Author Interview: Kate Tyler Wall

How did your day job impact your writing?

I am managing editor for a U.S. history journal. Local history in particular fascinates me. Every place has an interesting past, even suburbia. Whether you realize it or not, that history and the geography of the place has an impact on the way you live now. Spending so much time immersed in history definitely influenced how I approached writing Arboria Park, how I researched the area that inspired the story, and how I developed the connections between a family and a neighborhood over 50 years.

What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the world-building within your book?

The neighborhood in the book was inspired by the development I lived in until I was 12. A few years ago part of it was torn down for a road-building project, including houses that belonged to schoolmates and my mother’s best friend. I tried to imagine a family that had lived in the same place for generations being told their entire community would be bulldozed, and I brought in some real history of the area and some things from the place I currently live. And I imagined the neighborhood as a hotbed of punk rock, which to my knowledge the real one was not.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

I wanted to show the changes in a family and a neighborhood. The family starts as very typical in a community they believe is made up of people just like them, and the story shows how they evolve and react to changes over time. The saddest, most bitter character in the book rejects change and anyone not like herself; the happiest ones embrace what life has to offer. This is very much what our society is grappling with right now. In fact there never was an ideal time when everything worked perfectly and everyone was exactly the same. There was a lot of hidden dysfunction during earlier eras, and there is much to be appreciated in a more diverse environment.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

I wanted to explore something we seldom see in literature: Books about suburbia tend to focus on upper-middle-class characters and what Seinfeld described as “stockings and martinis and William Holden.” You don’t see working-class, post-war neighborhoods explored much in a positive way, and certainly not the changes to them after their birth in the 1950s. A lot of people grew up in these places and even have some happy memories of them, for all the conformity and damage that are part of the experience. And the other major influence, aside from history, is punk rock. Not many books explore that, and it fits in with people who are trying to save their neighborhood without much experience of political organizing. It’s the people who have been putting on basement shows for years who know how to get things done. I’ve also written a few short stories taking place in years not covered in the book, featuring new characters or minor ones from the novel, in case readers want to know what else was going on in the Park!

My social media contacts:


Twitter @KateBegins2Rock


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