INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF TK THORNE
I want to thank TK Thorne for taking the time for this Interview. Her novel, “Angels at the Gate” is a captivating read and I am certain HFA readers are anxious to know the creator of such a story.
Why don’t we get to know you a little before we dive into your narrative.
Tell us a little about yourself – who you are, where did you grow up, and a bit about your family.
I climbed trees and found secret magical places in the woods around my home in Montgomery, Alabama, fought with my younger sister and brother, fought anyone who picked on them, and fought not being able to fly like Wonder Woman so I could get over the deadly desert to Oz. I loved horses from the moment I was born and asked for one repeatedly all of my childhood. My parents were wonderful, loving people who gave me everything (except a horse) but I eventually forgave them.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
A: I like to travel, to try exotic food, to walk in the woods, and, of course, to read!
What novel from your childhood/teen years was your favorite?
A: My favorite childhood book was The Phantom Tollbooth. It is an amazing book that intrigued me as a child, a teenager, and I’m sure I would love reading it again, although I pretty much have it memorized!
How did you become interested in writing?
A: The love of story came before an interest in writing. When I was very young and afraid of the dark, I brought all of my stuffed animals to bed with me and assigned them magical powers and duties to guard me from any monsters that might lurk under the bed, in the closet, or that might try getting in the window. My first attempt at a written story was about age 10, the same age I determined to be an astronaut when I grew up. That didn’t work out. But, I kept telling stories.
I love this! And who knew that a childhood coping technique would help develop your skills and interest in writing.
ANGELS AT THE GATE
A: A taunt from a co-worker: I was resting on my laurels with Noah’s Wife, which had just won ForeWord Reviews “Book of the Year” for Historical Fiction. The coworker cut his eyes at me and sneered, “Noah’s Wife, huh? . . .What’s next, Lot’s Wife?” It had never occurred to me. I wasn’t ready to start thinking about what was next, and my first reaction was, NO WAY! But the idea just would not leave me alone, and I finally gave up and started it.
What kind of research and investigating was required to write about a nameless woman from ancient biblical times?
A: A lot! Seriously, in addition to books, archeological findings, etc., I traveled to Israel and learned from an Israeli guide, a Bedouin, museums, a desert ranger, and from the land itself. I was able to build on previous research about early culture and religion of the Mideast, which included traveling to Turkey, for my debut novel, Noah’s Wife.
Establishing the time period was the first order of business for a project like this. It seemed simple, as Angels at the Gate was about the wife of Lot, and Lot was the nephew of Abraham, but I discovered that Abraham, like King Arthur, is not easily pinned down as a historical figure. Most sources, however, at least have him living in the Middle Bronze Age. I had to learn about the city of Sodom, the archeology, and theories about where it might lie and what might have happened to it, who the “angels” could have been, etc. I put a section in the back of the book about my research and several people have told me they found that as interesting as the book!
I found the idea of a young girl, raised as a boy, in a caravan an interesting idea. Did you always plan Adira to be disguised as a boy or did this develop as you wrote the story?
A: Actually, I was at a loss when I sat down to begin. I finally gave up trying to figure it out, closed my eyes (figuratively) and let her talk. When I typed her first sentence, I leaned that she had grown up as a boy. That might sound mystical and, in some ways, the process of writing can feel that way. I knew Adira had a little “problem” with obedience (because, after all, she did disobey by looking back at the burning city of Sodom) and that certainly shaped my decision, but it was not a conscious one. It just popped out of her mouth, and I went with it to see where it would go.
Was writing about a girl disguised as a boy a challenging feat?
A: I was afraid it might be, and I read a book about a real-life woman who went about disguised as a man for a year to see if there were nuances I might not think about, but I was a tomboy in my youth, so it wasn’t too hard to put myself in Adira’s shoes . . . er . . . sandals. Her difficulties in the transition, the coming into being as a young girl/woman was, I think, the heart of the book. A wise writer once said that you don’t really know what your book is about until you’ve finished it. I think, as a writer, if you allow your characters to fully become who they are, you find they are richer than you could have consciously planned, and that there are truths and meanings in the story that you also did not plan. At least, that has been my experience.
Adira is not a submissive and silent woman of ancient biblical times, she is strong and independent, which gets her into trouble. Do you think woman of today who are strong and independent face trials and troubles for the same reasons or do you believe the world has changed enough for women to be whoever they wish to be?
