Nicole Kimberling : Q&A – a twofer!
Today we welcome Nicole Kimberling, Editor at Blind Eye Books and author of several works, including the Lambda Literary Award winning “Turnskin”, the Bellingham Mystery Series and “Ghost Star Night” – book 1 in the Sea of Stars Series. A few of the highly popular publications on the Blind Eye roster include the Irregulars anthology, Ginn Hale’s The Rifter and Astrid Amara’s The Archer’s Heart.
Coming up for Nicole is the June 18th release of the next installment in the Bellingham series, “Birds of a Feather”, which will be available through Loose ID. Promptly on the heels of that (be still my squeeing heart) will be “Heir of Starlight”, the Ghost Star Night sequel, both available through Samhain Publishing. Blurbs and links are at the bottom of this post.
And away we go…
Hi Nicole! A big thank you for spending some time to answer questions for us.
Thanks for having me!
Well, I’m from Western Nebraska, which is pretty much dead in the middle of the North American continent. And, in the Seventies, the state was depopulating fast. So, growing up, I had very little access to entertainment that didn’t arise from my own imagination. In other words, I already had a lot of practice making things up by the time I decided to learn to write.
Then as a young adult in Denver, I got very into the ‘zine scene. During this period, I discovered I had a talent for editing. Eventually most paper ‘zines transformed into blogs or websites. Rather than go that route, my wife and I decided to take the plunge into…even more expensive forms of print! (lol) And so Blind Eye Books was born.
You have written a mix of contemporary, urban fantasy and sci-fi/fantasy. Do you enjoy one sub-genre in particular more than the others?
Not really. To me, different ideas call for different genres. A thought that might be mind-bogglingly difficult to incorporate into a science-fiction tale is often easy as pie to fold into a contemporary story. And the opposite is also true.
It’s particularly interesting when authors incorporate the city/region in which they live into their stories. Which came first, the idea of setting a series in Bellingham, or the basis of Peter and Nick’s characters?
Bellingham itself. It’s such an interesting little pocket of weirdness tucked up into the upper left hand corner of the continental US. I knew I’d never run out of things to tell about the city.
Do your characters tend to take on a life of their own and go against what you had originally planned?
Never. I sometimes realize half-way through a story that a character action I had planned is a bad idea, but I don’t ever have that sensation of being out of control of my characters.
And I’m glad. I think it would just annoy me if characters could somehow defy me.
The list of your editorial preferences and dislikes listed on the Blind Eye website is interesting. Would you expand on #9, which encourages writers to be more original as far as culture and character motivation?
After reading lots of submissions, I realized that the vast majority of aspiring speculative fiction authors write mostly the same thing—derivations of popular books, films and television programs. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve received, “My take on a Star Trek-type universe” or “Zombies with a twist,” or “Anita Blake, only gay!”
Reading through yet another person’s take on the same old werewolf story becomes really tedious after a while. I started to wonder where the individuality had gone. So when I wrote that I wanted to see novelty, I guess I was trying to encourage writers to push the envelope a little…. As a reader, uniqueness if most definitely noted and appreciated! 🙂
It seems you must have been one imaginative child! Was writing and creating something you dreamed of from an early age?
Interestingly enough, I didn’t want to grow up to be a writer when I was a little kid. Originally I wanted to be an octopus. After that I aimed at Olympic gymnastics, dance and theater arts. Only after I met my wife, did I attempt to become a writer.
Granted, I was eleven when I met her, so I suppose that might count as “an early age.” But writing still wasn’t my first choice.
Novice writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience, and you are known for writing some great columns addressing this issue. What “quick-fire” suggestions do you have for aspiring writers?
- I think it’s easy for aspiring authors to forget that novels are a form of communication, rather than just self-expression. It’s key to remember that you’re not just filling up your diary, but crafting a story to share with an audience.
- Also, gracefully conveying a simple idea to readers is better than fumbling a complicated one, always. Storytelling is it’s own skill set. So don’t try to run before you can walk. You’ll just fall down and hurt yourself. Constant failure erodes confidence and confidence is crucial to the execution of narrative prose of any length.
- Learn to write a one POV novel before attempting to juggle three POV characters. Teach yourself to write a simple story with a linear beginning, middle and end before deciding to write an entire story backwards in present tense from the viewpoint of the family dog.
Does music influence your writing? Do certain songs or styles put you in the right frame of mind for working on stories?
I don’t really listen to music when I’m writing, although I do create playlists for books that I am editing, to help me keep a consistent mood throughout.
In “The Red Thread of Forever Love”, you employed a wonderfully unique combination of elements. It seemed people either loved it, dissed it, or were somehow confused by it. What prompted you to write a story set in Japan and with that particular paranormal theme?
I’m not sure I can discuss the theme without spoiling the story—lol.
But I can say that I had wanted to write a story set in Japan for a while. I had a strong desire to show the country as I experienced it, rather than through the fictitious lens of anime or martial arts soap operas. I expect that my trips to Japan were somewhat unique, in that the people I met were all kinda wacky.
I suspect that other visitors to the Land of the Rising Sun walk along different, and much more serious paths than me.
Does Blind Eye have plans to attend the GayRomLit Retreat at some point in the future? You have been present at Yaoi-Con in the past (and maybe again this year?).
Blind Eye Books won’t be at GayRomLit this year, but maybe next time! … Please do consider – it’s a great bunch of people and great fun!
Let’s turn to some topics currently getting a lot of discussion:
Reviews…do you read them? What are your thoughts in general regarding them?
As an editor, I read a lot of reviews for other people’s books. I try to get a feel of the author’s audience in order to promote their work more effectively.
