What made you pick the bayou for the location of two of your books? Did you previously live there?
Answer: I live there in my dreams! :-) Our family drove through Louisiana about 13 years ago and I fell in love. Hard. We went out with a Cajun fisherman and pulled up his crawfish traps and explored the swamps and bayous and fed chicken to the alligators. Now I'm *officially* adopted by several Louisiana families.
Answer: I return to Louisiana often and stay with friends or we rent cabins on the bayous, go canoeing, dancing, etc. I read everything I could get my hands on, did University Special Collections research in Lafayette, speak French with the older people, visit every museum, small town and graveyard, and chat up everybody I meet.
Answer: I've met 7 different traiteurs and talked with dozens more people who are related to one, or been healed by a traiteur. I first read a tiny snippet about traiteurs in a book about the history of the Cajun people by a State University professor which greatly intrigued me and the hunt was on to find out more about them. I love unusual places and people and history and Louisiana has that in spades. (I also found out through genealogy research that my husband's family originally came from France into Quebec about the same time (1650s) as the Cajun people who went to Nova Scotia. And that our original surname is actually Monpetit - NOT Little! It was changed after the Civil War when the family left Quebec and came into St Paul Minnesota. I tease my hubby with, "I could have been Kimberley Monpetit!" Maybe I'll use it if I ever need a pen name in the future!
I have two sisters and some of the dynamics are probably sub-consciously taken from our relationships when we were growing up, although we're very close now. I tried to make it feel real and authentic as far as emotions and family dynamics. I also have three brothers so we had a wild and crazy household. As far as mother/daughter relationships, I think I drew on those same emotions as I was growing up and the sort of love/hate relationship girls and moms often have as our relationships grow and change over the years. At its very basics though: No girl wants her mother reading her diary!
How many books have you published?
Answer: The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets are my 4th and 5th novels, but my first books published by Scholastic - and my first books after an 8 year *famine* when I published three novels with Avon and Knopf. I changed agents, kept writing despite all those years of no sales and rejection letters, but I strived to become a better writer and it's paying off. Guess I'm a slow learner!
What has been the easiest novel to write and why?
Answer: NO book is easy! Most of mine took many years of rewriting. And I have about 10 practice novels that are sitting in my files. After so much writing now, I am getting faster though, and my first drafts are better - but I think I've put in about 10,000 writing hours over the last twenty years!
When did you first begin writing?
Answer: I was a Book Addict as a kid and started writing stories back in elementary school and just never stopped.
When did you begin writing seriously?
Answer: When I took the Institute of Children's Literature Course. I had never met another writer or author in my life, knew nobody in publishing, and had no idea the basics of crafting and submitting a story for publication. ICL Courses teach you all those vital skills so it was invaluable and some of my first sold magazine pieces came from that course.
How long did it take to obtain an agent?
Answer: Tracey Adams is my second agent and took nearly three years of querying, although that time frame is a little deceiving. I spent months and months researching agents and making sure I queried the ones who would be the very best match for me. I'd heard fantastic things about Tracey Adams from other writer friends, but at the time she was closed to queries so I had to wait to meet her at a conference. I followed her to SCBWI LA! She was so inundated with submissions it was many months later (and after sending her two full manuscripts) that we finally signed each other up! Six weeks later we had a 3-book deal with Scholastic. But I did query about 50 other agents!
Any advice you can give to us writers?
READ tons of books to figure out what kind you want to write. WRITE thousands of pages. GET a critique group for professional feedback. RESEARCH agents and publishing houses and editors. SUBMIT, submit, submit, until you hit pay dirt! But a word of caution: Don't submit too early! Make sure it sparkles! But do jump into the online writing world because it's fantastic and fun and you will make life-long friends.
Quick writing questions:
Plotter or panster? Combination Plotter/Panster
Quiet or music? Mostly quiet, but I do love music sometimes, too, for inspiration.
Laptop or desktop? Laptop with attached ergonomic keyboard and mouse.
Mac or PC? PC - but I've always wanted to try a Mac because everybody I know raves about their Macs!
Coffee or tea? Dr Pepper all the way!
Wine or other? Go DP - or Crystal Lite lemonade!
Day or night? Day, usually afternoon.
Circle of Secrets Trailer: