Sydney, present day. Anna is released into the world after six years in prison. The entirety of her possessions stuffed into a single plastic bag. The trauma of her past, a much heavier burden to carry. Feeling hopeless, isolated and deeply lonely, Anna attends an alternative support group; The Women's Circle. But when she touches an ancient crystal, Anna connects to a woman she has never met, in a past she doesn't recognise.
In 1770, a brutal regime torments the English village of Quarrendon and is determined to keep its women apart. Young villager Aisleen desperately seeks a way to defy the rules, reunite with her sister, and live life on her own terms, without her husband's permission. The stakes are high and terror of punishment inescapable, but doing nothing comes at an even steeper price...
While separated by generations, Anna finds herself drawn to the spine-chilling and courageous plight of Aisleen and Quarrendon's women. Can their bond help her to face her past and embrace her second chance at life?
A heart-warming and inspirational portrayal of inner strength and vulnerability, The Women's Circle shows us the true power of female friendship in all its forms.
About the Author
Karyn Sepulveda is an author, podcast producer and creator of short, guided meditations. Through writing about characters triumphing over adversity, interviewing women about their strengths and designing meditations that help the listener tap into their own creativity, Karyn hopes to spread compassion, inspiration and connection. Karyn completed her Masters of Creative Writing in 2011 and published her first novel, Letters To My Yesterday in 2018. When she is not working on her creative projects, Karyn is busy raising her two children and working as a teacher in primary schools.
The Women's Circle
Question: What originally inspired the idea of The Women's Circle?
Karyn Sepulveda: I knew I had to write about the experience of a women's circle, when I went to one myself for the first time. It was such a unique experience. The space was dimly lit with dozens of scented candles, colourful cushions were arranged in a circle that surrounded a centrepiece of stunning crystals and for the next hour, I shared in the stories and emotions of women I had never met before. We cried and laughed together and by the end, were hugging one another like long-lost friends. It was an incredibly healing and inspirational experience.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know, in real life?
Karyn Sepulveda: No, they aren't based on any one person, but are certainly inspired by a mix of different people. My Chilean characters are inspired by my husband's family, particularly my mother-in-law who has shared so much of her life and culture with me. Anna's experience with drugs was inspired by an interview I did with an amazing woman who lost her daughter to a drug overdose. She shared so much of her daughter's journey with me and I wanted to write her a new ending in a way – one with hope.
Question: What's the main message you hope readers take from The Women's Circle?
Karyn Sepulveda: That we are all so connected as women; by experience, but also by energy. Being there to support each other can heal, inspire and uplift in ways that we don't often realise. I would also love people to wonder about the connection we hold to the generations of women who have gone before us and paved our way. A connection to their trauma, but also to their strength and hope.
Question: What research did you do, prior to writing The Women's Circle?
Karyn Sepulveda: I didn't do a lot of research to begin with. I like to just write a draft with my imagination first and then as I edit and re-write, I research anything I'm unsure of at that time. Having said that though, I had attended several women's circles so could write about that aspect easily. My main research during the editing stage was looking into release from prison programs for women and around what life was like in English villages in the 1700's for the dual timeline plot.
Question: What did you learn, about yourself, whilst writing The Women's Circle?
Karyn Sepulveda: That's a terrific question and really made me pause. I think the biggest lesson I learned was around the power in setting intentions. There were a few times while writing this book that I got stuck and couldn't see a way to intertwine the dual timelines in the right way. When that happened, I would set a clear intention for a creative idea to come to me and then keep myself busy with something else. And every single time, the perfect idea would pop into my head within hours! This has given me a new sense of trust in myself – that I have the solutions, sometimes they just take time to come through.
Question: What is the best thing about creating a character like Anna?
Karyn Sepulveda: I absolutely love Anna and it was a lot of fun to write about a character with such a big heart, who makes such terrible mistakes. Her imperfections and the balance between her awareness of some of them, but blindness to others was interesting to explore. My favourite thing about creating Anna was how her whole journey circles back to where the story begins, but she is in such a different place in her life.
Question: What advice do you have for aspiring writers or artists?
Karyn Sepulveda: Make your creative time a priority in your life, but don't feel pressure to spend hours every day working on a project. I think that the happier and more balanced we are, the easier creativity flows. Quiet time sitting in your garden and imagining a scene, characters or an artwork in your mind is just as powerful as actually working on the project.
Question: What or who inspired your love of reading/writing?
Karyn Sepulveda: When I was in primary school, my mum worked in a library and would bring books home to clear-contact – which meant, we had access to all of these new great books. That's where my love of books sparked. And then as I got a little older, I enjoyed diving into stories by authors like Melina Marchetta and John Marsden and I would wonder if I could ever create stories like that.
Question: What's next, for you?
Karyn Sepulveda: I have an almost complete draft of what I hope will be my third book, so I will get back into writing that very soon. I also love running an online creativity course and I hope to expand that into in-person creativity workshops and retreats soon!
Interview by Gwen van Montfort