I’m pleased to introduce some insights from fellow author Tyler McMahon, on what went into his latest novel, Kilometer 99. Mr. McMahon teaches fiction writing at Hawaii Pacific University and is the editor of Hawaii Pacific Review.
Having recently read Kilometer 99, I was thoroughly impressed by Tyler’s ability to balance plot with character development (see my review here on this blog). I was curious why he elected to write the story from the point of view of a female protagonist. Tyler was very gracious and offered the following:
“As for writing from a female point-of-view in Kilometer 99, it wasn’t necessarily part of my design. I’d wanted to write about post-earthquake La Libertad for many years. I drafted stories and essays set there, but none of them quite worked. Malia sort of came to me one day, and immediately snapped the story into focus. As a Hawaiian woman, she had insights into tourism, development, and surfing that other narrators couldn’t. She also challenged Salvadoran assumptions about people from the United States. Right away, she snapped the story into focus.”
As a fiction author, one of the aspects I study while reading a good novel is the balance between plot and character development. Readers will be pleased to discover that Kilometer 99 is rich with fast paced gripping plot elements, but what made this story work for me was the character development. Mr. McMahon offered the following on this subject:
“For me, the great pleasure of writing novels is to step outside myself and dwell in another consciousness for a while. While I don’t think that I have any particular insight into the female psyche, I do enjoy working with a narrator who is fundamentally different from me. Right away, the challenge becomes a matter of making the character convincing–to make her (or him) into a real, believable person.”
I want to publicly thank Tyler McMahon for sharing his experiences and insights as a writer. More importantly, I believe prospective readers should know that Kilometer 99 is likely to go down as the best novel with a surf theme that I’ve ever read. Anyone with doubts should pick up a copy and read it for themselves.