Khristin Wierman never thought she would become a published author. In fact, before writing her debut novel, Buck’s Pantry (SparkPress, Sept.)—the story of three women whose lives unexpectedly intertwine at a Texas convenience store—she had a corporate career.
While fulfilling in its own right, it didn’t really make Wierman happy. But like many people, Wierman didn’t think a writing career was a viable option. “I had no idea I wanted to write novels,” she says. “If someone had suggested that path, I would have laughed and thought it impossible.” Wierman ultimately left her job and had a chance to reevaluate what mattered to her. Along with that opportunity to reflect came moments of fear and anxiety.
“I barreled straight into a huge crisis of self,” she says. “Who would I be if I wasn’t the SVP of something? I quickly realized I had no idea what I wanted to do or how to go about figuring that out.” Despite the bumpy road to her first book, Wierman discovered that all it took was sitting down and writing one scene, then another, and another. “Even though taking those first steps was weirdly terrifying, there was also comfort,” she says. “It’s hard to describe, but I’d just never felt that combination of excitement and joy and peace in any type of work-like endeavor.”
Wierman had always been a reader, drawn particularly toward those stories that provide equal amounts of escapism, depth, and humor. She hopes her book will do the same for readers who enjoy those types of stories. “Each of us deserves moments of rest and rejuvenation—reading has always been that for me,” she says. “If my book doesn’t achieve that for someone, I hope they’ll stop reading and find a book that does.”
Wierman decided to write Buck’s Pantry from multiple points of view. Creating her characters’ voices was an exercise in melding her own lived experiences with her imagination. “For me—which is only one writer’s perspective—any character whose head I’m going to inhabit has to begin with something I’ve experienced myself, at least to some degree,” she says. “Then it becomes about imagining roads not taken or circumstances that could have been different.”
About the character Gillian, Wierman—a native Texan—says, “Gillian’s childhood was easy for me to conjure. If I had not chosen a corporate career and moved to the East Coast, I could have easily found myself in her life. Gillian’s coming to terms with the black-and-white view of the world that was always presented to her as fact versus perspective was something I experienced myself.” Wierman’s connection to the character Lianna comes from the feeling of being uprooted when moving from Texas to the East Coast. And, finally, character Aimee’s struggles stem from Wierman’s “own experiences with a mother who suffered from mental illness.”
Life brings one unexpected development after another. If Wierman never anticipated becoming a published author, she certainly never thought she would have anything to say to emerging writers, but she’s found she’s learned a lot. First off, she points out that most of us have to contend with an internal, doubting voice that prevents many would-be writers from getting started. “You won’t know if you never sit down and write a line,” she says. “Finding strong editors or writing coaches can also be a huge help.” It certainly was for Wierman with the team at SparkPress. Finally, she urges authors to remember that’s it’s rare for a book to be universally loved. “The sooner you figure out a way to come to terms with the fact that some people will not like what you write, the more peace you’ll find,” she says. “You will be astounded at how good it feels—at how over the moon you will be—when one single person reads and enjoys your story.”
Wierman’s approach appears to be working. She’s already written a second book called This Time Could Be Different, slated for publication on the SparkPress roster in September 2023.