Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wynn in Doubt by Emily Hemmer

I never could have imagined the affect this story would have on me.  Even putting it into words now is difficult.  I'm sure that not everyone will have the same reaction that I did, but I really felt as though the story spoke to me on a personal level.

Wynn Jeffries' life hasn't exactly gone that way she'd imagined.  The girl "most likely to succeed" wasn't exactly a success story.  She hadn't done any of the things she wanted.  She was living alone in a tiny apartment, wearing second hand clothes and working in the local bar.  Not exactly a dream come true.

But then she discovers a newspaper article among her grandmother's things.  A newspaper article with a picture of Wynn's great-grandmother, a woman whom she was told had died when her grandmother was just a little girl.  But from the date on the article, and the info it contains, it looks more like her great grandmother abandoned her family.  But why?  And why does Wynn feel such a strong pull to uncover the entire story?

And then there is Oliver Reeves, the boy who kissed her once and has been haunting her dreams ever since. Oliver, who followed his dreams to become a musician.  On the same day she finds the article, Oliver walks back into her life and he pushes her to uncover her family history.

What will she discover about her family history and about herself?

So why did this story invade my heart and soul?  Well, there are several similarities between Wynn and myself.  We are both the middle child of three girls.  Wynn was always there for her family.  She put her life on hold to be there for them. In a way, I've done the same.  My two sisters both went off after high school to do their thing and I stayed close to home.  I didn't go to college.  I got a job.  I stayed.  And when my Mom got sick, I was here.  I was the one that everyone called when they needed something.  I have traveled some and I did get married, but part of me feels like I haven't lived.  And reading Wynn in Doubt really brought it all home for me.  But, I think it's a sign.  

When my husband and I got married....nearly 10 years ago now, we talked about moving.  And within the last year, we have said we'll move across the country in 2015. Next year!  I have been a bit of a nervous wreck because I've never taken such a big step and it scares me like you wouldn't believe. So I feel like Wynn spoke to me.  I feel like this was a sign telling me to take that step.  

I won't say that I'm not still scared about what the future holds, but how can I not go for it?

Emily said this book is about dreams, but I think it's so much more than that.  It's about life and what happens when you aren't really sure what your dreams are or where your life is supposed to go.  It's about falling into place, a complacent life where people look at you one way but you really think you were meant to be someone else.  Wynn in Doubt made me take a look at my own life and wonder.

About Emily:

Emily Hemmer was raised in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago before settling in Kansas City in 1996. She was raised in a house full of women and can therefore shower, blow-dry her hair, and apply full makeup in twenty minutes flat. A huge fan of romantic comedies, Emily was overjoyed to learn that her college roommate could recite every word of the movie ‘Clueless,’ until she realized that was the only VHS tape her roommate owned. Emily dropped out of college and to this day, blames the listless years of her twenties on the words, “As if!” She completed her degree after an extended eleven-year semester break.

Married in 1998, Emily and her husband ‘Mr. T’ have two beautiful children now entering their teenage years. Her mother assures her that these years are not meant as punishment for parents, but as a source of great hilarity and recompense for grandparents. A sweet yellow lab, a jerk-face Viszla puppy, and an evil Siamese cat make up the rest of the family.

In October 2012, Emily learned she came in 2nd place for the SFARWA ‘s Heart-to-Heart contest (for contemporary single title romance) for her first work, The Break-Up Psychic. This work has been a true labor of love and is the basis for all of Emily’s future happiness. But she’s trying not to put too much pressure on herself.


Q&A with Emily Hemmer:

Roc n' Read:  What was the inspiration for Wynn in Doubt? - 

Emily Hemmer:  The original idea came from learning about the life and death of my gg grandmother.  She was this young, beautiful woman, married to the wrong man, and her life was cut tragically short just as she was trying to change it.  I’ve included her story as the forward to the book.  When it comes down to it, I wanted to, in some way, give her story another ending.

Roc n' Read:  You had said: “if you’re wondering – I’ve accomplished what I set out to achieve” with this book.  Can you elaborate? 
Emily Hemmer:  Early on in the writing process telling this story became something of a mission for me. I wanted to get people fired up. I wanted to help them remember what it was like to dream, to want things, and get them moving back in the direction of possibility.  I think as we grow up we lose a lot of our childish wonder.  The blinders fall off and we see the world as it truly is.  And it’s hard.  It’s a reality we must accept but at the same time life is fluid, always moving and pushing you in new directions.  We just have to be willing to swim against the current once in a while. If reading this book gets you thinking about those opportunities, I’ve accomplished what I set out to achieve with this story.

