Book Country – Genre Map

Off the Map
Image via Wikipedia

Book Country – Genre Map.

Ever looked at an agent’s/editor’s list of genres and wondered where your story fits in. My friend and CP, Leigh K Hunt, wrote a post about the frustrations of genre-mapping your story.

Some story plots are clear-cut. They fit into one of the overall genres: Romance, Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy or Sci-Fi. But what happens if your story is a fantasy with a mystery element. Or a Thriller with a Romance element. 

Above is a link to a genre map that might help you make sense of your story’s genre. 

Now do you know which genre you are writing in?

– Kim

The Dark Side

Human Nature/Life Death, Art Institute...
Image by christine zenino via Flickr

Do you have a Dark Side? You may think you don’t. But I have news for you. If you are human then you do have a dark side. It is part of human nature. Does that make you dark in nature? For some the answer here may be yes. For most, the answer will be no. I am sure you are wondering where I am going with this. Well let me tell you.

Today in one of my online writing groups one of the writers posed an incredibly interesting question that got me thinking. Part of the question is why we write? I have been focusing a lot on this over the last few weeks. For me, writing is cathartic.  But I also believe it serves a tool in giving a voice, in a safe environment, to people who feel they have no voice. 

The question also explored why one writes in a specific genre. A lot of my writing explores the Dark side of the world and/or human nature. Is it because it fascinates me or repels me? I would say both reasons would be correct. For whatever reason people who have been severely hurt in life are drawn into my inner circle. I believe that everything in life does happen for a reason even if at the time a person cannot understand it or explain it. This I believe includes the Dark Side of life. 

Do I believe there are evil people or do I believe that there are just people who commit good and bad deeds? Again my answer would be yes to both of these questions. I have had a brush with a really evil person in life. It still haunts me to this day. But I am thankful for that experience. I will not go into too much detail here but I will share a bit. When I was growing up, there was a spate of missing girls in the same age group as I was. (early teens) We used to buy milk cartons that had the girls’ pictures on and asking for people to phone in with any information. It was something to be feared especially because the police had no leads on why these girls went missing or what the link was beyond their similar age brackets. The girls were taken over a large area and over many years so police did not connect the dots. I remember numerous news casts warning young girls to be vigilant.

During a school holiday I was visiting a friend and on one of the days we were out walking in the holiday town that she lived in. After a while we noticed a car that seemed to be trailing us for a few blocks. Being a holiday town where people were often driving very slowly and sightseeing, this may not have been unusual. However, something prodded my sub-conscious. 

I have always had an uncanny sixth sense. For many years I viewed this sixth sense as a curse. What is my sixth sense I hear you asking? It comes in two parts. I can tell a person’s true nature within moments of meeting them. I inherently know when people are deceitful or dangerous. You may think this is a great tool to have but it is not. You see, sometimes you do just want to see the surface mask of a person. You really do not want to see any hidden skeletons straight off the bat. That day my sixth sense kicked in.

Something prodded my sixth sense into overdrive and I told my friend we had to get to somewhere with more people immediately. My friend though confused saw my alarm and urgency and agreed. So we picked up our pace but the car just increased its speed to keep up with us but not overtake us. All of a sudden, the car passed us and pulled up onto the curb in front of us blocking our path. An older man got out with a map in his hand. At this point everything in me screamed to run and not look back. Danger with huge flashing lights seemed to be playing over and over in my mind.

What about the man’s appearance triggered this? To be honest, nothing. But when I locked eyes with the man I felt sick to my core. I felt like I was looking at pure evil. I could not explain it but it is just what I felt at the time. He was an ordinary and unprepossessing character. He could have been someone’s kindly  and quiet uncle. In fact on pure appearance he looked trustworthy and non-threatening. But it was there in his eyes. They seemed dead to me. Not without emotion dead but there was a nothingness there, a hollowed inhuman look that seemed to want to penetrate my soul. 

The man started moving towards us and he started saying he was lost and needed some directions. All the time he steadily advanced towards us keeping eye contact all the time. As much as I wanted to break eye contact I could not. My friend started then walking towards him. Being a sweet girl she was always the first to help others. However this time I knew this man did not want nor need help. He did not look lost. In fact he seemed to know exactly where he was and what he wanted. Everything in me told me it was not directions he was after.

I grabbed my friend’s hand harshly and started running with her. She struggled at first and said that I was being paranoid. Until she realised the man had got back in his car and done a u-turn to pursue us. I ran with her to the building nearest us which happened to be a clinic. We ran in the clinic. A nurse came out with us to see what we were running from. There was nobody there. The man in the car had disappeared. 

Though this event shook me and my friend. I eventually put it to one side in my mind. But there was always a niggling reminder. It was not until about 5 years later while watching an emergency news broadcast that suddenly I went ice-cold. The broadcaster announced that there was an emergency announcement from the police. They had solved the cases of the missing girls. The murderer was found after a suicide-murder in which he killed first his partner in the kidnapping and subsequent murders of the young girls and then killed himself. They unearthed the bones of a few of the girls. But many they could not find. The police showed pictures of the murderer/kidnapper/paedophile and his partner. 

I was watching the news with my parents at the time. I turned white as a sheet and almost fell from the edge of the chair that I was sitting on. A cold permeated my being that I could not shake. The picture of the man in the tv was the same man who my friend and I had run away from when we were young girls in a holiday town. It was then that I told my parents what had happened all those years ago. They could not believe it. 

