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 very pleased every time someone calls her eclectic. Her books have won Rainbow Awards and span a variety of genres. She has migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States and currently lives in California, where she long ago ran out of bookshelf space. She’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full time. She also dreams of having two perfectly behaved children, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a house that cleans itself. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others.
I just saw Kim yesterday at YaoiCon!!!
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 always wanted to write. As early as first grade or so, I was writing stories, and being an author was always my dream job. But I didn’t have the confidence to try it professionally. Actually, that’s not quite true. I’m a university professor—and textbook author—so I’ve been writing professionally for years. But of course that’s a very different thing from writing fiction.
What eventually gave me the courage to share my stories was fanfiction. I sort of stumbled into a fandom (Buffy, and it was all Spike slash, if you want to know—over 2 million words’ worth). Not only was it fun, but I got a lot of positive feedback. Thousands of hits and tons of positive comments. Fanfic gave me a chance to hone my craft, but also showed me people were willing—eager even!—to read what I wrote.
But I still had a weird idea that I couldn’t write a novel. I’m not sure why, because some of my fanfics clocked in at well over 100 thousand words. Then I heard of NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month—and decided I was up for a challenge. And hey! I wrote a book in a month! Which was exciting enough, but after I self-published it, an author I really admire sent me an email encouraging me to submit something to her publisher, Dreamspinner. So I definitely need to give Amy Lane credit for my being here
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
KF: Genre-wise, I’m eclectic. I have a particular fondness for speculative fiction of all flavors, so a lot of what I write falls in that camp. But I also enjoy contemporary and historical (15th century Bosnia!), and I’ve recently been writing a bit of suspense. I think a lot of what I write crosses genre boundaries. For example, Astounding! might technically be considered sci-fi (one of the MCs is an alien who, before he came to Earth, was a non-corporeal energy being). But it takes place in modern times on the West Coast and perhaps has a strong urban fantasy feel.
Stylewise, I think my writing tends to be clean (as in clear and concise—I do write sex scenes!) with realistic dialog. I try to make my characters as realistic as possible too, even if they’re maimed giants or hipster architect werewolves. I have a special weakness for unconventional heroes. And although I often enjoy a goodly dose of angst, I’m also a sucker for happy endings.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
KF: I self-published my first novel, Stasis. It’s a dark fantasy set in an alternate universe and featuring a wizard and a slave. That book became the first in a trilogy; the other books are Flux and Equipoise. And now DSP Publications is releasing second editions of the entire trilogy. It’s coming out in a French translation as well. I still love those books. There’s magic, adventure, love, and even commentary on the political struggle between freedom and security. And I donate all my royalties from this series to Doctors Without Borders, which makes me really happy.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
KF: I usually have the next two or three books scheduled, but I don’t outline. I start out with a beginning, some characters, and a general idea of where things will go. To be honest, I’m a little jealous of writers who outline carefully, but that just doesn’t work for me. Then I sit down and write every day. My day job is demanding, I travel a fair amount, and I have two teenage daughters and a husband, so my time is limited. I make the best use of it that I can, often grabbing a little writing time here and there over the day. I do the bulk in the evenings, though. I try for at least 2000 words a day. And I don’t let myself go back to reread or fiddle with anything until the entire first draft is complete. It’s a process I picked up during NaNoWriMo, and it works for me.
Once the draft is complete, then I go back and play around with things. After that, it goes to my very good friend and beta editor for a couple rounds of edits. Sometimes I run it by other betas as well.
I allow myself to work on only one project at a time, no matter how temptingly the new ones call to me.
JSC: Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours.
KF: I love to make lists. Partly because they help give me a stab at organizing myself and partly because I gain immense satisfaction when I get to cross things off. I always have lists going. In fact, I always have at least two lists going, one for my author self and one for my non-authorly life. And the non-author me gets jealous of the author me because author me gets to do much more fun stuff. Non-author me has onerous tasks from the day job plus tedious chores like making dentist appointments for the kids.
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
KF: So many to choose from! Actually, one of the best things about being an author is getting to meet other authors. I’ve made such wonderful friends that way.
But among people I haven’t met, probably my first choice would be Mark Twain. Samuel Clemens had a fascinating life during very interesting times, and his writing remains meaningful and enjoyable all these years later. I’d love to just listen to him talk about his adventures and inspirations. Wouldn’t it also be cool to hear his take on modern life?
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
KF: I was stuck on this one so I asked my 16-year-old. She said Kim Fielding is the act of being a nerd. You know what? I can live with that.
Today I read a book on 19th century sailing ships, watched a documentary on Roma bride markets in Bulgaria, argued with someone over the Oxford comma, and then critiqued a manuscript on ethnic bias in Southern Thailand. Wow, I Kim Fieldinged so hard today!
I think that works.
JSC: What kind of character or topic have you been dying to try to write, but you’ve never worked up the courage?
KF: I think it would be great fun to write a mystery. But I’m not all that great at solving them, so I doubt my skills at writing them. Plus there’s the whole non-outlining thing. I’m pretty sure that writing an effective mystery requires a fair amount of pre-planning.
I would also love to write a really hard-core sci-fi story. As a kid, I loved Heinlein, Asimov, and the like, and I wonder if I could pull that off myself. But then, I’d also love to do something really gritty and noir.
So many ideas, so little time!
JSC: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?
KF: Next year! I tend to be more forward-thinking than backward-looking. And while I’ve done some amazing things—and some I regret—I’d much rather think about the future. That said, a few years ago I had the opportunity to live in Croatia for a semester. My older daughter came with me; she was 11 at the time. It was a wonderful experience. Not only did we get to see most of Croatia, which has a lot to offer, but we also got to see a good bit of the rest of Europe. I taught at the University of Zagreb, gave lectures elsewhere, and met so many lovely people. It was life changing for me and my daughter, and it would be fantastic to do it again.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
KF: I have so much going on I can barely keep track! Here’s a partial list (I told you I like lists):
- Flux, the second book in the Ennek trilogy, just released a couple days ago. The third book, Equipoise, will come out in November.
