Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Interview & Giveaway: Luke's Tale by Carol McKibben

Luke's Tale
by Carol McKibben

Welcome to BK Walker Books Etc. I'm so happy you could join me today at our virtual café.

BK: Please tell us a little about yourself...

CM: It almost seemed like I did everything in my power to avoid becoming a writer! I taught writing but didn’t really write or publish. I was a magazine publisher, but had to do a little writing in spite of myself. My excuse was always that I had no time. Then, when I couldn’t resist any longer, I sat down, put all those journals and pieces of paper together, and wrote my first book. It turned out to be a memoir, entitled Riding Through It. I consider it an exercise in leaving my past behind me and really becoming a writer.

BK: Please tell us a little about your book....

CM: Luke’s Tale is a story of a young couple’s search to find unconditional love, as told through the “eyes” of their blind dog, Luke. Luke, an intelligent, 89-pound yellow Labrador retriever, has an odd ability to understand human conversations and actions. When he discovers that Sara, his owner’s girlfriend, is hiding a secret and soon disappears, the dog uses all of his skills to help reunite them. Through clues that he provides to his master, Ashlundt, Luke is the catalyst bringing the two lovers back together. But this is only the beginning of the challenges the three must face. Ashlundt, who suffers from a tormented past, doesn’t understand how the conditions he places on those around him, prevent him from finding happiness. Luke, knowing how to give unconditional love, is the glue that binds them through a series of life-changing events. In the midst of it all, Luke is spiraling into blindness! 
At the heart of Luke’s Tale is the story of two lovers and their struggle with unforeseen disillusionment to build a lasting relationship – as told through the eyes of the loving furry creature who is devoted to them beyond all reason.

BK: What inspired you to pen this particular novel?

CM: The premise for Luke’s Tale came to me in a dream about a year after I wrote my first book. I told my best friend Debi about it, and she encouraged me. So, I started to write the novel. Around that time, I went for a psychic reading for my birthday. I told the psychic nothing about myself…yet; she told me that the angels around me, my guardians, were urging me to write a book about unconditional love. This freaked me out! Then, afterward, I had the original dream again. 
On top of everything, my yellow lab Luke is/was my hero. He was a therapy dog and so dedicated to me. When he was six, he was diagnosed with Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) for which there is no cure. Complete blindness was the result. Even after that, he continued to bravely go everywhere with me, gently feeling his way with his paws and sticking to me like Velcro. He continued his therapy dogging long after he went blind and brought joy to hundreds of hospital and nursing home patients. He was my inspiration.
I made the narrator of Luke’s Tale a dog, because the book’s message is unconditional love. What other creature except a dog exemplifies unconditional love?

BK: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

CM: The day my father read some of my newspaper articles, looked at me, smiled quietly and said, “Carol, you are a writer.” I simply believed it. I ignored it for a while, but I always knew it was true in my heart. When you can’t resist writing down your ideas and making something out of them for other people to read, you know you’re a writer.

BK: How do you keep your story flowing?

CM: Oh, wow! William Faulkner said it best: “It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” For me, that’s the way it works. Once I know my characters, they come alive and are a life of their own. They move through the story and fall out of my mind onto the page.

BK: Do you ever run into writer's block, and if so, what do you do to get past it?

CM: I’m fortunate. Not often. When I do, I take a break from it. I’m working on an episodic series for my publisher right now, and I’m half-way through having a first draft. I’m taking a break from it for a couple of weeks so that the characters will show me where we’re going next. But, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped writing. Just working on other things until I feel inspired to go back to it.

BK: What is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks, or must-haves to write?

CM: I dream on the idea for a while and discuss it with trusted associates. Then, create my characters, outline it and let the characters lead me. I don’t think I have any quirks, except don’t bother me when I’m writing. My husband says I go into a “tunnel” and don’t come out until I’m finished. Oh, and I have to have my dogs next to me. They’re my muses, you know?

BK: Where do you hope your books/writing will be in the future?

CM: As far as Luke’s Tale goes, I want to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. Not for any other reason than I believe in its message of unconditional love. It’s important to me because too many couples give up on their relationships at the first sign of trouble. We often place expectations on others, and when they can’t live up to them, we give up on them. A dog is the only creature who loves us without question, without conditions, no matter how we feel, look, act…whether we are rich or poor…have a great job or are unemployed. If dogs can love us like that, why can’t we love each other unconditionally? The book lights the way, and that’s why I wrote it. I think in this time and place, it’s important for people to know how to love each other like that.

For the future, I just want to keep evolving as a writer. I want to experiment with different storylines. I hope people will find what I’m writing worthy of reading.

BK: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

CM: I want them to be both “touched” and “entertained.” I want them to feel compassion for my characters and be willing to go along with them on their roller coaster rides.

BK: What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?

CM: Practice your craft. As Papa Hemingway advised, write every day. (Even if it’s your grocery list!) Writing is a disciplined art. It takes time and effort to become really good at it.

BK: What is one piece of advice you would give to new and aspiring writers?

CM: Practice your craft – see above.

BK: Are you currently working on any new projects? What can we expect from you in the future?

CM: As I mentioned above, I’m writing an episodic series from the point-of-view of yet another dog! It’s called Snow Blood. However, this one must have been inspired by something other than angels, because it’s filled with vampires, demons, magic and mystery!

BK: Where can readers find you?

CM: Visit my Web site at www.carolmckibben.com. Come chat with me on my Blog (www.carolmckibben.com/blog.html.) My books are on Amazon and Amazon Kindle (Click the links). Please “like” me on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/CarolMckibbenAuthor and follow me on Twitter @carolmckibben. Whew! Hope you can find me!

Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. It's been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.

Giveaway: One lucky winner will receive a print or e-book copy (Winner’s Choice) of Luke’s Tale: A Story of Unconditional Love FREE! All you have to do is reply to this post and write something about Unconditional Love and what it means to you. Please be sure to include an email address where we can reach you for an address and we will pick one lucky winner at random!

About the Author:

Carol writes from the heart of a dog's eyes. Often telling her stories to LaberDoodles, Basset Hounds and any stray that happens by, it wasn't long before people stopped to have a listen as well. Now Carol writes for people and speaks to large audiences, dogs included.

Genre: Family Drama
Publisher: Troll River Publications
Release Date: January 1, 2013

Book Description:

Luke, an intelligent, 89-pound yellow Labrador retriever, has an odd ability to understand human conversations and actions. When his owner’s girlfriend, Sara Colson, discovers she has breast cancer Luke is the sole secret keeper of her disease. Not knowing if she’ll survive, Sara leaves her boyfriend, Ashlundt Jaynes, to shield him from the pain. Luke, knowing how to give unconditional love, is the catalyst bringing the two lovers back together and helps them stay together while Sara and Ashlundt overcome a series of life-changing events. 

At the heart of Luke’s Tale is the story of two lovers and their struggle with unforeseen disillusionment to build a lasting relationship -- and the loving, furry creature who is devoted to them beyond all reason.



September 15, 2015

The world is darker today. Not because I’m blind. My world is always black. But this day my heart is broken.
I sit for a very long time next to the door. I long for her smell of fresh cut flowers, her touch and her gentle voice. I visualize her face. I see the fullness of her lips and the deep compassion in her dark eyes. She is the most caring human I’ve ever known. I long for her comforting arms around me.
People come up and pet me. One nurse offers me a bowl of water. I remain aloof, not wanting to be distracted in case… in case there’s some word. She couldn’t possibly be capable of being with me now.
Bay leaf and ocean scent assault my nostrils as I feel Ashlundt pass by into the ER. I stretch my nose toward him, searching for some sort of hope. I feel his desperation as he hurries past me with two words, “Stay, Luke.”
My stomach growls. I suppress the hunger. It doesn’t matter now. In trying to push away the anguish, my mind wanders back to when Sara left us. I was younger and not blind. She wanted to protect Ashlundt from the pain of her cancer. She must have known that he wouldn’t be able to cope with her being sick.
I’m not sure what makes him tick. It has to have something to do with his brother’s surfing accident. He blames himself to this day. Maybe that’s why he can’t cope with illness or imperfection in those he’s supposed to love. I once was his golden boy. We went everywhere together. Now, my blindness has pushed him further away from me.
I still feel Ashlundt’s athletic strength every once and a while. He’ll brush his large hands over me, and I can visualize his big frame and angular face bathed in his long, sun-lightened hair. I wish he knew how to cope with my blindness. It’s hard not to take it personally.
I wish I could cope better with my loss of sight. I’d always been a watcher. It must be part of my Lab nature. What scares me the most is that I can’t observe my humans, or help them now. Sara has always depended upon our unspoken bond. Ashlundt is another story. I’ve been through tough times with each of them, and I’ve had to be more like that human detective, Sherlock Holmes, than a dog for them. I am the product of a broken relationship.
It’s long past my evening meal when I feel Sara’s presence. I hear nothing but the despair in her voice. “Come, Luke.” She takes me by the collar and leads me to the car.
I sit in the backseat and slowly lay down. I know what has happened but can’t bare thinking of it. She is silent, but her pain is unbearable and palpable in the air. I think back to how Ashlundt pushed her away, even when he finally discovered she was sick. I fought so hard to help him try and win her back…
I’m jarred back to reality as the car stops. I hear the door open, then the backseat door. Sara whispers, “Let’s go inside, Luke.”
Slowly, I follow Sara into the house.
She says nothing as she fixes my kibble and leftover chicken, then leaves the room. My greatest fear has been realized.
After sating my hunger, I go to find Sara in her bedroom. She is lying across her bed in silence, tortured and bereft. Even though I’m not usually allowed on the bed, she says nothing as I crawl up next to her and place my head on her hip. I give out a whimpered cry of sorrow.
We lie together in silence for a long, long time. I have to go outside so badly that my bladder hurts, but I don’t dare leave Sara. She is so cold. I move closer to her, wanting her to feel my warmth, the warmth that Ashlundt should have offered. Time passes. My stomach begins to growl and adds to my discomfort, but it doesn’t matter. I will not leave her.
Sometime later the phone starts to ring. It must be morning. All those distraught voices leaving messages of sorrow on the answering machine. I crawl up to her face, pressing my nose on her cheek to see if she is asleep. Her hand softly touches the top of my head. “It’s okay, Lukey. Thank you for staying with me.” A ragged sigh escapes from her and is joined by my own.
Still we remain motionless. I think back to the chain of events until I started going blind. But, I’ve gotten way ahead of myself. I need to go back to the beginning so that you understand how we arrived at our darkest moment in time.


Unknown said...

Great post :-)

Carol McKibben said...

Burt, thanks! Many thanks as well to BK Walker Books.

Burt, what is your take on unconditional love? Give it your best shot, and you might win a free Kindle or print version of Luke's Tale!

Carol McKibben

Unknown said...

I think it is so funny (ironic funny) that you were around writing all the time, but never really wrote.

Carol McKibben said...

Rebecca, I wrote but for other people, not for myself. Now, I do both!