To this day it haunts me that I came so close to a killer who was so evil. I am thankful that I was with my friend that day and that my sixth sense kicked in. I shudder with dread to think what may have happened if I had not been there. She might have been another picture on a milk carton. But it also haunts me that this man went on kidnapping/torturing and killing girls for 5 more years before the police knew who he was. To the nurse at the clinic that day my fears seemed irrational and childish. I allowed her to convince me that I had just over-reacted. What if I hadn’t allowed her to convince me otherwise? That question haunts me to this day.

Perhaps this is why so much of my writing has vulnerable girls thrown into dangerous, whether it be physical/psychological/supernatural. events and having to find a way to survive. Perhaps I am trying to re-write the stories of those missing girls whose pictures haunted my adolescence. Perhaps I am trying to re-write stories where the victims can become victors and take their vengeance or become survivors that can teach/help others. 

But I do believe that our lives and the events and experiences do form us as both people and writers. We all have events that haunt our memories. This event that I have described above has had a huge impact on my life. I shared it because there are some truths that do need to come to light. For me writing is a way to give these hauntings a place to free themselves from the clutches of my memory. Writing these stories and these characters give me a safe way to cleanse my mind of horrific and difficult situations.

  • Do you write to let out your inner hauntings, those memories and events that lock onto your sub-conscious?

Writing and Truth are two-edged swords. The power of the written word can both harm or heal. Much like truth. I believe writers like all artists have a powerful purpose in this world. We can depict truth in all its ugliness and beauty and people can heal through our work. We need to wield our words carefully. We can choose to cut to heal or cut to harm with this sword. It is a task not to be taken lightly.

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

Ring of Fire – Hope ~ Tales for Canterbury

Table of Contents – Hope | Tales for Canterbury.

Ring of Fire – Hope – Tales for Canterbury

My first short story will be published in the upcoming month in an amazing anthology of short stories called Tales for Canterbury. This is a project that I am proud and honoured to be a part of. Firstly it is a wonderful selection of stories by very talented authors. Secondly it is a project dear to my heart personally as not so long ago I called Christchurch, New Zealand home. So to be able to be part of a project that honours Christchurch and raises funds for the Red Cross is very special to me.

The book has been broken up into 3 parts:

  • Survival
  • Hope
  • Future

Each part has stories that are themed around one of these three parts.

My story, Ring of Fire, is set in the Theme of HOPE.

When I was first invited to submit for this anthology I was only given these 3 key themes and told that the story needed to encapsulate either one of these three or could be a combined theme of all three. I was also told that it needed to be a fantasy-based story.

At first I pondered on these three themes for about a week or two. I realised that these three themes are core themes of the human drama we face in all cultures. I also felt a kinship with these themes as these are the themes in most of my own writings from my poetry to prose to novels. I believe in Survival, Hope and Future. But for me the greatest of these three is HOPE. For without hope it is difficult to survive and without hope it is impossible to conceive a future out of that survival. So I knew that I had chosen a theme that not only was the basis for the other two themes but something I desperately believe makes all the difference in our lives as human beings: HOPE.

Did I have a story in mind? Not immediately. But the story found me. Or rather my MC found me and told me her story. Within a few days I had the story in front of me. I was ready to compile it and submit it through to Tales for Canterbury. This story is unlike any of my other stories but the theme and premise is the same that threads its way through all my stories. The character was a challenge for me as it was a different POV than I am used to writing in. But the story weaved itself out onto the page and before long I knew I had a “quilt” of hope, survival and future in MS form.

This story is set in a dystopian world and centres on one Main Character who against odds is forced to be a Survivor. This MC is similar to my other MCs in that looking at the MC you see a vulnerable character who does not quite fit in with anyone or anything. Two terrible crises brings the inner strength of this character to the light and hope shines through a dark time. The story is told through the voice and perspective of the MC. As this character experiences danger and is thrown into a fight for survival, so you the reader will feel the same fear, doubt, flight/fight response, rallying strength and refusal to give up and in the end pure HOPE: the lifeblood that gives her strength to see a future that is brighter than what has gone before.

It is wonderful when a character is able to capture your heart. I believe this character will capture your heart as mine was captured. I believe in this story and I believe in this MC. But more than that I believe in the underlying message that threads its way through the story. It is not only the strong that survive. Sometimes it is those that seem most vulnerable that shine in sheer strength when their soul is tested by great trials. Sometimes vulnerability and innocence are just masks for a pure and noble spirit. In times of great conflict and drama, these masks fall away and the true spirit of strength shines though. Sometimes all a person/character needs is hope and a reason to fight for survival. Give them both and you have a warrior that is pure and strong in heart.

That is Ring of Fire.

_______~~~_______

What is Tales for Canterbury?

Tales for Canterbury is a short story anthology loosely themed around survival, hope and the future. All profits of this anthology will be donated to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal.

Tales for Canterbury

The anthology will be released in April/May 2011 in electronic and paperback formats.  It features stories by RJ Astruc, Philippa Ballantine, Jesse Bullington, Anna Caro, Cat Connor, Brenda Cooper, Debbie Cowens, Matt Cowens, Merrilee Faber, AJ Fitzwater, Janis Freegard, Neil Gaiman, Cassie Hart, A.M. Harte, Karen Healey, Leigh K. Hunt, Lynne Jamneck, Patty Jansen, Gwyneth Jones, Tim Jones, Kim Koning, Jay Lake, Helen Lowe, Kate Mahony, Tina Makereti, Juliet Marillier, Angel Leigh McCoy, Linda Niccol, Ripley Patton, Simon Petrie, Grant Stone, Jeff Vandermeer, Mary Victoria and Sean Williams.

