WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS?
I reach for suspense about all else. That said, my favorites wouldn’t be called suspense, or not purely: “The Virgin Suicides” by Eugenides, “My Antonia” by Cather, “The Graveyard” by Gaiman, and “The Magicians” by Grossman. I devoured “The Goldfinch” and “Devil in the White City”; also “Vampires in the Lemon Grove” and “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.” I admire the ordinary horror created by Quindlen in “Every Last One”.
As for Young Adult books, my favorites include “A Separate Peace”, “The Chronicles of Narnia” and everything John Green and Matthew Quick.
WHAT DID YOU READ WHEN YOU WERE A KID?
Everything, serially. An obsessive re-reader, I thumbed my Judy Blume books into pulp. At the local library, I single-handedly kept the Witch Saga by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and the Betsy-Tacy books out of circulation. I wanted to be Betsy with Tacy’s sausage curls.
WHAT DRAWS YOU TO A BOOK?
I want a story to screw with my physiology. Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones” gave me heart palpitations. “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski made my jaw ache from grinding my teeth in dread. I hope my stories make you scream, make your privates flinch, breathe a little faster.
DOES THE SUBJECT MATTER IN AFTER THE WOODS COME FROM YOUR PERSONAL LIFE?
The impulse to sacrifice yourself to save someone you love is certainly something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.
IS THE FELLS A REAL PLACE?
DO YOU RUN THERE?
Sometimes. And please, don’t get any ideas.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ASPIRING WRITERS?
Write what you love to read. I started out writing magical realism and realized it wasn’t going anywhere because I don’t enjoy reading it. Once I started writing suspense, there was no turning back.
Don’t fiddle too long reading craft books. If you need to read about process, read “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. Then get back to work.
If you’re not sure about your path, get trained as a journalist. Learning to write clean, spare, tight prose under deadline is invaluable, and will set you apart.
I break a lot of the rules writers impose on other writers. I’ve never belonged to a formal critique group. I have two writing partners who write in genres different from mine, terrific editors both. I trust them. I love them. I let them see my stuff. Don’t join a crit group just because everyone says you’re supposed to.
That said, connecting with other writers will sustain your soul.
WHERE DO YOU WRITE?
I write in my local library every day that it’s open. The tables are the perfect height, the light is lovely, and being surrounded by books just makes me happy. I wish I could say the staff views me with affection, treats me like a loyal, scruffy dog who shows up every day. But mostly, I think they get mad at me for sneaking in coffee.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A WRITER?
In seventh grade, my English teacher suggested I had help on an essay. Since I didn’t lift it from anywhere but my brain, I figured he was onto something. Years later, I came home from college and saw him bagging groceries at Shaw’s. I should have felt bad, but I didn’t.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AS A YOUNG ADULT?
Remember Freaks and Geeks? I was Lindsay. Smart and tragically uncomfortable in my own skin. Lindsay went for the Punk. I targeted the Mute Introvert who refused eye contact.
There’s one episode where Lindsay throws a party and redecorates her living room with album covers and posters of airbrushed unicorns. Yeah, I did that. Regarding F&G, Alice Mincus is my ode to Milly, as well as a composite of friends I left behind. If you can’t tell, I really, really love Alice. Also, I named her for a beloved friend who passed too early.
College life was nirvana. Having three brothers, I was starved for estrogen, and thrived in a womens’ dorm. I’m still close with the girls from Third West. Crammed into one room and laughing about the night before, they’d say, “When Kim writes her book, (insert escapade) will be in it”. Smart girls, those.
When the words flow, I get excited and bang excessively at the keyboard. I’ve broken the return key on my MacBook Pro twice. I also act feverish, whispering the words aloud.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
I just sold rights to my third YA novel, IN HER SKIN, to FSG for Winter 2018. It’s the story of a con artist who insinuates herself into the family of a missing girl by impersonating her, until it becomes clear the family has a secret of its own. It’s described as The Imposter meets Single White Female. But I think of it more as what happens when Joe from Carolyn Kepnes’ You meets Cathy from East of Eden.
WILL YOU DO AN INTERVIEW OR GUEST BLOG FOR ME?
If I can! Check out my contact page. And, thank you!