Questions and Answers with Author Charles A. Wilkinson
author of “Liam the Leprechaun” and “Contemplations in the Sometimes Quiet of a Hospital Room” and “The Dumb Thumb”
1. What are some of your favorite books or authors?My favorite book is usually the one I am reading at the moment. “People of the Book” is fascinating me these days; just finished “Cutting for Stone” and “Sarah’s Key,” “The Glass Castle” before that. I am what I call a “sip reader” – when I find a really good book I stretch out the pleasure as long as I can.
2. I have only read 1 of your books, Liam the Leprechaun. It seems as a “semi-retired” therapist you use ideas that stem from your experience as a therapist. Do all your books take aspects of that, or was Liam special?
I guess I write from my person, not my profession. I have always been into “being and becoming” and Liam is an embodiment of that. Same with ‘The Dumb Thumb” I wrote years ago when telling a child (a thumb sucker) that he had a dumb thumb and went on to give him a rough version of what I later put on paper. That book is long out of print but I’d love to get it back out there.
I have written pieces in the Evanston RountTable that have been therapy-related, though.
3. Does your experience as a therapist help your writing? If so, how?
My clients usually gave me more than I gave them: a sense of my own humanness, the need for truth at the core of self, and a clarity of just what a gift life is.
4. Do you have any writing rituals that keep you writing or get you started?
None that I know of. I have said that I write as if building a pyramid upside down. Start with a sentence (germ of an idea), write another sentence; rewrite the first, and so on, looking for the surprises along the way. I wish I could “dash things off” but then I would miss the fun of it – and be a slacker on the work involved. I will admit to carrying an idea inside me to let it grow and begin to become itself.
5. Do you have to believe in magical characters such as leprechauns to write about them?
I KNOW Liam, so I don’ have to believe in him. I believe in what I don’t know which offers a wide world of wonder and whimsy.
6. How did you come up with idea for Liam the Leprechaun?
I truly don’t know. He was just “there’ for a long time. Thought he was a trite take-off on “The Littlest Angel” or some such. But as I got to know him, he felt a bit different than that. You may have guessed that I believe that a story kind of gives itself to the writer as he creates it.
7. Is there a lesson or moral in all your books?
I feel shamefully didactic at times, especially in my RoundTable pieces. I work very hard at trying not to be preachy – but the teachy part usually shows itself.
“Contemplations in the Sometimes Quiet of a Hospital Room” is meant to be comforting and assuring. Again, that evolved over a number of years and I thought it would be a perfect little book for hospital gift shops. But I do not do marketing very well.
8. How do you straighten yourself out after having a day or a life where you feel, as Liam did, small and unseen?
I am fortunate to have much love in my life so those days are foreign to me at this stage. Earlier on, I had my moments…
My writing feels “small and unseen” generally but I live with that. I have a website – waysiderestarea.com - and two blogs I wish others might find, but I am back to that marketing shortcoming of mine.
9. Do you have any new books coming out soon?
Not soon enough. I have another children’s ms, “The Daisy That Didn’t Die” that is looking for an illustrator and publisher; a book of prosetry, titled “Being and Becoming.” In my semi-retirement I am finding time to have such dreams.
THANK SO MUCH CHARLES!