Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Airship Ambassador: What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?
Kim Fielding: That’s hard to do when the rest of my life is busy and when I maintain an active publishing schedule. One major factor for me is where I choose to write. I have a home office, but I do the bulk of my writing at the kitchen table. The family room is adjacent, so as I’m writing, my husband and kids are doing their things too—homework, TV, video games, meal preparation. Luckily, I can write amid considerable distraction. I also have a very supportive husband, which helps a lot. Still, I have been known to threaten my family members when I’m in the middle of a good part and they keep interrupting me!
AA: “Mom, mom, mom, momomomomomom…….” Hahaha, I can see how that might be … a distraction. Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists about ‘work’ stuff?
KF: One of the major benefits to my writing career has been the chance to become friends with other authors. While we can’t often meet up in person, we converse electronically all the time. They’re great when I want to bounce around an idea or two or when I need a set (or sets) of critical eyes to look over my work. I find just chatting with them hugely inspirational. We often talk about nitty-gritty writing things or new plot ideas, but we also discuss trade matters such as how best to promote our work. And when I do get to see them in person, they’re such fun, smart people! I’ve been on long road trips with some of them and shared hotel rooms and many meals with others, and I never get tired of their company. I’ve done some collaborative work with them too. For instance, a novel I co-wrote with Venona Keyes, Running Blind, was just released. That book came out of a conversation we had at a workshop. Another conversation, this time at a book reading, resulted in a really fun anthology called Once Upon a Time in the Weird West.
AA: Clearly, sometimes the smallest moment or event can produce amazing opportunities and collaboration. Some people might say that writers need to be readers, too. What do you think about that and what would you say your ratio of reading to writing is/was?
KF: I strongly agree. I don’t care how many workshops you go to and how much you slave over your edits—much of good writing comes from an instinct for what works. And you can’t develop that instinct if you don’t read. You don’t necessarily have to read in your own genre, however. The basics of good storytelling are mostly universal. Good writing inspires me. Whenever my own work is feeling awkward or difficult, I take a break to read something by an author I love. Pretty soon I find myself itching to return to my own project.
I don’t have as much time to read now as I’d like. I steal time whenever I can, such as when I’m waiting somewhere for my kids. I actually look forward to long plane trips because that’s dedicated reading time for me. And I listen to audiobooks when I walk, which is great for keeping me moving.
AA: Ha, I hear you about reading on trips. Sometimes it seems like that’s the best uninterrupted time I ever get. As a reader, what has made you stop reading something before finishing it? How do you try to avoid that issue in your own writing?
KF: I have to admit that I feel guilty when I give up on a story. I rarely do it. But my reading time is limited, so occasionally I have to pull the trigger. One thing that gets to me is poor editing, which pulls me right out of the story. I can be patient about almost anything as long as the book is well-written. In my own writing, I try to make my readers care as much about the characters as I do. It’s hard to set a story aside if you’re worrying whether things will work out okay for the protagonist. I also try to make the settings and dialogue as real as possible; I want readers to feel so immersed in the world I created that it never occurs to them to escape! Well, that sounds a little sinister, doesn’t it?
AA: Good characters and an interesting story will certainly get me to commit. What do you consider your first real writing experience?
KF: I have been writing as long as I can remember. I vaguely remember writing a story about a haunted spacesuit when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. Eventually, most of my writing was in academic circles, but I wrote fiction now and then for my own amusement. I didn’t get serious until just a few years ago, however. For some reason I was convinced I was incapable of writing a novel, but one year National Novel Writing Month tempted me… and now I’ve written 19 of them.
AA: That’s good encouragement for other people who might be on the fence about trying, or not. What story would you like to write but haven’t, yet?
KF: I have something like 20 pages of story ideas, all of which are calling my name! I especially love to explore new genres, so I’d love to tackle a true mystery soon, or maybe some hard sci fi. I also really enjoy blending genre lines. I recently finished a noir private eye novel in a medieval fantasy setting—and it was so much fun to write! One of my dream projects is an urban fantasy series based on trickster mythology, but I think that one will have to wait awhile.
AA: And people say I have too many ideas! How is California for writing?
KF: I live in a rural part of the state, pretty far from the excitement of LA or the Bay Area. It’s a mixed blessing. It means I’m farther from other authors and from decent bookstores and the like. But it also means I have fewer distractions—and writing gives me a great excuse to travel. A great thing about California is its diversity—both cultural and geographic—which I draw on all the time.
In general, I think it’s possible to be an author just about everywhere. I travel pretty often, which means I’ve done writing—and editing and promotion—on almost every imaginable form of transportation and in settings from farms to huge metropolises. As long as I have a place to plug in my laptop plus decent Internet access, I’m set.
AA: In your experience, does it seem like readers prefer a print or electronic format? Do you have a preference?
KF: Most of my sales are e-books. But I’ve had a lot of readers tell me that they enjoyed one of my books so much in electronic format that they later bought the print edition. Personally, I like both. I find the tactile aspect of print satisfying, and of course I never have to worry about recharging or software glitches. Honestly, I also like just the look of books on my shelves. But I have only so much shelf space and I have a terrible book addiction. This means all my bookshelves are double-stacked—shelf real estate is precious! E-books are also usually cheaper, plus much more convenient for travel. I find it comforting to know that as long as I have my Kindle or phone, I will never be stuck somewhere without something to read.
AA: I’m in total agreement. Ebooks are more convenient when traveling, or some hands free eating, but I also enjoy feeding my addict.. um, interest, in printed books. Have you been affected by electronic piracy of your work? Aside from the loss of a sale, how does this affect you/make you feel?
KF: Yes, all of my works have been widely pirated. This breaks my heart, and not just because of my own financial losses, which are considerable. Publishers put huge amounts of time and money into a book—edits, art design, and so on—and piracy steals from them too. Piracy has been a factor in the failure of many small indy publishers, which harms everyone.
The worst for me, though, are the pirated versions of my self-published stories and audiobooks. That’s because I donate all my royalties from those books to Doctors Without Borders, so piracy is cheating a worthwhile cause as well.
We’ll pause here in chatting with Kim. Join us for the conclusion when Kim talks about personal interests and experiences.
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