I met Garalyn Wichers after reading her fantastic book, Sons of Earth. She graciously agreed to do an interview. My review will be posted later this week.
Tell us about you. What do you write?
I write speculative fiction, lately tending toward Dystopian. While I don’t stray far from “real life,” my stories always have a twist. I like to ask the question, “What if this happened?” In the case of Sons of Earth, the question was, “What if humans could be mass manufactured?” (B: I love this premise!)
I also blog about my love of running and healthy eating at runningbumblebee.wordpress.com. It’s kind of an outlet for the obsession, since my friends and family are a little sick of hearing about it! (B: Be sure to check it out!)
Has there been a progression through genres for you?
I wrote three unpublished fantasy novels before I wrote and published my first novel, We are the Living, a love story set in a zombie apocalypse. I’ve loved the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings since I was a young teen, and I’ve enjoyed making up my own worlds since I was a child. Lately I’ve been mentally building a fantasy world just for fun. Maybe I’ll return to fantasy soon. (B: Let me know when you do. As much as I love LotR and the Chronicles, AND your writing in Sons of Earth, I’d love to read it!)
How did you come up with “Sons of Earth”? Do you recall where or how the idea first struck you? What do you wish to accomplish with “Sons of Earth”? Do you often grapple with these weighty subjects within your works?
I remember the moment quite well, actually. I’d just begun working at the pharmaceutical factory where I work now. After almost two weeks of training in vast procedures, I was working in process cleaning (basically, dishwashing on an industrial scale). I mused about the practice of ‘rejecting’ any product that didn’t meet specification. For some reason, my mind jumped to cloning. What if we were mass-producing clones instead of medications? What if they were out of specification? Well, then they would be ‘rejected.’ I played with this idea for a while, but it wasn’t until late October, when I began preparing for my first National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) that I fleshed out the idea into a plot.
In regards to the ideas within the book, and what I set out to accomplish: I never set out to be didactic. I don’t write a story to teach a lesson. I write a story to tell a story, and hope that people learn from them. Let me make that very clear. I don’t like heavy handed moralizing. I don’t write allegories. That being said, in the latter stages of writing Sons of Earth, I was involved in conversations with a friend, in which the value of human life played a factor. We fell on opposite sides of the debate about abortion and human rights. I thought a lot about how my Christian faith affects my view of humanity–that each human being is inherently valuable. They aren’t valuable based on their use to me. They are valuable just because they are human, an image-bearer of God. As a result, I saw even more clearly the themes of human value that I could tease out of the story.
Bokerah, you asked me if this is a pro-life story. Yes, I suppose it is–but not specific to the abortion debate. It’s also about racism, classism, other sexual orientations, or anyone we might discriminate against. Dominic and Sebastian are clones. Justine and Casey are poor, blue-collar workers. Khalia is an educated career woman who hides a drug problem and the scars of an abusive relationship. They all long to be treated like the valuable human beings they are. They all demonstrate that, despite what their society says about them, they have a contribution to make and a mark to leave.
The clones are seen as non-humans. I had some people challenge me, saying that would never happen. But I say that we dehumanize each other in small ways every day. We see ourselves as deep characters with good motives, intentions, and dreams but we see our dragon-lady supervisor as a one-dimensional, evil witch. She’s not a person like us, she’s just bad. At the McDonalds drive-through we ignore the cheerful greeting over the speaker, and spout out our order like we’re speaking into a dictaphone. Don’t even get me started on YouTube comment debates. So if we’re so willing to overlook the humanity of others in these small ways, who’s to say that we couldn’t convince ourselves that a certain group of people weren’t people? I’m pretty sure that’s already happened.
Is that too long of an answer, Bokerah? 🙂 (B: It’s perfect! I think I fan-girled at least three times during this answer. 😀 )
Where do you find inspiration? What do you do for writer’s block?
I consider reading novels and watching movies an integral part of my job as a writer. I find inspiration, often, in the smallest detail or secondary character. Someone will twig my interest, and I’ll be off, building a character around that idea. The character almost always comes first. The world and the plot come second and third.
For writer’s block, the best solution seems to be to plow through and write crap until the good stuff comes again. But prevention is the best cure. Running keeps my mind alert, and reading keeps it full of ideas.
As a writer, what’s next for you?
I am currently writing the second book in a trilogy (the first book is unpublished) that I hope to publish spring of 2016. The story is, once again, in the real world with a twist. The twist is that there is a secret society of Immortals among us. The story follows an Immortal as he is initiated into the society. He soon becomes a pawn in a century-old feud between powerful Immortals. He himself has never come to grips with his immortality, and over the trilogy fights to find the courage to make something of his long, long life instead of trying to find a way to die. There are some fantastic characters in play in this story. It spans two continents. I’ve got a blue collar worker, a history professor, a knight, a mixed martial arts fighter, a couple who fell in love after she shot him by accident. It has a lot of potential. I hope I can sort out the whole story.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
I am a new writer. Ha ha ha. (B: You’ve written / published one! You’re not so new as you might think.)
Work hard and be humble. Be willing to take advice and criticism. Likely, you’re not a good writer. That’s okay, you’re new. If you were good right off the bat, all the veterans would hate you because they had to get good the old-fashioned way: hours and hours of writing and studying their craft. Join a writers group. Get a critique partner who actually knows what they are talking about and will tell you the truth. Hire an editor. Be willing to trash your first novel instead of publishing garbage. Then, maybe you’ll get to be pleasantly surprised when people actually like your stuff!
B: Thank you for rocking this interview, Geralyn. I can’t wait to read your next bunch of awesome!
Geralyn Wichers is a writer and blogger, who also moonlights as a manufacturing operator at a large factory. When she’s not wearing a respirator and handling hazardous chemicals, Geralyn is either writing about the impending zombie apocalypse or training to survive it by running long distances.