First, let me take a moment to say welcome and thank you for being here today! It’s always a pleasure to have guests in the hot seat…erm, I mean interview chair. I'm super happy to have you here today; Brute was one of my favorite books, ever!
Thanks for having me over!
Why don’t you start out by introducing yourself (where you call home, how long you’ve been writing, etc.)?
I’m Kim Fielding. I live in the boring part of California, although I grew up in Oregon and the Midwest. I’ve been writing since I was three—my mom kept some of my early scribbles. I’ve been writing academic stuff for my day job for over 20 years. But I published my first novel in 2009. My 8th novel came out last month, my 9th comes out in February or March, and I’m busily typing away at my 10th.
Please tell us a little bit about your current release. What inspired you to write this story? How did it come about?
The Tin Box is special to me. It tells of William, a gay man finally coming very slowly out of the closet, and Colby, his new and very out friend. William takes a job as caretaker at a former insane asylum, where he discovers a tin box of letters written by a man who was committed to the asylum in the 1930s for being gay. William’s past experiences make it difficult for him to accept himself, but Colby and the letters help him along.
This story was inspired by several things, including my research into the sad history of mental institutions. I’ve spent some time (not as a patient!) at what was once the largest mental hospital in California, and it’s an emotionally evocative place.
- Please tell us three things about yourself that you think would surprise people/that most people don’t know.
- I am much taller on paper than I am in real life.
- I travel most places with a plastic Spike the vampire doll in my purse.
- I haven’t eaten mammals since 1996. I don’t eat ducks either, because they’re cute.
- What are the best and worst reactions you’ve gotten from people after telling them what you write?
- I’ve never had any negative reactions, although some people are very surprised. My favorite was this summer, when I attended a writing workshop at the University of Iowa. There were thirteen of us in the group, and as it happened, three were pastors. One day, the instructor outed me (with my permission). Not only was nobody horrified, but everyone was really sort of delighted and interested. One pastor went online that night and bought some of my books for his choir director.
- “They” tell us that writers should write what they know—do you think that’s true? Why/why not?
- If I only wrote what I knew, I wouldn’t get to write all the speculative fiction I love so much. I have never been a gay male hipster architect werewolf or a maimed giant or a machinist falling in love with an aphasic man or an ex-con. I think there are truths to the human experience that can be found in any setting, with any character, and those are what a writer should draw on. Research can fill in the details about things the writer’s unfamiliar with. Just yesterday I wrote a scene where the character was playing blackjack at a casino—something I’ve never done. So I consulted someone who’s done it a lot (my husband! *g*) and I think the scene works well.
- Pantster or plotter? Why?
- Pantster, because my muse is a mean bitch. I occasionally try to plot things out, but then she gleefully throws monkey-wrenches right and left. I’ve learned to place my trust in her.
I’d say my stories are pretty character driven. Once I have the characters, the setting, and the opening scene, the rest flows pretty logically.
- What’s your favorite part of the writing process? (the spark, the research, character oultines…?)
- Oh, the spark is fun. But my very favorite part is the research because I am a huge geek. I love looking stuff up, and the more obscure and eclectic, the better. For The Tin Box, I did quite a lot of research on the “treatment” of homosexuality in the 1930s. Some research is much more fun than that, though. My novel Pilgrimage releases in February or March; it required extensive (extensive!!) research on men’s underwear.
- What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?
- Writing the synopsis. It’s painful. Let’s not dwell on it.
- What makes for a great hero/heroine?
- He or she must be flawed in some way. None of us wants to read about Perfect Paul, who doesn’t exist in real life and is about as interesting as plain oatmeal. What gives a story zing and makes us pay attention it seeing the hero overcome his or her flaws.
- What makes for a great villain?
- I have always loved villains. Just as a good hero needs flaws, a good villain needs at least some redeeming characteristics. In Good Bones, for instance, Andy does some pretty awful stuff, including turning Dylan into a werewolf and almost killing Chris. But at his heart, poor Andy’s a really lonely guy who has no idea how to find love the right way. In the second book in the series, Buried Bones, we learn more about his background, which was pretty sad. His history doesn’t excuse what he did, but it makes him human (well, were-human) instead of a cardboard cutout.
