Monday, 6 August 2012

Author Interview with Karen Wyle

Today we have a double interview!  First is Q and A with author Karen Wyle.  Karen is the author of Twin-Bred.  See below for details, and then keep reading for a character interview with Levi Thomas, a character from Twin-Bred.

Title:  Twin-Bred
Author:  Karen A. Wyle
Genre:  Sci-Fi
Published:  October 2011
Can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb?

In Twin-Bred, the human colony on Tofarn and the indigenous Tofa have great difficulty communicating with and basically comprehending each other. Scientist Mara Cadell, who lost a fraternal twin in utero, proposes that host mothers of either or both species carry twins, one human and one Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Mara has secretly kept her own twin, Levi, alive in her mind as a companion and collaborator.

Mara succeeds in obtaining governmental backing for her project – but both the human and Tofa establishments have their own agendas. Mara must shepherd the Twin-Bred through dangers she anticipated and others that even the canny Levi could not foresee. Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely?

Q and A with Karen A. Whyle:
Q. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

A. I don't remember precisely, but I must have been about seven years old. By age eight, I was writing poetry and bringing it to my teacher's attention. At age ten, I wrote a novel of sorts as a labor of love for my fifth grade teacher. (Hello, Mrs. Beaumont, wherever you are!) By that time, I yearned to be the youngest novelist ever published; I was quite miffed to learn that a nine-year-old British girl had beat me to it.

Q. Do you have a favorite scene from Twin-Bred?

A. That's a difficult question in itself, and also difficult to answer without spoilers. A few scenes I particularly like:

--the first time we see Dr. Mara Cadell with any of the Twin-Bred;

--host mother Tilda's startling discovery;

--Siri O'Donnell's walk in the park.

And then there's the drunk in a bar, railing about Hager and Hager's Third Law -- which I enjoy because Hager is Paul Hager, my husband, who does indeed have Three Laws of Interplanetary Contact.

Q. What is your favorite part about being an author? What's the hardest part?

A. I love having a story or its characters surprise me! -- for example, when an element I added casually or for one purpose turns out to be important for some quite different reason.

The hardest part: fighting the invisibility of self-published work by new authors.

Q. Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?

A. Living: it's hard to draw the line between a direct influence and an inspiration. Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow and Children of God are brilliant treatments of the theme of human-alien communication difficulties. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have written two wonderful novels, Footfall and The Mote in God's Eye (plus a sequel to the latter), exploring the same theme.

As for deceased authors, George Eliot's treatments of moral dilemmas and moral choice have had a profound impact on me. Again, I don't know the extent to which her books have directly influenced mine, but I suspect they helped to form my underlying approach to fiction. 

Q. What are you working on now?

A. I'm getting a novel ready for publication and trying to think of a title for it! (I decided my working title had been used too often and too recently.) In this novel, the members of a family reunite in the afterlife, confront unfinished business, and resolve the mystery that tore the family apart. I have constructed an afterlife with features particularly suited to this purpose. Tag line: Death is what you make it.

I'm also editing the sequel to Twin-Bred.

Q. What do you do to unwind and relax?

A. I read and re-read, especially science fiction, character-driven mysteries, historical fiction, and historical mysteries. I also take photos, usually focusing on details of whatever's nearby.

Q. What book are you reading now?

A. I have several books going at once: Hilary Mantell's Bring Up the Bodies (fiction focusing on Henry VIII's right-hand man Thomas Cromwell), Alexander McCall Smith's Love Over Scotland (part of his 44 Scotland Street series), and Ray Bradbury's short story collection The Toynbee Convector.

Q. Is there a place you'd like to visit, but haven't yet?

A. My camera and I would like to visit the national parks in Arizona and New Mexico. Outside the U.S., I'd love to see Barcelona, Copenhagen and Vienna.

