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Thursday, 2 May 2013
Author interview with Kim Smith (revisited)
Back in March 2013, I interviewed author Kim Smith for my interview-only WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with multi-genre author Kim Smith. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Kim. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Kim: I live in the southern region of the US and that alone is a great reason to be a writer. Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and others have inspired writers in this area for many years. Personally, I have been writing stories since I was in elementary school. My mother saved my first story, (a decorated piece about the pilgrims written for the Thanksgiving holiday when in 4th grade) and when I mentioned wanting to write a novel, she presented it to me and said she never expected any less. What a surprise and a great motivator. The illustrations are a fantastic reminder of why I didn’t choose art. Ugh.
Morgen: :) What genre do you generally write?
Kim: I am a multi-genre-d author. I have written a miniseries in mystery, a couple short romances, and now my YA fantasy, which is the book I am promoting these days. I believe that there are a lot of stories in a writer's soul and they should pull them out and present them.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Kim: I have the Shannon Wallace Mysteries including the Christmas Heist, which is a Shannon Short. In romance, A Will to Love, Love Waltzes In, and the Christmas Kiss. And in YA, a Mirror in Time, all under my Kim Smith name. I also write under Kaycee Conners mostly sensual short stories.
Morgen: Have you self-published? If so, what lead to you going your own way?
Kim: I have posted two parts to a serialized YA fantasy, The Case of the Missing Body series, on Amazon, and a short experimental fiction story entitled Anemone Hanks at Smashwords. These were recent ventures into the world of doing it myself, and has sort of proven that it is a difficult trail to trod. I do not expect to master the writing world by these methods as I do not think anyone could promote themselves heavily enough to make a dent. Too many people and too many stories being put out there. I read somewhere that 50,000 books / stories will be produced a week this year. That's a lot of fish to have to troll through in this big pond.
Morgen: Wow. That sounds astounding but I do remember seeing how quickly the new entries appeared on the Smashwords front page. We all can now which is great as long as we have them edited properly. Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Kim: Yes, all of my work is available electronically. I was involved in the process from the beginning. I have a Kindle and read eBooks pretty often. I find it as good as any other method of reading. The advance of eReaders has made it a good avenue as far as I am concerned.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Kim: I have always thought my Shannon Wallace books would be great movies. The person of Shannon Wallace is a good character for the talented Ms. Sandra Bullock, and her sidekick, Dwayne Brown, would be ideal for Mr. Eddie Murphy.
Morgen: What a great pair. Which authors did you read when you were younger and did they shape you as a writer?
Kim: I have read voraciously since childhood enjoying everything from Nancy Drew to Margaret Mitchell. I believe Gone with the Wind was the book that gave me wings to dream of writing, because it was such a visual book. Then when I discovered Lord of the Rings led by the Hobbit, oh my. I was totally convinced that that particular series wasn't over and I needed to continue writing it. In fact, the very first two full-length, never to be published books I ever wrote were a historical romance and a high fantasy.
Morgen: Did you choose the titles / covers of your books?
Kim: I chose the titles, and worked with the artists. I have never had trouble picking titles. For some reason that is a special talent of mine.
Morgen: :) I’m a big titles fan and having to write a short story a day for 5pm fiction means having to come up with a different title every day. I try to be different, and often find that a phrase leaps out as I’m writing it which then becomes the title. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Kim: Currently, I am working on another YA fantasy, entitled Loran Rudder and the Secret Key. It is a planned series, and is consuming all my time at the moment. It may very well be my breakout book and I want to give it all the attention that I can.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Kim: I try to write every day. That is not to say that I don't fail ever so often, because I do. But I am learning not to beat myself up about it. I am not on a deadline. I should be enjoying this time to myself to write at my own speed. Hopefully one day I will be on the other side of that and working like a machine to turn out a book to meet a deadline. I have suffered from writer's block, but didn't know it for what it was. I just thought I was too busy and had too much drama in my life to try to create. Fortunately, I got over that.
