Interview with Louise Caiola, Author of The Making of Nebraska Brown, and Review

April 26, 2014

in Books


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The Making of Nebraska Brown by Louise Caiola is one of those mysteries that picks you up right at the start and carries you until the very end. It reminded me of Gillian Flynn’s writing. Not in the style, but in it’s ability to grip you with the plot.

Being a reviewer of books and a former teacher of literature and writing, I can’t seem to ever just read a story. I have to analyze it as a I go. And I thought I had this one figured out. I had it figured out if this turned out to be a B list mystery, if it turned out to be average, or pretty good. I even thought I had it figured out with Louise Caiola was clever. As an avid mystery reader, I’m usually right, or at least close.

Turns out, she surprised me. And that just doesn’t happen very often. I wasn’t even close.

Ana Louise open the novel by waking up after possibly hitting her head with significant memory loss. She spends the rest of the novel trying to unravel who she is. Trust me when I tell you that you won’t figure it out either. But you will think you have.

She travels from Italy to California to Nebraska and back all to put the pieces of her memory back into place.

This novel also raises many questions about making mistakes. Ana Louise has made quite a few. Taking on subjects like trust, love, marriage, and death, the story weaves in and out of different views on the subjects.

I highly recommend reading The Making of Nebraska Brown.


Louise Caiola was kind enough to grant answer some questions about writing and The Making of Nebraska Brown.

When did you know you wanted to write?

When I was a pre-teen I would fill notebooks with short stories and characters, random scenes and snippets of ideas that I was never quite sure what to do with. It hadn’t yet occurred to me that this penchant for collecting words was anything more than a passing fling. It wasn’t until many years later that I found myself wanting to revisit those notebooks. By that time I understood that it meant something more substantial. We weren’t talking hobby. I was looking at some greater and undeniable force.

What is your process? Are you a planner or a discoverer?

I’m a bit of both a planner AND a discoverer. I venture to say that most writers receive the details of their stories almost telepathically, through the silent moments in their mind. This is when the brain is ripe for unearthing those literary gems. For the most part this is the crux of my creative experience. That said, once I accept and acknowledge the plot and characters I typically take a moment to jot down the particulars and continue to expand on the plans.

What are your essential writing tools?

Quiet. This is mandatory. I cannot tap into the flow of the words while there is any noise or distraction around me.

A book. I find that by reading something written by someone else this fuels my own creative fires.

Vitamin Water Zero. Hydration is a must. Thirst is a writing no-no.

Who are your favorite authors?

There are so many authors I admire that I couldn’t begin to list them all. I will say that Elizabeth Gilbert, Laurie Halse Anderson, Gillian Flynn, James Patterson and Kathryn Stockett have been particularly inspiring to me.

Do you have other creative talents?

I can throw together one helluva mean flower basket.

What are your hobbies?

I wish I had time for a hobby! Years ago, long before writing monopolized my life, I enjoyed crafting, painting and even crocheting. I aspire to get back to those things one day when my pace slows down a bit.

What have you learned that you wish you knew when you started?

Writing and publishing are two sides of the same coin. One brings a certain amount of meditation, freedom and joy while the other is a rather plucky and difficult beast that carries with it endless hours of frustration. At the beginning I had no idea that you cannot separate the two – unless you chose to write only for yourself. Authors-to-be must be prepared to embark upon a strange and duplicitous journey if they seek publication. Also, subjectivity is uniquely cruel. Invest in a strong suit of emotional armor.

What was your inspiration for The Making of Nebraska Brown?

I wanted to create a tale of home and identity that straddled two very different settings. I was fascinated by the experiences of those who literally lose everything they have or all that they have ever known, and are forced to fight to get their lives back. I also wanted to explore the New Adult genre. I felt drawn toward shining a spotlight on the young adults who have come-of-age and are in the process of growing sturdy on the sea legs of life.

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Lindsey Renuard is a blogger, YouTube beauty expert, and the Managing Editor of the Skiatook Journal.

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