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Double the Joy, Half the Grief: Karyn Sepulveda on writing Letters to My Yesterday

September 21, 2018

About the author:

Karyn Sepulveda comes from a background in theatre and teaching. She enjoys working on many creative projects, including a podcast Letters to Our Yesterday, in which she interviews extraordinary women about their life journey. Karyn lives in Sydney with her husband and two children. If she had to pick the perfect day it would include: the beach, great music, family and a good book.

Purchase a copy of Letters to My Yesterday here 

Read our review here

Read a sample chapter here 

Letters To My Yesterday is a heart-warming story about friendship, love, loss, and family – and the enduring strength of women. What inspired you to write this book?

I first had the idea when I was listening to the story of my great-grandmother Rose at a family BBQ. She was widowed in the 1920’s, left with two young children and little money. Yet she managed to secure a piece of land and build a home and general store on it. She went on to pay off the home in just a few years, run a successful business right through the Great Depression and send her children to good schools. I had always known her story, but it wasn’t until that day, when I was in my thirties and mother to young children myself that I could truly appreciate how incredible Rose was. I remember wondering how it could have taken me so long to admire her in the way she deserved. I then thought about all of the women in my life – who collectively have been through so many ups and downs, yet have endured their pain quietly and continued on – I marvelled over their strength. I wanted to write a story about ordinary women and the extraordinary strength that we possess.

You have a podcast called Letters To Our Yesterday where you interview inspiring women about their life journeys and experiences. How did this podcast influence your novel?

It’s actually the other way around! Once I finished my novel and had begun the submission process, I found myself quite lost. I had this strange sense that I wasn’t finished with the concept of my book title. I realised that one of my intentions for my book was to create connection with women, so I began brainstorming other ways I could do this. At the time I was obsessed with Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast and thought, well wouldn’t it be fun to create my own! So I ran the idea past a few of my friends who all jumped on board to be my first interviewees, sourced the equipment and dove straight in without having a clue what I was doing. Luckily, I have a very tech-savvy husband who helped me learn to use the editing software and I got busy recording and producing the first episodes. It’s such an honour to chat to different women about their life experiences and explore together what advice they would give their younger self.

Your book is very much centred around the female experience and the amazing strength and power of women. In general, we are seeing more and more female writers (and characters) in new and emerging literature. What do you think this says about the industry as a whole?

I believe this is an incredibly exciting time to be a woman! There are so many inspiring women in the world who share so much of themselves; their challenges and triumphs. I believe the publishing industry is playing a vital role in the collective feminine awakening – by sharing both the words and stories of strong women, we are influencing the next generation of girls to believe they can do anything! My daughter is 10 and it thrills me that she has seen me achieve my dream – but what’s even more important to me is that she already understands how incredible women are. She knows that my great-grandmother Rose was one of so many extraordinary women who thrived in life despite their challenges. My daughter believes with all her heart that she can be anything she wants to and thankfully we live in a time and place where this is true.

Of all the people you have interviewed in your podcast, which story stood out to you the most and why?

Every woman I’ve interviewed has inspired me in a different way. But I think what has stood out to me the most was my interview with Cassandra who is an energy healer. She read such a beautiful, heart-felt letter to her yesterday and once she’d finished, she said it felt as though her younger self had received those words and advice and embraced them. I was covered in goose-bumps and it was at that moment I realised how empowering the concept of writing a letter to your yesterday is. By looking back on our life without any judgement or regret, we get to appreciate just how far we’ve come and celebrate ourselves.

What are you currently reading and/or writing?

I’m always reading! I just finished The Nowhere Child by Christian White, which was awesome and had me on the edge of my seat. I’m now reading something completely different, the beautiful I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

I’m also writing every day and I’m close to finishing the first draft of my next book which has a working title of Almost There. It will tell the stories of two women; Chantel who lives in the present and Elizabeth who lived in the early 1900’s. The book will explore the contrast between the women’s lives and the changing role of females throughout history. Chantel is on a quest to become famous, her life is full of opportunity, yet she’s frustrated by her lack of direction. While Elizabeth dreams of becoming one of Australia’s first female doctors, but she is faced with impossible challenges along her path.

Although it has an overall dramatic theme, it is also quite a light-hearted and at times humorous story, which makes it a pleasure to write!


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