Kim Wright: Finding Closure In MID AIR

The starred Publishers Weekly review for Kim Wright’s debut novel, Love in Mid Air, may have aroused my interest, but I really wanted to read the book and host Wright on her blog tour because the lead character’s name is Elyse. In all the books I’ve read in my entire life—and that’s a WHOLE lot—I’ve never encountered a protagonist who shared my first name (have you?). Thankfully, the similarity ends there.

Kim with Otis

Elyse is unhappy in her marriage with a husband who, while not an outright jerk, is frustratingly uncommunicative. She meets an attractive man on a plane and wonders if she should jump into a possibly destructive situation or remain in a comfortable suburban life that “most women would be happy with” but Elyse feels is suffocating. It’s the equivalent of choosing to skydive or stay seated with your seat belt fastened and tray in the upright position.

Because Kim based the story on her own experience (though Elyse is NOT her), I asked if writing the book gave her a satisfying do-over or helped her find closure on any unresolved issues. I give her the floor as she responds.

In a way, writing a novel is one big “do over,” a chance to revisit old conflicts and wounds but this time you’re infinitely more clever because you’ve had years to come up with the perfect response. Natalie Goldberg says in her memoir, Old Friend From Far Away, “Writing gives you a second chance.”

So yeah, I guess you can use a novel to re-imagine events in your personal history, only now you have the authorial power to punish the guilty and reward the innocent and say all the things you wish you’d said the first time.

But I didn’t use Elyse’s story that way. I wrote Love in Mid Air in first person present tense—we see what’s happening to her as it’s happening— so she’s not always thinking clearly. Divorce makes you crazy. You do and say things you never would have believed you’d possibly do or say. To make Elyse all balanced and perfect and aware of what was happening around her would have been a bit of a cheat. I wanted to show what it’s like for a woman in the moment that her whole world is coming apart in her hands. Show a smart woman doing stupid things.

But on a different level, writing a novel does give you closure. Not in the sense you get to go back and fix things, but in the sense that it requires you to imagine how a situation looked from all sides—what Elyse’s friends were thinking, as well as her daughter, her husband, and her lover. I had to give them reactions and dialogue, too, so there were points in the book where I stepped back from Elyse and tried to create the bigger picture. Seeing a situation from someone else’s point of view may be the ultimate closure.

Thanks so much, Kim, for taking time to answer my question and being so open and unflinching with Elyse. Best of luck with the book and rest of the tour!

Readers, hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Kim. For more info, visit the book’s website or click on the link if you’re interested in buying Love in Mid Air.



  • Reply
    Kim Wright
    March 30, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Thanks for hosting me, Elyse, and thanks for th great post. I have to tell you I love the name and chose it for my heroine after I tutored a child at the local elementary school named Elyse. She didn’t like reading – that’s why I was chosen as her buddy – and I promised her that if she finished all the books on her list I’d name a character in my book after her. Love in Mid Air isn’t exactly fifth grade reading material but she was still really tickled when I ripped out one (carefully chosen) page, highlighted the name, framed it, and presented it to her. Anything to get kids to read!!!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      March 30, 2010 at 10:28 am

      That is such a great story, Kim! I might need to get an extra copy so I can highlight and tear pages out and frame them like you did for little Elyse. Or maybe I should just tell a bunch of authors I can’t read so they’d name characters after me, too!

      • Reply
        Kim Wright
        March 30, 2010 at 10:40 am

        You know, that is a good scam. Convince people you can’t read and suddenly you’ll see your name in the NY Times Book Review!

  • Reply
    March 30, 2010 at 10:57 am

    It reminds me of Fear Of Flying by Erica Jong though without as much of the free love and sex angle. Or is there something you two aren’t revealing? LOL!

    It’s not like nobody has ever gone through the situation you’re writing about. Sadly, it seems a recurring experience that happens in every marriage.

    If Publisher’s Weekly gave it a star and PCN is behind it, then you can count on me to check it out on own.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Now that you mention it, I don’t recall ever reading anything with a protagonist named Elyse, either!

    I’ve never been married but like what Kim said about keeping Elyse realistic. I can’t stand it when I read books about women going through breakups and it’s all about empowerment so the woman makes all the right decisions and gets to tell off her jerk of an ex and walk away with a fabulous new hairdo and wardrobe because right at the time she left her ex, she landed an amazing new job that pays loads. I mean, doesn’t that happen to everyone? LOL.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2010 at 11:04 am

    I love the quote on Kim’s home page, it’s so true:

    “You always forget this part, that life regenerates itself underground through the winter, that happiness comes back. You forget that your body has the capacity for joy, that it craves it like water. You forget that one thing can end and another can begin. There is always a way out through the broken places…”

    Thanks for the introduction, PCN!

  • Reply
    Brett Battles
    March 30, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Congratulations on the publication of your debut, Kim! I totally get the “finishing a novel is closure” thing. So true.

  • Reply
    Kim Wright
    March 30, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks for all your comments, everyone. I hope that you will check out the book – and that you enjoy it. And thanks to Elyse for being such a great hostess!

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    March 31, 2010 at 6:29 am

    I’ve never read a book with an Elyse in it, either! And it’s such a pretty name.

    Thanks for introducing me to Kim and her debut novel, PCN. And Otis. Now, he’d definitely be worth knocking back an attractive man on a plane for.

    Congratulations, Kim!

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