Saturday, October 6, 2012

Guest Post: Karen Wojcik Berner

Thank you to Karen Wojcik Berner for the two great Bibliophile books and the following guest post!

Musical Inspiration
By Karen Wojcik Berner

Thank you so much for having me here today.

People often ask writers where their ideas come from. The answer is pretty simple: everywhere. A news headline. A stroll around the neighborhood. Even a dream. Sometimes, the best ideas are inspired by other art forms, such as a painting or a sculpture, or, in my case, a song.

I come from a musical family. My father and I sang in choirs and neighborhood variety shows for most of my formative years, so music has always played a large role in my life. In fact, before becoming a writer, I briefly entertained the notion of trying my hand at it professionally. Of course, that was in junior high back, in 1978, when I thought I had a shot at making it as one of Barry Manilow’s back-up singers, then launching a solo career of my own.

Clearly, I was already creating fiction in my pre-teenage delusional head, so I definitely picked the right career.

Still to this day, one of my favorite things to do is jam my music, though, rest assured, I’ve come a long way from those Barry Manilow days. Turning up that volume is a great stress reliever. Yes, I am that woman you see driving a minivan with the windows down, blaring Florence + the Machine. And speaking of Florence, what a voice! Fantastic, right? But I digress.

This penchant for loud music stems from living in a third-floor apartment when I was growing up, a place where if I ever walked too loudly, my parents would hear about it from the downstairs neighbor. Consequently, there was a cap on how loud any music could be played, which did not bode well during the teenage years. Remember, this was back in the Stone Age before earbuds and iPods.

After my sons were born, my jammin’ time was relegated to when they were outside playing football in the backyard with the neighborhood kids. During one such afternoon, I turned on the Indigo Girls’ “Rites of Passage.” I had always like the song, “Galileo,” but for some reason that day, I stopped emptying the dishwasher and really paid attention to the words. The song talks about reincarnation and asks how many lifetimes does it take to finally get things right.

I could not get that concept out of my head. But instead of multiple lifetimes, I envisioned a young woman who kept messing things up despite her efforts to change, moving from place to place in search of her true self.

I had found Catherine Elbert.

I started writing immediately. I saw her in Portland, Maine, purchasing a ferry ticket to Peaks Island, trying to find an apartment, and shopping for incidentals at a little store. Since I was in the middle of writing my first novel, “A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles: Book One),” these scenes would have to be filed away for awhile, but at least I knew what project would be next.

I am happy to report “Until My Soul Gets It Right (The Bibliophiles” Book Two)” was released in June, and my kids are now much older, so I am back jammin’ on a regular basis. And judging by the musical noise level in our house, the boys definitely take after their old mom.

What songs cause you to turn up the volume?

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