Writer Wednesdays: Author Interview with Fran Kimmel, Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge, & Reading Like a Writer
Welcome to Writer Wednesdays!
I have spent a lot of time so far this year reading. With my own novel – Inside the Sun – coming out in just over a month (April 21, 2020), all the launch prep and marketing has me worn a bit thin. One way I cope with this is by diving into the pages of books.
Are you on Goodreads, the social network for readers and book lovers?
Out of all the social networks out there, Goodreadsis my favorite. I track the books I’m reading and my progress. Last year I jumped on board in the yearly reading challenge where you decide how many books you are going to read in a calendar year and then chart your progress. It is a blast! In 2019, I set out to read 50 books and clocked in at 60, finishing a poetry collection about ten minutes before midnight – yes, I’m that cool.
Can you tell I love a challenge?
This year I again set my goal for 50 books – I didn’t want to overly challenge myself in an area where I want to find escape, pleasure, and relaxation in my downtime. So far (March 11, 2020) I’ve read 14 books, a mix of children’s novels, graphic novels, non-fiction books, memoir, and fantasy. Yes, the list includes Captain Underpants, but hey, I read their 100+ pages aloud for my kids, so that counts!
Here are the books I’ve read so far in 2020
(in chronological order):
Light Filters In: Poems, by Caroline Kaufman
Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe, by Jess Shatkin
Everything is Figureoutable: How One Simple Belief Can Help Us Overcome Any Obstacle and Create Unstoppable Success, by Marie Forlio
Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, by Dav Pilkey
Becoming a Curator, by Holly Brubach
Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds, by Dav Pilkey
Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle, #1), by Amie Kaufman
The Mueller Report Illustrated: The Obstruction Investigation, The Washington Post
I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912, by Lauren Tarshis
I Survived the Children’s Blizzard, 1888, by Lauren Tarshis
Captain Underpants and the Big Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers, by Dav Pilkey
The Goddess Twins: A Novel, by Yodassa Williams
White Bird, by R. J. Palacio
From the Lake House: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love, by Kristen Rademacher
My Favorites so far… by their covers:
Alexis Marie Chute Review: 5/5 This book literally brought me to tears—weeping—not once but twice. I know the history, but reading it to my children aloud in this beautifully illustrated book hit me in an intimate way that none of the history books ever have. I am moved, inspired, and challenged to be the change in my own world. Wow. A wonderful story.
About the Book: As museums step into the 21st century, the role of curator is changing and more crucial than ever. For those passionate about art, culture, and museums, this is the most valuable informational interview you’ll ever have—required reading for anyone considering this dream career.
Flash Review by Alexis Marie Chute: 5/5 This book has amazing characters and a fun plot. I don’t usually give 5 stars but I thoroughly enjoyed this novel!
You might wonder why I am focusing on books and reading in a “Writer Wednesday” blog post.
The reason is:
The more we read, the better we write.
I am a huge believer in this. If you want to craft better writing, no matter the genre, read as much as you can.
Read like a writer.
What this means is that you pay attention to the way the writer crafts the story:
How does the plot successfully (or not) unfold?
How does the author world build a dynamic, believable setting?
How have the characters been created in order to fulfill their purpose in the story?
One writer I love to read is Neil Gaiman. His book Neverwhere was such a pleasure to read. Not because I loved the sewer world and the bleak outlook on humanity. I loved Neverwhere because it was written so freaking well!!
I found myself in awe of Gaiman’s lovely sentences and word choices. In my effort to become a better writer myself, I found I couldn’t help but underline and highlight examples of Gaiman’s brilliant execution of language and storytelling. Reading his book was an education.
And on that note, today I welcome a lovely writer and human: Fran Kimmel. Fran is an Canadian author and local to my province of Alberta. She is a warm human and accomplished writer.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I was a shy little kid who never once raised her hand in class. I poured my heart out into dairies and journals instead. From the time I learned to read, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I built my career around writing for newspapers, magazines, corporations, and non-profits and have spent decades writing other people’s stories. Now finally, I’m taking the time to write my own.
Who were the authors that influenced you as a youth, and in what ways?
I remember being really enamored with Charles Dickens as a kid, especially Oliver Twist. I love a good underdog story. When the little guy wins, I feel like I’m winning too.
How did it feel when you got to hold your very first advanced copy of your book?
It felt like the world had cracked open. I remember taking the book to bed with me that first night and when I woke up the next morning it was slightly drooled on but still in my hands.
What was the inspiration behind your book(s)?
Both my novels have a troubled young girl as a main character. I think children have so much to teach us about resilience, both in novels and in real life.
The idea for THE SHORE GIRL came to me after my hand got wacked at a volleyball tournament, and I had to wear a splint for six weeks or my finger would be permanently bent at the knuckle. I started thinking what it would be like to go through childhood with a crooked finger because your mom never bothered to get you to the hospital. I asked a lot of what if questions. From there, young Rebee Shore was born.
NO GOOD ASKING started as an image of a young girl with bruises on her face making shadow puppets with her fingers. I had to know what had happened to her. Mostly, I wanted her to be surrounded by good people.
What was your publishing journey like?
I started with plays and short stories and had lots of rejections mixed in with the successes. After my first novel THE SHORE GIRL was picked up by a small publishing house, I worked with an agent who helped me find a home for my second novel, NO GOOD ASKING. It’s been glorious working with such a dedicated team all rooting for the book’s success.
What advice do you have for aspiring young novelists?
Read as much as you can. Write as often as you can. Reward yourself often. Find some writing buddies. And most importantly, don’t give up.
If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I wish I could be a fly on the wall.” So I’d be a shape shifter. Imagine being able to transform into anyone or anything, anytime, anywhere.
Where is your favorite travel destination?
Prince Edward Island. It’s a magical fairy place for me filled with great memories.
When you’re not writing, what are your favorite hobbies?
I love hiking in the woods the best. And when at home, I seem to have a thing for glue guns.
Where can people find you online?
I hope people will come visit me at www.frankimmel.com. Be sure to say hello. I’d love to hear from you.
About the Book:
Ellie and Eric Nyland have moved their two sons back to Eric’s childhood farmhouse, hoping for a fresh start. But there’s no denying it, their family is falling apart, each one of them isolated by private sorrows, stresses, and missed signals. With every passing day, Ellie’s hopes are buried deeper in the harsh winter snows.
When Eric finds Hannah Finch, the girl across the road, wandering alone in the bitter cold, his rusty police instincts kick in, and he soon discovers there are bad things happening in the girl’s house. With nowhere else to send her, the Nylands reluctantly agree to let Hannah stay with them until she can find a new home after the Christmas holidays. But Hannah proves to be more balm than burden, and the Nylands discover that the only thing harder than taking Hannah in may be letting her go.