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Guest Author - Kim Hood

Questions by Shona Elrick (15)

First, thank you so much for your great review Shona and thanks for sending questions my way! 

How did you come up with the idea for ‘Finding A Voice’?

I was writing another novel at the time, but it just wasn’t working.  I was spending more time walking than writing and the first line ‘One, two, three, four.  I started counting…’ came into my head.  The girl who spoke the line was so sad and I wanted to explore why this was.

The rest of the book grew from there.  Characters would present themselves and dictate where the plot might go.  I only wrote the first couple of chapters initially and then I just kept thinking about it until eventually I decided I just had to abandon the first novel I was trying to write, and get this story down on paper.

Was it difficult covering the issues and themes presented in ‘Finding A Voice’?

Not really.  I have known a lot of people with mental illness and disability through my work over the past twenty years, so it just seemed normal to me to be writing about these issues.  I also related to Jo and her difficulty fitting in; memories of being her age and not fitting in are still very fresh for me.

Do you have a favourite character from ‘Finding A Voice’?

Hmmm.  If I had to pick one it would probably be Jo’s mum.  I love the way she says exactly what she wants to, without caring what other people might think.  I wish I could do that.

Was it fun writing ‘Finding A Voice’?

Yes, it was really fun!  I especially loved writing the more dramatic scenes and some of the dialogue.  On nights where I knew I would be writing a favourite part, I could hardly wait to finish the evening chores so that I could get the scene down on paper.

There were times though when it was just hard work, especially when I was tired from working fulltime and raising a toddler.  There was a time in the middle when I thought I might not finish it.

It was so worth it to struggle through and type The End.  I think that was the best moment ever!

What are your favourite books to read at the moment?

I tend to have a few books on the go at the same time.  I like to read one that challenges me as a reader, with perhaps a complicated plot or exquisite language.  At the same time I will also read something with a really good story that I can read quickly.  I read lots of genres, but I tend to like fantasy or realism best.  I’m reading a lot of young adult books lately and loving that I can do this without guilt now; it is part of the ‘job’ of being a YA writer!

How can interested readers connect with you (on social media or a website)?

I would love to hear from readers!  I’m on twitter as @authorkimhood (I’m new, so bear with my social faux paus).  I also have a website at kimhood.com where you can leave a message and find my e-mail contact.

Questions from Young Writers

Do you have a special place you write or writing routine?

In my dreams I have a cosy study, with an open fire and books lining the walls to the ceiling.  In reality. . .I now have a desk in the bedroom, which is a step up from writing in the bed.

As far as routine, I try to write every morning when I am writing a first draft.  The morning is definitely my best time to write.  I didn’t have this option when I was writing Finding a Voice, but since then I have traded my ‘day job’ in for a ‘night job’ to free up my mornings.  I have no internet access in the bedroom where I write and I aim to write 2000 words a day.  It doesn’t always happen.

What are your top tips for budding writers?

Everyone is going to have a different approach, and what works for me isn’t going to necessarily work for the next writer, but here are a few of my tips:

  1. Read, read, read.  I know everyone says it, but it is so necessary to read a lot of different books before you even think of writing a novel.  When you have read hundreds and hundreds of books from different genres you will have absorbed so much of what works and what doesn’t.  Then, when you are writing your own novel you will instinctively know how it should read and you’ll know when it isn’t working, without anyone having to tell you this.
  2. Also write, write, write.  For years I kept a diary and at the time I didn’t think of scribbling these rambling passages as ‘writing’, but it was.  Those books are filled with learning how to write description, dialogue, play with pacing and plotting, transpose emotions onto the page.  It doesn’t have to be a diary you practice through though.  Any kind of writing will help you practice and lead you toward your particular style and strengths.  The more you write, before even contemplating writing a novel, the better your eventual novel will be.
  3. And don’t forget to live, live, live.  You may be well read and able to write a beautiful paragraph, but you also need to have something interesting to write about.  Go out there and experience joy, heartbreak, exhilaration, grief, failure,success—gather as many feelings as you can.  Then when you write fiction, there will be emotional truth on the page, because you know how your character feels, even if her story is different from your own.  

Do you have any projects in the pipeline you can share with us?

I’ve had to abandon a completed draft I spent eighteen months working on, because it just wasn’t right.  I rewrote it three times and it still wasn’t the book I meant it to be.  I had kind of hoped I was wrong about doubting it, but when my agent submitted it to The O’Brien Press they also thought it wasn’t the right second book.  As a writer, you have to swallow the disappointment and move on.

I am talking with my agent and my editor now, about three possible ideas for the next novel.  I can’t say much until we decide on one, but all of the ideas are aimed at a YA audience.  When I know more, I’ll let you know on my website kimhood.com.  I can’t wait to get back to writing a novel! 

Can you sum up ‘Finding A Voice’ in just 3 words?

The title ‘Finding a Voice’ actually sums it up!