Thursday, June 26, 2014

An Interview with Author, Kim Culpepper!

An interview with author, Kim Culpepper!

Interview:
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Columbus, Mississippi.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Twilight actually inspired me to write my first book. I had never read the Twilight series before and when the first movie came out I immediately thought it was something that it wasn’t. I thought, ‘werewolves and vampires surrounding a love story ought to be the kind of movie that a horror fan like me would enjoy’. Boy was I ever wrong. Please don’t think I’m insulting the series but, it was not what I was expecting so I wrote what I expected. I normally stick to writing straight up horror because I don’t like the mushy stuff but, after starting The Blood Talisman I found that I quite enjoy adding some mush.
Do you write full-time or part-time? How do you balance your writing life with your family/work life?
Very Carefully. Balance is very difficult to find when you work full time, have 2 small kids, and a disabled parent to take care of. I started writing this novel while I was also attending college but my writing suffered so I dropped college to focus my very sparse personal time on writing.
How did you come up with the title?
I wanted something that pulled the story together as a whole. My main characters find that the blood talisman is something that can be coveted or something that could also be devastating. It really will lead the reader on a journey to figure out what its purpose is and what good things it can do and what bad things can come from it. It really is the center of this great conflict that will continue through to the next book in this series.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If I had to pick just one thing it would be that people change constantly. They change when bad things happen. They change when good things happen. One person’s personality may stay the same but their morals and their convictions can change sometimes without the person even realizing that it is happening.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think all writers will agree that their stories no matter how small or how grand are based on some aspect of their own life that leads them to write what they feel in their hearts need to be written. Personally I went through a lot of changes in life when I was in my early twenties that lead me to put those aspects into this novel. I used to be a very angry person and good things happened in my life to change that about me and it ended up making me a better person.

What books have most influenced your life?
I know this is cliché’ for horror but Stephen King has influenced me since I was 12. My first horror novel was Pet Cemetery and I have been hooked on everything he has written since then. His use of adjectives and how he describes his characters just amaze me. I have fallen in love with every main character he has ever written and I still continue to do it.

What book are you reading now?
I just finished On the Lips of Children by Mark Matthews. Excellent story that I read in one day cause I couldn’t put it down. I am looking forward to reading Mr. Mercedes by the great Stephen King!

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I have met quiet a few indie authors online through this little service called Twitter. Indie authors are some of the most inspiring people as they have denied all rejections and all sense of traditionalism to go their own way and I think that speaks volume as to who they are as a person and who they are as writers. Tammy Farrell has written a book that I am currently fighting for time to read. Her novel Darkness of Light seems to be a very interesting read and she is an awesome critique partner that helped me with The Blood Talisman. Beyond her a few new authors I’ve read and love are Mark Matthews, Julie Hutchings, and Mina Vaughn. 

What are your current projects?
I am constantly writing short stories so I am working on a compilation of those as well as a haunted house type story that I am really excited about. 

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The first person that comes to mind is someone I call my book twin. Her real name is Camilla. We met through Twitter and she has been super supportive of me since we first talked to each other. I also have become involved in a local writers group and have found the people there to be really supportive. It’s always refreshing to meet new people in a town you have lived in your entire life, especially when they are as supportive as my local writers group.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t think I would actually. I worked with a really fantastic editor and we made a lot of changes during the editing phase that made the story flow better. 

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure! Here are the first few paragraphs from the ghost story I mentioned earlier. Its working title is Hardy House.
If you can imagine the absolute best thing in the world being snatched away in an instant, leaving you to wail and scream helplessly, then that is the story of my life. I always imagined life to be perfect. Living in a small town gave me that feeling of comfort. Nothing ever goes wrong in a small town and the gossip that flows through the local beauty shop is always of the teens that are raised to finish school and move away, only to return later with 2 kids and a husband that happily mows the yard 3 times a week.
                That was my dream since birth except that’s not how it happened for me. I was different. I saw ghosts and talked to them like they were my only friends on earth. With everyone knowing of my so-called disability, they pretty much were my only friends on earth.
                When I got pregnant at 16 the people that whispered around corners became louder and I became more withdrawn from the tiny society that I longed to be a part of in a more peaceful way. I started blocking them out and blocking out the world had consequences.


Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Staying fluent in the story. I have to stop and start again because of time restraints so much that it takes several readings once I am finished writing to get the story just right. I get rather frustrated with myself when I’m re-reading. I’m constantly wondering how that part got there and where it should be. It’s like putting together a puzzle.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
As I mentioned earlier, Stephen King. My favorite novel by him is The Dark Half. I have read the paperback version so much that I’ve considered replacing the spine with duct tape. Mr. King just takes you through a story and you don’t even realize it’s the end when you reach that last page because you can’t see an ending. His characters are so real that they live on in your mind and your heart forever.

Who designed the covers?
My editor Stephanie Dagg. She’s awesome. She owns a farm in France. What’s more awesome than that?

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Putting my feelings on actual paper for other people to read. I would wince if someone asked me to just read an excerpt from something I’ve written or give them a few lines or anything. Other people had confidence in my writing but I couldn’t find confidence in myself. Sometimes those thoughts creep back into my head but I will look back at comments, or places I’ve been accepted for publication and sometimes even the nicer rejection letters to gain that confidence back in myself to say, ‘Somebody likes it. Why can’t I like it?’

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that I am a very determined person and once I commit to something, I am headstrong in pursuing it through to the end. I used to question that about myself because for a long time I would start things and then never finish them. It wasn’t until I went through a lot of personal changes that I became strong enough to be confident in my writing.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Do lots of research and I mean lots! Make new friends, research what it takes to self-publish, attend conferences, and just do whatever it takes to get published. You may not get an agent with your first book, keep trying. I am. If I can do it then you can too.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I would say to go into this story with an open mind and expect the unexpected. This first book is the beginning of a series and not every character will make it through to the final book. Stay tuned after this one to see where it goes next because people change and not always for the better.

What do you think about e-publishing versus traditional publishing?
I think it is all personal preference. Some people like to have a book in their hands and turn paper pages whereas others live in the digital world and all they rely on are virtual pages. I am fine with reading either, though an e-reader is more easily accessible when on the go. As far as being a writer goes, I’m willing to follow either avenue as long as it takes me where I want to be by the time I retire.

Do you have an agent or publisher? How did you go about finding one?
Not yet, but I will have one. I just know it!
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
In England. I have always thought London to be so beautiful and English people are so nice. I also swoon over their accents.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Mind control. Not quite sure if I would use it for world domination or not. *winks*