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Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I teach English at Azusa Pacific University in southern California. In addition to writing and teaching, I enjoy painting and gardening. My husband, Mike Glyer, is also a writer, and we have a five year old daughter named Sierra Grace.
How did you first get interested in the inklings?
A group of high school friends read The Lord of the Rings, and they talked about it incessantly. I wanted to know what they were talking about, so I read it, too.
What prompted you to write The Company They Keep?
When I found out that Tolkien and Lewis were close friends, I expected to see lots of discussion of their mutual influence. Instead, everywhere I looked, people kept denying that their interaction made any difference. That didn’t seem right to me, so I decided to dig deep and find out everything I could.
What special qualifications do you have for writing this book? What makes you different from your colleagues?
Most people who study Tolkien or Lewis do it from a background in literature, or with theological concerns in mind. My training is in Composition Studies. That means I am primarily interested in how writers actually create their works. I am interested in the writing process, writing groups, and the specific things that help writers to stay inventive and productive.
What is the biggest difference between your book and the biography of the Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter?
Carpenter focuses primarily on C. S. Lewis, but I am interested in all 19 of the members. Carpenter’s book is a general discussion of the group, but my book is about the whole web of connections, how they encouraged each other, confronted one another, how they prepared collaborative projects, even how they included each other as characters in their books.
Is there any unpublished material inside your book?
There is material that is published here for the first time, including excerpts from letters and rough drafts of manuscripts, and also a long poem that Owen Barfield wrote about his friend C. S. Lewis. There is also a lot that has been published before, like book reviews and obituaries, but most people won’t have seen it because of limited circulation.
How long did this book take?
I have been working on The Company They Keep for more than 20 years; David Bratman has been working to gather the detailed information found in the appendix for more than 25 years. What took so long? Part of it was the breadth of research, trying to read everything I could by these authors and about these authors. I wanted to do as much primary research as possible. Part of it was I wanted to write this book with as much passion and clarity as I possibly could. All the best information in the world won’t do any good unless the story is compelling.
What is your hope for your readers?
One of my colleagues at APU told me that one of the things he found most remarkable about The Company They Keep is that even if you don’t know anything at all about Lewis or about Tolkien, the book is full of insight into the writing process and the nature of creativity. I like that. I know that fans will learn all kinds of new things about these great authors. But I like to think that what readers will come away with something bigger, that is, new energy and vision for their own creative work.