One night while reading Facebook, I spotted Susan Grant's post about debut author Kimber An. Susan is an Air Force veteran turned NYT's bestselling author. So I invited Kimber An to take a quick trip across the Pacific from her home in Alaska to join just here in Hawaii.
From her website, http://www.kimberan.com/,
Kimber An never had enough books when she was a kid and the ones she had didn’t turn out the way she wanted. And so she started writing her own. She also loved babies a lot, but didn’t know how to talk to boys. Instead, she became a nanny and took care of other people’s babies. Finally, she moved to Alaska where she met a boy who understood getting whacked in the head with a wadded up piece of paper meant true love. She married him and now she reads books to her own babies, and is living happily ever after.
Kim: can you give us a glimpse into the life at the English Nanny and Governess School?
Kimber: There were less than ten students in my class, mostly recent high school grads, a couple mid-twentysomethings (including me,) and a retired lady. We came from all over, but we were all a bunch of kids having fun doing what we loved together. We attended classes four days a week. These classes were taught by professors from Case Western University. On Fridays, we had an internship, helping a mother of a newborn and toddler. We went on some awesome field trips, like to a children’s science museum. I actually taught one class, basic sewing.
Kim: What did you learn at the school and on-the-job that you could apply to writing?
Kimber: Children are the most basic and most beautiful examples of humanity you can find. They’re born with a passion to learn and one only needs nurture that passion. If a child has no one to nurture that passion, sadly, it often vanishes as he or she passes through adolescence into adulthood. *This is the fault of the adult,* not the child. The burden is on us to make that connection. As a book reviewer, I noticed that all the best Young Adult and Middle Grade authors, like J.K. Rowling, had a thorough understanding of child and adolescent development and they wrote in a way which addressed or even filled an emotional need of whatever stage their readers were in. It’s more than merely entertaining the reader. A huge part of it is *engaging* the reader. I’ve tried to follow that example in applying what I’ve learned as a nanny. In Sugar Rush, Ophelia is striving to achieve the freedom to live, a common adolescent theme. I know it was a big one for me.
Kim: What took you to Alaska? How did you transition to it?
Kimber: Actually, I moved to Alaska to find a husband! As a nanny, you can just imagine how important it was for me to find a man who would be a great dad. It was Item #1 on my list of must-haves, ahead of Tall and Blond. His becoming a pilot was a nice bonus. I never got over Top Gun. You see, the men outnumber the women up here. So, I moved up, walked into the biggest church into town, and just took my pick. There were about thirty guys and only one other girl, and she was already engaged! I knew when my future husband said he helped raise his little sister that he was the man for me.
I’d always lived in a Northern climate, so I transitioned easily. Winters are longer here, but no big deal there. I love snow. The only hard part is the darkness. We only have a few hours of sunlight in the middle of the winter and it can be depressing.
Kim: Given Alaska's remoteness, what resources did you use to get published?
Kimber: The Internet. Oh, sure, I attended the University of Alaska in between having babies, but that was a couple of babies ago. Basically, all I have time for nowadays is writing books and raising children. So, it’s half about the remoteness (there are some great resources and wonderful authors up here) and half about the time factor. I found my mentors, my critique partners, and established my web presence all through the Internet. It really is Alaska’s window to the world.
Kim: You wrote on your website, "I wrote four novels during the four years I pursued publication. Looking back, I believe my stories are defined by a teenage heroine being faced with extraordinary circumstances which compel her to dig down deep, figure out what her strengths are, and become confident in using them."
How much of your own experience or those under your care influenced your story?
Kimber: Oh, everything. I struggled as a teen. I never ran into alien/human hybrids trying to pass themselves off as vampires, but I had my own problems. And I had a lot less help. I knew one strong family when I was a teenager and they fostered in me a belief that I could live happily ever after. That enabled me to survive and thrive as an adult. When I see my husband playing with our children, it’s profoundly healing.
Kim: You wrote a blog during your road to publication, http://starcaptainsdaughter.blogspot.com/.
How did you balance blogging, writing the book, seeking a publisher, and raising four children?
