Monday, October 18, 2010

When Home is the Book Inside Your Head... an Interview with Author Kim Wilkins

Have you ever read a novel so absorbing that its fictional world feels more ‘real’ to you than your real world? And when you are forced to put that book down only because real life demands it, do you feel a desperate need to get back to that other world, your ‘new’ home and your ‘new’ fictional friends?

I have always felt this is the greatest, addictive pleasure of reading, which recently made me wonder how it must feel for the writers of such books. According to author Kim Wilkins; ‘It is a GAZILLION times better. It's like living another life. Reading a book only gives a fraction of the pleasure. Oh, the things I've seen and done!’

A few months ago I interviewed Kim for a fiction special in That’s Life magazine. As we chatted about her most recently published novel Wildflower Hill (which is published under her other name Kimberly Freeman) much of our conversation focussed on the creative process and her love of writing. She is always writing and says that she ‘goes weird’ if she stops. ‘My husband will say to me “Do you need to go and write?”

Wildflower Hill is her 21st novel, ‘a career high’. As Kim is never not working on a book I thought she would be the perfect author to describe writing as another ‘home’.

So, what is it like for Kim when she begins writing? ‘I love it when the two or three ideas I've had right at the beginning start to come together and make sense together. It's a feeling of absolute magic, as new ideas proliferate rapidly, turning up like lucky pennies all over the place. The most fun of writing is the thinking-up ideas and scribbling them in my notebook, before I've written a word of prose. Exploring possibilities is delightful.’

As she writes, Kim says; ‘I don't feel anything. I'm living and breathing the story and just trying to get it down as quickly as possible. I'm often not aware that I'm working at all until I stop. Then I come back to reality with a bit of a thud.’

Coming back to reality also happens when the book is finished, ‘It's a sense of loss and grief, but by then I'm usually thinking about the next book and consoling myself with the "exploring possibilities" process of that one. I can usually move on pretty quickly.’

And like with all homes, sometimes it’s not the easiest place to be. ‘When the story isn’t coming easily I feel like I'm outside a party, knocking but nobody's letting me in. It's very frustrating and a little bit cold and drizzly.’

Eventually though, Kim gets inside all her books. ‘In terms of setting, I've felt "at home" in all my settings. It's like they are places I've actually been, and I could still find my way around even years after I've written them.’

Of all the books Kim has written, there is one that feels most like home. 'The Resurrectionists: I haven't enjoyed writing any novel as much as I enjoyed that one because it was before I had children and I was writing it fulltime. I just got lost in it for the full nine months; a spooky, atmospheric story about a cottage on the English seaside.

Yet, it seems home is bittersweet for us all. Just as we feel homesick for different places we have lived at different times in our lives, there are books authors will always feel a sense of homesickness for; ‘Giants of the Frost was the first book I wrote after my son was born, so it really did become an indulgent escape for me. It was such an immense pleasure writing that story; I still miss it.’

To read more about how Kim feels when writing a novel, click here.
For more information about Kim’s published work, click

All images © Kim Wilkins

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