Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Chat with Trail Mix author Paulita Kincer

Hi Paulita, please discuss your journey of writing your novels and specifically about Trail Mix


The thing that is true for all of my novels, if that they have had meandering journeys. Trail Mix is the second novel I wrote, but it was published third.

When I write, I have a jumping off spot, but I have no idea where the characters will land. And although, I have ideas about the main plot, I’m constantly surprised by the extra complications that are thrown into the story.

In Trail Mix, my main characters Andi and Jess are best friends. They both juggle jobs and teenage/young adult children who seem to find trouble. Plus they are going through transitions with their husbands, so any of these things can cause the plot to twist in new directions.

What I didn’t count on, was that this journey along the Appalachian Trail would challenge their friendship.

In hopes of escaping a steamy Florida summer and the chaos of their children’s adult lives, Andi and Jess decide to hike the Appalachian Trail as the ultimate diet plan. Jess doesn’t exercise regularly, but she has amazing willpower to stick to a diet. Andi works out like wolves are chasing behind her, but she can’t resist a mocha or a pastry, even if someone offered her a thousand dollars. The friends figure their strengths and weaknesses will balance.

As the two attempt to hike the 2,168-mile trail, Jess tries to enjoy each amazing moment, from the crystal clear water they pump, to the surprise of a crisp covering of snow one morning, to the view of the mountains undulating away in a smoky, blue haze. Andi sees the hike as something to check off her list. She wants to hike faster every day and chomps in impatience at Jess’ methodical hike. Andi feels her strength growing and knows that the hike will end in some well-toned thighs, which was their goal, after all. Then when Andi meets another woman who wants to trek fast, she’s tempted to leave her best friend behind with the slower hikers. Her competitive spirit can’t sit back and watch that other woman hike faster. The two friends face a crisis that could break their bond and leave the pieces along the trail.

Even as I’m writing, I always hope that long-term relationships will stick, but they don’t always. In my novel, The Summer of France, the main character realizes that her husband is not part of the life she always wanted.

I won’t tell you what happens to these friends, but I will tell you that I try to let the characters lead the way and make their own decisions, whether I think they’re right or wrong.

Thanks for letting me explore the writing process on your blog.  



About The Book



TitleTrail Mix
Author: Paulita Kincer
Publisher: Oblique Presse
Publication Date: August 30, 2014
Format: Paperback / eBook (.mobi format for Kindle)
Pages: 220
ISBN: 978-1312462502
Genre: Women's Fiction / Travel / Adventure


Buy The Book:




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Book Description:

In the tradition of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, comes a novel of two suburban women who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail, escaping their lives as moms and wives in search of nature, adventure, and the ultimate diet plan.

How does a woman know what she wants after spending 20 years thinking about her husband and children? Sometimes it takes a distraction from everyday life, time to examine the forest before the trees become clear. With no previous camping experience, Andi and Jess begin the 2100-mile odyssey from Georgia to Maine. The friends figure life on the trail can’t possibly be worse than dealing with disgruntled husbands, sullen teens home from college, and a general malaise that has crept up in their daily lives. At the very least, the women are bound to return home thin.


Book Excerpt:

Prologue

Raindrops trickled down Jess’ nose. Her sodden boots plodded along, squooshing the mud with each step.
“Why did I do this?” She threw her head back, her face raised in lament to the sky. The hood of her rain poncho slipped off. The empty forest around her offered no answer, just a steady rain. Then, far above the treetops, she glimpsed a bolt of lightning streaking toward a nearby mountain and heard an answering boom of thunder. She cringed and scuttled faster down the trail.
For nearly two hours, since the wind first whispered its urgency through the leaves, and the raindrops began to fall, Jess had been hiking through the thunderstorm with no place to stop and dry off. No place to get warm. No offer of coffee or a dryer where she could heat up her clingy socks. She walked alone on the Appalachian Trail.
Like being in the middle of labor and deciding she didn’t want to give birth after all, Jess could not turn back. Well, she could turn back, but she would find only more of the same -- woods and rain and an endless trail.
This adventure was all Andi’s idea. As Jess trudged through the forest in the unrelenting rain, she blamed her best friend and hiking companion, Andi, who had pushed the hike as a great way to lose weight. And, when Jess’ teenagers took off for the summer leaving a big gap where the role of mother used to be, she thought a hike with Andi might fill that space. Andi, who, with her long legs, strode ahead, maybe miles away by now, claiming she had to hurry to the nearest shelter to keep the tent dry. Andi had tucked Jess’ poncho around her pack before presenting her back for Jess to return the favor.
“See you at the shelter,” Andi had called. “Only about three miles farther.”
In the city, a three-mile walk might take 45 minutes, an hour if she stopped to window shop. Here, in the mountains, it could last days as she climbed up peaks and descended into valleys. Oh, who was she kidding? She would never walk three miles in the city. She would get in her car and drive.
The thunder crashed louder, and Jess eyed the spiky greenery of a large fir tree. She could take cover under the tree, be a little bit sheltered. Even as she considered taking refuge, she stumbled past the tree, walking, walking.
Tears joined the rain on her face. She felt trapped. No exit ramps in sight. She could only continue to walk.
The wind ripped at her poncho as she climbed slippery stones that had been placed to form stairs. At the top, the wind gusts grew stronger and tried to push her back down. She hurried on along the ridge. Her walking poles dug into the mud that edged the rocks along the path.
On this crest, she stood exposed to the wind and rain and lightning. Rhododendron bushes lined the trail below, but the only plant that dared to peek through the crevices on this crag was a lone sycamore tree. If Jess could escape this bare slope, the trees ahead would provide an arching umbrella across the trail. As she started to descend with the trail, her boot slid across a slick stone, and she toppled backward in slow motion. She wheeled her arms, trying to right herself, but could not stop the plunge until her backpack hit the ground, and she landed – thump – on top of it.
This was supposed to be a diet plan, not a death sentence, she thought, lying on her back like a turtle on its shell, her arms and legs sprawled helplessly at her side. I may drown. The downpour pummeled her full in the face, but she lacked the energy to sit up, free herself from the 30-pound pack, heft it onto her back, and start the hike again.
As the rain doused her face, she slipped one arm from her pack and turned onto her side, away from the sky. For just a moment, she allowed herself to rest, curled into the fetal position beside her pack. A tingle began in her spine, and, in the moment she pondered why—everything went black.


 About The Author



Paulita Kincer is the author of three novels, The Summer of FranceI See London I See Franceand Trail Mix. She has an M.A. in journalism from American University and has written for The Baltimore Sun, The St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune, and The Columbus Dispatch. She currently teaches college English and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three children.


Connect with Paulita:
Author Website: paulitakincer.com



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