- The 5th anthology in the Gothika series comes out in October. It’s called Contact and has an aliens theme. It contains novellas by Jamie Fessenden, B.G. Thomas, F.E. Feeley, and me. My story is “Refugee” and takes place on the Oregon coast in 1950.
- In November, Dreamspinner will release a novel called Running Blind. I co-wrote it with Venona Keyes, and it’s a contemporary about—obviously—a vision-impaired runner.
- I worked with 12 other wonderful authors on an anthology called Once Upon a Time in the Weird West. We each wrote a spec-fic story on the “weird west” prompt, and it was great fun! It will come out in December or January.
- I have a holiday short story in December. It involves pagan Slavic gods and Hawaii, and it’s called “Anyplace Else.”
- Also in various stages of progress: the sequel to Love Can’t Conquer, a frothy novel for the Dreamspun Desires line, and an urban fantasy series drawing on Trickster mythology.
And I have a whole slew of audiobooks and translations coming out as well!
And now for Kim’s new book: Flux:
Ennek, the son of Praesidium’s Chief, has rescued Miner from a terrible fate: suspension in a dreamless frozen state called Stasis, the punishment for traitors. As the two men flee Praesidium by sea, their adventures are only beginning. Although they may be free from the tyranny of their homeland, new difficulties await them as Miner faces the continuing consequences of his slavery and Ennek struggles with controlling his newfound powers as a wizard.
Now fugitives, Ennek and Miner encounter challenges both human and magical as they explore new lands and their deepening relationship with each other.
Ennek Trilogy Book Two – Second edition
THERE WAS a pattern in the wood grain on one part of the ceiling: a knothole and some curved lines. The more Miner looked at it, the more it looked like a whirlpool, the sort rumored to swallow entire ships. He tried not to look at it at all, but that was difficult when he spent so many hours confined to the tiny compartment and when there wasn’t much else to see.
He didn’t have to stay inside; he could have wandered the decks as Ennek often did. Like Ennek, he might have found a way to help out, to coil ropes or swab decks or whatever sailors on the Eclipse did at sea. He could have kept his slave collar covered in the thick scarf his lover had given him and nobody would have thought anything of it, because the weather remained cold and blustery and clammy in a way that seeped into his bones and made them ache. And really, he should have yearned to go outside, to have open skies above him for the first time in three hundred years.
But he didn’t go above deck, at least not often, because then he would inevitably see the water tossing and foaming beneath them. And despite the angry words he muttered to chastise himself, he couldn’t face the ocean without trembling in fear.
Ennek spent hours up above, returning to their small space with hot drinks and spicy stews and hunks of dry bread, his black curls wild and his skin smelling like salt. But he seemed very understanding of Miner’s terror, and perhaps he tried to tamp down his enthusiasm over their adventure, instead drawing Miner against his muscular body and telling small tales of the day’s occurrences.
And sometimes after the sun had set, when only a few other men remained awake, Ennek would persuade Miner to climb the ladder to the top deck, and Miner would stand with his back to the railing—even though it was too dark to see the water well—and he’d breathe in some fresh air and try not to tremble noticeably.
“I won’t let anything hurt you,” Ennek told him one night in a low voice. “Not again. Thelius is… gone… and this is only water, no more dangerous than a bathtub.”
Miner had been afraid of the bathtub too, at first. He didn’t remind Ennek of that, but only nodded. “I know. I’m sorry. It’s just….”
Ennek set his hand on Miner’s shoulder. “I understand. What those bastards did to you, it was hell, and for so long…. You’re not going to get over it right away. We’ll give it time, all right? And anyway, we’ll be on dry land in less than a week, and then I promise you, we can stay far away from the ocean.”
“Thank you,” Miner replied. He knew Ennek didn’t fully grasp his fear—couldn’t. After all, Ennek had practically grown up on the water, had spent the best times of his life puttering around the bay in his little catboats or stomping about the great sailing ships as portmaster. The sea had been his lifeblood even before he’d learned he was a wizard with the element of water at his command.
“Do you want to walk around a little? I could show you how the steering works, or maybe you want to take a look at the aft rigging? It’s just a bunch of strings, but it’s so ingenious—”
“I think I’d like to return below.”
Ennek nodded. “Okay. I’m kind of worn-out anyway.”
Miner led the way back down the ladder and through the cramped corridor. Their room was actually a storeroom of sorts, and it smelled strongly of the spices that had been transported during the ship’s voyage to Praesidium. The low ceiling prevented Miner from standing up straight, and the floor space barely allowed for the mattress—so small they had to squeeze together, although neither of them minded that. Miner was happy the room didn’t have portholes. All in all, the room offered a serviceable means of escape and privacy.
As soon as they shut the door, they shed their damp clothing, piling it in a heap up against one wall. All that movement in the cramped space was awkward, and Miner knocked into the hanging lamp with his elbow, sending shadows careening crazily about. The dancing light revealed Ennek’s broad shoulders and the dark curls on his chest.
Ennek reached over to steady the lamp. He smiled shyly at Miner as they stood there in their woolen underpants. He was still timid about nudity and about the way they shared their bodies. Miner found it endearing.
Kim Fielding is very pleased every time someone calls her eclectic. Her books have won Rainbow Awards and span a variety of genres. She has migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States and currently lives in California, where she long ago ran out of bookshelf space. She’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full time. She also dreams of having two perfectly behaved children, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a house that cleans itself. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others.