It's been a while between "Women Following Their Dreams" interviews but we are back with a fabulous chat with the delightful Kelly Rimmer, author of this months A Box Of Book Club Group Read & the April Book Box Book "The Things We Cannot Say". When I read the book I was intrigued to find out more about the author and how she came to write such a wonderful story. I was thrilled when she agreed to be interviewed. Such an amazing woman.
Kelly kindly shares with us a bit of her life story, how she came to be an international best selling author and some more background on the "The Things We Cannot Say". Over to Kelly...
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Orange, in NSW. Until 3 years ago, I worked in IT, but now I’m writing full time. I got my start with an amazing digital publisher in the UK, and my books have now been published in over 20 languages.
How and when did you decide to become an author?
My dad tells me I announced to him when I was in kindergarten that I was going to be an author one day. I don’t remember that, but I do remember reading Heidi when I was 8 or 9 and thinking Johanna Spiri was some kind of wizard, painting such a vivid picture of what felt like another world to me. I wanted to be a word magician too! It’s fair to say that it’s been a lifelong dream.
You have written 6 novels which is amazing and you are a USA Today best selling author, where/how do you find the inspiration for your books?
It’s so odd how unpredictable it is. Sometimes it’s something in the news. Or it’s a word or an idea from an anecdote. Other times I’ll be walking my dogs and an idea will just float past. I’m rarely short of ideas, in fact, picking which one to write next is sometimes very difficult.
Do you have a process you go through when writing a novel? Is it the same for each book? How do you go about doing your research?
The research for every book is different. For example, my research for The Things We Cannot Say involved hundreds of sources over the years, and then a 3 week trip to Poland.
Trzebinia Town Square
The book I have just finished (to be released next year) required over a dozen face-to-face and phone interviews with women who had suffered from post natal depression, and two trips to the Blue Mountains and Sydney to scope out settings. What does tend to be consistent is my process once the research is complete. I usually write bits and pieces while I research, then once I’ve done enough, I sit down and very quickly write a draft which I then spend months polishing.
You state in your "Author's Note" at the end of "The Things We Cannot Say" that the novel is inspired by your own family history. You visited Poland to do research, how was that experience for you? What from the experience will you now pass on to your own family?
That trip was lifechanging. I was there to research the book, but my aunt joined me and we looked into our own family history while we were there too. I’ll always look back on that trip with her as one of the best things I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience and I feel honoured that I can explain something of our history to my own children too. I plan to take them to Poland one day so they can see it for themselves.
Kelly’s Aunt Lola (left), cousin Barbore (centre) and Kelly at Barbore’s home in Morowice
Kelly’s grandmother’s childhood home (which was the inspiration for Alina’s childhood home)
When developing characters do you start with an idea in mind of what they are like or do they evolve as you write the story? Eddie, for example is on the Autism Spectrum, why did you choose to add that dynamic to the story?
I was frustrated at the way Autism Spectrum Disorders are sometimes represented in popular culture. I have 2 wonderful nephews with ASD and they are complex, capable children who have some challenges, yes, but they do see the world a little differently and that represents an opportunity and a gift for us as a society too. There’s no denying that raising a child with ASD brings both unique joys and challenges. I wanted to paint a picture of that for readers.
So yes, in this case I had the basic idea in mind, but I wanted to write about autism with great care and sensitivity. I spent a full week with a friend who has worked in an autism specific school and done post grad work in autism studies and she helped me plan Eddie/Alice/Wade’s dynamic very carefully. I definitely had a very clear idea in mind for what I wanted to achieve with this particular part of the story right from the outset but I let the research guide how that actually unfolded.
You live in Australia, why did you decide to set the novel (partially) in America?
Australians ask me this all of the time. My first four books are set in Australia, but my last book was also set in the US. In that case, it was because the book was centred around an archaic law (one which we happily do not have here). However in the case of The Things We Cannot Say, I could, in theory, have set the modern day portion of the book in Australia, but that would have required some plot acrobatics that would have taken away from the realism of the story.
I set my stories where the plot takes me and that will always be my approach. Who knows – the next one might be set in Fiji! I wouldn’t mind that research trip at all…
How long did it take you to write "The Things We Cannot Say"? On average how long does it take you to write any of your novels?
This book was somewhat unique, because I worked on it on and off for a decade (and full time for 18 months). But there were two incredibly complex stories in this book, so it took time to research/develop those. Generally, I research and write books over a much shorter period – maybe 6-12 months.
Do you have another novel in the pipeline?
I actually have 4 novels in the pipeline!! My next general fiction book (as yet untitled) is finished and will also be out early next year. I’ve also written a contemporary romance series which is quite different in tone to my previous books. The first book in that series is called Unexpected and is out at the end of May, the second book will be released in November and the third will be released next year.
Did you taste Smalec while you were in Poland? What's your verdict?
Image credit: ThePolishhousewife.com
I did!! It wasn’t my favourite Polish cuisine (I had pierogi for breakfast, lunch and dinner as often as I could during that research trip). Even so, I did enjoy smalec. It is a very tasty dish especially when paired with some nice rye bread and some pickles.
How do you juggle your writing with family life?
Writing is my day job now. Occasionally the juggling act is tricky, usually when I’m caught in the grip of a story, but for the most part my career as a writer is much easier to manage than my career in IT was, or any number of other jobs I might have. Other than a few weeks’ around release when I have publicity commitments, I set my own schedule and I appreciate that every day.
What's your favourite family meal?
Anything that comes out of a slow cooker!!
You have 2 dogs, we are just about to get our first ever puppy, any advice?
Puppies are basically furry newborns so prepare for a busy few months, but it will be so worth it. Keep them close, give them lots of cuddles and care, and expose them to all kinds of situations and people (with lots of patience and encouragement) as soon as they are vaccinated.
"The Things You Cannot Say" is our "A Box Of Bookclub"Group read for May if you would like to join in our Facebook group discussion is going to be on Sunday 2nd June.
If you would like to enhance your reading experience with our "The Things You Cannot Say" Book Box here's one we prepared earlier (such fun with this one)