Blog Hop with Cat Kimbriel–Four Questions for the Writer

Writer Katharine Eliska KimbrielThis is all writer Laura Anne Gilman’s fault. After being tagged herself by Mindy Klasky in an ongoing blog hop, she generously spread the love. She tagged me to answer the following questions:

1) What am I working on?

I have several things going on right now. I am editing Spiral Path, which is the working title for the next Alfreda Sorensson novel. It has been peered at by first readers, and I am now slaying hydras and clarifying everything I rolled through on my way to the end. Plus–I have been charged to put in everything I just planted, intentionally or not, and planned to use later. No, no, use it NOW my first reader said. So, I will.

There’s a short Nuala piece waiting for me to return to it, about a character who would show up in the third Darame book, should that ever come to pass. Next will be an urban/rural fantasy I’ve been researching for years. And there’s a completed first draft of a cozy mystery that I think needs its ghost put back in. (Some mystery houses dislike ghost stories. Imagine that.)

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Other than saying that my work tends to pass the Bechdel Test, and uses either magic or technology as a metaphor for power, I went NNNNnnnnnnng over this question. So I asked my fans on Facebook. Here is what they said:

“Allie’s smart enough to know that there’s a lot she doesn’t know, and that adults are a resource, not an obstacle. Love Triangles are the other big trope that YA seems to consider requisite, which Allie’s stories are delightfully devoid of. When there’s romance, I’d rather read about two people who’ve decided that they want to be together, and all the kami of space and fire won’t protect anyone who stands in their way. Sooooo sick of the indecisive, “but I love them both.” …Allie doesn’t do the “Grownups are dumb” schtick. And I don’t recall a “love triangle” where she loves both the sparklebottom vampire and chest-waxed werewolf. …Allie is one of the few YA characters who’d really work as a role model, without being preachity or having some exaggerated teen flaw.” — JKP

Allie doesn’t need any exaggerated flaws–she’s stubborn, insanely curious, much too goodhearted, and as fierce as a tigress defending her own. And she has a nice sense of self-preservation.

Those should keep her quite busy!

And Allie is more of the “forest fire, hurricane, and the War of 1812 won’t keep us apart once we figure it out” sort of romantic. Nuala is all about choices of all kinds when it comes to romance. Whatever works for consenting adults.

“Allie is intelligent and resourceful, but she understands her role as a youth and she respects her elders. …With Allie, you bring history alive in a way no textbook could and you add a fantasy element that makes reading the stories more than just a spoonful of sugar.” — BK

Ah, history with a tweak. That’s how it should work! You have all the fun of figuring out what is real, and what I changed.

“Your work differs from others in the genre in its balance of communicating with respect for the reader’s intelligence, without requiring that intelligence to work hard to stay with the story and make sense of what’s going on. Even when the stories move around with a bit of mystery and intentional disorientation, it is always in support of the lines to coming into focus and resolution to good purpose.

“Another differentiator is the broad range of knowledge areas and skills that your works quietly teach, because you, yourself, have researched them so well, and write them with a care that weaves them into ‘characters’ in the story: woodcraft, architecture, botany, zoology, hunting, historical spiritual practices, physical science, and more.

“Finally, your female leads act in courage, simply, without bravado or arrogance, as an expression of who they are, and retain grace without holding themselves back or in.” — LF

I try to write about interesting people. Sounds like some people think that I’ve succeeded.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I take in everything and then push it back out in a new form. To reach people, sometimes you have to tell a story differently. It’s part of why I write SF and fantasy. People learn from my books but I don’t write to educate, I write to share deeper myths and truths as I learn them.

I write to reaffirm joy in the world. I write about betrayal, forgiveness, healing and second chances, either separately or together. I try to write books that contain compassion and justice.

4) How does your writing process work?

It’s evolving. I used to write intricate, many-layered things in my head and 90% of the work would be done when the draft hit the page. Now, since Life, Interrupted, I am composing, and writing, in layers, like an onion. I had to start trusting myself again. Now I’m confident the good stuff is still there–it’s just coming out differently.

My tagged writers are Jen Stevenson and Barb Caffrey.

Writer Jennifer Stevenson writes everything from literary magical realism (mythic tales of trailer trash sex goddesses) to humorous tales of a decidedly odd urban fantasy universe set in Hinky Chicago. She also writes about slacker demons!

Writer Barb Caffrey writes humor, romance, and SFmilspec. Yup, you read that correctly. Her first novel, An Elfy on the Loose, is comic fantasy craziness, and she is also continuing the Joey Mavrick military fiction that she and her late husband Michael wrote.


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