Pre-orders are now available from Random Static Press.

If you would like to contact us, you can email Cassie at winterchild9@gmail.com

We are so excited to have pre-orders open! Check out our new page Get Your Copy!” or go straight to the source and head over to Random Static.

The print copy is priced at NZ$24.95 (including postage within NZ) and the digital version is a mere NZ$12.00! At those prices, you might as well pick one up for a friend too. ;-)


Subconscious Hauntings…

A Haunting
Image via Wikipedia

“You write out of your subconscious hauntings.” ~ Susan Cooper (Born 1935) British Author


This quote came up on my Tweetdeck this morning and it struck a chord with me. This perfectly sums up how I have been feeling about my writing lately.

I have been editing my November WIP for a full request I received. Being busy with the other WIPs and my short story, I had not re-read the entire draft for at least 6 weeks. This month while I have been editing it, it struck me that I wrote this MS almost as someone else. Does this  feeling have something to do with the fact that it is a Supernatural Horror/Suspense? Does it have something to do with writing the story in 1st POV through the eyes of the antagonist? It could be none of these reasons, it could be both of these reasons.

I do have the feeling that my subconscious was haunted for a while when I wrote this story. I believe that any good story can take over the direction of your writing from your conscious self.  I know that I physically wrote this story but in re-reading it I find that I am in as much suspense as a reader might be. The Story’s twists take me by surprise. I forget what is coming round the corner even though I know that I wrote all the scenes. 

Susan Cooper writes fantasy novels. She is most well-known for “The Dark is Rising“. Stephen King also mentions something similar in his book “On Writing“. In it he says that his mind is often filled with different people all clamouring for his attention. 

So it begs to be asked of your characters….

Do you create your characters?

Or

Do you characters already exist and introduce themselves to you?

This is a difficult question and throws me into a quandary. I would like to think that I, as the writer, have created my characters but with some characters it is not so cut and dried. Some characters, like my antagonist in this November WIP, arrive with fully fledged personalities and backstories and I seem to take dictation.

Who is to know whether that character was in the Ether just waiting for a willing ear and an obedient pen? Can you safely answer no?

For me I feel that when the character arrives in my thoughts that is when the writing just flows. There seems no effort. Indeed it is all I can do to stem the tide. 

For this specific character, I viewed the story through her eyes as she took me through it. I was a participant in the story rather than just the Story Teller. The Story is so real in my mind that it invades my dreams while I sleep. Dreams being the seat of the subconscious, you could safely say she has haunted my subconscious.

Have you ever had that experience with any of your characters?

Do they direct your story or they purely directed by you?

Have your writings haunted your subconscious?


© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

I have the “blogging” feeling…whoa..

Well it has been a hectically busy week this week! But there is always sugar to the spice and this weekend my sugar has been feeling “blogging” love. I have been honoured to received  blogging awards in the last 2 days.

My first blogging award is from my lovely friend and amazing writer, Rachna Chhabria @ Rachna’s Scriptorium.

I would like to pass on the “Blogging Love Feeling” to a few stylish blogs that I follow…

  1.  Elle Cosimano
  2. Kavita @ How I write, is mine…How you read, is your’
  3. Leigh K Hunt @ her Parchment Place

_________________________________

 

So passing on the Blogging Love to some Versatile Bloggers that I follow:

  1. Olivia Tejeda
  2. OracleJuice – a collective of 4 bloggers
  3. The Running Garlic
  4. The League of Extraordinary Writers
  5. Kerryn Angell @ No Excuses, Just Write
  6. Judith Van Praag @ Hope Filled Jars

The Rules for accepting The Versatile Blogger Award are to list 7 things about me that you did not know…Mmmmh….Had to put on my thinking cap for this one but here goes:

  1. I wrote my first story when I was 7 years old. I remember what my teacher told me when reading it, she said that one day I would be a writer as I was a natural Story-Teller. (I am still writing and my short story “The Ring of Fire” is being published this year in Tales for Canterbury…so her words must have been prophetic.)
  2. I speak/read/write 4 languages fluently: English/German/Afrikaans/Zulu and am conversationally fluent in Greek.
  3. I hate mornings. Being a true Night Owl I never go to bed before midnight.
  4. I can see ghosts.
  5. My great-great-grandfather was one of the founding members of De Beers Diamonds.
  6. I am a direct descendant of Mary, Queen of Scots.
  7. I am a cultural mongrel..My heritage is: German, Jewish, French, Italian, Irish, English

Thank you to Rachna for my award. They were both a lovely surprise.

-Kim

What is your Story’s Premise?

tower of books and a man interested
Image by zen via Flickr

http://narrativedisorder.com/storycraft/2011/03/storycraft-book-chat-1on-writing-by-stephen-king/.

Yesterday I sat in on a tweetchat on twitter. The link to the chat transcript is above. The subject was: The Premise.

So what is “The Premise” of your story?

Bill Johnson defines it as “the Foundation of Storytelling”. He breaks this down even further with:

“A story premise sets out a story’s core dramatic issue, the movement of that issue toward resolution, and the fulfillment that resolution sets up for the story’s audience.”

