Name: Karla M. Jay
Where are you from?: Upstate, New York, a tiny town called Rose, population hovers around 2600
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc:
I’ve been a speech therapist (Prefer this over speech pathologist—that sounds like something died!) for 34 years, mostly in private practice. I still love it! I also love movies, travelling, and digging in dirt.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My second book, Speak of the Devil, will be out early June 2016. I didn’t realized when I started writing Speaking in Tungs, I’d be writing a series, but they say books write themselves, and darn it all if my first book didn’t do just that. So a series it is.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I was about nine I think when I knew I wanted to see words fill up a page. I guess I wasn’t very creative at because I’d open an encyclopedia and plagiarize the heck out of Britannica by typing exactly what I saw there.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was in college when a creative writing teacher made a big deal out of a short story I’d written. That’s when I decided to learn all about being a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
One of my patients survived the Bataan Death March and after reading a dozen biographies from guys who survived, I wrote a fictionalized version. Now that I look back, my writing hadn’t grown up yet and I see why I got 50 rejections. I am a pretty good expert though on the Pacific theatre during WWII.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I put humor in everything. And people tell me they see my book unfolding like a movie when they read, which makes sense since I see it as a movie when I write!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The phrases speaking in tongues went through my mind one day when I was planning out book. So I make up a town in rural Pennsylvania called Tungston, which the locals call Tungs for short. She’s a speech therapist—so Speaking in Tungs.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Don’t play with rattlesnakes might be one. I want people to laugh, to be caught up in the mystery, and to learn about speech therapy and to say, “Wow, I couldn’t stop reading.” There is a message about no matter how lost someone is, they can still prevail but I like it when readers to find their own meaning in a book.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I did home health visits in Salt Lake City for ten years. I could tell you stories all day about those years, the funny, the sad, the quirky, and the scary. The characters I created for Speaking in Tungs were never my patients, but it was easy for me to make up all kinds of issues for them. The speech therapy techniques in the book are all valid methods and I’ve used those often.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I read so much so I’d say no one book has influenced me. Growing up in a small town the library was my friend, and I fell in love with words early.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I was captivated by Paula Hawkins debut, The Girl on the Train, like 670,000 others (and that’s just on Goodreads.) Her story structure for this unveiling the mystery was a fresh way to tell a story—from an unreliable narrator’s point of view.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My husband, John, built a writing room off the living room (knocked out a wall and window) when he knew I was serious about writing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would love to be a full-time writer. I have so many stories inside that I hope I have the time to tell!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Every author wants to keep editing and revising, so yes, because we can’t help it!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I read The Boxcar Children and was transported to another world. It was just an abandoned boxcar but I wanted to live there, to eat out of chipped bowls, use broken furniture. Then I realized I wanted to make up stories like this.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I started a non-profit learning center 15 years ago called U CAN LEARN. We do more than speech therapy there, including therapy for dyslexia, ADHD and learning challenges.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Getting a new book going! It’s fun to connect with readers on a current book but at some point I have to get in my directors seat and start a new “movie.”
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Sometimes characters that I thought played a minor part in the story ended up being everyone’s favorites. So of course, they show up again in book two.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
You have to write a lot to hone your personal style and voice. Get as much feedback as possible, try writing short stories and flash fiction as well as your novel, but above all, just write.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’m THRILLED they love my book, staying up way too late reading, or they were watching the clock until work ended so they could get home to read some more. That’s what’s it’s all about, not the money, but the idea I entranced someone and made them want to stay in the world I created.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Son of Achilles, by Madeline Miller, another great debut!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“Death is a run-on sentence.” I just made that up and I think it’s funny!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so, what is it?