Kimber: Scheduling. If you go to the blog, click on scheduling in the directory and it will take you to all the posts. I learned routine as a nanny, but after I became a mother I had to learn more and more each time I had a child. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have any time to myself at all. And then I’d get depressed and not be the kind of mother I need to be for my children. I need both books and babies to be happy.
Kim: The blog is very cute and you have had many international visitors! How did you create and promote the blog?
Kimber: I just created a basic Blogger blog. I really didn’t do a whole lot to promote it. I think most visitors were drawn by my stories about Alaska. Someone advised me to read like crazy as part of my journey to publication, so I started reviewing books. Authors and readers alike started noticing. Book reviewing took over, so I created a new blog just for that. Cross-blogging and interviewing and all that built up the audience, I think.
Kim: You now have a new blog, http://enduringromance.blogspot.com/.
Tell us about it's special features.
Kimber: Actually, that blog was created just a few months after Star Captains’ Daughter. Enduring Romance has always been a book review blog. Once it got too much for me, I recruited fellow reviewers. Now, Rebecca, Nayuleska, and Mfitz do all the reviewing, as I don’t have time.
Kim: And Ophelia Dawson from Sugar Rush has her own blog, http://opheliadawsonchronicles.blogspot.com/
Kimber: Yes, I’ve noticed, as a book reviewer, that young readers like to have interactive encyclopedias for their favorite stories. Just Google ‘Harry Potter’ if you want to see what I mean.
Kim: Tell us about Ophelia, Sugar Rush, and what's next for Kimber An.
Kimber: Right now, I’m working on a rewrite of a Short Story prequel of Sugar Rush. It’s called Crushed Sugar. I didn’t have time to do it justice before Sugar Rush’s release. It’s about how Ophelia got involved with the bad guys, the Newbloods, in the first place instead of with the hero, Adrian. Hopefully, that will go fast, because I really want to get started on the next book after Sugar Rush, which is called Sugar Baby. In that one, Ophelia works through her grief, gains confidence, and rescues the baby of another Sweet Diabe. There are four novels in the series, plus a few short stories. Basically, the Ophelia Dawson Chronicles is a Young Adult Science Fiction Romance, though I have to call it YA Paranormal because that’s the more common label. It puts a scientific spin on old monsters in contemporary Alaska, transforming a victim into a powerful heroine.
Mahalo, Kimber An, for joining us at SOS Aloha! Kimber An's publisher, Decadent Publisinhg, is giving an ebook of Kimber An's debut YA, SUGAR RUSH:
Running and screaming will have to wait. A blood-sucking dead guy may be a vampire to you, but he’s an alien/human hybrid to Ophelia and she really must examine his olfactory nerve under a microscope first.
Ophelia longs to be free, free of Diabetes, free of her ex-boyfriend, free to live. Something transformed Martin and made her his drug. If he has his way, she’ll never achieve the freedom to learn his true nature and origin.
Adrian’s the new guy in school. He faked his identity to get close to Ophelia, knowing the monsters who took his Diabetic sister would try to take her, too. Then, he’d have them. But, he knew better than to get too close.
To enter the ebook giveaway,
1. Contact Kelley at Columbussos@gmail.com to join Operation Holiday Card. It is our goal to ensure that 1000 deployed airmen, marines, sailors, soldiers, and Coast Guardsmen receive a holiday card.
I am promoting Operation Holiday Card through November 12 - if you have signed up, thank you!
2. Leave a comment about Kimber An, YA books, and/or Alaska.
The ebook giveaway is open to everyone (I hear cheers in Canada and Indonesia). Comments will be open through November 2 for the ebook giveaway.
Join us tomorrow as we welcome K.M. Daughters,
http://www.kmdaughters.com/. Actually, K.M. is a collaboration of two sisters - it's a fascinating story that I know you'll enjoy!
Kim in Hawaii
The closest I came to Alaska was on board a C17 that was being refueled by a KC 135 tanker from Eielson AFB. That was an amazing experience!
My in laws have taken an Alaskan cruise and recommend it. Several colleagues have been stationed in Alaska and noted its beauty.
Have you been to Alaska?