John Holland interviews author Kimberly Chapman.
Kimberly resides in Austin, Texas.
Hi Kimberly. Thank you for gracing this page. It is a pleasure to have a Texan in our midst.
Q. What is the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline?
A. My current novel is "Finding Gaia". Here's the short blurb:
Jason Truitt has wealth and power but for over a century hasn’t been able to locate the one woman he believes shares his immortality. Unsure of her real name, he thinks of her as Gaia because of her ability to
grow plants by thought alone. Finding her, however, is only the beginning: decades of loss, isolation, abduction, and unspeakable torture have left her unsure of who, what, or when she is.
Q. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
A. I'm a feminist nerdgirl who likes steamy love scenes, and it's really hard to find books that satisfy my feminist values, amuse my nerd side,and still deliver on the sexy fun. So I write books that would satisfy me. I was surprised after the release of "Finding Gaia" to discover that a lot of progressive-minded, nerdy men were really enjoying it, which revealed to me that there's a market for nice nerdboys who like kissing books but don't want to be made to feel like they aren't the audience.
I guess that means my audience is left-leaning, educated adults of all genders who want solid stories about fully developed characters, with a generous side order of sensuality.
Q. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
A. "Finding Gaia" is about the literal side of locating the person the main character thinks of as "Gaia" because of her supernatural ability to make plants grow, but it's also about "Gaia" herself finding out who she is and, as an immortal, resetting her personality for a more modern age on top of a foundation of newly discovered inner strength.
There will be other books in the series, and the titles will follow the same format. For instance, there will be prequels entitled, "Creating Jason" and "Raising Trish", as well as a sequel called "Recreating Jason".
Q. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
A. My cover was designed by comic book artist Charles Dowd. I met him in the early days of Google Plus and really liked his irreverent, female-positive comic styling. I gave him a vague suggestion of what I wanted for the title and he applied his own sense of design to come up with something very unique and eye-catching.
It was important to me that although this book is a romance, it not be a typical modern romance cover of a headless, shirtless man, or worse: the old Fabio style with mullets and cross breezes. This isn't a typical romance, so it shouldn't have a typical cover.
Q. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
A. That depends on my mood. Jason is the main character so I live in his head a lot, but he can be broody so it's not always fun in there. Trish was supposed to be a secondary character but she has a way of stealing scenes and due to fan demand she's been spun out to her own blog,Twitter, and G+ accounts. That means whenever fans interact with her, I have to "be" her on the fly, making her more omnipresent in my life. And "being" her has turned out to be a great stress reduction technique, because there's nothing like going on an expletive-laden rant with wild abandon to take the edge off of a hard day, especially when it always gets positive feedback from amused readers.
Q. How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
A. It's not that I don't like Don, but I wish I had room to bring him into more scenes and develop him further. He's a quiet sort who listens a lot and interjects only when he thinks he has something of value to say, so he sometimes feels like an add-on even though he isn't. I'm hoping to rectify that in one of the prequels where he'll be more directly involved in the storyline.
Q. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
A. I wish I could find a way to get across all of the important scenes and emotional shifts without it taking so long. I have a good editor and we do hack it down, but it's hard to balance realistic human behaviour on the parts of the characters with what a reader has time and energy to read. It turns out it's hard to break the usual tropes because they are awfully easy to write to.
Q. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book.
A. Pretty much all of the science cited in the book is real-world stuff, even though some of it sounds like science-fiction. The references to artificial photosynthesis, solar flight, and even Bolivian drug politics are all real. In fact, even the superpowers possessed by the main characters come as close to reality as possible, just stretched over the edge for the magical, fictional result.
Q. What other books/work are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
A. I actually wish there were more. As I mentioned above, I'm driven to write out of lack of finding what I want to read. I suppose these books are like if comic book characters existed in a more realistic world with less cheesy dialogue.
Q. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
A. I'm an award winning cake decorator who plays with experimental techniques for my food blog at eat-the-evidence.com. I also knit a lot of nerdy things for my kids, including a 3D DNA model that made international press a few years ago.
Q. How can we contact you or find out more about your books? Where can we buy them or read them?
A."Finding Gaia" is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and many other stores listed at http://findinggaia.com.
I also have re-released my old traditionally published novel "Sorrows of Adoration" as an ebook on Smashwords for free:
I can be contacted at:
at Twitter @WriterCrafter, or on Google+ here: http://goo.gl/7ha3Es.
