Today we have a fun interview with Kimberly Chapman. Kimberly is a BUSY wife and mother, not to mention a great author. Kimberly is one of the few authors I have ever come across who doesn’t go to Starbucks or Jamba Juice, ok, so if we ever get the opportunity to meat, we won’t be heading there, we will be heading for a dark chocolate dessert. It’s been my great pleasure working with her on our interview and getting to know her through this process. Kimberly is also giving my readers a special discount code to be used on Smashwords.
Promotional price: $2.99
Coupon Code: VN78S
Expires: October 18, 2012
It only works at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/180554
Please tell me about your most recent novel. What or who inspired you to write it?
My recent release is Paranormal Romance/Contemporary fantasy. I was inspired by my love of the X-Men character Wolverine, or more specifically, his angst over being immortal. But I wanted to read something more grown-up and in a more realistic world, so I created characters who are immortal, several hundred years old, and lonely. Then I imagined what challenges they’d face in the real world through changing social dynamics and technologies, and forced them to find their way through to each other.
Who are some of your favorite authors and books? Did they influence or inspire your writing style and give you ideas?
The biggest influence on my writing was reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s books as a teen through to adulthood. His broad stories with huge casts set in fantastic versions of real history coupled with his willingness to kill off lead characters and yank the readers’ emotions in multiple directions not only affected me as a reader, but as a writer as well. I learned at an early age not to be afraid of length if the story demands it, not to skimp on details that enrich the world-building, and to feel free to break expectations to get to the reader’s heart.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
My main criticisms tend to come from genre issues. Nothing I write fits neatly into any one genre, so if a reader or reviewer has expectations based on what typifies a particular story type, sometimes they’re disappointed or annoyed when my work doesn’t fit the formula. I write romantic love stories amidst fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction, and other genres. This means sometimes the romance part isn’t dominant, leaving some romance fans waiting for the next sex scene, or sometimes the non-romance plot pauses for some tenderness, which makes those not into romance want to skip a few pages.
However, most of my readers appreciate my stories being unpredictable and not following a tired old formula. I don’t like reading books where I know certain things will happen because of the genre, so I don’t write that way either.
I’ve received lots of wonderful compliments along the lines of my work being someone’s favourite book, but the compliments that mean the most to me are when someone appreciates exactly what I’ve said above. One reader said on Goodreads that “Finding Gaia” is “a well-written and thoughtful mix of fantasy, romance, historical fiction, exploration of gender roles in society, intrigue, action, and erotica.” Another said, “FG absolutely demolishes several tropes”.
When readers make it clear that they see the value in my breaking with tradition, it encourages me to keep doing it and explore tropes and how to twist them further in subsequent books.
This or That – Chocolate or Vanilla?? Coffee or Tea?? TV or Movies??
Chocolate, but only if it’s dark. I do like French vanilla, though.
I don’t drink coffee or tea. I’ve been trying to start a caffeine habit lately after a rough year of health issues and poor sleep, but it turns out I can’t abide the usual sources. I’ve found some vaguely fake-citrus-flavoured Crystal Light with caffeine that I use now in emergencies but it scrambles my brain and I can’t write while on the stuff.
I like watching movies on TV by getting DVDs from the library because I am frugal and like to knit while I watch.
When you sit down to write, are you at a computer or do you do it, the ‘old fashioned’ way with pen and paper? Do you prefer one way or another?
Computer for sure. I type at about 120 words per minute, so I can transcribe what the characters are doing in my head in almost real time.
What do you do in your down time? Do you pick up something from your ‘to be read’ stack?
Sorry, what’s “down time”? I have at least five novels/series partially written right now in addition to the three I’ve completed. I’m a volunteer, a cake decorator, a knitter, and a mom. I do read, but that’s not really down time so much as forcing my brain to stop thinking about my own characters before bed, or something to occupy me in physician waiting rooms.
When I do force myself to take a break, it’s usually with a computer game. I like builder games like Civilization.
If your protagonist was a real person, what would they think about you? Would they want to hang out with you?
Jason is fairly indifferent to most mortals as a self-protection mechanism. He’d only care about me if I was in his life for a specific purpose. That being said, he adores his ward, Trish, and those who know me say she’s the manifestation of my Id. So if he had cause to have me in his life enough to notice, he’d probably be as much amused and infuriated by me as he is by her.
Anna is even more indifferent to mortals, unless she feels threatened by them. I’m no threat, so she’d fail to notice me unless again, she had specific reason to have to interact with me on a regular basis, in which case we’d get along well enough but not be especially close. I’m too outspoken for her sense of propriety.
Trish – who is a secondary character – would love and hate me the way I love and hate her. We’d hang out and snark on the world together, occasionally have tiffs, but then grudgingly move on for the sake of the friendship and not having to admit being wrong. We occasionally argue on Twitter lately.
Don – another secondary character – would be happy to chat geeky stuff with me, and I with him.
What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
I want to care about the characters. They have to move me somehow. I want to know about their inner turmoil, but I can’t bear any of it to be cheesy unless that’s deliberate and for the sake of a laugh. I want angst and pain in their hearts one moment, and to be swept away by a tender love scene in the next.
I cannot abide misogyny in male characters. Anything that smacks remotely of rapeyness, disdain for women, or abuse automatically makes a character a villain. This makes it very hard for me to find good romantic stories where I don’t start cheering for the so-called hero to die.
When you go to Starbucks or Jamba Juice, what do you order? Do they know you by name or drink?
I don’t go to either. Not my scene.
What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
My favourite part is how I’m never truly bored: when stuck doing a menial task like washing dishes, I can always pay attention to the fake people who live in my head.
