Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Kim Fielding – Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical.
Thanks so much, Kim, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
Kim Fielding: I get my best ideas at weird times, most especially in the shower and as I’m falling asleep. So I keep notepads handy (although I could use a waterproof one for the shower). If I’m driving, my passengers or Siri can take notes on my phone. If I’m in a meeting or a store or something, I use scraps of paper. I have notes everywhere.
JSC: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
KF: I’ve been writing since, well, before I could write. One of my earliest memories is sitting at a table in preschool, scribbling on a piece of paper (imagine a long line of cursive e’s), and thinking I was inscribing the Great American Novel. Or something.
As I progressed through school, I knew that writing in general was one of my strengths. My teachers and professors praised my work, which was affirming. And I eventually ended up writing academic stuff—textbooks and journal articles—that did well.
But it wasn’t until some time later that I gained confidence in my fiction writing. And what gave me that confidence was fanfiction. I hesitantly started writing it (my fandom was Buffy, and I wrote Spike slash). And then I got wonderful feedback from readers and my hesitancy disappeared. There are 125 of my fanfics still out there, for the Spikishly inclined. I transitioned from that to my One True Love, original fiction, and here I am. The Little Library is my 19th novel.
JSC: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
KF: Why yes! For one thing, the book takes place in Modesto, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. This isn’t a part of the world that shows up often in fiction, and in real life it’s often overlooked.
Also, one of the main characters, Simon Odisho, is Assyrian-American. There are a lot of Assyrians in the Modesto area, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one as a book character. Assyrians are an ethnic group from the Middle-East; they’re mostly Christian, which means they’ve recently faced some persecution in their homelands, and they’ve been settling in the Modesto area for something like 100 years.
Because Simon’s parents are immigrants with pretty conservative views, he’s been reluctant to tell them he’s gay. This is one of the sources of conflict in the book.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
KF: My genre is… all the genres. Or just about. I’ve written contemporaries, historicals, suspense, and a range of spec fic (fantasy, paranormal, and sci fi). I sometimes blend genres too; this summer, my Blyd and Pearce will release, and it’s a noir private eye gay romance in a medieval fantasy setting.
While my genres veer all over the place, I think my writing style is relatively static. I like angst but not so it’s overblown. I like dashes of humor. I prefer unusual characters who possess serious flaws. I try to make my stories realistic, even if they involve dragon shifters or hipster architect werewolves. And all of my stories are highly character-driven.
JSC: What was the hardest part of writing “The Little Library?”
KF: Really, the hardest part was finding time to sit down and write. The day job and family keep me hopping, and last year was especially busy with various obligations. I traveled a lot too. Whenever I was able to grab some writing time, the process itself went smoothly.
JSC: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
KF: I’ve toured some unusual places, like a coroner’s facility (where I saw an autopsy) and a porn studio. I’ve been to a shooting range. I had a lap dance from a (female) stripper in Vegas and, during that same trip, rode really fast in a Lamborghini. I travel a lot and try to visit quirky locations wherever I go.
One of the weirdest things I ever researched was the approximate price of a healthy male slave in 15th century Bosnia (for The Pillar). I wanted to get it right. I spent a good half day on this, but I think I came pretty close to accuracy.
JSC: What inspired you to write the Little Library?
KF: A few things sparked this book. A while back, my family spent a weekend in San Francisco. We stayed at a fun motel across from Lands End and the Sutro Baths ruins (the motel makes a cameo in the book). Across the street we discovered a Little Free Library, a small structure in which books are placed. These libraries work on the honor system; when you borrow a book, you’re supposed to either return it or replace it. I’d seen these libraries before and discussed them with a friend, and that’s where the idea came of a man meeting his love interest through a library. It seemed a natural idea since I believe in the power of books.
Another inspiration came from the location. I live in a subdivision similar to Elliott’s, not far from Modesto, and I think neighborhood dynamics can be really interesting. Plus I often walk along a nearby greenbelt—Elliott runs on one—and meet up with all sorts of interesting folks there. Not, sadly, as interesting as Simon.
Finally, I wanted to portray some of the realistic struggles of academic careers, and I wanted a cop who wasn’t all gung-ho and alpha male.
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
KF: An author. Really. I’ve always been addicted to books, and in my mind, writing was the most magical job a person could have. Making up stories and sharing them with other people? Who wouldn’t dream of that? But I’m a practical sort too, and I realized even when young that few people can make a living off writing books. I pursued other career interests, but author was always there. I can’t tell you how delighted I am to see that dream come true.
JSC: What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
KF: I’m a university professor of criminal justice and have been for a loooong time. This influences my writing occasionally. In The Little Library, Elliott is a professor too, so my own experiences lend authenticity to his (although, unlike him, I was never involved in a scandal!).
I’ve had a range of other day jobs too. In school I often worked food service—McDonald’s, a deli, a pizza place—which gives me empathy for characters who have similar jobs. I had a volunteer gig taking care of animals at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which used to have baby chicks, goats, reptiles, and an electric eel, among other critters. The weirdest job I ever had? While in college, I had a temp job as a poop-scooper at a big dog show. I also once helped proof edit the collected works of the linguist Edward Sapir, which gave me a better appreciation for copy editors.
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
KF: “Taking on too many tasks at once until one feels hopelessly overwhelmed.” Really, kimming is a lot easier to say than all of that, isn’t it? I propose we all begin using it immediately.
And now for Kim’s new book: The Little Library:
Elliott Thompson was once a historian with a promising academic future, but his involvement in a scandal meant a lost job, public shame, and a ruined love life. He took shelter in his rural California hometown, where he teaches online classes, hoards books, and despairs of his future.
Simon Odisho has lost a job as well—to a bullet that sidelined his career in law enforcement. While his shattered knee recovers, he rethinks his job prospects and searches for the courage to come out to his close-knit but conservative extended family.
In an attempt to manage his overflowing book collection, Elliott builds a miniature neighborhood library in his front yard. The project puts him in touch with his neighbors—for better and worse—and introduces him to handsome, charming Simon. While romance blooms quickly between them, Elliott’s not willing to live in the closet, and his best career prospects might take him far away. His books have plenty to tell him about history, but they give him no clues about a future with Simon.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.
A complete list of Kim’s books: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/kim-fieldings-books/