Hi Everyone, I'm so excited to introduce you to a wonderful person and friend Kimberly Brock and celebrate her Women's Fiction debut novel THE RIVER WITCH. I'm so excited for her and let me tell you, she deserves this honor so much! I can't wait to share her writing experiences and journey to publication. So pop*sizzle*pour and sip.
Tell me Kim, how did you end up becoming a writer?
|Debut Author Kimberly Brock|
I’ve been a storyteller all my life. Ask my family, who endured many hours of reenacted Disney films or impromptu plays. Ask my childhood friends and teachers, who swallowed tall tales and ghost stories whole on the playground and paid the price later, afraid to sleep in their beds. They believed I had descended from an angry Cherokee Indian Chief. They believed I was going blind like Helen Keller. I was in trouble all the time for inventing and embellishing. And then, around the age of five somebody gave me a crayon and that was that. That’s when I became a writer.
I love the crayon story!! That's a great start to your writing career. When you write are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?
I write like a Pirate. I outline, but it’s more of a suggestion than a rule. I fill notebooks from the time I start to think about a story until the day I finish the last draft. I clip pictures or print things I see online. I research and pile that in the notebook, too. I might not use half of it, but I never throw any of it out. And sometimes I put the notebook away for a while if I’m struggling with the writing, then pick it up weeks later and reading through it fresh can be like a new perspective. I’ll see things differently, or have a thought that takes me in a whole new direction. My notebook isn’t exactly an outline, but in the end it’s a map. I don’t necessarily realize where it’s going while I’m writing, but I can trace my steps back like breadcrumbs when I’m finished. If you could take the top of my head off and look inside to see the book I want to write, that would be my notebook.
Sounds like you're a collage writer. I love to work with multi-mediums as well during the planning stages. Best part of writing is the first draft. After you finish writing, how do you relax after a writing day?
I have three children under the age of twelve and the youngest is four. I hide in the bathroom like all smart Mamas. I love to cook. I love a glass of wine. When I can, I love to travel. I love water, the southern coast. But we lived on Puget Sound for a few years and I miss it, too. I’m a complete coffee addict. And I discovered France a few years ago. Part of the novel was actually written in a tiny hotel room in Paris on a New Year’s Eve.
We are huge fans of France. And I remember the early years. Bathroom is a great place to hide. And next time we see each other, we'll sip wine on a veranda overlooking the Atlanta skylilne! What do you read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?
I love fiction. I’m inclined to southern voices, in particular Kaye Gibbons, Lee Smith, Janis Owens, Joshilyn Jackson. I enjoy anything atmospheric, something that transports me and reminds me of the stories I loved in my childhood. Characters that grab me with their voice.
All are wonderful writers. What are you working on currently?
I’m working on another southern mystical work that involves a lot of American history, some of it very obscure. I love to find that strange little detail, something forgotten or especially something intentionally hidden, and see what happens when you sit it out in the light. This story is set in the southeast, mostly in Virginia. But I’m not saying more than that yet.
The story sounds very intriguing. I can't wait to read it as well--once you're finished writing it and it's sold! Any new releases?
This Mother’s Day I have a short piece of fiction in an anthology entitled Sweeter Than Tea, May 2012, Bellebooks.
I am a great observer – yes, that is a nice word for a snoop. It’s my one true talent. I notice everything and I have a memory like an elephant. If I’m looking at you, I’m not remembering your name or what you write or how our kids know each other. I’m figuring out other things, little idiosyncrasies that distract and fascinate me about people. I remember what people were wearing on the playground in first grade. I remember certain conversations word for word. It takes forever for me to memorize a pin number or an address, and I’ll forget your name as soon as you tell me, but I’ll always remember your face. I’ll remember expressions and freckles and the way you chewed your lip, and how that started a story in my head.
Dreams, sometimes. I have crazy vivid dreams that are long and convoluted and I remember them like movies or memories and make people listen to me recall them in awful, boring conversations where I’m the only one who cares. There are scenes in The River Witch that came straight from dreams.
I also analyze everything to death. It makes my husband crazy. I fixate on places that have histories and wonder about the people who lived there. Or a person will catch my attention, and before long I’m all worked up about whole lives and families I’ve imagined attached to them. And this goes on for years sometimes before I figure out what to do with them. At other times, a character or a story can come from memories or experiences I’ve had, or been told about. Then I think it’s just a matter of my brain trying to work out why people are as they are or why the world is as it is, until I’m satisfied enough to start wondering about something new. Until I get bored.
Your dreams and overanalyzing sound familiar. And I'm with you on the names and PIN number memory loss. *grin* How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?”
I came out of the womb trying to get published, I just didn’t know it until my first short piece was part of an anthology eleven years ago. I wrote it and sold it in a matter of a week and a half. I had no idea what I was doing. After that I wrote several pathetic novels, found an agent, submitted my work for years and grew frustrated at the very encouraging rejections from NYC. Some editors even called to speak with my agent about my future work, but no one wanted what I was submitting. I took the last novel and revised for two years, eventually leaving my agent and submitting it to a small press. I sold the novel myself and began working with my current agent the same month.
I am so amazed at your PIRATE writing skills and selling skills. After a while a writer might have to take the work she/he's trying to sell into her own hands. I'm glad you did because now you have this new release and a brand new agent who believes in you! How did you celebrate the new book contract?
I cried over bar-b-que and a box of donuts.
Awe. Sweet. Was the “call” an actual phone conversation or an email or a snail mail?
It was an email.
Do you have an agent?
Yes, I’m working with the most fabulous Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency. I cried over that call, too. I was on vacation with my husband and kids and I took the call in my hot car in a Florida parking lot, looking out at the ocean. I jabbered at her like an idiot and she was very gracious. I’ll remember that moment all of my life.
Sounds like she's a perfect match for you! What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write the story you imagined under your bed covers as a child, the one that thrilled you and kept you up all night, giddy and full of wonder.
Great advice. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Trusting the process. That’s kind of like trying to convince a woman she doesn’t really want an epidural because the natural process of labor is beautiful and rewarding, but seriously, it’s true. I keep trying to read something or watch some presentation that will give me the secret, but that’s just stupid. No one writer’s process is the same just like no two books are the same. There’s no use rushing it. I’m a global thinker and I have this broad idea, a kind of amorphous vision of a work and I want to get to the finished piece in this neat, controlled way that never happens. I have to force myself to relax in the bog of my imagination until something floats to the top that I can latch on to. And all that time, I’m convincing myself I’m not crazy. I have to know that I’m going to come full circle, and that I am an idiot kind of writer who is going to do it all the hard way. And then I have to hope I’m eventually going to be smart enough to write the book of my dreams, because when I’m writing I always know I’m not smart enough. I have to let the book teach me something first.
I'm glad I'm not alone in learning to trust the process. But in the end you have a wonderful book and that's what is great about developing our own methods of madness. Thank you so much for coming to the Veranda and sharing your story, Kim.
Best of all, today a lucky commenter has a chance to win THE RIVER WITCH. I'll post the winner on Wednesday!
Kimberly lives north of Atlanta, where she has been for the last eight years. A former actor and
special needs educator, she spends much of her non-writing time working as a Pilates instructor,
enjoying her husband and three children, and encouraging storytelling in all its many forms.
On Sale April 30, 2012