Those wise eyes and beautiful smile belong to writer, W. M. (Willi) Savage. Writing under the pen name of Renee Kohl, Willi is known for her works in YA Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, and the ever-popular coming-of-age. As a woman who has made her mark and continues to do so, I asked Willi if she would consider sharing some of her insights with the readers of my blog, and she graciously accepted. I’m so glad that she did!
Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?
“Paul Gauguin was a creative person like countless others, including myself and other writers. However, he chose to express his talent using a paintbrush and a palette. The groups I identify with choose to express their talents through writing. The artist and the writer, our fields are similar and our finished works answer the three questions posed by Paul Gauguin, with which he titled one of his paintings, Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Like the figures and scenes on the artist’s canvas, so are our writings; whether they are in the form of short stories, novels, memoirs, biographies or numerous other styles—each completed work is the product of where we come from, what we are and where we are going.
What are we? We are the product of our beliefs, morals and values, interwoven with the language formed by the fusion of our subconscious and conscious.
Where are we going? As writers, we take our readers to many places, real and imaginary. We visit old castles in distant lands, skyscrapers in large cities and virtual worlds.
Where do we come from? In her book The Art of Fiction, Ayn Rand tells us we rely on our subconscious to provide us the language used in our writing. I agree with Ms. Rand’s premise. On the other hand, we know we put much effort into forming our conscious language. We can conclude that our subconscious experiences combined with our more limited conscious efforts, define where we come from, and reflects in our writing.
After completing and editing my first novel, It’s Time for Your Close-up, I found I could associate characters and occurrences with people I knew and with events I was familiar with in my everyday life. That being said, I agree with the scholars who link writing with the subconscious. Further, I discovered that evidence of the eleven years I spent working in social services appeared throughout the novel.
It’s Time for Your Close-up follows the life of a street-wise nine-year-old orphaned girl named Shan from Spanish Harlem who is taken in by her devout Christian grandmother, Miss Helen. The grandmother raised her up and sets out to groom the little girl into a proper young woman. When the grandmother is out of the picture, the girl falls under the care of an older boy who is an aspiring actor. Like her grandmother, the boy becomes a guiding force in the girl’s life and she is supportive of his career aspirations. Both main characters are confronted with obstacles common to many young people today coming from alternative and/or dysfunctional families. Because of their highly scrutinized relationship, a scandal arises, which the two overcome through dedication to each other. Shan becomes successful by being true to the ideals her grandmother has instilled in her—education, hard work and perseverance.
It was months after I wrote the storyline before I realized I had already met Shan. Shan had come into my life when I was doing social work in Oklahoma City. This Shan was a real person with a different name. Some of her circumstances were different from the character in my book, but there were profound similarities too. Both the girl I wrote about and the one I knew were from alternative household families.
The real-life Shan was one of my clients. A few years ago, I sat across the table from a 15-yeal old girl who asked to get food stamps put in her name because her mother had just died and she was left to care for her 7-year old brother. It was possible for the underage girl to do this. The young woman and little brother lived alone in a house because the father lived elsewhere and was unfit to parent either child. Both children were in school an instance when I replaced my Social Worker title with the one I call Human Being. I did something we were told never to do—I gave the young woman my home phone number and asked her to call me. For the next four years, I helped guide the young woman through college. I arranged tutoring for her and through personal contacts, assisted her with getting a job while she was in college.
Now I realize that through this experience, I became Miss Helen, Shan’s grandmother in the novel. It makes me think…What a wonderful world we live in—a place where any ordinary citizen can play a positive role in someone’s life. My goal moving forward is to continue playing that role in the lives of readers through my writings.”
You can visit W. M. Savage’s website HERE
W.M. Savage was born and raised near Jonesboro, Arkansas. She is one of eight children born to Rev. William Davis and Verlean Davis. She relocated to Kansas City where she received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas. A few years later Savage moved to Oklahoma City and continued her education by obtaining her Masters of Education degree in Creative Studies from the University of Central Oklahoma. She began her career teaching and designing curriculum for a vocational center, and later moved into the field of social work.
Savage now writes full time. She has written numerous poems, children’s stories, and has written three novels. Her first published novel, written under the pen name Renee Kohl, is a mainstream/contemporary coming-of-age novella entitled It’s Time for Your Close-up. Her second is a young adult novel entitled Gabrio, which also falls under the subgenres historical fantasy and adventure. Her third and recently completed novel is a post-World War II historical fiction work entitled, Souls left Behind.
Savage resides in Oklahoma City. Her hobbies include reading, watching films, collecting antique books, and traveling. She attends writers’ conferences around the US and Canada, and plans to travel to Europe in the near future.