Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Q&A with Khristin Wierman


Photo by Ben Krantz Studio



Khristin Wierman is the author of the new novel This Time Could Be Different. She also has written the novel Buck's Pantry. She spent 20 years working for Fortune 500 companies, and she lives in San Francisco.


Q: What inspired you to write This Time Could Be Different, and how did you create your character Madeline?


A: This Time Could Be Different was inspired by the idea of change. I had recently left the corporate world and found myself a bit adrift.


I think as we get older, we are often confronted with the idea that being able to change ourselves is less and less likely, if not impossible. In my experience, change can be absolutely terrifying and often brings us face to face with our worst fears. But it’s doable. I wanted to write a story about that.


If I’m going to inhabit a character’s head, I’ve got to start with experience I understand firsthand. The story begins with Madeline in a successful corporate career, which I lived for many years. But the best part of writing is when your characters begin to take you in directions you didn’t see coming.


Madeline’s story evolved into how an incredibly logical, intellectually-oriented person like she was could use meditation and mental focus to find clarity about her own life and create legitimate change. And how her decisions to change impacted her relationships with others, most specifically with her best friend who chose to stay committed to a corporate career.


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book calls it “[b]oth an insightful depiction of therapy supporting growth and a dead-on skewering of corporate culture.” What do you think of that assessment?


A: I think that quote is fair and accurate. I’m pleased that those elements felt authentic to the reviewer, even if I sometimes have to pause a moment at the idea of “skewering” anything.


As I mentioned above, I began the story as I was coming out of the corporate world so drew on a lot of my experiences there to create that aspect of the story.  


Q: In our previous Q&A, you said, “For me, stories tend to evolve and take on a life of their own." Was that the case with this novel too?


A: Absolutely. And for me, that is always the most fun part of writing…realizing new story elements that I didn’t know existed when I was first starting out. There’s this tipping point when you move from building something that comes from a clear intention in your head, to feeling like you’re finding something that was already there.


Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: This story has actually gone through several working titles. It was the first novel I wrote, even though it’s being published as the second.


I think there is a sort of magical moment, when you can squarely face the difficulties that you experienced in your past and all the pain that went along with them, while at the same time seeing that you have grown into a different person than you were then. That your life, your circumstances, the people around you and your understanding of yourself are all completely different than they were when the painful events happened.


From that place, I’ve found you can begin to expect your life to be different, and that’s what the title signifies for me. It’s not about something new being a certainty, at least not yet. It’s more about a possibility emerging that you could not see before.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: The launch of This Time Could Be Different is my primary focus. I’m also working on the screenplay for my first novel, Buck’s Pantry, which came out last year. Buck’s Pantry recently won the 2023 silver medal in popular fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (an “IPPY”), so it’s nice that there are still things happening for that story as well.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Just thank you, so much, for thinking of me and including my stories in your lovely Book Q&As!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Khristin Wierman.

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