So to break that definition into even simpler terms:The Premise needs to have the Dramatic Issue of your story, the movement and the fulfilled resolution.

i.e. “Lajos Egri in The Art of Dramatic Writing goes into great detail about what a premise is. Egri’s premise for Romeo and Juliet: ‘Great love defies even death.'”

The chat started off discussing individual Premise’ for each story but then evolved into whether as writers we have an omni-Premise for our writing. I have been reflecting quite a bit on this chat and on this subject and came up with what The Premise means to me, my individual stories and my combined writing.

Do you always have a Premise figured out before you start writing a new story?

Sometimes I do but sometimes the Premise grows from something floating above my head to something solid. It grows as I talk to my characters and find out what their story is. The Premise then becomes their answer as to why I am telling their story.

Does this mean “The Premise” is unique to my story or my characters?

No. Many writers and many stories could have the same premise but this does not make them the same story. For instance if you took Romeo and Juliet’s Premise – ‘Great love defies even death’ – I can pull up at least one other great love story that has the same Premise: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Now beyond the fact that we know over 200 years separated Mr Shakespeare and Miss Bronte, we also know that these two stories are completely different from one another.

Do all stories have a Premise? and Does a story have just one Premise?

Yes. All stories have a Premise. The Premise is the core and the foundation of your story.

One Premise? This is a catch-22. You could argue that a story could have many different Premise’ but ultimately I believe there is one core Premise that is the foundation. Just like a building of brick, concrete or wood has only one foundation. A story is also a building, it is built from words and imagination.

Do I have  an Omni-Premise that is the foundation of all my stories?

Your stories may all be very different whether that be in terms of genre, category or voice. But if you look at them even closer do you perhaps see a thread of thought, call it moral for argument’s sake, that twines its way through all your stories?

I realised that for myself there is an Omni-Premise that is at the heart of all my stories. Indeed I even find that same thread winding its way through my poetry as well.

My Omni-Premise is:

Trials and Tribulations are the diamond dust that polish a noble and pure soul into a shining gem that can survive the heat of any soul-fire and through that polishing it grows into the person it is meant to be.

I realised my stories are about those characters that are viewed as externally vulnerable but have an inner core of independence, refusing to be called “victim”, are always being tested by trials and tribulations. My stories are about survival and my main characters finding the courage to survive against all odds. Indeed it is only through their suffering that my characters find their true path as survivors. I am always drawn to the darker subjects because life is not a bed of roses but a life lived without trials ensures a soul that has not been tested for its true strength. I find my reading habits all have this Premise to them. Of course I read many types of stories being the bookworm that I am but the ones that I re-read and the ones that resonate deep within me all have this surviving in the heart of trouble/darkness/conflict. I guess you could say that though I am drawn to darker subjects…I look for the rainbow after every storm. Without storms there can be no rainbow.

So what is your Premise for the story you are working on? Do you have an Omni-Premise that threads its way through all of your writings? Are you drawn to certain types of stories? Why? What sort of stories do you want to tell?

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning


Books…read them, write them, love them

Carol reading babys first book
Image via Wikipedia

My nickname as a child was Book-Worm. Now before you say it, it was not because I was wormlike. It was because I started a grand love affair with books when I was a toddler. The love affair still continues to this day. I grew up with a Disney annual broken up into the four seasons. Each night had a different story that my parents read to me. Soon though being read to was not enough. I wanted to lose myself in the words of the story, I wanted to wander through the pages of this fantastic world of imagination. Books were magical. I could start reading a story and soon I was lost in the paths that a writer had created. Books became my treasures, my adventures, my friends and my portals into different worlds and different times.

Before long, I was making up my own stories and telling them to my baby brother. I realised with that how powerful story-telling was. I also realised how much more powerful stories were when written down. My childhood crush with stories and books had grown into a love story.

I have always said that the worst punishment for me would be to take away my books, my pens and my paper. Some people live life through songs, others live life through activities. For me, words are a method of living. I have used books to learn and research. I have used books to escape from reality for a short moment in time.

In this digital world where so much time is spent immersed in technology or on the internet, books remain the one constant that ties the generations together. I love technology as much as the next person. Typing this post on a Macbook to post in a WordPress blog is a case in point. But sometimes I just need a detox from technology, as wonderful as it can be. Technology can also be draining. There are some times when I have been on the computer for large amounts of time and my eyes are burning with strain and fatigue. There are also times when I don’t want music playing or have flickering images from a television in my view. I have to switch off and walk away. I just want to relax. I want to take a breather…

Often I can go for a walk and the fresh air refreshes me. But the habit I turn to most often when I need a break is opening a book. There is something about opening a book and reading the first sentence in the first chapter that immediately releases all my tension and I find myself again. I become filled with wonder as much as I did when I was a child.

Lately there has been a lot of chatter online about books vs ebooks and which industry is going to ultimately win. The sad thing for me about this debate is that this has become a competition for survival on the books side of the debate. Today I read that someone said that books were dying and I actually caught my breath at that. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine a world without books and it horrified me.

I understand the convenience of ebooks but fail to see how this can be the death knell of paper-bound books. Suddenly I started getting quite a territorial feeling running through me. If ebooks mean the kiss of death for me being able to open a book and disappear into its pages then I have to take a stance.