A: There are, unfortunately, many places in the world where woman are not allowed to fulfill their potential but, even then, some have found unimaginable strength. I am thinking, for one, of Malala, the young Pakistani girl who defied the Taliban to stand up for women’s right to education. It is easier, of course, in the Western world, but sometimes there are invisible barriers in our societies. One by one, many are crumbling, as women find their strength, climb over them, knock them down, or ignore them. May our children and grandchildren be amazed that they ever were.
I hope our children and grandchildren are amazed by them and never take their efforts, their sacrifices for granted. We are where we are because we can stand upon their shoulders, upon their victories!
How do you write a story set in biblical times, about a biblical character and not get into the religious aspect of the story?
A: I am a Jewish humanist. My aim was to write a story respectful of the three major religions that have claim to the heritage of Abraham, but not religious or preachy in any way. My interest lay in the humanity of the people who lived in that ancient time, the challenge of bringing them realistically to life, and I wanted to portray the culture, including the religious beliefs of the time, and happenings based on the best scientific information we have at present. I leave my readers to believe as they will and wish.
What are you most proud about in this HF novel?
A: It makes me happy to learn that readers found themselves swept up into a different time and place that seemed very real to them, and that they felt they lived the experience with my characters.
Is there a message in your novel you want readers to grasp?
A: Perhaps the importance of asking the right questions, but readers bring their own perspectives and wisdom to a novel. Sometimes they see things that I didn’t realize were there! This is the power and joy of story. They will find their own meanings.
AS A WRITER
Tell us about your writing routine. I have read that some authors do outlandish things to write a novel – some lock themselves away for weeks to write with only their writing paper and a bathrobe for clothes, some write laying down (sounds kinda nice) and others have to have a certain amount of perfectly sharpened pencils lined up on their desk- Do you have any writing quirks or superstitions you go through when writing a novel?
A: LOL, a good deal of it is about fighting the urge to procrastinate. It is a battle against emails and Facebook, needing a cup of coffee or tea, primarily the feeling of wanting to have everything “just so,” before starting. One “ritual” I do have is daydreaming. When I was a police officer riding on patrol on the late shift, I did a lot of that. So riding in a car is a key that opens my imagination and allows me to daydream about what might happen in a story. Once I have a scene or the outlines of a scene in my mind or even a snip of dialogue, it is easy to start writing.
Describe your writing room/space.
A: I use a laptop and I like to write on my bed (where all my research books are piled) or on the back porch or deck where I can see the woods. If just absolutely forced into it, I can write from a condo overlooking the ocean or on the deck of a cruise ship . . . .
What authors have inspired you?
A: My favorite author is Sue Monk Kidd. I love her writing!
As a seasoned author, what is the one piece of advice you wish you knew about writing and publishing you know now that you wished you had known when you first began to write?
A: That “success” is elusive. No matter what your goal—finding an agent, getting published, winning an award, having a best seller, writing the next book, etc., there is no such thing as reaching “it.” Instead, I remind myself about what is really important in terms of achievements—that if/when something happens, and I don’t see a tomorrow, I have left something to the world that I am proud of, and that is a pretty cool thing.
Wow! That is very wise advice and so practical too. It is easy to assume that the goal is to reach “it” but to see the achievements, all of them, big or small along and through the journey as success that is something I can really appreciate and live out.
Angels at the Gate is your third book, Last Chance for Justice and Noah’s Wife were your first and second books, respectively. Are you working on a new project you can tell us about?
A: I’ve gone off (some might say “the deep end”) exploring a completely different genre. My next book is a paranormal thriller about a rookie police detective in Birmingham, Alabama who discovers she is a witch! The working title is House of Rose. It was great fun to write. I’m also working on another civil rights history, and my publisher has asked for a sequel to Angels at the Gate.
You sound very busy and I can’t wait to read House of Rose! The combination of interesting characters and genre has me interested already!
Thank you so much TK for sharing with us today. We really appreciate it and we look forward to more of your wonderful stories in the future!
The pleasure is mine. Thank you for the great questions! I love hearing from and staying connected with my readers. My email is TK@tkthorne.com and you can learn about my writing and sign up for my private newsletter at tkthorne.com.