Character Interview with Levi Thomas
Introductory Note:  This would be, to say the least, a difficult interview to arrange. "Levi Thomas" was the name that would have belonged to Mara Cadell's fraternal twin, had he survived to be born. He died shortly before that point. Mara, emotionally traumatized (as is often the case) by that loss, coped by keeping Levi alive in her mind as a companion.

Q: Let's start with the obvious. Are you real? Or a creation of Mara's imagination?

A: Wouldn't you like to know?

I could tell you to ask Mara -- not that she's in a particularly good position to answer that question -- but of course, she doesn't like to talk about me. She'd be quite perturbed that you even know of my existence (if that's what we call it for purposes of discussion).

Q: How is it that you two function? Does she hear you, like a voice, or is there something more? 

A: Let me check my notes. Or rather, Mara's therapist's notes. Yes, here's what she told him. "We talk. It’s more immediate than, say, hearing music in your head — but it’s not like someone’s in the room.”

Q: Do you ever exert any control over Mara? 

A: I don't possess her. I'm not a dybbuk. I may influence her behavior on occasion -- by distracting her, or making her laugh when she shouldn't, that sort of thing. And I try to talk her into doing what I recommend in various situations. I trust some people less than Mara does, and let her know it. (I doubt I've ever trusted anyone more than she does. I'm the suspicious type.)

Q: Do you play any part in Mara's artwork -- her drawing and cartooning?

A: Not directly. I don't think I would have been that visual. I'm more about the words. We often talk about her drawings. Sometimes I lack the context to understand them, and she explains. And her cartoons show a sense of humor that she doesn't normally indulge. That side of her, that hidden mischief, is where she and I are most alike.

Q: Is Mara better or worse off for your presence, do you think? What do you think would happen if people found out about you at the Twin-bred project?

Let's take those questions one at a time.

Mara would be better off if I had lived. And it's possible she'd be better off if I had never existed at all -- if she'd been a singleton from the get-go. I'm not sure "better to have loved and lost" applies in these circumstances, if it ever does. . . . But there we were, twins. There's no getting around that starting point. And she's tenacious, in love as in other things. It wasn't in her nature to simply move on. All things considered, I think she's better off isolated and secretive than seriously depressed. And of course, I'm good company.

But it's quite important, I believe, that I remain a secret. If people found out about our little ménage a deux, it would very likely endanger the Project, and might end Mara's career.

You must understand, Mara is not the easiest person to get along with. She's prickly and doesn't suffer fools gladly. And she has a very low tolerance for organizational politics. All of which means that only her exceptional scientific ability induces people to put up with her. There are many who would like to be shut of her if they had a good enough excuse. Delusions of twin-hood? Good enough.

There have been cases of conjoined twins who have been separated, even though surgical separation would kill one of the two, so that at least one twin could survive. If it's ever necessary for Mara's sake that I cease to be part of her life, that'll be all she wrote, so to speak. Or so I assume. It's a strange universe, and I'm hardly an authority on what surprises it may have in store.

Q: Do you think your presence helps Mara cope with her work at the Project, dealing with twins all the time?

A: I exist to help her cope with life in general. Without my presence, or shall we say my availability -- I'm not nattering in her ear nonstop -- I doubt she could handle being around twins day in and day out.

I should add that despite the pain involved, there are ways it's been healing for Mara, being surrounded by Twin-Bred. All around her, she sees humans and Tofa, most of whom would never have had a twin if not for her. You could say that she's ensured I didn't die in vain. Though I doubt she's thought if it in those terms.

Thank you for stopping by today Karen and "Levi."  It's been great getting to know more about you!

Connect with Karen Wyle:

Author website:

Facebook author page:

Facebook page for Twin-Bred: (no hyphen)

Twitter handle: WordsmithWyle

Purchase links for Twin-Bred:
Amazon (Kindle):

Amazon (paperback): 

Nook Store: 

B&N online (paperback):

Smashwords (various ebook formats):


  1. Great interview! Book looks really interesting! :D

  2. This interview was wonderful! Now I can't wait to read this.