But no; ebooks are not the kiss of death for books. E-books are convenient, cheap and relatively easy to obtain. As I am writing this I am waiting for my Kindle to arrive. But does my getting a Kindle mean that I am never going to buy a book again nor borrow books from the local library. No. I am getting a Kindle purely for the convenience when I am travelling. It would make my hand luggage much lighter. I always carry at least 3 books with me where ever I go.

I love libraries and book stores. Yes I still go to the Library as old-fashioned as that idea may seem. There is something about reading a book where the pages have been softened and worn by numerous fingers turning them. Then there is the smell. You know that smell – the well read book smell. There is no smell like it. I also love book shops. I don’t like shopping as a rule. But browsing in a book shop I can easily lose all sense of time and before I know it 3 hours has already passed. Bookshops and libraries are another way why the Kindle nor ebooks will become my primary form of reading material. There is no book shelf in Amazon. There is no tucked away armchair in the corner where you can get a preview of the book.

Another reason why e-books will not be my primary reading source is that books don’t need power points not rechargers. I can take my books with me anywhere and read. I have taken them on hiking and camping trips. Books are physical. You can hold them in your hands. You can feel the weight of the story in your hands. I don’t know about you, but I am a five senses type of gal, sometimes six senses. I need to touch something to know it is real. Books are a physical portal into new worlds of wonder and magic for me.

So yes, you may relegate books to the “old-fashioned” side of “trendy”. But then you better call me old-fashioned too. As long as there are readers there will be books. I believe I am not the only person, reader or writer, that will say that if books are dying then the world is going to become worse for wear. I can’t see parents teaching their children to read off a screen. Do you remember the first books your parents taught you to read from? One of my first was Mo the Monkey and El the Elephant.

So bring on e-books and kindles and the advance of technology. But don’t forget your first love of ink on paper just because some people are calling them “old-fashioned” or a dying industry. Go to your local book store and just spend an hour browsing through all the books. Take a seat in that corner and page through a few of your favourites. Go to your local library and take out a book. The best things in life are those that are sometimes relegated to “old-fashioned”. Don’t be scared to be called old-fashioned because you love books. Don’t be made to feel ashamed because you carry a bag full of books around. Cherish books. They have stayed faithful to you through all your growing pains. Stay faithful to books. Wear the title “Book Worm” with pride. I know I do. You can call me Book-Worm. Now I am going to tuck into the book I am reading…

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning

The Gift of Truth Telling

Truth
Image by TW Collins via Flickr

How important is telling the truth to you?

For many writers, they tell the truth about emotional subjects and difficult tales through their stories. They may change a few names around or they may base a character loosely on themselves. I believe all fiction does carry something of the writer‘s experience and emotional map about it. But there are those writers who are called to write a story that will make people question their world views. Their stories make the reader confront the truth. As we all know sometimes the truths in this world can be ugly and destroying. But sometimes there are those rare individuals who can use trials and torments to rise above their circumstances and use that very pain to bring comfort and nurturing warmth into all whose lives they touch. Then you go a step further and meet those same individuals who use their stories of pain as a looking-glass mirror where, through the naked reflection of their pain, they offer others in the same circumstances a way out, a way paved with hope and resilience. Tonight I have the honour of having such an individual and such a writer in the Dragonfly Scrolls studio with me. I am not going to digress anymore because tonight she is going to share her amazing story with you. So I am going to take a step back and let you be inspired by a woman who, like myself, believes in not only seeking the truth but in telling the truth in all its naked complexity. This is a story of a true survivor. Listen to her and have hope no matter how hopeless your world may seem right now.

Firstly thank you for joining me in the Dragonfly Scrolls studio…

Let us start by you introducing yourself to us…Who is Suzannah Burke?


Of all the questions I am ever asked this is perhaps the most difficult to answer. Who am I?  I am an Australian woman in my fifties.  I wake before sunrise and go back to bed after midnight.  I love to walk in the rain, and read in the sun.  I watched Toy Story 3 and cried; I sat with my 30-year-old daughter and watched the entire first series of Glee in one sitting, snuggled on the sofa with enormous amounts of munchies.  On her next visit, we watched the entire first season of Trueblood together.  I live alone on the northeastern coast of Australia in a small fishing village.  I am a friend, a neighbor, an acquaintance, an ex-wife, but my favorite title is mother. I am a writer fortunate enough to have had a book published.  I love my animals, my solitude and my life is as perfect as it’s going to get right now.

Tell us about your background in writing.

I didn’t really begin writing as more than a hobby until 5 years ago.  Like many people my friends said, “Hey, this is good stuff.”  I joined an online writing site and to my delight, they agreed with my friends. I wrote my first complete fiction novel for Nanowrimo in 2009.  I completed another fiction novel for Nanowrimo in 2010…and in between, I wrote “Empty Chairs”

I know that you have a book called Empty Chairs out.  Can you tell us a bit about it?


Empty Chairs is my biography from age three to age 11.  It covers the early years when I was subjected to horrendous abuse instigated by my mother and the pedophile ring she was a pivotal member of.  It covers the abuse and moves quickly on to my life living on the streets at age 11. I hope that people will see within the pages that the results of abuse can be life threatening and certainly life altering.  However, it also made me understand that I had a core of strength inside that simply refused to be broken.  I had a dream of something better and nothing would stop me striving towards that dream.

Now it must take great courage to write about painful events in your life but yet you have.

What was your inspiration for writing this story?