- What advice would you give to a writer who’s just starting out but who hasn’t been published yet?
- Write. Yeah, I know. But a lot of people like the idea of writing more than the reality, which is damned hard work. We come up with all sorts of excuses why right now isn’t a good day to write. It’s never a perfect day to write. There’s always school or the day job, the kids, the chores, that great show on TV…. If you want to be a writer, write. I find daily word count goals very inspiring. The more you write—especially if you get good concrit and read a lot too—the better you’ll be.
- If you could pick up and move to any part of the world and live there, where would it be and why?
- I’m cheating on this one, because as I type this, I’m 10 days away from picking up and going to Europe. I’ll be spending a month in Croatia, where I lived for 5 months in 2011. I love Croatia and it feels like my second home. But I love to travel and I can be happy almost anywhere, especially if there are lots of cafes and good people-watching.
- What are the three most important things in your life, the things you absolutely could not do without?
- My family, of course. After that, give me books to read and something to write with, and I’m pretty content. A passport helps, but that’s four things, isn’t it?
- If you could have one (and only one) super or magical power, what would it be and why?
- I want Hermione’s Time-Turner. I’m not greedy—I don’t need to travel back in history (although how cool would that be!). I just want more hours in my days to get things done.
- What about your current book, who’s your favorite character in that one? Why?
- William. I started out not liking him very much. He’s repressed and prickly and unsociable—very unlike the immediately lovable Colby. But I fell for William when I came to understand why he is the way he is. And I really admire his quiet courage and determination.
- Do you miss your characters when you finish a story? Do you try to come up with ideas for sequels, or are you too excited by the prospect of a new project to feel sad that the previous story is over?
- I missed William and Colby so much I was actually depressed for several days after I finished writing. But I don’t do sequels often. For one thing, I’m usually most interested in the beginnings of a relationship, when two people are finding each other and finding ways around all those initial obstacles. Also, my muse is busy and I have a very long “to-write” list.
- If you could have a lunch date with anyone in the world, living, dead, or fictional, who would it be and why?
- Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain. He lived such a fascinating life and he’s one of my favorite authors. He’d have such amazing stories to tell over lunch!
- What are your favorite movies of all time?
- I love The Princess Bride, but who doesn’t?
- What are your favorite TV shows of all time?
- I’m a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have a favorite musical artist?
- I like lots of kinds of music, most of them old. I love old punk like the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, Clash. And newer punk or garage punk like Rancid and the White Stripes. I like blues and bluegrass and folk, British invasion stuff from the 60s and early 70s, and world music. The last concert I attended was Chris Isaak and I’ll be seeing Pink Martini in December. I am intentionally clueless about today’s pop music. I share a playlist with my 14-year-old daughter, and her friends who have seen it have informed her I am cool. She is skeptical.
- What television shows are you currently watching?
- I’m too busy to watch much TV. I usually have one show a week. It was Dexter, and I’m really looking forward to the next season of Game of Thrones. I watch True Blood, even though it’s getting increasingly dumb. I sometimes watch Jon Stewart, Colbert, or Househunters International. I have watched Supernatural, but I’m still at the beginning of S7.
- What’s next on the horizon for you? WIPs, writing goals, personal goals…?
- Lots of stuff!
--I have a short story in DreamspinnerPress’s Steamed Up (steampunk) anthology, which releases Oct. 21.
--My novella Housekeeping comes out in November. It’s a light contemporary.
--In December I’ll have a Christmas story called Alaska.
--In February or March my fantasy novel Pilgrimage comes out.
--I’m collaborating with Eli Easton, Jamie Fessenden, and Sue Brown on some gothic horror themed anthologies.
--I’m almost done with my first draft of a ghost story set around Route 66 and Las Vegas.
Thanks again to Kim for being here today! Be sure to visit her website, Kim Fielding Writes.