The Story behind ‘The Lapone Sisters,’ by Barry Wilker


I have been asked to write to you about my new novel, The Lapone Sisters. I think it will be fun to let you in on all the why’s, how’s, and what’s of the story, and the reasons that led to my final decision to put pen to paper . . . or to be honest, fingers to keyboard. 

HELEN BURRUS PHOTOGRAPHY

Let me first tell you a little about myself. I am a retired interior designer. For most of my career, I worked on residential design for homes from coast to coast. I primarily worked on larger homes but always made the time for smaller jobs. I worked with a myriad of clients, some with budgets and some without where the sky was the limit. Each new job felt like the start of a guessing game. We had to get to know each other. I needed to get a perspective of a new prospect’s lifestyle, their attitudes toward life, their personal tastes and interests. After a week or two in conversations we would decide if our ideas and objectives aligned and if they did, we were ready to begin. 

The jobs I worked generally took up to two years. During our time together, my clients would share the same stories of their personal lives repeatedly, sometimes three and four times or more. I think you can understand how at such times my mind might have begun to wander. In those instances, my imagination took free reign. As my eyes followed their lips moving, I was in a totally different world. My head was in an offbeat mode hatching wisps of ideas that were unrelated situations. When we’d finished and the client left, I’d jot down those thoughts and ideas. Some things were humorous and some were just plain introspections. When something nagged at my mind for any length of time it went onto paper and into a folder. I’m one of those people that you only have to tell me something once and I’ll remember it forever. 

That’s how The Lapone Sisters got started. Those ideas were seedlings that over time grew and multiplied and became my novel. I playfully dreamed up the first names of my characters. I still have no idea where they came from and certainly had no idea if there might be a nationality involved. That was how my research began. Google came in very handy when I had one of those “AHA!” moments. I eventually found a country where the first names of my characters actually fit. Who knew it would be Romania? Welcome to the world of Schmellda, Sorina, and Esmeralda Lapone. I decided the primary setting for them would be Nashville, Tennessee. It helped me by putting them in a familiar setting. Nashville is my hometown and I have fond memories of places in my past. I want you to know that while the story is set in Nashville, my tale is not about the city. These girls could have lived anywhere in the world. The story is about personal philosophies, our differences, our commonalities, and the need for thoughtful kindness. 

So, after finding Romania it became fairly easy to establish a ladder from which the story could climb. After researching the city, I began my tale in Bucharest during World War II. I picked 1944 specifically to build a family tree so the girls could be the ages I wanted some thirty years later. I felt it was important to establish a bit of family history for too many reasons to explain. April 4, 1944 saw the Allied bombing that destroyed the city. The sad reasons behind the sisters curious names are layered in these first few pages. Going forward, I wanted to make this a happy story. The story quickly jumps from 1944 to June of 1976. 

It took me years to plot the exacting dates and sometimes hilarious events that take place over the six month period in 1976 covered in my story. This is a tale of three sisters and how radically their lives change during the short six months of their story. While relatively close in years, each sister is completely different. Each has their own look and desires for their future. All three have significant situations occur that propel their individual stories. On a journey to discover themselves as individuals, they concurrently learn to live truly satisfying and full lives. Their story is told through wry humor and often outlandish satire that encompasses a very colorful cast of characters. 

 My hope is you will become engaged in the story and enjoy the double entendres, satire, dark and light humor along with the humanity, thoughtfulness and ideological hopes of my characters and myself. When all is said and done, I would encourage you to listen to the inspiration and hopefulness expressed in the two songs referenced in the footnotes on pages 199 and 300. 

Thank you for your interest in The Lapone Sisters. 

Happy Reading! 

Barry Wilker

www.thelaponesisters.com 

Buy the book from the PublisherAmazon, or your favorite bookstore 

About the Author:

Barry Wilker spent forty-three years working as an interior designer for myriad clients across the United States. Retirement provided Wilker with ample time to assemble the amalgam of wild ideas, clever stories, and figments of his active imagination, which he has oh-so-stylishly fashioned into his debut novel, The Lapone Sisters. He lived for a number of years in the Los Angeles area and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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