|Photo by Jodi Osborne|
Kim: It’s great to be here, Scott!
Road to the Soul was just that—a deep and convoluted journey into the nature of being. I’d planned to write about the Southern Continent of Gaela for years and I put a fair bit of pressure on myself to pull off this part of the series. It’s vast in scope, on one level, and very intricate and sub-atomic on another. Getting the balance right, and making sure the story was true to the spirit of the first series, was a constant challenge. I loved doing it though. Every minute of it. This is to date my most ‘heartfelt’ book, at least for me as a writer.
Scott: You have quite a full life, with your Astrology Website, your work as an author, your extensive study of alternative health, quantum physics, Jungian Psychology, just to name a few. How do you manage to fit so many past times into your life?
Kim: Ha! After being a mum for eighteen years, there is a LOT of free time when meals and laundry and taxi services are no longer required. But basically I am a doer, a Gemini, someone who likes to keep busy. The more deadlines I have, the more I get done. What did Leonard Bernstein say? “Achievement requires two things; a plan, and not quite enough time.” That’s me. That’s my motto.
Scott: A lot of new writers often ask about the amount of pages or words that a published author produces each day. How much time would you spend writing on a typical day, (if a typical day exists for a writer that is)?
Kim: I have three different kinds of typical days: first draft writing, edits and proofs. With first drafts, I write three thousand words a day, no exceptions. That’s ten pages a day, seven days a week. Sometimes it takes me four hours to get there, sometimes ten, but that’s what I work to and I’m very strict about it. I get the story down fast, in a couple of months. The editing is much slower. I might spend an hour on one paragraph! Generally I do thirty pages a day on subsequent drafts which is about eight to twelve hours and sixty pages a day when I get proofs from my editor. That’s more like ten or twelve hours.
But the process of writing isn’t confined to my time at the keyboard. No matter what I’m doing, the story is with me and I’m nutting out scenes and dialog in my head. My friends find it weird that midsentence I might pull out a notepad and jot something down. They’re used to it now though.
Scott: I love the photo of you on your astrology website, standing on the beach with a Katana? Can you tell us about your ability as a swordsperson?
Kim: It is a katana, not a ‘live’ blade. I wouldn’t want to lose a limb while training!
I started practicing Iaido, the way of the sword, when an early reader told me I had a fabulous story with ‘The Spell of Rosette’ (my first novel) but I didn’t know squat about sword fighting. The training—over the last seven years, has been both grueling and amazing. I choreograph all the sword scenes in my novels now (Yes, that one with Jarrod too!). Whatever my characters do, I’ve done, though maybe not as fast. Just to be clear, I’ve never killed anyone with my sword.
Scott: How do you approach your writing? Do you tend to develop a story in your mind and then proceed to conduct some research or is more of an organic method where you write the story first and research any technical aspects later?
Kim: My stories develop like any universe. They start out a seething mass of organic soup and slowly the topography, creatures and characters emerge. As they crawl onto land and start doing things, I have to research to keep up. As an example, yesterday I had two characters on a beach having a little down time after a freaking intense action sequence. They were diving for oysters and when it came time to eat then I went blank. I know what to do with abalone and scallops and clams but had to quickly learn how to shuck an oyster. (I watched a demo on Youtube. How good is the internet!)
In my new series, the idea began with a conversation with my son. We were talking about Amassia, how the Earth’s continents would all come back together in about 250,000,000 years and how each great extinction created opportunities for surviving species. We wondered what it would be like if one of those species lived underwater. That series is at the proposal stage now and much of it was brainstormed prior to writing. When developing a story, all roads potentially lead to Rome. I hope to travel every one of them before I’m through!
Scott: As a writer it is interesting to hear what other writers read in their spare time. It is often surprising to hear the genres and variety of books other authors read. Can you tell us what are you reading at the moment and what you five favorite books are?
Kim: Oh, only five! I have five thousand favourites!
Right now I’m reading The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood. It was her first novel and I’m totally immersed. I just finished Alison Goodman’s Singing the Dog Star Blues. It’s YA and a wonderful read.
My top five books, if I must narrow it down: The Silver Metal Lover, by Tanith Lee. She is a beautiful and poetic writer with a sharp spec Fic edge. Major hero worship here. Dragon Flight, by Anne McCaffrey, Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robins, The Importance of Being Ernest, by Oscar Wilde. (This is so esoteric!) and Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris. (Harris takes my mind on the perfect holiday)
Scott: How hard was it to switch over from writing books on astrology and herbal medicine to fantasy novels?
Kim: Pretty hard. I had developed the tools to deliver nonfiction articles and books but novel writing is a whole different world. I wrote three or four complete manuscripts before writing one that attracted a publisher. People don’t realise writing is as challenging and complex as brain surgery. You have to work on the cadavers first, learn all the anatomy and physiology and bio-chem of prose and storytelling before you cut a live one! It takes practice. I mean, nonfiction is objective, intellectual but fiction asks for more. It asks for your whole heart.
Scott: If you were stranded on a desert island, what five authors would you like to have as companions and why?
Kim: OMG really! I love this scenario. Tanith Lee because she’s a quirky genius storyteller. We would never be bored! Charlaine Harris, so I can find out what happens with Sookie and Eric. Nazim Hikmet because he would remind me of the world outside, and my responsibility to it. Joss Whedon because we could talk about turning my books into scripts and he so ‘gets’ strong women, and Keanu Reeves (do I have to explain this?) And yes, he’s a ghost writer! Or was that his Aunt Julia?
Scott: I love the tattoo you have of the black cat on your arm. Is the tattoo of one of your pets and what is the fascination with felines?
Kim: The feline tattoo is Bast, sometimes called Ubasti, the Egyptian goddess of sun and moon. Why do I find felines fascinating? I love them, have always loved them and there is something wondrous about an animal that can express pleasure through purring. I mean, we launch satellites to the far reaches of the Kuiper Belt but we don’t know how cats purr. How cool is that!
Scott: Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to your next book.
Thank you Scott! It was a pleasure chatting!