Interview: Kathleen Wakefield Author of In the Foam of the Blue Waves

Finalist of the 2018 Shelf Unbound Competition for Best Independently Published Book

Shelf Unbound: Tell us about your book.

Kathleen Wakefield: I began writing In the Foam of the Blue Waves from a distant unfulfilled desire to walk from Oregon to Mexico. I walked, in my mind, watching the seagulls, the waves, the blue skies—the skaters, surfers, and bodybuilders on the sand. Being a writer and songwriter, I put the idea away for a while, to continue, as Joni Mitchel writes: ”stoking the starmaker machinery behind the popular song,” and then—after having my first novella, “Snaketown,” published, I picked it up again, haunted by the recurring thought of ‘the walk.’

Shelf Unbound: How did you go about developing the book?

Wakefield: We, as a family, lived in California off and on, my father always one step ahead of us, California was the edge of the world to him, and then to me, and I learned somehow, that there’s not a time in California, you don’t consider the edge. I come from a Mormon background, my grandmother as a baby, crossing the plains to the “promised land” in the West. Her book, The Handcart Trail, speaks of that journey. My father at a young age became a missionary, beginning his own search for something to believe in. In the Foam of the Blue Waves was, at first, imagined as a short story, but the search for father, as I began to see these pilgrimages, all of the became a larger and more complicated journey than I had anticipated, and though inventing my own narrative, I was compelled to follow.

Shelf Unbound: What was the experience of writing this book like for you?

Wakefield: California shakes, burns, floods, tosses, acclaims and diminishes all in one breath. Writing In In the Foam of the Blue Waves reminded me of that, and frightened me all over again.

Shelf Unbound: What writing advice do you have to offer for other indie writers?

Wakefield: Write. Sit down and write. Send in, join, read, study all possibilities of getting published. I remember reading about a famous NY author who, in trying to get her first book published, wrapped her manuscript in brown paper and twine, went to a small Midwestern town and mailed it to publishers from there. Writing my first book, Snaketown, I considered that as a possibility.

Shelf Unbound: What are you working on next?

Wakefield: I’m working on a mystery, Rosalie on the Mountain, a story I thought would follow the usual mystery format, but doesn’t seem to want to. There are, however, ‘the usual suspects”—a body, a best friend angry detective; a blistering, foreboding, high-desert sierra landscape—mining, opium, and enough of a shady citizenry to worry about, so I’m going back over pages, to let Rosalie be my guide. She’s on the mountain now—windows and doors closed on streets below—silent as a prayer. 

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