overpowering urge to wander -- to search, without knowing what she sought
--drove her away. She left little Cassidy in her family's loving care. But
Cassidy and the others died in an accident before Eleanor could find her
Now, they are all reunited, in an afterlife where nothing is truly lost.
Places once loved may be revisited; one may be any age suitable to the mood
and moment; memories may be relived and even shared. Surely this is a place
where Eleanor and her family can understand and heal. And yet, the
restlessness that shaped Eleanor's life still haunts her in death. Somehow,
she must solve the mystery of her life -- or none of them will be at peace.
Rating- **** 4 stars
I generally liked the overall storyline to this book. The beginning was confusing at first but as I got into it, it was a calming and soothing read. The characters were very down to earth and understandable. They shifted through ages like a shape shifter in transition. It wasn’t your normal type of fantasy or paranormal and I can’t even describe it as that. It was more of a reunion of good old family values mixed with growing pains.
I liked the way Karen writes. Her words flow and they gave me the sense of being laid back on a beach chair with a good book and a cold glass of lemonade. I was able to follow the characters and even love Cassidy, Jack and Sarah.
What I found that I didn’t like about the book was its unfamiliar territory. While that should give it brownie points for being original I hated having to re-read a chapter or paragraph to make sure I was grasping it all. The plot- being in an afterlife, the transitional period and what could happen could be described as fanatical and basic at best, but I still felt a little lost when trying to get a grip between my own imaginings and that of the Author.
What kept it interesting is that old age tale of a mother’s love and the bond between herself and child that surpasses all- even death. How reuniting in the afterlife may come with a few bumps in the road. How you have to face up to the wrong you did throughout your life, and also the finality of forgiveness. Everyone’s perception of what it may entail is different, and I liked Karen’s take on this aspect.
Wander Home is a very good read. Its one of those books you save for a relaxing day of doing absolutely nothing but reading and enjoying peace.
DWED Interviews Karen A. Wyle, author of Wander Home
DWED: First, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born a Connecticut Yankee, but moved every few years throughout my childhood and adolescence. (I wasn’t an Army brat – my father was an unusually restless engineer.) After college in California , law school in Massachusetts , and a mercifully short stint in a large San Francisco law firm, I moved to Los Angeles . Since then, my extended family has largely settled there, and I regard it as my second home.
In L.A. , I met my now-husband, who hated the city. We eventually settled in Bloomington , Indiana , home of Indiana University . I am now the first member of my family to know anything about any sport. Go Hoosiers! J
I’ve been a voracious and compulsive reader as long as I can remember. I’ll make do with a cereal box if necessary, and often reread books multiple times. I was an English and American Literature major at Stanford University , which suited me, although I’ve more recently developed doubts about whether studying literature is, for most people, a good preparation for enjoying it.
I now have a part-time appellate law practice and a mostly moribund photography business. I’m a Mommy taxi, a politics junkie – and an author.
DWED: Have you always aspired to publish a novel?
I don’t know when that ambition first surfaced, but by the time I was ten, I was already attempting to write one. I produced 200 handwritten (penciled) pages – 100 chapters of about two pages each. If I’m ever psychoanalyzed, which I very much doubt, we can spend the first several years analyzing that book.
I tried again at age 14 and abandoned that effort about 40 pages in. That was the last time I tried to write a novel until my older daughter was 18 and doing National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo or Nano) for the second time. I decided to give it a whirl – and finally got where I’d been heading all those years ago.
If we start where the last answer left off, with my writing what became my first published novel, it was a relatively painless process. While I edited that first novel (Twin-Bred), I did a good deal of research about agents, publishers, query letters, etc. Before I’d sent out more than a couple of queries, I’d decided that the world and the publishing industry had changed enough that I preferred to self-publish. Which I did.
DWED: Who or what would you say inspired ‘Wander Home?
I wish I could remember, because people ask me that question quite often. The themes that inform the book – unfinished business, family communication, forgiveness – have become important to me over the years, but I don’t know where I came up with either the plot or the afterlife in which it’s set. Several of the characters have traits, or elements of their personal histories, borrowed from various members of my family.
DWED: Are you a part of a book club or organization?
Bloomington, Indiana’s local NaNoWriMo group has become a year-round writing group. We meet biweekly, except during NaNo, when we meet up to four times a week. We don’t all write at all the meetings – it’s as much a social pleasure as anything else, and I’ve made some treasured friends there.
DWED: How does ‘Wander Home stand out? What does it offer and more importantly what can viewers find within its pages?
First, Wander Home offers a unique vision of what an afterlife might be like – an afterlife in which one can celebrate what the world had to offer, experience its wonders, revisit one’s own life, and resolve lingering issues. The features of this afterlife are designed to make these things possible.
Secondly, Wander Home offers a family and a mystery. Eleanor's loving family never really understood her -- and she had no better luck understanding herself. Why was she afflicted with lifelong restlessness? What made her so sure, from early childhood, that she must have a child of her own? And once that desire was satisfied, how could she leave her beloved daughter in her family's care, with no assurances of when she would return?
That daughter, and Eleanor's parents and grandmother, died in an auto accident before any of them could find the answer. Now that Eleanor has followed her family into death and the afterlife, they can all share and relive their memories, and try to find the answer. But some of those memories are of dreams that Eleanor had tried to forget . . . .
DWED: How was the concept of ‘Wander Home born?
As I said above, I wish I knew!
DWED: At length how would you describe the feedback for ‘Wander Home?
Several readers have mentioned their hope that what actually awaits us bears some resemblance to the afterlife I’ve imagined. By pure coincidence, I’ve had a couple of people read the book soon after tragedy struck their own circle of family or friends, and they’ve told me that they found comfort in it.
There’s been a consensus, I believe, that the book is well written – and it tends to make an impression on people. Most of the reviews have ranged from positive to enthusiastic.
I’ve had varying responses to the central character of Eleanor. It takes some readers a while to warm to her – but they generally do.
DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you throughout 2013?
I’ll be publishing the sequel to Twin-Bred, titled Reach: A Twin-Bred Novel, in May 2013 (if all stays on schedule). (So this is a good time to read Twin-Bred! J)
In the fall of 2013, probably in October, I’ll be publishing an unrelated science fiction novel involving conjoined twins and titled Division.
And in November 2013 – NaNoWriMo again!
DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors like yourself?
First: there’s no need, in today’s publishing landscape, to remain “aspiring” in the sense of “unpublished and trying to get an agent’s or publisher’s attention.” In fact, things have changed enough that it’s actually quite risky to enter into a contract with either an agent or a publisher – and I strongly advise hiring an intellectual property (IP) attorney to review any such contract before signing it. (I’m not an IP attorney, so this isn’t a matter of my pushing my own services.) Instead, any author can work hard to edit his or her work, find beta readers and/or hire a professional editor, find a good cover designer – and then publish! Then, “aspire” to write more books, and to get better and better with more experience.
DWED: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like your readers and potential readers to know about both your work and yourself?
Well, there are my various websites and social media handles.
Author website: http://www.KarenAWyle.net
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/KarenAWyle
(I also have Facebook pages for Twin-Bred and Wander Home, but I rarely use them nowadays.)
Twitter handle: WordsmithWyle
Blog (called Looking Around, not strictly a book or author blog): http://looking-around.blogspot.com
Also, I have two short stories available, both free on Smashwords, and both free now or (I hope) in the future on Amazon: “The Baby,” featuring human cloning, and “The Library,” set in the same afterlife as Wander Home and featuring Eleanor’s daughter Cassidy as a secondary character.