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.
Kim is giving away the first 2 books in the series, Love Can’t Conquer and Love Is Heartless. For a chance to win, comment below.
Today, Kim Fielding – the bestselling, award-winning 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: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Kim Fielding: I’ve wanted to write literally as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories was me at preschool when I was two or three, and I was covering papers with rows of squiggles (think lots of cursive e’s). I thought I was writing words, although I don’t recall what I was trying to say!
Some days I’m still not sure I’m good at writing. But two things gave me the confidence to publish professionally. One of these was fanfiction. I wrote a bunch of fanfic (mostly Spike slash from the Buffyverse, and yes, it’s all still available on AO3; look for whichclothes). I received a lot of positive feedback, which showed me that people might actually enjoy my work. I made some great friends too, including one of my beloved editors. The second confidence boost came when Amy Lane (who I hadn’t yet met) read my first novel, which I’d self-published. Then she emailed me and urged me to submit future work to her publisher. What a kind thing to do!
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
KF: I originally self-published an alternate world trilogy about a wizard and a slave, the Ennek series. Those books were written during consecutive National Novel Writing Months. They’re dark fantasy with romantic relationship between two men being vital to the plot. Eventually, DSP Publications republished second editions of those books. The French translations recently got some beautiful new covers!
My first novel that wasn’t self-published was Good Bones. I’d grown tired of clichéd werewolves—you know, the buff biker dude types—so I wrote a book about a hipster architect who gets turned into a werewolf and, in the process of redoing an old farmhouse, falls for the snarky hick next door.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
KF: I write in pretty much all the genres, I think. I especially love speculative fiction of all kinds (fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, horror….), but I also enjoy contemporary, historical, and other genres. I think jumping around a little helps keep my writing fresh.
There are some elements present in nearly all of my work, regardless of the genre. I tend to favor heroes who are flawed and unconventional in some way. I like my stories with doses of angst and yet I feel that a little humor is almost always essential as well. I have well-realized settings, whether they’re real or imaginary; I want my readers to be right there with my characters, seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting everything they do. And in general I think my writing style tends more toward spare than florid.
JSC: Where do you like to write?
KF: Although I have a study with a nice desk, I do most of my writing at the kitchen table. This gives me a view of the backyard, where I can watch hummingbirds, jays, and other birds doing their thing. It also puts me in the middle of family activity, which can be distracting but also keeps me from being isolated.
One of my favorite places to write is hotel rooms. I think it’s the lack of distractions that appeals to me, coupled with the knowledge that anything I might need is near at hand. But I’m also happy to write in cafés; on trains, planes, and boats; in airports; and, in a pinch, in waiting rooms. One of the great things about being an author is you can do it nearly anywhere with a minimum of equipment.
JSC: How did you choose the topic for this book?
KF: This is the third book in a series (although I need to mention that it can be read as a standalone!). Parker Levin had a very small part in the first two books—all we knew was that he’s in his 20s and has made frequent bad choices requiring his mother to help him out. I wanted to know more about him.
The other thing that inspired me was a visit to some acquaintances in southern Oregon. Their house was being redone due to structural issues, so they’d set up temporary living quarters in a school bus, with an outside kitchen and attached bathroom. It was a really cool and creative use of space. And it got me thinking about writing a character who lives in a converted bus and why he’s made that choice.
JSC: What character gave you fits and fought against you? Did that character cause trouble because you weren’t listening and missed something important about them?
KF: Wes was difficult to write at first. He’s lived the past decade in near-isolation, blaming himself for the consequences of a bad decision. He’s purposely limited his experiences with the outside world. So my first challenge was making him likable despite these limitations (although I always liked him; I love all my characters—even the villains!).
The other challenge was getting him to fall in love with Parker. There were a lot of barriers to this. Wes is convinced that relationships aren’t for him. Parker is ten years younger and has just suffered personal upheaval. Parker is also very different from Wes in temperament, and while Wes stays stubbornly put, Parker sort of careens all over the place.
JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write and why?
