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 Griffis – I operate under the belief that magic is equal parts love and revolution. This notion compels me to work to live each day with the necessary patience to practice revolutionary becomings. My first published novel, Shadow Flare was written as prayer, calling out to all the maybes and what-ifs for magical potential floating about the universe.
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 Griffis: I’ve been writing since childhood, when I’d draw pictures of dinosaurs that chased one another around & then pooped on each other’s heads. I had my mom write the captions, since I was 4 years old.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
KG: Shadow Flare is a magical journey that uses surrealist metaphors to touch on real social politics. The characters blur the line between traditional “good” & “bad” with compassion. The inter-dimensional world of the book traverses galaxies like ride on the railroad.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
KG: Previous to Shadow Flare, I wrote a book called Winter Hill: [i]magitragicomedy, which tells the story of a Boston-area family whose super-powers directly derive from their latent psychosis. It features queer & trans characters.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
KG: I envision a chapter before sitting down to write it, often spending an entire day meditating over the places I’d like my characters to travel. Then, when I leave them off, I will wake up the next day & ask myself, “What happens next?” I’m occasionally shocked by the answer, but try to follow these twists & turns, even if they surprise me!
JSC: Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours.
KG: I love folding origami cranes as a way to pass time & meditate.
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
KG: I would sit down with Ursula K LeGuin & ask her about the evolution of her process. She is so prolific & works across the sci-fi/fantasy genre so seemlessly, that I’m endlessly curious about the way her mind works. Also, she re-interpreted the Tao Te Ching. Wow!
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
KG: Inspire. I like this word because it evokes the greatness in others, as well as the essence of breath.
JSC: What kind of character or topic have you been dying to try to write, but you’ve never worked up the courage?
KG: I’d love to write a graphic novel!! Either I’d need to struggle through the ilustration, or find my artistic soulmate to deal with my words. Also, scripting graphic novels is completely different from writing prose.
JSC: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?
KG: I would take a year in my early twenties & use this time to do something other than mess around all night. Sometimes I can’t believe how silly I was with all those hours!
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
KG: I’m building the website for myself, kimgryphon.net, along with a separate website for Shadow Flare, on which I plan to release the Audio Book for free!
And now for AUTHORNAME new book: TITLE:
Estel must leave her homeworld behind as she embarks on a transgalactic trip to the Shadow World, where she seeks to unite with her shadow spirit. Joined by her childhood friend, the Wolf, and aided by the ghost of her Grandmother, she tunnels into the unknown. Quickly, she realizes that this new realm reeks of danger and mystery.
A terrible Machine operates with impunity on an interdimensional scale, snatching up the spirit energy of corporeal beings for its profit imperative in a nefarious commodification process. Afterward, all that remains of these lost beings are their devitalized shadow spirits. When the Shadow World transforms the Wolf into the human called Brian, Estel realizes that he in fact shares a secret with the operations of the Machine.
Luckily, she encounters Breeze the shadowcat in the nick of time, and this valuable ally introduces her to the transgalactic Resistance movement of rogue shadow spirits. Even with the ethereal assistance of her Grandmother’s ghost, can Estel uncover the truth of her shadow spirit and incite the downfall of the Machine State before more violent commodifications occur?
The constant twinkle of persistent twilight characteristic to the Vortex Realms danced outside her window, illuminating the subtleties of Breeze’s feline features, which often washed out in the glare of direct light. Estel made out bright eyes she’d not seen, outside nor in the hanger. She also saw a shiny grin. Estel opened the window, and Breeze stuck her head in to ask, “Want to cause some trouble?”
Estel eagerly agreed, and they hit out into “the dreams,” as Breeze referred to them, surfing through galactic channels in the Convertible. When in-between planets, the rainbow blurs of galaxy-hopping pulsed in her peripheral vision. Breeze navigated by reading the waves of energy emanating from the tendrils of the Machine but kept her autonomous motion by way of sheer mastery. Her conjurations channeled into the mechanics of the Convertible; she chewed herbs, occasionally muttering some kind of incantation.
Estel could now see that the processes of the Machine infiltrated the entire expanse of Shadow Worlds. Even her home could not claim to be untouched, as she now suspected that her Grandmother’s death could be attributed to the Machine, which in turn incriminated Brian. The insidiousness of such functions blew her mind. Systemic, Brian had described.
“I can slip through portals, switching planets, as a shadow. A little transmutation into complete cat form would disguise me enough for entry, but when the Machine captured by spirit, I lost certain aspects of this power..” she explained as she tapped her claws on the panel of the Convertible’s side door. Her other paw maneuvered the steering wheel. Changing the subject, she asked Estel, “What animal is your shadow spirit form?”
“I don’t yet know,” she admitted.
“Really? Not a clue?” Breeze replied with a hint of alarm.
The reaction surprised Estel as well. “I never told you why I came here.”
Breeze interrupted. “I already know, remember? To bring down the Machine!”
“Actually, that motive came later for me. I did not know about the Machine before I arrived. My Grandmother, and Brian, both manifest as the Wolf. I wonder sometimes if they are the same Wolf, since I love them both so dearly. I, on the other hand, do not know my shadow spirit. This becoming comprises my search.”
Breeze briefly considered this development and then asked, “Will you still help me smash up some lesser machines tonight?”
“Of course!” Estel answered, recalling her previous bout of sabotage, wielding a fire extinguisher to tear up circuits and make sparks fly.
“Good! I will try to help you with your search into the shadows. I do not have any access the embodiment you seek, but nonetheless… As for you, I sense a frenetic and persistent essence, ever deepening in complexity…” She ebbed away from the present moment, to mingle abstractly with Estel’s lingering possibility and promise. Her voice whizzed with confidence as their vehicle broke through to planetary atmosphere, approaching an anonymous office tower reminiscent of the one she and Brian escaped from in the city. This place did not ominously hulk like the Capitol, but rather worked as a satellite to the Machine’s operations.
Snapping back to the instant at hand, she declared, “During this meantime without a shadow spirit form to conceal the essence your palpable form contains, you cannot covertly sneak into these spaces. Instead, I need you to operate the wheels, girl. Tonight, you learn to drive!”
I operate under the belief that magic is equal parts love and revolution. This notion compels me to work to live each day with the necessary patience to practice revolutionary becomings. My first published novel, Shadow Flare was written as prayer, calling out to all the maybes and what-ifs for magical potential floating about the universe.
I wrote the first draft of this novel on a bicycle trip, traveling 400 miles down the Pacific Coast of California and camping all along the way. Cycling through the cloudy mountains & the cultivated produce fields of the Cali coast influenced my mind around many of the book’s themes & plot lines. Also, the experience surely stoked my sense of adventure!
I’ve lived for the past 13 years in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but I grew up in the Boston area, to which I recently relocated. I presently hold a bachelor’s degree in Politics and a master’s in American Studies but am most happy to spend my days as a grocer and middle school math tutor.
I love my [given&chosen] family, dear friends, and inspiring community to the spiraling infinity that dances through all aspects of the universe. I am endlessly humbled by the unyielding compassion and every unique contribution that these amazing folks bring to my life.