Wednesday, 23 May 2012

An interview on Maria Savva's Goodreads blog

I enjoyed reading Kimm's poignant and inspirational memoir A Life Less Lost. I was excited to hear that Kimm has recently published a novel Once Removed. I'm very much looking forward to reading it. Kimm's a very talented writer. When I heard she had a new book out I decided it was about time I introduced her to all of you.

As well as agreeing to answer my questions, Kimm is very generously offering to give away a Kindle or pdf version of Once Removed and a paper version or a voucher for a digital copy of A Life Less Lostfrom Smashwords

To be in with a chance to win a copy of one of her books, please leave a comment below, or simply 'like' this blog post. Winners will be picked on 10th June 2012.

Here's my interview with Kimm:

I read your memoir 'A Life Less Lost' in 2009. It's very moving and inspirational. What made you decide to publish a memoir at the time?

It was a story I wanted to tell and in 2004 I finally had the opportunity. The first draft poured out in 4 months but then it took 5 years to polish it. By that time I was doing speaking engagements and people were disappointed there weren’t copies to buy. When I had the opportunity to speak alongside Adrian Plass, I decided I couldn’t wait for the slow wheels of publishing and did it myself.

Your son's battle with cancer is featured prominently in your memoir. Has he read the book, and if so did he give you any feedback on it?

A very interesting question, Maria. James gave me permission to write and sell the book but he hasn’t read it. His father and brother have and were surprised by the different ways in which we each experienced and remembered what happened. James says it’s taken him long enough to come to terms with his own interpretation of events and he doesn’t want to cope with mine.

You self-published A Life Less Lost, but with your new book, a novel, you have decided to use a publisher. What was your reason for not self-publishing this time?

As you know, Maria, self-publishing is extremely hard work. But I was losing confidence in myself as a writer. I needed that seal of approval that someone who didn’t know me thought enough of my book to take a risk on it.

How did you go about looking for a publisher for your novel?

I studied the Writers & Artists Yearbook for people most likely to be interested in my story and then checked out their websites and submission guidelines. I met and spoke to a PR person at an author event and she asked to see a sample and recommended three publishers. But none of that came to anything. Once Removed doesn’t fit easily into any genres so was too risky for the more established houses. A friend suggested a few e-publishers who are trying to build a presence in the market and actively seek out new and unusual work. I studied their websites and went for Crooked {Cat} Publishing, who quickly signed me up.

I'm looking forward to reading your new novel, 'Once Removed'. Can you tell us a bit about it and how long it took to write?

It’s about a young teacher who suspects one of her pupils is self-harming. Abby risks everything to try to help Beth but it all goes horribly wrong. It looks at the impact relationships have on us but also the way in which our own self-image affects those relationships.

I’ve had much to learn about writing (I did science at university!) so have taken courses, worked my way through self-help books and written lots of other things alongside this novel and my memoir. In seven years, Once Removed has been through many transformations. I’m certainly hoping my next book will take less time!

You have said that an experience in high school gave you the idea for Once Removed. Are you able to elaborate on that?

In high school, a girl felt close enough to me to reveal the razor slashes she’d made in her legs. I didn’t know what to do. At fourteen, new to the school and recently bereaved, I basically ran away. But I still wonder about that girl and what’s happened to her. In the '90s, when self-harm was in the media, I did some research and a story was born which explores this complex behaviour through the eyes of these two characters.

I saw on your bio that before you published your memoir, you'd had several poems, short stories and articles published and won a handful of local prizes, as well as being invited to speak at events in the UK and US. Can you tell us a bit more about these?

I’ve won competitions run by Huddersfield Authors’ Circle, been shortlisted in a Huddersfield Literature Festival competition and won second prize in a short story magazine. I learned a great deal about dialogue working collaboratively on two radio plays, even though they weren’t taken up. These were early on, when I was writing widely to get feedback and learn the craft. I’ve had articles published in various places and edit my church magazine. My poems appear in several anthologies but my main passion is for novels. They are what I read and know the best.

The speaking events began out of the blue and grew from there. I did set up a mini ‘book tour’ when I went to the States to visit my family. We went to five states, slept in ten different beds and sold over seventy books. More sales have followed but they’ve been slow. I plan to do more promotion over the Internet, once things settle down with Once Removed.

You have a book trailer for Once Removed. Who produced that?

My youngest son, David, is a filmmaker working for Bluprint. He and a couple of friends made it for me as well as the one for A Life Less Lost.

What's your opinion of book trailers in general? Have you ever decided to buy a book after seeing the trailer?

Personally, I have such a huge pile of books I want to read I haven’t used book trailers but when you are an unknown author you have to try everything to get some attention.

Which do you prefer reading e-books or print, and why?

I resisted getting an e-reader for ages but eventually the shrinking luggage allowances convinced me and I love it! I read walking my dog and don’t need to take my mittens off to turn the page, can read while eating my lunch without the book closing and in bed without my hand getting cold. It’s dangerously easy to buy the next book immediately after finishing the last one, too.

Who are your favourite authors and what is it about their work that you like?

That’s a hard question! I like Jodi Picoult, although her books do get a bit samey. I love the way she explores complex social issues through realistic characters. That’s what I’ve tried to do with Once Removed. But I also love crime writers like Jo Nesbo and historical fiction authors like Bernhard Cornwelland Philippa GregoryC.J. Sansom usefully combines both genres! I like interesting stories like A Thousand Splendid Suns and We Need to Talk About Kevin. I love the Fire and Ice fantasy series (A Game of Thrones ) even though I don’t usually like fantasy. I like anything with good characters and pace, really.

Are you working on any other books at the moment?

At the moment, I’m spending all my writing time trying to promote Once Removed. But next month I plan to get back to my new novel inspired by an agoraphobic woman who vanished.

When you're not writing, what's your favourite pastime?

Reading has been a passion all my life. I also enjoy sports like skiing, swimming, badminton and walking. I’ve a big soft spot for animals and live on a farm, although we’re not farmers. Baking, eating out, cookery programmes and cookbooks fill a big chunk of time. Recently I’ve discovered an interest in growing food, losing hours in the garden.

Thanks for being a fabulous guest, Kimm!


You can find out more about Kimm and her books at her website and on her publisher's website

And don't forget to leave a comment below, or 'like' this blog post for your chance to win a book! Good luck!

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