KF: I love Nevin Ng, who has a secondary role in this book (and in the first book in the series) but starred in Love Is Heartless. For one thing, he swears a lot and with creativity. He doesn’t often hold back in telling people what he thinks. So he can be snarky or tough-talking, yet he’s also incredibly caring. His job as a detective involves dealing with cases involving vulnerable victims—a perfect fit for him since he’s fiercely protective but also compassionate.
Nevin is also fun because he makes such a good foil to other characters, especially the ones who know him well enough to yank his chain a little. I loved writing about how he and Colin fell for each other. Colin is upbeat, maybe a little overprotected and naïve, with a fondness for musicals and animated movies. He has hidden complexities too, and was exactly the right person to draw out Nevin’s suppressed romantic side.
JSC: What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
KF: I’ve been a criminal justice professor for a long time. But I had a variety of other jobs before that. When I was a kid, I did a lot of babysitting and I volunteered at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Back then they had some animals, and my job was to help care for them: goats, chicks, iguanas and snakes, an electric eel, a possum…. It was a lot of fun. Later, I worked at McDonalds drive-through (way less fun), a take-and-bake pizza place (almost sliced my finger off), a deli (got robbed at gunpoint), and a summer day camp (almost rolled down a mountain while a passenger in a bus). I had short-term gigs as a poop scooper at a dog show and helping proofread the collected works of the linguist Edward Sapir. Later I clerked for a large law firm and did some work for a legal services organization that dealt with children in crisis.
My legal and criminal justice experiences come in most handy in my writing, and being a professor helps keep me tuned into the language and life of people in their late teens and twenties. But sometimes I borrow bits and pieces from my previous experiences too.
JSC: What’s in your fridge right now?
KF: My older daughter recently returned to her college in another state. She loves to bake (we call her the Midnight Baker) and occasionally cook main dishes as well, an she did plenty of both while she was here over break. The fridge now contains the detritus of her work: half sticks of butter, tupperware containers with mysterious liquids, a partially used can of evaporated milk, and the remains of an 18-pack of eggs. I really need to clean out the fridge.
JSC: What are you working on now?
KF: F.E. Feeley Jr. and I co-wrote a horror book! It’s called Hallelujah, and it releases March 31. People who’ve. Read my Motel. Pool. or his Objects in the Rearview Mirror will encounter a few familiar elements, but the main story and characters are brand new to us both, so anyone can jump right in. This book was such a fun project!
I’m also finishing a light, tropy romance novel called Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love and I’m starting work on Bureau book 6, Conned. This one takes place in San Francisco in the 1920s and features a magician/spiritualist who gets caught up in some deep trouble.
And now for Kim’s new book: Love Has No Direction:
A Love Can’t Novel
Yet another series of poor decisions lands Parker Levin back in his mother’s house, working at her coffee shop, and feeling like a failure. Then he learns his ex-boyfriend has died by suicide and things go from bad to worse. When he meets a handsome stranger, he doesn’t have much left to lose.
Ten years ago Wesley Anker made a grave mistake. Since then he’s lived in near isolation, supporting himself by making custom furniture and only rarely connecting with other people. When he attempts to make amends, he encounters Parker, a beautiful and colorful young man, and he agrees to Parker’s impulsive request to join him.
Together, Parker and Wes find quick friendship and fierce attraction. But Wes’s past demons haunt his footsteps, and Parker’s struggle to plan a future has him stumbling through life. Then they uncover evidence that suggests Parker’s ex’s death might not have been a straightforward suicide, and every path seems to lead to dead ends and destruction. Can Parker and Wes find their way to lasting love when the route is hidden?
Parker must have drifted into a doze, because he was slightly startled to find Wes standing at the foot of the bed and frowning down at him.
Parker sat up. “Do you want me to sleep on the couch?”
“You’re young. And… bright. Vibrant.”
That didn’t seem to answer the question. Parker cocked his head. “Okay?”
“I’m not any of those things. And I’m a miserable son of a bitch most of the time.”
