Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Kimberly Kinrade Interview
4/4/2011 8:24:07 PM
YA author Kimberly Kinrade discusses her novels and the writing life!
LTS: Today’s featured author is the beautiful Kimberly Kinrade. Not only is she a fellow writer, she is also a martial artist! This YA author is a woman of many skills and talents that go well beyond her writing abilities.
You have been writing since you were 10-years-old and became an award-winning writer during your high school years. Am I wrong to say that becoming a published author has been a life-long dream for you?
KK: Absolutely! Writing is like breathing to me. I can’t imagine NOT doing it. I’ve been getting paid in some fashion for my work since I was 10. (Seriously, I used to write short stories and poems and sell them to neighbors when I ran out of teeth to hawk to the tooth fairy.) As I move into a full time career as a novelist (verses a journalist and freelancer), I’m very excited!
LTS: I understand your debut novel ‘Bits of You & Pieces of Me’ is a collection of short stories, poems and essays about a very dark time in your life, but the other two books you wrote are both Young Adult urban fantasies. What motivated you to publish this collection?
KK: Many of my readers and followers were asking about my work. Because I don’t really blog about writing and fantasy writing per se, and tend to lean toward life moments, I had a lot of people asking about a memoir. I wasn’t interested in taking time from my fantasy writing to write a memoir, but when I considered it, I realized I already had.
Over the course of several painful years, I’d written essays, poems and short stories that painted a striking picture of life in an abusive marriage, as a single mother, and finding my way back to hope and love. Thought it’s not YA, it reflects my journey in a heartfelt way and I’m proud to have my name on it.
LTS: Your second novel ‘The Reluctant Familiar’ is a YA fantasy. What can you tell our readers about this novel and the 13-year-old protagonist, Agnes?
KK: I’m ridiculously excited about this book! Agnes is an ordinary girl stuck in an elite Witch family in Washington. Unable to do any magic or bond with a familiar, she has disgraced her family and they are in danger of losing all. When a seemingly chance encounter with a flea-ridden alley cat finds her bonded to a god and in possession of powers she has no control over, she discovers that life is anything but normal. Now she must learn mastery of her powers, work together with an annoying know-it-all god, and battle an ancient goddess in order to retrieve a powerful ring. If they fail, they will die. So a lot’s on the line for young Agnes and her new, and err… reluctant… familiar!
LTS: Very cool! Your third book, also a YA fantasy, is ‘Death by Destiny’. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Corinne Driscol?
KK: Corinne was inspired by my fascination with the price of power and the battle of destiny verses free will. Corinne unknowingly lives under the curse of two prophesies. In one, she saves all the worlds from destruction. In the other, she is the cause of the destruction. Corinne holds the fate of the worlds in the choices she makes.
When her childhood cat, Mothball, mysteriously reappears after years of absence, Corinne’s carefully crafted life falls to pieces. Betrayed by those closest to her, hunted and left for dead by creatures from her nightmare, Corinne must master hidden powers in order to save herself and all she loves.
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open one of your fantasy novels?
KK: My novels shine light on strong young women who must face the darker parts of themselves and the worlds in which they live in order to overcome their challenges. Their quests are ones of external triumph only once they have truly unified with their inner strengths—and weaknesses. Themes of power, friendship, love, truth and hope are prevalent. They are a coming of age in a way that relates to all of us as we strive to claim our own power in life and move through our world rooted in that power.
LTS: Are there any striking similarities or differences between these two characters and what do you love about them?
KK: Well, they both have close bonds to cats. I love that! And they are both on a learning curve to figure out how to use the power they discover in themselves.
The biggest differences? Corinne starts out really strong and self-assured. She’s a martial artist, strong student, stunningly beautiful. All that you’d want to be. Except she has a dark secret that makes every moment of her life agony.
Agnes is a very bland, ordinary girl. She’s scrawny and loves her books and is not one you would notice if you walked past her on the street. But she has hidden strength that goes beyond whatever Magic she can work.
What I really love about these young women is their spunk. Against all odds and without any obvious hope for success, they never give up! They face defeat, and even death, with bravery.
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Do you have any advice you’d like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
KK: The landscape of publishing is changing so rapidly, it’s nearly impossible to keep up. Just today as I write this I read about a very famous NYT bestselling author who went Indie, turning down a 500K contract--and a very famous Indie author who went traditional, accepting a deal of over a million dollars.
I pitched “Death by Destiny” to some top agents and publishers at the Maui Writer’s Conference a few years back and had amazing responses and interest. Then my whole life fell apart. Divorce. Poverty. My sole focus was on caring for my three young girls and figuring out how to feed them.
