Blunder Woman Productions, with the help of eight talented authors and nine equally talented narrators, will be releasing a remarkable volume of short tales set before the age of the internet and cell phones. Vintage Love Stories features K.E. White’s story, Can’t Get Used to Losing You.
We were able to chat with Karen, and we’d love for you to get to know her, too!
What inspired Can’t Gt Used to Losing You?
For the past couple years, I’ve been working on a romance series based in Boston in the 1980’s. The books are connected by a theater company, and I was a young actor there in that decade. On a deeper level, though, something about the recent presidential election had me hankering for an earlier time in my history, when things seemed simpler. Seemed is operative here, of course. Nostalgia had me looking at the time with rose-colored glasses. At first. As I actually delved into what was going on back then in career opportunities for women, in workplace expectations (#MeToo started somewhere, you know) and gender norms in relationships, I find that we’ve “come a long way, baby” in some ways. In other ways, it’s like we’ve circled back around to the beginning.
Specific to this collection: the second book in my series takes on the “best friend’s sister” trope and explores a relationship after a tragedy disrupts the original family dynamics. Working on the novel I couldn’t stop writing the backstory of the two main characters: how they’d met as kids, when he first saw her as a sexual being, how they first got together as a couple. These stories don’t really fit in the book, though they helped me get to know the characters. When I saw the posting from Blunderwoman for Vintage Love Stories, my first reaction was, “Huzzah! Someone besides me is interested in stories that exist in the limbo between historical and contemporary romance!” My second thought was, “Hey, I wonder if I could turn those backstory scenes into a short story?” Then I did.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
It’s okay to be “wrong”! Or, as I used to say in my improv classes, ‘there is no right answer because there is no wrong answer.”
What books have most influenced your life?
In no particular order and there are so many but these jump to my mind in this moment:
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume – the first book I read that went “viral”, that is, it got passed all around my sixth grade classroom. The buzz was amazing but it lived up to it.
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf – the concept of this book blew my mind.
Impro by Keith Johnstone – an amazing book about creating
Chuck Amuck by Chuck Jones – another amazing book about creating from the guy who brought us Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote and Pepe le Pew, among others.
The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley and the Misty of Chincoteague books by Marguerite Henry – I have always been an animal lover and these (and many other books obtained from Scholastic when I was in school) hooked me on reading
Princess Daisy by Judith Kranz – I have a very strong memory of reading the sexy bits aloud during breaks from play rehearsals when I was in high school, which may have led me to where I am now.
Can you tell us about your current project(s)?
I am working on a series based in Boston in 1988, centered around a theatre company. The first book is about a young woman who works in finance and an actor who is struggling with balancing art and career. The second book is about the main characters from this short story, Anna and Ben, five years later (and a dog). I have vague ideas about two more books.
With the series, I’m hoping to share with reader/listeners what it was like to be a young career woman and sexual being in the late eighties as First Wave feminism was waning, as well as what it’s like to be a journeyman actor. I’ve enjoyed playing with the themes from various Shakespeare plays, 80’s music and just the nuts and bolts of dating pre-internet and pre-cell phone.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Writing fiction is all pretty new to me. But so far, my process seems to start with a problem – a conflict. Two people who are on a collision path for some reason. In my first book, these people who seem to have nothing in common keep getting thrust together. They end up fitting because their deeper needs are met in relationship with this seemingly opposite person. I’ve learned a lot from conferences, taking workshops and from the women in my writing group but the thing that I keep going back to is from my training in improvisation: 1) Say “Yes, And” to any idea and 2) keep getting in trouble.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story. or do you feel like you hold the reins of the story?
I’m a plantster (planner vs. seat-of-the-pantser) – evenly split, I think, between planning and letting the characters take me on a ride. Before I started formally writing books (I’ve always been a storyteller and have created a lot of theater in various ways), I always thought that thing of the characters having their own voices was a load of horse poop, but it actually happens for me! I tend to plan out a general structure/plot, which gets tweaked after I write each scene because I do actually hear the characters talking in my head and I’m just taking dictation. They often surprise me and then I adjust the outline from there.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
I am an audiobook narrator and have been a professional actor on stage and on screen as well as a stage and audiobook director in the past. Telling stories in various formats has been my vocation and this is the newest chapter.
ABOUT K. E. WHITE
K.E. White is the pen name for Karen White (adopted because a bazillion people share this name including an already-established best-selling fiction author). This Karen White is an award-winning audiobook narrator and professional actress who began writing when a magazine editor told her he could tell she had stories inside. She’d been telling tales and creating theater for years, but her first published piece appeared in his magazine, Salt. She also has an essay and poem in Nevertheless, We Persisted from Blunderwoman Productions. This is her first short story.