Roc n' Read:  Wynn is the middle child of all girls (so am I), but I know you are the youngest of the three girls in your family.  Why did you decide to make her the middle child?  Are there parts of her that are just like your sister? 

Emily Hemmer:  No, she is nothing like my middle sister - if anything she’s me!  Always wanting, wanting, wanting.  But there’s this idea out there that the middle child is often the one that gets stuck.  The oldest is determined to prove themselves, the baby is left to explore who they want to be and the middle floats between the two.  Stalled between what they ‘should’ do and what they ‘want' to do.  Or at least, that's always been my interpretation.  My middle sister, by the way, has never let anything stand in her way.  Ultimately Wynn is who she is, regardless of birth order.

Roc n' Read:  Wynn in Doubt is quite different from your other books.  Were you concerned about how your fans would react to this different style? 

Emily Hemmer:  Without doubt.  I really went back and forth on even attempting to write it at the beginning.  But ultimately I asked myself, what do I want out of this experience (writing)?  And the answer was/is that I want to connect with people in a way that feels honest to me.  That means writing what’s in my heart.  I know there are writers out there that write series after series because those books sell.  Let me tell you, I wish I could be one of them!  I really do.  But the chance to grow and become a versatile storyteller is more important to me.  And you can remind me I said that when I’m eating ramen noodles five nights a week.  :)

Roc n' Read:  Have you ever had a chance to travel like Wynn? If not, where would you like to travel to? 

Emily HemmerWhen I was about 26 I went to Europe solo for a week.  I’d had this moment of sheer panic months before when I realized I was 26 and hadn’t seen anything or been anywhere.  I was married with two children and as much as they enriched my life (and still do), I was missing something.  I was missing whatever it is that fills us with hope on a personal level.  I’m not talking about being a wife or mother, I’m talking about being me.  Emily.  We add to our lives when we love others but that love does not, or should not, replace the love we have for ourselves.  So I went to London and France (I’ve been back since) and went to museums and stood on top of the Eiffel Tower and rode on a double-decker bus and somewhere along the way rediscovered my passion for life, for travel and experience.  A passion that remains just as strong today!

Roc n' Read:  Do you have any go to vices while writing? Any must have snacks?  Is there a special place where you do your writing? 

Emily Hemmer:  Not really - though I have to write in absolute silence.  The board above my desk is covered in postcards from strangers all over the world.  I belong to this great endeavor called PostCrossing which connects people from across the globe via postcards.  They remind me of how many opportunities there are to connect with people, and that excites me. :)

Roc n' Read:  In many ways, Wynn travels back in time during this book.  If you could go back in time, is there anything about your life that you would change? 

Emily HemmerIf you’d asked me this question in my twenties I would’ve come up with twenty different alternatives for my life.  But time offers perspective.  There’s no use regretting the past.  There are no do overs.  So, for me, the best way to live is with the desire to keep moving forward.  And that means not giving the past more sway over your life than the present.  The future will come in its own time.

Roc n' Read:  Personally, I am not a fan of my favorite books becoming movies.  But if you had to cast a Wynn in Doubt movie, who would you want to play Wynn, Oliver, etc.? 

Emily Hemmer:  That’s a hard one!  I don’t want to change the characters in the minds of the reader in any way so if you don’t mind I think I’ll keep those answers to myself for now.  I hope this story will be personal to every person reading it.  And so they’ll have their own Oliver’s and their own Wynn’s.  And those characters will be exactly who they should be, for that reader.  

Roc n' Read:  In case you hadn't realized, I so loved this story!  Thank you for writing it.  

Emily Hemmer:  Thank you so much!  I am very excited for the release and so happy people are enjoying this little journey of Wynn’s.   <3  Em


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1 comment:

  1. oh god Raquel!! I loved loved loved your last paragraph! "It's about life and what happens when you aren't really sure what your dreams are or where your life is supposed to go." SPOT ON!!
    I can only hope that this book touches others the way that that it obviously spoke to you and I!
    I invite you to go read my Goodreads review because our feeling for this book are very similar.
    And here is wishing you luck on your 2015 adventures!! to use a quote from Wynn: I’ve been stuck. I haven’t moved forward. I’ve been lazy with my dreams and that’s worse than fear because at least if I was afraid it’d mean I was trying to change. But I’m not, and I haven’t been for a long time.