Interview With Author Karen Gruber
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
When Lions Roar. Seven years ago, my family and I got the unbelievable opportunity to travel to South Africa. We spent two weeks on Safari with a group of family members; and a third week exploring Cape Town, just me, my husband, and our daughter. This trip was the furthest away I had ever been from the States and seemed very exotic to me, having the opportunity to go to Africa.
Unlike the main character of the book, Maggie, I was ecstatic about the opportunity to go Africa. This was something so out of the realm of possibility for me, it wasn't even on my life list. It was unfathomable to me that I would ever get to do something like this, so when the organizer of the trip said “Yes, you may bring along your six-year old”, we were all in.
The continent of Africa is massive and the cultures within it are far too numerous to mention. I only experienced a tiny little taste, but even that minuscule morsel was life changing.
Being out in the wilderness, the Bush, the Veld, the Savannah, it all felt like coming home to me. I felt such a connection to that land and its inhabitants, particularly the animals. I wish everyone would get to have the experience I did. I know I came back a different woman, Africa cracked open a deep desire to live a more primal life. And by that, I mean live authentically without all the walls and facades. I want people to see me, to know me, the soul of me.
My experience in Africa was just begging to come forth in some fashion. I was captivated by how the lodges were run and the guides all working together and the gloriousness of the animals. Getting to see these beautiful beasts in their natural environment is so moving, I cannot seem to put words to it.
The sky is different in Africa and night after night we saw constellations that we never see in the Northern hemisphere. My daughter got to see the Scorpio constellation, her Zodiac sign, which was breathtaking. The food, the clothing, the singing rhythm of the drums, the aromas, hearing an animal call in victory or distress across the camp, monkeys stealing our things, sleeping in structures with no electricity to visiting the most luxurious of accommodations. Every part of everyday was a new adventure.
My intent with the novel When Lions Roar, was to give readers a taste, a tease, of what it was like to be in Africa and spark a desire to make that trip. There is a harsh unforgiving edge to South Africa, but the contrast, the majestic wonder and the beauty all come together and are present in the most magical of ways. How could I not write about that?
In many ways, like our heroine, Maggie, Africa permeated my soul and healed me in ways I did not realize I needed to be healed. That's why it is so important to stay open to the experiences and opportunities that come your way and to stay curious about and lean into the offerings life has for you.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
To quiet my mind and body and get down to the task of writing, I have ritualized my process so that the creativity and words are in the flow no matter where I find myself. Having a ritual, a sequence of repeatable acts, makes this activity and the time devoted to it a sacred offering and creates an energetic shift.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Margaret Mitchel – Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind is the first book I read that I remember leaving an impression on me. I read this book when I was 12 while on a family vacation. I love the richness of the descriptions, desperately wanting to fall in love myself, and the experience desperation and devastation of war through her eyes. It makes me feel such a wide range of emotions that stays with me years later.
Bryce Courtenay – The Power of One
Despite being difficult to read in parts due to the cruelty depicted, I loved this book. The resilience of the main character and the obstacles he overcomes makes The Power of One a book of grit, strength of the human spirit, and hope. The writing is enthralling and rich with symbolism.
Wallace Stegner – Angle of Repose
Angle of Response is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. The writing is so potent and immersive. The storyline is of great interest and he created characters you cheer for and hope for, even when they are in opposition. A testament to the courageous, heartiness, and ingenuity of the American pioneers and the American spirit.
What are you working on now?
I haven’t traveled much in the past few years, so I am currently cooking up all kinds of exotic travel for my family and I. I feel my novels will all have a global perspective through the eyes of an American. I suppose you can call this period an era of massive research! On the non-fiction front I am working on a sexual education series for girls which focuses on the sacredness of their bodies, the sacredness of sexuality, and the sacredness of their spirit.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I am a big fan of the Amazon platform. I have been able to produce my book in 3 different formats: eBook, paperback, and audiobook.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Never underestimate the power of writing for yourself. . Even the things I write just for me allow me to express myself, my visions, my soul in a creative way. Writing helps me organize my thoughts. It helps me find my true voice and expression as they bubble up as words on a page. Sometimes I'm quite surprised, by what ends up on a page, but I trust it is there for a reason. It is there for me or for another who comes across these words. I have found that writing is a major stress reliever and a great source of healing. For me, it doesn't matter if I am writing in my morning pages, writing an article or creating a book. It is all a deep healing process and an incredible creative outlet for me.
Ultimately, I write to express myself creatively. I am still discovering my unique voice and my message in this world. Writing creates a space of stillness and quiet that enables my voice to come through without overthinking, without self-censorship, without trying to get it right. Writing brings clarity to my voice, my thoughts, and my beliefs. It is extraordinary what I uncover through my writing. It has the power to heal and uncover hidden nuggets I never knew were buried deep inside. It is a process where I get to face my truth and come out a different person on the other side.
I believe that everyone has access to their own healing and discovering their truth through creative expression, writing is not the only medium for this opportunity. Any creative outlet you choose provides a restorative result. It is my desire for every woman to fall in love with her unique creative expression.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Never critique while you are writing, never think, just let it rip while you’re in the flow
What are you reading now?
The Crucible – Arthur Miller
The Introduction of this version is quite fascinating. It draws parallels between the Salem Witch Trials and the persecution that was happening in the US during the McCarthy era. What happened to Arthur Miller during this time when he refused to publicly speak out against others and questioned the government’s involvement is eerily similar to what has happened to individuals during the past 2 years in American politics.
What’s next for you as a writer?
My next goal is to have When Lions Roar selected for Reese’s Book Club. Do you have an in?
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Circe – Madeline Miller
Circe captured my imagination from the first pages, with a character I was unfamiliar with in Greek Mythology. It is a thrilling read to follow this lesser known goddess on her life passage. The storytelling is masterfully crafted and kept me wanting more-it does not disappoint. This book shows me what’s possible when an author unleashes her creativity.
The Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles
The Sheltering Sky is a fascinating book for me. I don’t believe I have ever read anything quite like it. It is a dark read as it takes me on a journey of humans and their limits. The characters are not necessarily likeable and the thought I had when I finished the book was “disturbing”, but the writing is extraordinary and stays with me long after the final page has been turned.
Main Street – Sinclair Lewis
I am fascinated with Main Street, as it tells a story of a woman with big ideas and thoughts. Through marriage she is brought to a small town where her ideas and ways of being are not welcome. It is the epitome of the inequalities women have faced for centuries. Even though it takes place in the early 1900’s, I can still relate to the main character’s struggles and challenges today. The writing is lyrical and paints a vivid picture.
Author Websites and Profiles
Karen Gruber’s Social Media Links
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