Bringing Characters Alive: Sue Monk Kidd Tells “Musing”

January 31, 2014 Deborah Wilbrink

Double-click cover to open Musing Interview with Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd’s characters spring to life in The Secret Life of Bees, with plenty of dialogue and description. It’s a book you can’t put down. Enough readers thought so to make it into a popular movie.  Kidd creates new characters for The Invention of Wings and shares some of that creation in “Musing.” Kidd offers her perspective on a common query – “How do you create characters who are very different from yourself?”

Writers were experimenting with this a couple of weeks ago in a lesson about creating character and writing dialog, in my creative writing class for novel and memoir, “Write Your Own Classic.” The class is stand-alone, and we’re looking at morals, life lessons, themes, styles, and voice in the next few weeks. ( for details.) It was so great to see this pertinent piece in my mailbox, ready to share. Thanks, Parnassus and Niki Castle!

In a class, one interacts with peers and mentors; establishes routines; finds motivation. Writers, of course, also learn from reading. This month, Nashville independent bookstore Parnassus Books,  launches “Musing.”  The literary journal that will spotlight conversations with a wide range of authors, including the shop’s co-owner, Ann Patchett, whose blog will be a highlight. 

“In Greek mythology, Mount Parnassus was home to the muses, the goddesses of inspiration for literature and the arts,” says Karen Hayes, who co-owns the store with Patchett. “Musing is a way for us to share what inspires us at Parnassus Books.” If you are on the hero’s journey to becoming a writer, a stop at Parnassus will inspire; perhaps you’ll find another mentor or tool there.

The well-read staff at Parnassus are known for their enthusiasm in helping customers find just the right book, and they’ll have a voice on Musing as well. Each month, staffers will offer up their list of favorites. “One of our goals is that no one will ever have to say, ‘I can’t find anything to read,’” says Hayes. For more information – or to subscribe — visit (or click over from the store’s main site at

Representatives of authors wishing to be considered for interviews may contact Niki Castle at

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“The Best Book is Your Own Story.”
Deborah Wilbrink

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