When I first hit the streets, I met and ultimately shared my life with a group of street kids.  We were together for 5 years, and some of us remained friends for over 4 decades. One of the gang was only 8 years old.  Her name was “Jenny.”  I was not the youngest at 11, which in itself will shock many people.  Jenny and I grew close and over the years maintained our bond.  Jenny had asked me to write about our lives on the street.  I used to write {for want of a better term} I wrote stories for Jenny when we were together, normally in the columns of newspapers that we used to sleep on.  I made Jenny the hero in all the stories; she was the Princess who always managed to save herself from whatever monsters I conjured up.  Jenny loved those stories.

I had made her a promise, that “One day” I would write it all down. I promised her I would tell everyone what is was like to live on the streets as we did. Jenny committed suicide on September 1st 2009.  I hadn’t kept my promise.  When I began to recover from my anger and sadness at her death, I made the decision to honor the promise that I had made to her. Empty Chairs is the result.

I have heard that for the month of April all the profits received for your book will be donated to ISPCAN the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

That is quite a contribution. Can you tell us a little about ISPCAN?

The International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, founded in 1977, is the only multidisciplinary international organization that brings together a worldwide cross-section of committed professionals to work towards the prevention and treatment of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation globally.

ISPCAN’s mission is to prevent cruelty to children in every nation, in every form: physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, street children, child fatalities, child prostitution, children of war, emotional abuse, and child labor.  ISPCAN is committed to increasing public awareness of all forms of violence against children, developing activities to prevent such violence, and promoting the rights of children in all regions of the world. ISPCAN invites you to join forces with its members around the world to protect children in need: their bodies, minds, hearts, and rights.

I think this is a very worthy cause. Can you tell readers where to get a copy of your book in April?

The kindle version on Amazon is here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004K6MJJK/ref=sc_vs__empty_2520chairs_2520by_

The paperback version on Amazon is here:http://www.amazon.com/Empty-Chairs-story-about-child/dp/1453858520/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_2

The Smashwords edition in kindle or eBook is here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/38452

Question: What is your hope for this book and for this cause Susannah?

I hope that people will read this and begin to understand and acknowledge that Child abuse is not only perpetrated in poor neighborhoods, it is not restricted to the uneducated masses…people appear to have a misconception of Abuse, perhaps to safely distance their thoughts from anything so sordid and difficult to comprehend they lump child abuse in a category. That is a misconception that must change. News flash folks, I came from an upper middle class background. My abusers were pillars of the community.  These pedophiles didn’t drive rusted out cars and wear tacky clothes.  They drove Mercedes- Benz and Porsche. They wore Armani and Dior. There are NO social boundaries when it comes to pedophilia.

Abuse is a terrible crime that humans seem to excel at. I am sure there are many people out there who have no support and no place to run to. For readers who may know of or have experienced abuse, what would you say to them now?

When I was a child, there was no place to turn.  This horror was never spoken of.  Today thanks to the hard work of many wonderful people worldwide and the internet, every hospital has counseling and referral facilities.  Doctors are mandated to report suspected abuse to the relevant authorities if the child is under age.  Police departments have their own departments set up specifically to deal with complaints of this nature.  Salvation Army, Red cross, and most churches have their own teams where a person can phone anonymously to access assistance. I have a very long list of help sites on my blog, covering the USA the UK and Australia. The list is growing daily.  I check all the sites before I add them to be certain they are legitimate and approved.  If you are reading this interview and you have been abused or suspect someone you know may be experiencing it now please speak up.  The avenues will respect your privacy, they WILL believe you.  At times especially with younger folks, it is the fear that they will not be believed that prevents them seeking help.  The people and the facilities out there are now immense, they will help you to take all the steps necessary to either stop the abuse or recover from abuse inflicted long ago.

Looking back at your life through the mirror of Empty Chairs, would you say there was a defining moment that led you to write down your story in this book?

Jenny’s death by her own hand was the catalyst.  She was a precious, marvelous human being, yet her soul was murdered long before she took her last breath.  I was so devastated and angry when I got the call. It took me months before I could calm down enough to write the book clearly without emotional overload.

After reading the sample chapter of this book, I see that you chose to write this story in present tense. This creates a really powerful reality where the reader sees everything through your deep POV (point of view).

This must have been very difficult for you as you would have re-experienced much of the heartache and pain again?

Did you have a support system to help you through the writing of this story?

I told no one that I was writing the book, I didn’t want to inflict what I was dealing with on anyone else. I needed to do it in my own time and without questions when I had almost completed it I posted the first chapter on The Night Publishing site. Tim Roux who is Night Publishing contacted me, and on the basis of chapter, one he signed me to a publishing contract for Empty Chairs.  To say I was stunned would be a major understatement.

What would you say was the biggest challenge in writing a non-fiction story based on your life story?

I had flashbacks and panic attacks during the writing of the book. I often had to stop and take myself outside into the clean air to gain a perspective and continue writing. The biggest challenge in so far as the writing itself was to remain true to who I am now and yet recall how I felt then without hyperbole or drama. I needed to allow the things to unfold as I remembered them. I am aware that it is a difficult thing to read.  My honesty can be daunting.  Yet it is not a subject that can be prettied up for public consumption.  I wrote it exactly as I remembered it.

What advice would you give to a writer contemplating on writing a similar memoir style biography?

