Interview with Karen Banfield

What's the story behind your latest book?
When I published Wolf Medicine, my third book, the woman helping me said, "start a blog if you want to sell this book." Well, at that time, I had no idea what a blog was, (yes, I'm that old) so I went on-line and visited a few. The only thing I knew I could write about with certainty was my own life, so I went to an 800 pg memoir I had stuck in the closet and began pulling pieces out. People loved them because they are honest and go deeply into feelings of the heart. I was encouraged to publish them but didn't want to, because I wanted to publish a traditional memoir. I was not revising the one I had, so relented and published, Tarantulas, Fudge and Altered Reality, which has been a huge success. I'm very grateful my words are touching so many hearts around the world. The truth is universal. It makes us laugh, cry and feel the often painful joy of living this beautiful life.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had a book on Intuition accepted by Hampton Roads in the early 90's. I was excited, then near publication they changed their minds. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me, to use a cliche. At that point I knew I wanted more control over the publishing process, so I hired staff who set things up for me and off we went.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy in writing is the peace of mind I find. I am transported to realms of intellect, imagination and spirit. I sit under the light of the muse and feel cozy and welcomed. I love putting words and sentences together. It's a delightful puzzle of self-expression that touches people I have never met. My words are like little letters being sent into the world all dressed up and doing their best. Each one a birth, each one loved, each one brave.
What do your fans mean to you?
Readers mean everything. Without readers there is no connection. No purpose. Readers find mutual ground in the work, creating a tribe, a community of sisterhood and brotherhood. It helps us all feel understood and less alone.
Who are your favorite authors?
Because I'm so damned sensitive I like reading about people who are not. I like Vince Flynn and his political intrigue novels. His characters are rough and direct and adventuresome. Last week-end I canceled everything to read Term Limits, 610 pages that I could not put down. I liked Dick Francis because he's a gentleman adventurer and because I have English roots and grew up around horses. I enjoyed memoirs like the Liar's Club and The Glass Castle. I've enjoyed lots of women authors but I'll be darned if I can think of names right now. I'm a BBC girl. I love Russell Brand and Bruce Wills.
What are you working on next?
I've been working on a book about the faith and trust needed during life transitions, using my transition in Ojai California as a template. Ojai has been a place that has stripped me of outmoded ways of being, brought me to my financial knees and shown me my deepest fears. . . while strengthening my core, and giving me a new career path. I've worked in the theater, as a healer and Intuitive most of my life. When I arrived here I set up my practice as usual but nothing would fly. I had to listen to my inner voice which was telling me to do something completely different. It has been a huge journey of faith, trust and stepping into the unknown. I was burned out being the caretaker of others, helping others manifest their dreams while mine stayed on hold. I'm finding myself in new ways and accepting parts of myself I had put away. It's all good and it's all a little scary.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
California sunshine. When I lived in Oregon I was depressed most of the year. I wrote four or five hours each morning, like putting a needle in my arm. The dark wet days were rough. I felt like a vibrant plant put in a dark closet. California invites me out to swim and bike, get to the athletic club for yoga and sit in my favorite coffee shops. I made a great living doing healing work in Oregon because everyone was depressed from lack of light. I am fully alive here and feel 20 years younger.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love working out, mostly swimming. I've used swimming as my main exercise all my life, been a long distance swim teacher and life guard in my younger years. But am not a competitive swimmer. I like the quiet unhurried grace of being held by water. The water is so cleansing. It soothes my spirit and washes away any scramble of thoughts or left over dream images. And what is not to like about being in a world without corners?
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I don't read ebooks. I am an 'in print' reader. I don't seem to do well with modern things. Took a major intervention for me to tackle a GPS and the gas pumps of California.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
No. No memory of that. I had an English teacher that took me aside in 7th grade. He was a minister and one of the few people to influence me in the direction of writing. Bless his heart. I used to tell him I wanted to be a "lady" minister, and that used to crack him up. With all my spiritual work, I guess I did my version of that. I had an aunt that taught me to read tea leaves at an early age. Being with her at the farm was magical.
What is your writing process?
I put my butt in the chair and do it. I am an extremist, so once I hit the chair I may not get up again for days. My critical voice is not invited, nor is the punctuation paralyzer. I dump everything I have to say onto the page for days and days, When I have a full body of work, I invite my inner editor to come by, being careful that the critical voice is not disguised as the editor. Ha. My editor loves to edit and support me. She sorts sentences. She decides what belongs in this project and what is better used for another book, Then we add the senses. What does the character see, smell, taste, touch and hear? After that we take ordinary 'dull' sentences and add action, description and detail. When the work is as good as I can get it, I pass it to friends for feedback, then start all over again. It's a lovely process.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Of Mice and Men. I picked it up when I was in boarding school and fell in love. I read everything I could find by John Steinbeck after that. Amazing stories. I like the classics as well. They are so rich and full of craft and history.
How do you approach cover design?
I give it to my son, Clayton Graul, who is a graphic designer with the film industry in Los Angeles. I have my ideas, he has his. We disagree, then agree. I yield, he yields, we settle, then it's done. My daughter, Kristen Francis, is a photographer who does all my promo shots. I'm blessed to have the visual front covered by folks I cherish and trust.
Published 2014-10-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Tarantulas Fudge and Altered Reality
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 51,380. Language: English. Published: February 1, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir, Nonfiction » Inspiration » Spiritual inspiration
a collection of raw, funny and loving reflections on life. the author takes us through her experience of boarding school, surviving music teachers, travels abroad, being a tarot card reader, mental health therapist and a hitch-hiking encounter with the mafia, to name a few. I guarantee that karen's honesty and tenderhearted insights will leave you laughing, crying and wantin