When I finally steadied myself and began writing again, I found that I needed to completely rewrite my book, as I had really grown as a writer during this time. Also, I had amassed quite a beautiful (if painful) collection of poems, short stories and essays about my journey. So I decided to go Indie and self-publish “Bits of You & Pieces of Me.” It was an experiment and a way to get something out there people could read, while I focused on my YA fantasy. Now, I’m seriously considering going Indie for The Reluctant Familiar. (Next on the shelf for publication.) So much is changing and I’ve met some amazing people who know how to launch and market in the Self-publishing world.
I’m still open to finding an agent and going the traditional route, but it’s not my only choice. I have a lot to consider and it’s all very exciting.
The beauty of self-publishing is that I get to tell myself when I have a book deal! ;) Again, I will pitch “The Reluctant Familiar” to agents and publishers, but based on what I think I can make in self-publishing, it’s in the air right now.
LTS: I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
KK: I try to get in a few thousand words a day. Sometimes those words land on blog posts or in the hands of others for whom I’m working. Sometimes I swear every single one of those thousands of words end up tweeted! But I do write every day. I’m also working to be more disciplined at writing IN MY BOOK every day for at least 2,000 words (in addition to my other work).
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
KK: I’m a total pantser! With ‘Death by Destiny’ I had Corinne Driscol in my head and wrote from her. With ‘The Reluctant Familiar’ I actually had the title and the cat-god with attitude, Sebastian. From there I ‘saw’ Agnes and their relationship unfold, and thus the book was born. Fortunately I live with my writing partner and love, Dmytry Karpov, who is a plotter through and through. He helps make sure all my lose ends get tied up!
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
KK: Not really. I like music, or silence. Tea or water. Night or day. I think coming from a journalism background has made some of those rituals unnecessary for me. I just write. I dip into that space of creative flow quickly and easily on most days and am able to move forward with ease in my work.
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
KK: Again, being a journalist, I never had the time for writer’s block. I get lazy, for sure. Tired, often. But I’m never really blocked. If I sit down to write, I always have something to put on paper.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
KK: Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. It’s hard to pick just one. I love his work, and he has been a great inspiration largely because he breaks all the rules and doesn’t hold to just one genre. He ignited in me a new love of reading and writing short stories. I adore his novels. And I enjoy playing in his use of language and riddling out the meaning of his work.
LTS: What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
KK: In many ways, I wrote myself out of the darkest chapter of my life and into a new awakening for myself. This is largely what “Bits of You & Pieces of Me” is about. My writing allowed me to exorcise the demons of my soul and shape my world to my own design. Through this process, my writing has deepened, my use of language sharpened, and my dedication to my work expanded.
For others, I believe my work impacts them on many levels. First, in the lyricism of my prose. My writing often has a poetic feel to it, even when not poetry. Second, in the crisp directness that stands juxtaposed to that lyrical prose. And finally in the hidden meaning of my work. There are layers to process, and something for everyone who looks.
LTS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
KK: I’ve learned to never give up on my writing. And to always market myself. Whether I go Indie again, or get a contract with a publishing company, having a strong platform from which to sell my work is critical to success. I’m not just writing for myself. I’m writing for the world. But how will the world know I even exist if I don’t market what I do?
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
KK: “Irish Moon” by Amber Scott. She’s another Indie author who I met through the Indie Book Collective. I’m reading through several Indie authors at the moment and am really enjoying the new books I’m discovering. I also just finished reading the first two books of “The Kingskiller Chronicle” by Patrick Rothfuss and LOVED them both. So I read all types of books from all publishing options.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from YA into other genres? Can your fans expect sequels to Corinne and Agnes’ stories in the near future?
KK: Big question! Corinne’s journey is a trilogy which is already mapped out. Agnes and Sebastian are an ongoing series with each book taking them on another adventure. Over the next five years I intend to see the trilogy and several books in “The Reluctant Familiar” series published and selling millions of copies! I will also be doing tours and speaking at schools.
I never really set out to write YA, it just happens that my themes strongly resonate with that genre. I love fantasy and paranormal romance, so I could see branching out into something else in time. Also, Dmytry Karpov and I write a love blog together (WritingInLove.com) and have plans to write a book or more together as well. Maybe epic fantasy with romance. Who knows? I’ve got more books in me than I have time to write in this life, so you will see a lot coming out over the next few years!
LTS: Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss your works and to share in your writing life, Kimberly! You are such an inspiration. Plus, your fans will be thrilled to know there will be much more to come from you! I’ll catch you on Twitter.
For more information about Kimberly and her novels, check out:
Follow Kimberly on Twitter: .KimberlyKinrade
Where to buy the books: http://amzn.to/gpHHF5
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