Author Interview: Kim CurranSunday, September 08, 2013
I apologize again for the lack of posts. I already said on this post what's keeping me busy lately and I'm brewing something up so you better watch out for it. I just need a good video editing software *hint hint* and the skills to do it. LOL. Anyway, I conducted an interview with Kim Curran the author of the two books I've read and reviewed a month or two ago, Shift and Control. Before we proceed to the interview, let's get to know her first.
I was born in Dublin and moved to London when I was seven. I got my first typewriter when I was eight, had a poem I wrote about a snail published in a magazine when I was nine, and that was it – I was hooked on writing.
Because I never thought I’d actually be able to make a living as a writer, I decided I needed a trade to fall back on. So, naturally, I went to Sussex University to study philosophy.
While my plan of being paid big bucks to think deep thoughts never quite worked out, I did land a job as a junior copywriter with an ad agency a week after graduating. I've worked in advertising ever since, specializing in writing for video games.
When I’m not writing ads for video games featuring people being blown up, I write books for young adults featuring people being blown up.
I volunteer as a writing mentor at The Ministry of Stories – and if you’re reading this, so should you.
My greatest achievement was when Tom Baker told me a script I wrote was funny. He was being paid.
ME ♥ How did you come up with the idea of Shifting and what inspired you to write about it?
KIM CURRAN ♥ The idea for Shifting came after reading a book about quantum physics, and one fact about the nature of light blew my mind. I already knew that light acts as a wave and a particle. What I didn't know was that whether it acts as a wave or particle changes depending on whether the experiment is being observed. Think about that: the very nature of matter is altered by human presence!
This thought niggled away at me. And one day, when I was sitting on a bus, looking down at all the people below, and wondering about the decisions they have all made and whether they would like to change them the idea came to me: what if someone had the power to change their decisions, the way that light changes from particle to wave. And BAM! Shift was born.
ME ♥ How was the writing process for Shift, Control, and Delete? Did you listen to any music to get you going? A favorite place to find inspiration?
KIM ♥ I wrote Shift in a rush of excitement and energy, the majority of it scribbled in notebooks on the bus to and from work. I listened to It’s Blitz by Yeah Yeah Yeahs on repeat, just to block out the sounds of my fellow commuters. And so it's become the soundtrack to Scott's world for me. I’m aware it’s weird that I find being on a bus inspiring, but it works for me. It's especially useful when you want to write a new character; I can just look up at the selection of interesting people around me.
When writing Control I now had to work to a deadline – and a pretty tight one at that. In fact, I had about two months in which to write the first draft. So to be honest, I don't remember a huge amount about writing it! I did some in notebooks, but a lot I wrote straight to my computer.
Now I’m in the middle of writing Delete, so I've returned to scribbling in my notebooks with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs playing.
ME ♥ It was amazing how you connected Shifting to science and actually added facts and bent it to fiction. Can you tell us more about this?
KIM CURRAN ♥ I guess because the idea came from reading about quantum physics, it was always going to be rooted in my (very) vague understanding of the topic. In the first draft, I went into much more detail about the nature of Shifting on a quantum level, including a very long discussion about the Copenhagen interpretation. But on second reading, it slowed down the action too much. So I stripped it right back.
I had a friend of mine who has a PHD in physics check it over for me. But fundamentally, I let the science serve the story rather than the other way around.
ME ♥ Have you experienced the Writer’s Block? Which of the books did you have a difficult time to write and vice versa? How did you manage it?
KIM CURRAN ♥ I never experienced writers block (touches wood). That’s not to say there weren't days I found it hard to write. Often, it’s like pulling teeth and I think every word is utter rubbish and I’m convinced I should just quit and go back to my real job. I call these days carpet-face days – when I want to lay face down in a carpet till it all goes away. And while that probably sounds like block, it’s never actually stopped me from writing. I force myself to write through the doubt and the self-hatred. Even if it means rewriting everything I've done the next day. Or I just give myself a break and go and do something else.
I think my training as an advertising copywriter has helped with this, as when you’re working for a client on a deadline there’s not an option of just not writing.
When I am finding that the words don’t want to come easily, I find returning to notebooks and writing long hand really freeing. I know I’ll have to re-write it all anyway, so it’s OK if not every word is amazing. I also have the words “THIS IS JUST THE FIRST DRAFT” written on my computer as my desktop pattern. Even if I’m actually working on my fifth draft, it just reminds me that I don’t have to be perfect first time. Writing is rewriting!
ME ♥ What can we expect from Delete?
KIM CURRAN ♥ As Delete is the last in the series, I want to go out with a bang. I’m going to really put Scott through the ringer (poor boy) and take him to even darker places within himself. And there will be even more action. I didn't blow anything up in Control, so I’ll make up for that in Delete!
ME ♥ I have said on my reviews how I was attached with some of the characters. How were you able to create them? What are your inspirations in writing them?