Morgen: Drama would be good ‘fiction fodder’ (as I call it). Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Kim: I have always been a discovery sort of writer, letting the characters take the stories and run with them. But I am working from a story structure plan this time with Loran Rudder, and it is going pretty smoothly. I can see benefit from both sides of these types of writing. I can also see drawbacks. I think it is far less beneficial to write yourself in a corner and struggle with how to get the story out than it is to sit down and write a loose outline and work with it. At least you know the end, and it is more a matter of planning on how to get there.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Kim: Characters for me pop out of nowhere. I can see someone at Panera Bread and know that they are a good character. I can listen to someone tell a story and know that that story is a part of something a character will have to have in their past. I think believable characters come from paper people that have real problems that readers really care about. The stakes have to be high enough to invest the reader's time, or why are they bothering?
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Kim: I believe that I am a much better writer today than I was back in the early years of authordom. They say you have to pen millions of words before you can see the paintbrush strokes of genius flowing through your work. I am seeing that now, if I am being honest. Editing is a part of my writing life. I used to dread trying to turn a story into a work of art as I was immature and thought that I was good enough straight out of the gate. Now I have published enough work, and read better work out of other authors that I know what a childish opinion I had of myself. Now I enjoy revising and editing and spend a lot of time learning on how to do it better. Yes, even after publishing as much as I already have, I believe that I still have a lot to learn and am willing to do it.
Morgen: I don’t think we ever stop. Do you have to do much research?
Kim: It depends on the story. If it is a fantasy, a lot of it is spent world-building. If it is a romance, it depends on character and setting. If it is a mystery, it depends on plot. But there has never been a work I have penned yet that didn’t require at least some rudimentary research for authenticity.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Kim: I am a first person person. I like it better than any other and fortunately, YA is quite a lot of first person stories. I have never written in second person.
Morgen: I love it, although even I think it’s best kept to short pieces. Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Kim: Oh yeah. I love writing all of the above. Poetry is done mostly for myself. When I feel a strong enough emotion to rattle my world, it will be examined in a poem. I am one of the collaborators on Murder by 4 (http://www.murderby4.blogspot.com), a 101 Best Sites for Writers blog. I pen a lot of non-fiction in the form of writing tips etc. on that blog.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Kim: Yes. My first book, a YA fantasy that continued the Lord of the Rings trilogy from the moment the sail-ship pulled from the harbor going into the West, and a historical romance based in the Civil War era that was sort of critiqued to death and ended up being a different story from what I set out to do. That one may be pulled from oblivion one day when I feel strong enough to try to rewrite it. I spent years of my life researching to write it, so I owe it to myself to make it worth it.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Kim: Rejections are just another facet of the jewel we call writing. You cannot take it personally. Books and stories are so subjective, you must realize, not everyone will get it. And rejections are the cultivated soil that will turn our seedlings into greater works. In today's high volume industry, we have to develop a thick skin and keep moving or we will be crushed beneath the boots of the next in line.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Kim: I do not have an agent, yet. I will keep seeking one though, as I believe that even though NY publishing is in constant flux these days, it will emerge from the current situation to be a phoenix once again. If an author wants to benefit from what they will be able to offer now or in the future, you have to be represented. I believe that an agent will be a vital member of one's writing team for a long time to come.
Morgen: Do you do much marketing?
Kim: This is a facet of my writing world that I have neglected in order to get writing done. I wanted to have a lot of work out there, and so I did minimal promotion for everything. I did only what I felt was necessary. Now, I realize that was a bad thing. But you live and learn, and as I am focusing on my YA work these days, I am trying to accomplish more and more marketing.
Morgen: Most authors see marketing as a necessary evil because it’s so time-consuming. It’s hard to get the balance write. Having written very little over the past year because my blogging has taken over, I know that only too well! What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kim: Please do not let anyone take your dream away. The only thing keeping you from writing success is your tender heart and gravity.
Morgen: :) Where can we find out about you and your writing.
Kim: I have a website: http://www.writingspace.blogspot.co.uk
Morgen: Thank you, Kim.
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