Writing as T.A. Killen, Salem resident Teresa Killen has been working on her first full-length book, Wysterra, for over 20 years – mostly in her head.Shawn Nowlin
Some people know exactly what their talents are at an early age in life. For others, it can take several years before that realization happens. Salem resident Teresa Killen has always had a passion for daydreaming. Possessing that talent laid the foundation for her recently published book Wysterra, an analogy of conquering her depression, anxiety and OCD. As she put it, “In the land of Wysterra, the dream world affects the real world. Your thoughts and dreams influence who you become.”
Killen says there are parts of her upbringing that were less than ideal. Many of the neighborhood kids and classmates that she grew up with did not reciprocate her kindness and, at times, were downright cruel.
“I remember my last bus ride before switching schools due to bullying when no one on the bus would let me sit with them. Sometimes I think I am still that little kid that just wants someone to ask her to sit on the bus with them,” she said. “My imagination developed to entertain myself and distract myself when the real world was just somewhere that was too boring or too difficult to be in.”
A book passage from Wysterra reads as follows, “How do you define what is real? What is not? Is it whether or not you can hold it in your hand? I assure you every thought is real. Every piece of your imagination is real. Whether or not you can hold something in your hand or in your mind is no different. They are only perceptions.”
Killen first dreamed of Wysterra when she was ten and over the years, the concept has evolved numerous times. The final draft of the book was written when she was on maternity leave with her youngest son. As difficult as it may be to believe, Killen says she never planned to share Wysterra with anyone.
“I thought to write it all down and put all the books in a trunk that would be discovered after my time had passed. I did not want to know if anyone else thought it was silly because this world is my most precious thing and the place I escape to even now when things are difficult,” she said. “No matter where I am or what is happening, all I have to do is close my eyes, and it melts away.”
Killen strongly believes that all authors pull from their own lives, whether they are aware of it or not. Part of her writing process for Wysterra was just closing her eyes and daydreaming a movie in her mind. “I think that writing is an art form, and all artists make a lot of really bad art before they make anything anyone really wants to look at, read, or listen to,” she said.
When Killen finished the book, she cried. If you pull back the layers of Wysterra, said noted, it is more than just a novel, adding, it is an analogy of the human mind and my journey back from depression and finding a way to conquer my OCD.
“Growing up with tales of knights in shining armor and princes, I wanted to give little girls a different kind of story. Part of my goal with this book is to provide them with a different sort of narrative,” she said. “I wanted them to know they are strong, and they can be or do whatever they want. Be your own knight in shining armor.”
Killen already has Wysterra sequels in her mind. For more information about the book, including how and where to purchase it, visit wysterra.com.