The Digital Ink Spot: What can you tell readers about The Independence of Carolyn Woltkowski?
Benjamin X. Wretlind: The Independence of Carolyn Woltkowski is the final piece that will make up the Sketches from the Spanish Mustang, a novel due out July 1st. The story revolves around a 50-ish waitress at a fictional casino in Cripple Creek, Colorado who has been running from her ex-husband for two years. She's paranoid, a fact brought out through an understanding of her past. What she thinks she sees, though, may not actually be what's really there. It's really a novella about our lives, about coming to a point where we have to face our past whether we want to or not. Can we keep running away from all the bad? Is a rough life the end, or can there be a future free from the pain we've suffered before?
The Digital Ink Spot: How did you decide on the title?
Benjamin X. Wretlind: All of the sketches in the Sketches from the Spanish Mustang are people. Originally, I thought I'd have some creative titles, but as the novel came together, each sketch ended up with a single name (e.g. The Independence of Carolyn Woltkowski became "Carolyn" in the novel)--an anonymous name people can relate to, perhaps. The name Woltkowski doesn't appear in the actual novella, but there was a reason for it. First, I like to flush out all my characters, whether or not their names appear. This gives me an opportunity to get to know them better. Second, I had intended to use the strange last name in a bit of dialogue. For example: "How do you expect me to hide from him if I have a name like Woltkowski?" I opted not to do this, however, but the title and the name stuck.
The Digital Ink Spot: Are there experiences in the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life or something from your mind?
Benjamin X. Wretlind: Not really, no. The original idea behind the Sketches from the Spanish Mustang was to take a stranger and "sketch" out some sort of story. I am a novice student of personality disorders--such as Carolyn's paranoia--and I like to create characters that have significant flaws. No one is perfect, of course, but some are even less perfect than others. I did quite a bit of research into Cripple Creek, Colorado, however, and what you'll find in all of the sketches is a history and a truth that can't come from throwing together a fictional town full of fictional people. Truth is stranger than fiction, as they say.
The Digital Ink Spot: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Benjamin X. Wretlind: I don't recall the moment my interest was piqued, but I do recall an interest as far back as 2nd grade when I wrote my first story (that I remember). I really didn't think of being an author until I was in the 7th grade, when two different events sort of shone a blinding light on the future. The first was a simple exercise using a root sentence (like "I heard a sound in the forest"), and the second was my entry into the Young Writers of America contest for a story I wrote about a luckless dragon named Puff who stood only two or three feet tall. While I could go on and on about these two events (which I did in this post: http://bxwretlind.com/blog/
2011/05/23/the-obligatory- reflective-post-parts-i-ii/ )
suffice to say I think we all have moments we can use to divide our
life into "before" and "after." When I finally understood that 7th
grade was the "moment," I said I will be a writer, no matter how long it
Benjamin X. Wretlind: As I mentioned earlier, The Independence of Carolyn Woltkowski will appear in the Sketches from the Spanish Mustang due out July 1st. The novel weaves together ten lives all viewed from eyes of an artist with a gift to "see." It won't be horror, it won't be a thriller, it won't be a family drama. Sketches from the Spanish Mustang will be an experience for all genres. After that, the first novel I wrote, A Difficult Mirror, will be polished (no pun intended) and released when the snow covers the ground (or early 2013). A Difficult Mirror is a magical realism piece about dealing with our own past. It's epic in nature and serves as a sort of introduction to a series of novels that will be coming out over the next decade or so. Finally, I get to start my political thriller, Driving the Spike, a novel about three brothers, three different lives and how all of them come together at the fall of a country. It certainly won't be anything you've read before.
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