Be aware that many people simply don’t want to hear about painful topics.  They label this kind of work as “Misery Memoir” You must be prepared for folks to not want to know any more about a very painful topic.  I am one of the very fortunate few who has a Publisher that has supported me.  If you decide to write a biography remember to be true to yourself every step of the way.  I had one publishing house that wanted to sign the book, but only if I prettied it up for general consumption, I refused.

If you decide to self publish be prepared to do the heavy-duty promotional work required to have people read your work.  My publisher is very supportive but I still have a need to put in the hours to help people learn about my work.  Set yourself a target every day, try, and keep to it.  If you find yourself getting caught up in the emotion of the book it will reflect in your writing: that is not necessarily a bad thing, no one wants to read a book devoid of any emotion, but by the same token people need to be able to read the book without the feeling that they are being preached at or ranted to.  Sometimes you need to put it aside and distance yourself a little before you continue.  Most of all believe in yourself.

Since “Empty Chairs” is non-fiction, will you be writing some fiction/have you written any fiction?

I had already completed a Comedy/Romance novel “Dudes Down Under” before commencing “Empty Chairs” and during Empty Chairs, I added more to the fiction book, and I needed to have the Comedy as a release from the remembering.  I also have a fiction Psychological Thriller “Twisted “completed which I’m currently editing.

Would you say there is quite a large difference between writing fiction and non-fiction?

Oh hell, yes!  There is no comparison.  My non-fiction book does not allow me the luxury of inventing characters, places, and happenings.  Truth is often more difficult to write.  With my Fiction work, I have a wonderful time, developing the plot and inventing and rounding out the characterizations.

What other genres do you write in and why?


I write in so many different genres, ‘Dudes Down Under” is a Comedy/Romance I had a ball writing it, and inventing my pivotal chapter linking “character” of Cyril…Cyril is a 28ft long crocodile who wears Armani, drinks copious amounts of JD loves Al Pacino and Brando, dances to “Some enchanted evening” and whose thoughts on every imaginable topic are only known to the reader. The misunderstandings are rife as the story is set on a brand new tropical island resort catering only to the Hollywood ‘A’ listers. What Cyril does to the croc skin luggage of the stars is not to be missed. I adore the escapism of Comedy, and the fun of the romantic scenes. As for my other novel “Twisted” Phew!  What can I say…I have a ball again in a different way, by killing off folks and weaving in a serial murderer and a conspiracy as well, again escapism. I also submit regular short stories online in contests ranging from westerns to paranormal. The only topics I have yet to tackle is Science Fiction and Fantasy…I don’t feel I have enough knowledge for one and am not comfortable with the other.

Are you working on any new projects now?  Can you share anything about them?

I am currently writing the follow-up to Empty Chairs as so many kind people have asked me what happened then?  Where did you go?  What did your life turn out like?

So, yes…I am picking the book up the day after book one ends.  I am also working on another novel entitled “The inheritance” about a young Australian women who is made Guardian of her wealthy US friend’s 4-year-old child.  It’s developing nicely and will I think be labeled as a romance when I am done exploring all the possible journeys that the characters are taking me on.

What would you like you lasting legacy to be as a writer?

This is a difficult question: I guess with my Non-fiction work I would like people who have bought it to say, “Hey, if she can get through it and have a richly rewarding life, then hell, so can I.”  With my fiction work, I love to inform and entertain; if that is how my readers feel then I would be one very delighted woman.

Can you tell us where to find you on the web Susannah?

Okay…  I have my book review/interview/talk writing site on http://sooozsaysstuff.blogspot.com

My book related site for Empty Chairs is on http://staceydansonemptychairs.blogspot.com

I have a competition that I run every month that is very popular at http://paragraphsofpower.blogspot.com

And….my comedy romance and interviews with a crocodile site is http://dudesdownunder.blogspot.com

Phew, I do have a few.

Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview with me.

I commend your courage in bringing a very real and painful subject to life.

Your story is one that is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit even in the face of great pain.

It has been an honour and pleasure to feature an author with such a worthy message.

I hope that you will come back and visit with me in my studio in the near future and tell us more of your future endeavors.

I trust that Empty Chairs becomes a fast best seller so that you may raise many well needed earnings for ISPCAN.

I look forward to watching your future success and especially to your sequel to “Empty Chairs”. Your’s is a story that had to be written. Thank you for showing the great courage you have by writing it.

I am so appreciative of the time and the kindness you have shown, thank you for the opportunity.

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

For those readers interested in finding out more about the prevention of child abuse, I have added a link to the ISPCAN.

ISPCAN

Tales for Canterbury

This week has been an amazing week in so many ways. It started off with my birthday where I was spoilt by the special people in my life..those that I am privileged to call family and friends. But then the week got even better.

A couple of weeks ago a writer friend connected me with an editor in New Zealand who wanted to put together an anthology of short stories from different authors with the common theme of Survival, Hope and the Future. All proceeds would be donated to the Red Cross for the Christchurch 2011 earthquake appeal. After talking to the editor about what they were looking for, I was invited to submit a short story. I finished the story and submitted it on the 21st of March.

On Monday this week I had the wonderful email that told me they loved my story and with a few edits they wanted to include it in the anthology.

Today my publishing contract arrived which really brought it home to me.

I am very excited, honoured and privileged to be published in this incredible anthology. This anthology is especially dear to my heart as Christchurch was once home to me a few years ago and I have many close friends who still live in Christchurch. So to be able to be part of a project that gives back to the city of Christchurch and helps in some small way to rebuild that courageous city really fills my heart with tremendous joy.