I try to avoid reading reviews of my own work, though, because commentary from random strangers can be demoralizing—even if the review is good.
Do you find it important to offer titles in print as well as e-book format?
Yes, absolutely. There are a lot of print lovers still left in the world. Not to mention the library trade…. Raising my hand as a print lover. 🙂
Do you envision M/M becoming more mainstream in the near future?
M/M will naturally become more mainstream as homosexuality itself becomes more mainstream, I think.
“Ghost Star Night” is absolutely an all- time favorite of mine. The over 3 years of patient *cough,cough* waiting for the promised sequel is about to pay off with the release of “Heir Of Starlight”. The Posse here at LYLBTB has some questions about that, and your other works:
Ahhh!! The blurb for “Heir Of Starlight” refers to Adam’s “ex-lover” Grand Magician Drake?!? WTH happened!?!
You’ll find out, won’t you!?! (grins evilly) … Well, it was worth a try!!
Will there be more in the Sea of Stars series? Perhaps a book about Tom or Karl?
I don’t know. The door is definitely open for either of them to have another adventure involving a giant monster.
You quite deftly weave humor into even some of the darkest scenes. Would you expound on why it is obviously an important element for you to include?
Humor is the way I personally cope with life’s many trials and tribulations and so I think it’s quite natural for me to telegraph that into my characters.
But beyond that, humor often adds a sense of realism to a scene. I think it’s because real life is often absurd beyond belief, so allowing some absurdity into fictive scenes increases the verisimilitude… agreed, plus…I need a moment “verisimilitude” = vocabulary high 🙂
My friend Astrid Amara is most likely an accidental cannibal. While in the Peace Corps she frequented a restaurant that was later found to have served human flesh. Since I first heard her story I’ve been looking for a way to incorporate it into some project of mine. When I decided that Agent Keith Curry would be a chef, my thoughts naturally went to that story I’d heard so many years ago. The plot occurred to me more or less instantly after that.
Are there any plans for a follow up anthology to Irregulars?
Not at the moment. Rounding up that posse requires some tricky scheduling. For that reason, I think if we end up doing another one, everyone will know years in advance. 🙂
Will “Birds Of A Feather” be the last of the Bellingham Mysteries?
Not at all. I have at least one more story I’d like to tell about Peter and Nick. And as I’m writing that I’ll probably get another idea. That’s how it usually works for me… Excellent!!
Gosh, I wrote that story almost a decade ago. I could easily imagine setting another story in the city, though I’d probably leave Tom and Cloud alone. They deserve their happily ever after, I think.
How did it come about that you have two releases in the same month? Was it planned or did it just work out that way?
Just worked out that way. The titles are from two different companies, so they didn’t confer with each other or anything.
Following all the excitement of your upcoming releases, what do you have planned next?
I’m toying with the idea of writing another Irregulars story on my own. Agent Keith Curry has a lot of life in him yet. I’m also doing some hard thinking about a full-length contemporary featuring new characters—who possibly play rugby. (Like I said, I still need to do some thinking.) … I’m sure a story about Keith would be very welcome – to say the least! And rugby players? Yes, please!
We’ll finish up with some simple silly stuff 🙂
What is something you NEVER leave home without?
My Japanese souvenir “goen” bottle opener… Yeah, I totally Googled that…… 🙂
What is your favorite recent read?
Right now I’m reading Imaginary by Jamie Sullivan and so far I’m really enjoying it.
Your bio mentions 100,000 bees. I must know more!!
They’re rescue bees. An apiary in town was going out of business because of property foreclosure, so one of my friends offered to take one of the beekeeper’s many hives. The only problem was, my friend didn’t have any property to put the hive on. So he brought it to our back yard “for a while” and then the bees just stayed.
And finally… what’s up with those pending Grand Theft Auto charges? 🙂
Hey now, no formal charges were ever filed…. I may or may not have solicited some dirt for that question, although you have since spoken about the incident elsewhere!
Trust is the only light that will guide them home.
Sea of Stars, Book 2
It’s been seven years since Karl Alton sublet his human body and let his soul be transferred to an orangutan. Now that the contract is up, Karl is ready to live a less hairy existence. Except his body has been stolen.
Devastated, Karl turns to his boss, Lord Adam Wexley, for legal advice. But instead of using his noble connections, Adam realizes they need to fight magic with better magic. And there’s only one man for the job: Adam’s ex-lover, Grand Magician Zachary Drake.
Once, Drake sacrificed his prized independence to save Adam’s soul. Now under the thumb of the West Court, he’s been forced to create a terrible weapon and bound to a vow of silence. Yet when Adam comes to him for help, no amount of bitterness over his lot will let him refuse.
Soon they discover that Karl’s missing body is only one thread connected to a plot to destroy the kingdom. And now the desperate race is on to find who—or what—has a finger on the trigger.
B I R D S O F A F E A T H E R :
Bellingham Mystery Series, Book 5
Peter Fontaine just wants to get married. He’s got a willing man, a house, a cat and the official permission of the State of Washington. Everything should be peachy, but weddings mean guests and guests bring the magic of friends and family—the enthusiastic, the vengeful and the weird.
But figuring out a seating chart that won’t result in homicide isn’t Peter’s only problem. He’s a reporter and reporters need stories. Fortunately Peter has one.
When he finds a dead, dismembered bald eagle near his home, he’s on the case. As guests converge upon his home, Peter searches the county for the person responsible.
Thanks Nicole for stopping by, and the best of luck with your new releases!!
There are 2 books on offer this time – “Heir of Starlight” and “Birds of a Feather” all you need to do is comment! and you’re in the draw!