“I don’t think—”
“I am. You haven’t been around me long enough to see, but you would, in time. You’ve had enough trouble without having to deal with my shit. Go back to Portland tomorrow. You’ll find what you need there.”
Parker had no idea what prompted this conversation or why Wes would say these things, and he didn’t have the emotional energy to argue. “Let’s just get some sleep, okay?”
After a moment Wes doused the last of the lights, leaving the bus in almost complete darkness, and joined Parker in bed. They lay beside each other, breathing in tandem.
“I’m not always a huge mess,” Parker said after a long time. It sounded pathetic.
“Really. Usually I’m kinda happy and easygoing. Too easygoing, maybe. It’s like running down that road in the dark—I don’t see where I’m heading and end up falling. Drama city.”
“But you get back up again.”
Parker considered this. “I guess so. I’m just sorry I dragged you into the current mess. Usually it’s just Mom who has to deal. This time it’s you too.” A thought struck him. “And Logan. Christ, Logan.”
“We’ve been through this. His suicide was not your fault.”
“Maybe not. But I didn’t help either, did I? I mean, we were living together, and I didn’t even realize he was that into me. Or that he was depressed. I kinda know some of the symptoms of depression ’cause Qay’s talked to me about it before.”
“Jeremy’s husband. He’s a really cool dude, but he has struggled. I think no two people experience depression the same way, but I sure wouldn’t have guessed it about Logan.”
Wes was quiet for a bit. “But he was having money problems, right? Maybe the stress got to him.”
“Especially after I got him fired.”
“I know, I know.”
More silence. But then the weirdest thing happened: Parker became suddenly aware of how close Wes was. And that he was probably wearing only underwear. He was handsome, and he’d been patient and generous with Parker even though Parker hadn’t earned it. He’d gone out on the road in the rain to rescue him. He’d so carefully dealt with Parker’s hands—even though he had nobody to tend to him when he was hurt.
He was right there.
And tomorrow Parker would be gone.
Parker rolled toward Wes. Rolled onto Wes, actually. Cradled his head between sore palms and leaned in to press their lips together.
For a second or two, Wes remained utterly still. But then he wrapped his arms around Parker and kissed him back with such fervor that their teeth clacked together. Which probably hurt, but Parker didn’t care about that any more than he cared about the sting of his hands. What was important was the contact between his skin and Wes’s, the way Wes opened his mouth to Parker’s tongue and how Wes held his waist with his strong fingers.
Parker liked kissing. It was a hobby he’d engaged in often over the years. Sometimes he liked it almost as much as sex because it felt equally personal without being so… fussy. No messy lube or fumbling over a condom. No awkward getting dressed afterward. No positions where someone ended up with a cramp.
So yeah, kissing in general was good. But this one…. Maybe it had something to do with how Parker had lately been on an emotional trampoline, leaving his body oversaturated with hormones and neurotransmitters. Maybe it was just that Wes’s nearly naked body felt so good against Parker’s clothed one. In any case, this kiss sent him straight into overdrive. Every one of his senses became superhero acute while the cognitive centers of his brain blue-screened into nothingness. He dimly realized that he was moaning and undulating his hips and that Wes strained his own hips upward to meet him, but all of that was less important than the taste of chocolate and the scents of rain and wood shavings.
He almost cried when Wes gently but firmly pushed him away.
“Got enough regrets already.” Wes’s voice came ragged. “Don’t need another.”
Hurt cooled Parker’s ardor as thoroughly as cold rainwater. “I thought you wanted—”
“I do. Badly. But what about you? This whole situation you’re in…. Let yourself breathe a little first, okay?”
The hurt faded, only to be replaced by sorrow. Parker wanted Wes desperately right then, but he didn’t know whether that was honest attraction or just a sinking ship heading for the nearest port. Wes didn’t deserve to be used. And Parker, well, he could discern his own motives even less well than usual.
He reached over and gave Wes’s shoulder a quick squeeze, then turned away. Parker didn’t know whether this was an admirably good decision or a phenomenally bad one, but it was his choice for tonight.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling, award-winning 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.
Having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls California home. She lives there with her family 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.