The anthology is called Tales for Canterbury. Below are details of the blog that has been set up by the editors for this anthology as well as a list of all the authors that are contributing. I have also included a link to the pre-order site of the anthology. The anthology will be available in both E-book format and Paperback format. 100% of all proceeds are going to the Red Cross for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal. There are going to be well over 2 dozen stories in this anthology by both New Zealand authors and international authors. This is an opportunity for readers everywhere to be able to support the community of Christchurch who have shown such resilience and courage in the face of a huge calamity. Instead of falling down, they have stayed strong determined to rebuild their community and their city.

Tales for Canterbury

List of Authors contributing

Get your copy here

Thank you once again to the editors of Tales for Canterbury for firstly inviting me to submit and finally for the great honour of accepting my submission for contribution.

For Christchurch, a city always dear to my heart – Stand Strong and Stand Tall.

– Kim

Upcoming…Watch this space

The first issue of Mad. Art by Harvey Kurtzman.
Image via Wikipedia

I have decided to find the genie in the lamp. He has spent enough time parading around 1001 Arabian Nights with Aladdin and company. I need him stat, as they say in the medical dramas. I find that I need the magical ability to fit 48 hours into 24 hours and that I need this for every day for the next month. 24 Hours is just not enough anymore to get all the things done that I must get done, both writing related and day job related not to mention still fitting in normal life activities like eating and sleeping…

But I digress….enough with the wishes….

There are some exciting events happening in my writing life and my blogging life. April looks like it is going to be as Mad if not Madder than March. I have quite a few submissions due this coming month as well as quite a bit of editing to do.

As for blogging…Warrior Wednesdays is going to be interviewing some amazing authors and writers and I now have all interviews confirmed and locked in until the end of August. So I know where you will all be every Wednesday: sitting down with a cuppa and joining this girl with a quill as I interview some very talented people out there. As Warrior Wednesdays has gained a regular following I am going to start upping the ante as they say a bit…I am going to start digging even deeper into these Warrior Writers and Creative’s  Psyche to get to the real secret veins of gold at the heart of their creativity. For this, I am going to ask for audience participation. That would be you dear readers and fellow creatives / bloggers. I need you to tell me what questions you really want answered from these writers. So in order to do this, I have set up two methods of dialogue and discussion.

Warrior Wednesdays Page

This is the area I have created for Audience Participation. This is your area. You get to post a question here that you would like answered by each Warrior. Each week, starting on the first Wednesday of April I will pick a question from this page (it could be your question) to ask the Warrior.

Warrior Wednesdays Tweets

This is a twitter chat room where you can tweet your questions. You can also discuss the previous interviews. I will be asking all the Warriors that I have interviewed already whether they can do a guest host on this tweet chat and you can delve further into anything you would like to know from them. I will let you know via here when we will be doing some guest hosting with the Warriors themselves.

This will allow you to not only read the interview but get you involved in the interview process. So starting this week, you have 1 week to post your questions.

Wednesday 30/03 Warrior

For this week’s Warrior Interview I have the very gutsy and sassy Leigh K Hunt in studio. I have already received her interview answers and let me tell you that this is going to be a Wowser of an interview. So watch this space tomorrow. You definitely want to be here for this interview.

Other Exciting Developments

This coming month of April is: Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month. So in honour of this worthy cause I am going to have the honour of interviewing an Australian Author who is donating the April income from her new biography to this cause. This interview will be hosted on Friday, April the 1st this week. So watch this space for that interview.

&

In April I am going to be reviewing a pre-print new fantasy book. I just received the book today so will be letting you know a review date once I have read it. Let me just tell you the book looks like a very intriguing read.

So yes, April is going to be a Mad month again but there are some exciting developments coming up. I hope to see you all here.

Look forward to seeing you all participate…lets have some great blog discussions.

– Kim

First Draft..Second Draft..Third Draft..

So it begins
Image by Graham Binns via Flickr

Today has been a good day for refocusing. I was on twitter chats #writecraft and #storycraft and the topics were first drafts. As most chats end up going, it went down other paths but the main topics were first drafts and first chapters.

One of the questions was: What tools do you use to get into the Zone?

Another question was: Are emotions necessary for being in the Writing Zone?

A third question was: How do you turn off the internal editor and should you turn off the internal editor in the first draft?

There were a number of great points and questions raised. The great thing about these chats are the wealth of information us writers can be for each other. Each of us has a unique spin on the craft of writing and the writing life. Each of us, whether published or unpublished, have at least got through a first chapter and many have full first drafts completed.

So today I am going to ask you these questions which were raised in today’s chats:

  1. How important is a first chapter? Do you believe a book rests on the first chapter?
  2. Do you think a first chapter must have an immediate active element or immediate conflict?
  3. Which tools do you use – Music/Software/Stationery/Surroundings/Time of Day – to get yourself into the Creative Zone?
  4. Do you feel that the key to being in the Creative Zone is emotion – whether controlled emotion or the release of emotion?
  5. How do you turn off the internal editor?
  6. Should you turn the internal editor off during first draft and if so, how do you do this?
  7. Do you outline the first draft before writing it?

So the questions are given to you? What are your secrets for first chapters and first drafts?

What other tips can you share with me and the readers of this blog?

Post any tips or queries regarding first chapters and first drafts here…and lets get a discussion going.

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.