KIM CURRAN ♥ I'm not sure where Scott came from. He appeared fully formed in my head about 5 minutes after I had the idea for Shift. I guess he's like me in some ways; unsure of himself and bumbling through life trying to do the right thing. Aubrey is the girl I always wished I was: achingly cool, confident (on the surface at least) and a bit cold. I used to see girls like her, smoking on street corners and sigh. Of course, in reality those girls are just as insecure as the rest of us. They just have a way of projecting 'cool!'
ME ♥ Do have a favorite among them? Who and why?
KIM CURRAN ♥ While I love Scott and Aubrey, obviously, the character I’m most fond of is CP Finn. CP inspired by a young friend of mine – the daughter of my best friends. Which is probably why I love her so much.
The other character I love is, weirdly, Benjo. He’s a combination of everything I could think of as gross and creepy. And is an utter joy to write!
ME ♥ When did you decide to become a writer?
KIM CURRAN ♥ When I look back, I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote poems and silly stories from a very young age. Although throughout my teens my plan was to become a war correspondent! That never quite worked out, and when I left university, I got a job as an advertising copywriter, which I still do now.
However, that desire to tell my own stories never went away. So about five years ago, I quit my job in a London ad agency and went freelance so I had more time to focus on my writing. It was a scary decision, but was the best decision I ever made.
ME ♥ Which writers inspire you?
KIM CURRAN ♥ Apart from my favourite writer (see my answer to question 1 in the next section) I’m constantly inspired by all my writer friends, including James Smythe, James Dawson, Tanya Byrne, Will Hill, Tom Pollock, Amy McCulloch. They’re all writing YA (apart from Smythe who writes SF) and some of the best YA on the market in my opinion.
ME ♥ What draws you to this genre?
KIM CURRAN ♥ I was drawn to young adult (YA) as I’m obsessed with the in-between states of things. And I think there’s no more interesting stage of our lives than the one between child and adult. Writing for teens also means I have no where to hide – teens are the most discerning of readers and you have to work really hard to keep their attention.
As for science fiction, I love playing with ideas. And SF is the perfect playground to do that in. I can pretty much do anything I like – which is an utter joy for a writer.
ME ♥ Whenever an idea pops up, do you write it down immediately on anything that is handy that time? How do you retain them so you will not forget?
KIM CURRAN ♥ I have a notebook in which I write all my ideas. Some of them are nothing more than ‘Girl in space.’ But I get the basic idea down as quick as possible and then let it idea percolate for a bit before trying to flesh out any of the details. It's weird how some ideas that feel all shiny and exciting actually come to nothing as they develop. Where as others start out fragile and unsubstantial and just grow and grow!
ME ♥ Any future writing plans after this series?
KIM CURRAN ♥ I’ve just finished another YASF book, and I have some plans for that. I also have an idea for a middle grade series. And a YA thriller idea that’s currently bouncing around in my head wanting to be written. Let’s just say that having ideas has never been my problem – finding time to write them, however, that’s another matter.
ME ♥ Would you also consider writing a story for a video game? Or turning your books into one?
KIM CURRAN ♥ I would LOVE to either write a video game or have Shift turned into one. In my day job as a copywriter I work a lot on video games and I love playing them. So it would be great to see something I've written appear on a console!
ME ♥ Favorite authors?
KIM CURRAN ♥ Patrick Ness, Lauren Buekes, William Gibson, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman… the list is endless and changes every day.
ME ♥ Favorite books?
KIM CURRAN ♥ Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, Expecting Someone Taller by Tom Holt and The Rebel by Camus.
ME ♥ If you could live in any book world, what would it be and why?
KIM CURRAN ♥ Brilliant question! I'd love to be able to visit the Alice in Wonderland world. To explore all the insanity and marvels. And have tea with the Mad Hatter. But only so long as I was able to get home afterwards.
ME ♥ Any books you will never be caught reading?
KIM CURRAN ♥ I used to be a bit snobbish about chick lit. And then I actually read some! Like every genre, the good stuff is brilliant. It taught me never to be ashamed of reading any books.
ME ♥ Current playlist?
KIM CURRAN ♥ I’m listening to a lot of blues-based rock like The Black Keys, The Heavy, The Kills and – a recent discovery thanks to Twitter – Kill It Kid.
ME ♥ Ebooks or actual books?
KIM CURRAN ♥ Both have their place. I love my Kindle and about 50% of my reading is done using it. It's especially useful as I'm off on holiday, so I've loaded it up with everything I want to read while I’m away.
But nothing will every replace the joy of holding a book in my hands. Especially one that is beautifully designed and tactical.
ME ♥ Something that you would change if you have the ability to Shift.
KIM CURRAN ♥ I've thought about this a lot (unsurprisingly!). I do sometimes regret not applying for Oxford University like my tutors wanted me to, as I'll never know if I would have got in or not. I also think I stayed in one of my jobs for far too long and it made me miserable. But I've learnt that in life, your every choice shapes who you are (would I have stayed with my then boyfriend and now husband if I’d gone to a different university? Would I have realized that there's more to life than work if I hadn't been so unhappy?). And so now, the truth is, I wouldn't change a thing.
Well maybe one thing. There’s a terrible haircut I wish I could have skipped.