Rachel Karns, author of the recently reviewed “Gray” was kind enough to answer some questions for the Examiner. This is the first part of the interview. If you’re interested in reading “Gray”, ask your local Upper Hudson Library to purchase a copy from Amazon or your local Albany bookstore to purchase copies from Create Space.
Part of your novel, Gray, talks about the problems reintroducing the Gray Wolf to the Idaho area. What made you decide to include this in your story?
After reading about the Gray wolves being reintroduced in Idaho in 1994 from a pack in Canada, and then they repopulated so quickly and efficiently, then were delisted, and then hunted in 2009, and then relisted as endangered again in 2010, I saw what a complex issue reintroducing a top predator into the wild is. I felt like this very real issue would make a great subplot to a character driven story, especially with the themes of gray areas and coming to understand multiple points of view. The wolves are fascinating, and are greatly loved by one group of people and hated by another.
Many YA books find some way to remove the parents so that the teen has to solve her problems on her own. In the beginning of the story Maggie’s parents are on vacation. One of the things I liked about Gray was that you had the parents come back and included the conflict between them. They weren’t typical YA-novel clueless parents; they saw a problem and tried to intervene. Why was it important to have them be a part of the story?
I wanted the parents to come home and see the problems that their child got into, but also for kids to realize that parents have the ability to understand their issues. Parents have been teens before too. They’ve been there. One of the points that I wanted to hone in on is that the teenage experience is very real—for them. Sometimes parents and teens go amiss because teens aren’t validated, and vice-versa. Mutual understanding can lead to an awesome relationship between parent and child, and I believe that is what most teens want desperately…to be understood and taken seriously by their parents.
Running often helps Maggie think about her problems and come up with solutions. Did you use running to help you write Gray?
Yes, of course. I run five mornings a week, and it is usually during a run when an idea or a plot change will hit me. I’ve just recently heard that during exercise your brain experiences high levels of oxygen, and often your brain is more vivid and active during exercise. I attribute running to a lot of thinking in my life, and peacemaking. I get my ideas usually during a run, or during church. (oops!)
Stay tuned for more from author Rachel Karns.