will and inherit her fortune. I still think about Martha almost every day. The loss of my dear friend left a hole in my heart that may never fully heal. But writing Twyla’s Last Trip was a small step in filling the void left by Martha’s death.
I found it fascinating and frankly brave to tackle a project so close to your heart. Is this the first time you’ve written something like this? Did it take your emotions into deeper territory not previously ventured into as a writer?
The first novel I wrote, Hey Dorothy You’re Not in Kansas Anymore, explored the feelings and experiences I had following my father’s unexpected death. I guess I dove into the deep water my first time out! Although most of my work could be classified as “comedic” I like to think that I also tackle serious issues in my stories.
How long did it take you to write Twyla’s Last Trip?
Twyla’s Last Trip was originally written as a screenplay then adapted into a novel. The entire process of writing the script then completing the novel adaptation took about six months.
Was the editing/revision process difficult or did you find the story wrote itself and you simply corrected grammar issues, etc…
I wrote the basic story pretty quickly but I left a lot of blank spaces that I came back to when I had time to do research. Since I have never actually taken the entire trip across the country on Route 66, I needed to do some heavy research to make the road-trip elements of the story believable.
Looking back, are there any scenes you wish you’d expanded on or rewritten?
Don’t most writers want to go back and rewrite earlier works with the knowledge and skills they acquire as they become better writers? I think it’s a common dilemma. But there are so many stories I still want to tell, I need to move forward and write those instead of looking back on my previous work.
Had you intended this to be the love story it is or did it just evolve naturally?
I always wanted the story to be a road-trip romance.
Tell us about the research involved while writing Lucinda and T.J.’s story.
I did a tremendous amount of research on Route 66 and the tourist attractions and sites along the way. The research process was a lot of fun and inspired me to take the trip one day.
Finally, what is it you’d like your readers to remember or walk away with after reading Twyla’s Last Trip?
Life is shorter than we ever expect. It’s important to appreciate your loved ones while you still have them in your life. Don’t get so wrapped up in career, status and material possessions because those things are not truly important.
Now…about Karen Mueller Bryson
How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first book (with my mom’s help) when I was four. I’ve been writing ever since! (That’s over 40 years. Yes, I am THAT old!)
What's your favorite color and why?
I don’t have a favorite color. I tend to favor the blues and purples but I also have my share of pink days as well!
What inspired you to pick the pen up one day and create characters that capture the imagination?
As soon as I learned to read (at four years old), I became obsessed with books and telling stories. As a child, whenever people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said, “a writer.” I actually sent my first query letter to a magazine when I was 11 years old. A childhood friend and I had developed a super hero series (Super Banana) that we wanted to get published.
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
When I first started writing, I definitely flew by the seat of my pants. Now, I tend to outline a bit but not meticulously. I like to keep myself open for the creative process. I may be led in an unexpected direction! I think writers can get blocked if they are too rigid about what they think should happen in a story rather than being open a variety of possibilities.
Do you use mood music, candles, no noise, when you write?
I prefer quiet when I write. Although, living with a husband and bloodhounds, that’s not always possible.
What do you do to relax and let the cares of the world go away for a bit?
Do your characters live with you when writing? Have you ever had them take over for a while when writing?
When I’m in the midst of writing a story, I think about the story and characters day and night and often dream about them. “Unseen forces” often take over when I’m writing. Sometimes when I go back and read over what I’ve written, I think, “Where did that come from? Did I actually write that?”
There’s a rumor circulating on a new biography you just released regarding one very special sports legend. Can you tell us who it’s about, the title, and where it’s available?
I recently released the biography of sports legend Cindy McCoy as part of my Short on Time Books series: fast-paced and fun stories for readers on the go.
Hell on Wheels: The Incredible Story of Rookie Roller Derby Queen Cindy McCoy reveals the details of Cindy McCoy's inspirational life story. Cindy escaped a difficult youth, in which she faced abuse and abandonment, by becoming a professional skater as a teen and traveling on an international roller derby team. Fans in Australia became like a surrogate family to young Cindy and she was soon voted Roller Game Rookie of the Year and Roller Game Queen of the Year, an honor that was never repeated. This moving narrative, about a young woman, who gave everything she had to the sport she loved, will appeal to fans of roller derby as well as readers of all ages just learning about this fascinating sport.
Here is the purchase link
Finally, because we are Coffee Time Romance & More, we have to ask each of our guests to tell readers the selected beverage you chose here today. Did you select the beverage due to diet restrictions or does it tell a deeper story about your own character and preferences?
Sorry, I don’t drink coffee or tea. I live in the hot Arizona desert so I normally just drink water.
LOL! I won’t tell the Mistress you didn’t drink our special brew today but you are so lovely, I doubt she’ll mind too much.
Thank you again, Karen. Your visit is a special one indeed and we hope you enjoyed it here and hope to see you back soon at Coffee Time Romance & More.