Q. What can we expect from you in the future?
A. Fans are begging me for prequels and sequels in the "Finding Gaia" universe, so I am working on those. I also have two other fantasy novels in progress. But I adopted a baby this summer, plus I have an eight year old, so time is tight. But every day I see a book sale, I'm inspired to find time to write!
Q. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
A. Tell their friends! I've been traditionally published and I've been indie published, and on both scores the number one way for a reader to help is to tell their friends. Reviews are great and help a bit, but nothing helps more than saying directly to a friend, "Oh wow, you have to read this!" I know that's how I discover indie authors myself as a reader.
Q. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
A. If you go indie, don't skip the professional elements like having a proper, fully paid editor and cover artist. The editor part is particularly important. Don't get "friendited", which is where your friends read it for you, and assume you can stop there. Test readers are great, but you absolutely must have a professional editor go through your book for both grammar and story elements. It doesn't take many typos in a book to turn a reader off of you forever.
As a reader, I have had to adopt a personal policy to never again read an indie book unless I'm certain it was professionally edited. Professional editing doesn't guarantee a great book, but a lack of it does guarantee a terrible book.
As for traditional publishing, you also have to offer them a professional-level product. You need to follow their submission guidelines exactly, down to the font and margins specified. Those hoops are there to weed out those who won't jump through and follow instructions. I know a lot of folks involved with small and medium press and they'll all tell you how happily they'll trash submissions from authors who clearly haven't read the guidelines.
All of this comes down to treating the venture as a profession, not a hobby. If you want to write for kicks that's great, but if you want to sell be sure to act like a pro, not an amateur.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
A. I'm trying to create a movement of feminist romance: not polemics, but rather love stories that don't offend modern feminist values. Not just supposedly "strong" female characters, either, but solid stories with female characters who are realistic and three-dimensional within their worlds. I really want to see more of that as a reader. I'd love
recommendations so I can be amongst the readers helping to spur demand for this as a genre, and I'd like to find non-spammy ways to connect with other like-minded folks to offer my writing to them.
Q. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book/work that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us.
Jason took Trish’s hand so he would not lose track of her as they ran out of the building. Anna rushed out the back door ahead of them, but as they exited, Jason stopped fast and Trish crashed into him.
Anna was already in the rear parking lot, which was now covered with thick, swirling, rapidly growing cables of grass and creeping ground cover. She had resumed her pose from the elevator, turning slowly around with her face
turned up to the sky. Another dramatic change occurred: her skin took on a healthy colour, as if she were instantly soaking up the sunshine.
“Oh my god,” Trish said, pointing to the writhing tendrils of green climbing up the building’s walls. The sea of growth extended to the tree lines of the property on all sides, and possibly beyond.
Anna turned to them again as she stood amongst her handiwork, arms still outstretched. “If only Dr. Steele was here, what a gift I’d have for her!” she intoned, the malicious grin returning. “Shall I show them all what it’s like to suffer and beg for death?”
“No!” Jason cried, leaping off the little landing and running toward Anna. But as fast as he was, he didn’t get to her before she crouched to touch the ground. The green beneath him rose and encircled his legs, making him stumble forward, just out of reach of her.
“Oh god!” Trish cried again, gripping the doorframe as the entire building lurched. Screams echoed from within.
Anna closed her eyes and the growth increased, wrapping the building entirely, making it groan and causing several windows to shatter out of their frames. Her smile shifted from malice to ecstasy.
Jason tried to step out of the entanglement, but it grew faster than he could overcome even with his unnatural strength. “Please, Anna, don’t!” he shouted above the uncanny creaks and hisses of plant growth all around them.
“Why shouldn’t I have my vengeance?” Anna called out. “Those who harm others have no right to mercy!” Her eyes flew open, and she grimaced as she thrust her hands forward. A sickening cracking sound erupted from the center of the building.
Then, silence: not even the sound of wind or a bird. The growth had stopped. Every opening into the building was so stuffed with vegetation that any sounds inside were contained.
Jason pulled his legs free but stayed where he was. Anna stood with arms limp by her sides, regarding her handiwork.
“Because I am not what they think I am,” she said softly. “That is why.”
Thank you for the great interview Kimberly. It has been a pleasure to interview you.
Poetry Sans Frontieres - Beyond the Barricades.