The worst part is having to market the books. I feel awful for pushing them into any conversation. It’s depressing to have low sales as an indie, or to send out so many books for review and then so rarely see reviews actually posted. The business end of it truly awful.
When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?
In a brick-and-mortar store, the craft section. It’s the only reason I bother going to a physical store anymore, so I can preview craft books in person. But so many stores have such terrible selection that I just don’t bother.
Online is better. There, I can search by recommendations from friends or even ‘bots on places like Amazon, and find what works for me independent of the limitations of genre.
Did you get to quit your ‘day job’ and become an author, or do you have a ‘day job’ and writing is something you do for fun?
I’m a volunteer for multiple area groups. I also do cake decorating, although rarely for sale. Mostly I do it for competition or for donation to the groups for which I volunteer. I also teach some cake decorating classes.
Otherwise I’m a stay at home mom.
Writing is something I do because I can’t bear not to.
What has been the strangest thing a reader has asked you?
I was once approached by two squealing teenage girls at a cake show who said they loved my novel, my cakes, and my knitting and asked if there was a museum or something where they could see all of my works. I was dumbfounded. I hesitantly suggested, “Well, I’ve got stuff around my house?” They just squealed some more. It was very odd.
What is your favorite junk food vice?
Baked goods. Rich, dark, not-too-sweet cookies, brownies, and cake.
Is their any movie you have seen that was based on a novel, which you think lived up to the novel?? What made it live up to the novel?
The Lord of the Rings movies were excellent, and I don’t mind the aspects they changed from the original books. In many cases, I’d say they improved upon it, because the “Council of Elrond” chapter is mind-numbingly dull, but the scene in the movie is iconic for several amazingly-shot elements. Further, the way Jackson hits you in the heart with the impending suffering at Helm’s Deep is much more powerful than the books, which is a rare feat for a film indeed.
If you could step into the shoes of your protagonist for one day, would you? What would you like to experience or see during that day?
For Jason these days it’d be fairly dull. In current time, he’s going through his days biding time until he finds the woman for whom he’s been searching for nearly a century. He goes to work, he goes home, he just exists. He doesn’t use his nefarious powers anymore, and even if he did, I wouldn’t want to experience murder as an addiction.
But I’d love to be Anna for a day. I’d love to walk through a park and have everything bloom as I walked by, to simply look at a tree and make it grow, or use my ability to scare off bad guys. It’d be great fun to walk through Central Park at night and use vegetation to cage up anyone who tried to attack me.
Did you have any teacher(s) in high school or college that encouraged you to write? Did you take their advice?
I had a good writing teacher in high school, but I’m not sure he was exactly encouraging. If anything, he instilled in all of us how serious and difficult writing is as a professional act, and that if we weren’t going to work hard and hone that craft, there was no point in pursuing that as a career. I took that to heart; it’s why I believe in solid, proper, professional editing. I demand that of other writers and I demand it of myself.
What type of ice cream could I find you eating on a hot summer day?
I make a very good ultra-dark chocolate ice cream that I call Dark’n’Angsty. I have the recipe for it here: http://www.eat-the-evidence.com/2011/10/24/darknangsty-chocolate-ice-cream/
If we snuck a peek in your purse right now, what would we find?
It’s not really much of a purse so much as a tote bag for my mom-stuff. Usually I just carry my wallet, phone, and keys. But the tote bag has some pens, an Epi-Pen because I’m on allergy shots so that’s required for those, some random receipts, and possibly an old scrunched up shopping list.
I’d like to say you’d find something exciting like an alien-blood-encrusted weapon or a treasure map, but being a mom-bag, you’re sadly more likely to find a kid-booger-encrusted tissue and a printout of a Google map to a birthday party location.
What do you like on your pizza?? Thin Crust or Thick??
Mushrooms, ground beef, extra cheese, low sauce. The crust depends on the establishment, but either way I don’t want it greasy.
When you read for pleasure, what is your choice?? eReader or Paperback or Hardcover? Any particular reason??
I don’t yet have an eReader so when I read ebooks it tends to be on my computer. For bedtime reading, that means I’m reading paper editions for the most part. I have no preference between paperback or hard cover.
This or That – Christmas or Your Birthday?? Chocolate or Flowers?? Cell Phone or No Phone?? Quality or Quantity??
My birthday – I don’t have to do anything to prepare for it for others, whereas for Christmas I have to clean, bake, decorate, buy gifts, etc.
Chocolate – flowers are ecologically wasteful. Unless it’s a live plant, but then I have to take care of it.
No phone – I have an old flip style phone for emergencies, but I hate cell-phone drivers and am annoyed at people who interrupt conversations to take calls.
Quality – what’s the point of having a large quantity of something of poor quality?
What do your friends and family think of your writing? Have they been supportive?
They seem to love it and constantly beg me to write more. I keep telling them that they’d better help promote more in return, because being indie is expensive and I can’t afford to keep paying my editor and cover artist unless I get more sales!
In 4 words, describe yourself.
Creative, skeptical, nerdy, blunt.
Is their anything else you would like to share or say to those who will read this?
Just that if you’re looking for standard formulaic romance, you won’t find it with me. But if you’re looking for rich plots, new twists on old tropes, hot love scenes framed within a feminist context, or angst and tears coupled with geeky laughs, then check out what I write. I’m writing the sort of things I want to read, and I’m a nerdy, lefty feminist who is sick of predictable plots and patriarchal cliches.
Also, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of progressive-minded geeky men are really responding to “Finding Gaia”. My best reviews are from guys who clearly identify that way. I think a lot of modern-minded, sensible, intelligent men are left out of the typical romance genres, but they too crave affectionate love stories set amidst real plots.