Interview with a WEbook Author


WEbook interviews one of our fantastic new authors, Lanette Kauten, about her exciting new book House of Thistles:

WEbook: So Lanette, tell us about your experience working with WEbook to publish 'House of Thistles'.

Lanette Kauten: The one-on-one attention I've received from the WEbook staff has been phenomenal. They take the time to listen to their authors and to collaborate with us. I have learned of many instances in which the authors lost control over their books once the manuscripts were in their publishers' hands, but with WEbook, I had a voice in every step of the process. I felt like I was a partner in this venture.

WB: Where did the idea for House of Thistles come from?

LK: I was struggling to find my 'voice', which is a common problem for many writers. I played with different writing styles and genres, never believing that my skills were all that strong. Finally, in complete frustration, I asked myself what kind of stories I enjoy. That's sort of a 'duh' question, bit it was an enlightening moment for me. My immediate response was 'stories with tragic family secrets with long-reaching consequences'. I also thought of the movie 'Flesh and Bone'. I won't talk about the merits of the movie itself, but I loved the story because of the horror that shaped the two main characters; as a side note, it was also set in Texas. Anyway, as a result of this little talk I had with myself, I decided to write the kind of book I would love to read, and it's filled with broken characters dealing with a single incident that has shattered their lives.

WB: You inferred that House of Thistles takes place in Texas. Is there anything significant about the setting?

LK: For one thing, I've always lived in Texas. I'm not opposed to living elsewhere, but this is where I've always been. The 'house' mentioned in the title is based on a house I lived in for a few years when I was a little girl. It's just outside the limits of a small town called Ferris, but, unlike the house in the book, only the shell still stands. I could have placed the house in any number of small Texas towns, but I have always had a special place in my heart for the first town I remember living in... or rather, near.

WB: I hear a lot of people clamour for novels with a strong, female character. What can you tell us about Allie Baxter, your main character?

LK: There's a part of her that is strong because she has managed to graduate college, adopt a child, and function relatively well in life despite a troubled childhood. However, that's as far as it goes with her because she is broken. Frankly, I find it somewhat insulting that female characters have to be 'strong'. You never hear of people asking for strong male characters. Male characters can have quirks, be broken, interesting, neurotic, volatile, and all manners of psychological badassness (yes, 'badassness' is a word because I say so!). Women in fiction, on the other hand, have to be strong, as though we have to elevate ourselves beyond a stereotype of what we are. I think that's absolute garbage. Some women are strong, while some are weak. Some men are strong, while some are weak. To insist that women in literature be strong both suggests that we have to prove ourselves, while at the same time lessening who we truly are. We have quirks, some women are broken; we're interesting, neurotic, volatile, and more complicated than men. Literature should reflect that.

WB: Is Allie you?

LK: My husband says she is an alternate version of myself, what I would have been like if circumstances were different. However, I don't think that assessment is completely accurate because I can't imagine any universe where I would have made the same bad decisions she made. I will say that her thoughts and attitudes are an exaggerated version of mine. She's snarky and cynical, while I'm snarky and optimistic. I've joked that my spiritual gift is sarcasm, but unlike Allie, my sarcasm is never meant to be caustic. I'm more fun-loving than that. Another thing is Allie is wary of people, and it sometimes comes across as her not liking people; although, her self-sacrificial nature says otherwise. Like Allie, I'm an introvert, but I love people and being around them. I'm quiet and a bit nerdy.

WB: Do you have a favourite character in the book?

LK: That's a tough question because I adore most of them. Maxine, Allie's sister, is a great character. Like Allie, she is broken, but she shows it in very different ways. She's also the more giving and the more loving of the two sisters. Steven's great because he's Allie's rock and shows her the depths of love men are capable of; besides, he's based on my own wonderful husband. I also love Harley. She's smart, witty, and irreverent, and she handles problems with an amazing inner strength that completely befuddles Allie. Even though, I don't write YA, I'm very tempted to keep her around for another story, but we'll see...

WB: Could you briefly explain your writing process?

LK: Writing process? I don't need no stinkin' writing process! Some writers meticulously write out their outlines, while some, like me, are what we call pantsers, meaning I write by the seat of my pants. I allow my characters to tell me their story. I see myself as more of a secretary taking down dictation than one who controls the aspects of my characters' lives. It's their lives and their story, adding to what they've told me so that instead of sketchy details, what's written is a richly drawn scene.

Lanette's book House of Thistles will be released soon, and is a project that has been created right here on WEbook, with the help and support of her fellow WEbook friends and authors. 

Excerpt from House of Thistles:

When I turned another corner, a white house stood out in the middle of a bare field to the left of the road. I parked in front of it by the rusted mailbox. I looked straight ahead at the road with a sense that if I turned my head, I would finally have to face the reason I had come. My shoulders slumped as I took the key out of the ignition. It was time.
The house loomed in the distance.
Always. Except for today. Today, it stood in front of me. Empty, dark, and very small. Shadows of the past blanketed every step I took. Shrouding. Stifling.
Thirty years ago, it was a grand two-story farm house with a living room that took up half of the downstairs floor, and a kitchen large enough to rival that of a fine restaurant. Wasn’t it funny how houses shrank with the growing age of the observer?
            The sight of my dad on his riding mower and the smell of freshly cut grass had been replaced by weeds burnt by the sun’s rays. At least now the thistles weren’t tall enough to attack me. Not even the purple heads of hell could survive this neglect.
            The grass crunched underneath my feet as I stalked closer to the front porch. Five sets of green shutters against the dingy, white siding were in disrepair, emphasizing the age of the house. I was with my mother when she picked them out. At least, I think I was. I was maybe three and too young to hold on to inconsequential memories—and far too young for some of the memories I had and couldn’t forget.

House of Thistles will be available soon, exclusive to WEbook... 

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  1. An interesting/enlightening interview, Lanette. I love your book cover too (spotted it on the WEbook home page) - beautiful! 'All the best' for the release of 'House of Thistles'.

  2. Lanette, The passage you posted appeals to my senses. I can't wait to read it!

  3. As one of the fortunate WEbookers who have had the privilege of reading 'House of Thistles', I want to thank Lanette for creating such a memorable character in Allie. I love how imperfectly human she is and that her life didn't miraculously snap into place once she was able to face her past. Congratulations ~ you earned it!


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