Q&A with Kim Despins and W*n a Book

Today, please join me in welcoming author Kim Despins to Preternatura.  Kim’s first novel, The Keeper, was published in May.

Kim Despins lives and plays in Colorado. Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines including Shocklines: Fresh Voices in Terror(forthcoming from Cemetery Dance) and On Spec magazine. She collaborated with her writing group Snutch to create Tales from the Yellow Rose Diner and Fill Station, a well-received and unique collection of stories that explore some of the ugliest moments in the lives of the diner’s patrons. You can learn more about Kim by visiting here on Facebook or by visiting her on blogspot. 

ABOUT THE KEEPER:  The town of Anton has kept the secret of Aksonas farm for generations. Townspeople whisper and worry their children will be chosen and cursed to live an unnatural life in a makeshift family of wolves. When the moon rises, the men in Olivia’s family become wolves and prowl the countryside to protect their farm from predators. When Olivia stumbles upon the body of the church caretaker on their land, she’s forced to face the possibility that one of her family may have gone rogue. When she turns to the Sheriff for help in solving the murder, her family turns on her, forcing her to face the townspeople and the ghosts of her past alone. To make matters worse, a fire and brimstone preacher has decided to rid Anton of the ancient curse once and for all, no matter the cost.

And now, let’s hear from Kim…

Give us the “elevator pitch” for your book.
For the first time in generations a human caretaker is faced with the choice to abandon her werewolf charges when one is accused of murdering the church groundskeeper. Olivia longs to escape, but the curse of an ancient god binds her to watch over the werewolves. During the day as men, they raise livestock and crops. In the moonlight as wolves, they protect the livestock from predators. Olivia performs the duties of wife and mother as she cares for the household and helps new members adjust to the change. As the town threatens to expose the family’s long-held secret, Olivia can attempt to escape the curse or stay and save the only family she’s ever known.
Describe your favorite scene from the new book–and why is it your favorite?
In the Prologue when Radinka and the men meet Leshii for the first time. I enjoyed writing that little imp and the jokes that he so loved. “Why did cavemen drag their women by the hair?” I’ve had that joke kicking around my head for years. Nice to finally put it to good use.
What was the hardest scene to write?
Chapter 1. Not the scene so much as deciding which scene to go first. A much earlier draft had the story starting with Ingrid disrupting Brian’s football game. But that was never the right scene to begin. Beginnings are so important. No second chance at a first impression. Maybe I put too much importance on the beginning, but I really languished over which scene to start the book. I’m still happy with my decision. 
What’s on your nightstand or top of your TBR pile?
Right now, it’s Feast of Crows (George R. R. Martin). I saw the first season of Game of Thrones and knew I needed to read the books. Now I read the book, watch the season, read the next book, wait impatiently.
Also in the pile is In the Woods (Tana French). It was an impulse buy at the bookstore. The cover copy pulled me in and I bought it. 
Last one in the nightstand pile is Fading Light. It’s an anthology from Angelic Knight Press. I’ve never been able to read an anthology straight through, so I read a few stories between novels. Fading Light is apocalyptic, the coming of monsters. Some really great stories here.
There are more on my desk, but that’s the second TBR pile. It’ll move to the nightstand in time.
Favorite book when you were a child.
I have a pristine set of Walt Disney books on my shelf. My grandparents sent me a subscription when I was 6, and I’d get a couple books every month. I loved those books, but I never wrote in them or damaged them. Just read them. Even as a kid, I understood the vicious crime in dog-earing a page. The Aristocats was my favorite. When I was old enough to bike to the library by myself, I started on the shelf of King books and never looked back.
Book you’ve faked reading (Moby Dick is leading the votes on this question!)
Naked Lunch(William S. Burroughs). It was assigned in my Beats and Hippies Literature class in college. Great class, but I absolutely could not read Naked Lunch. It made no sense to me. So I rented the movie. Oh yes, there’s a movie. It’s no better. When the typewriter turned into a bug, I turned it off. I know, it’s about drug use. I just didn’t understand what was happening well enough to care. I don’t remember if I passed the test on that one or not. Every now and then I consider giving it another try, but then I think of that typewriter/bug thing and all it ever says to me is “Don’t”!
Book you’re an evangelist for:
Darling (Brad C. Hodson). I’ve suggested this debut novel to several people now. It took me a few months to pick it up. I’m not keen on the cover. That’s silly because I generally don’t over-think the cover. I picked it up a few times, thought the bagged corpse on the cover didn’t look human and put it back down. Dumb, I know. I finally opened it and had a really hard time closing it. Brad is really good at not showing all his cards at once. He doled out details about the characters little by little – without being stingy – and kept me engaged in the story. Right up to the end. Darlingwas one of those books I finish and feel a little disappointed that it doesn’t go on. I wasn’t ready for it to be over.
Book that changed your life:
When I was 10, my dad made me read The Stand. I totally fell in love with Nick and Kojak (always wanted a dog as a kid). I hated and pitied Harold. That book left me with such a complex twist of emotions that I’d never experienced from fiction before (I was 10!). Twenty pages from the end, my dad took the book away to tease me. When I finally got it back (off the roof), I locked myself in the bathroom to finish it. That was the day I stopped wanting to be Carl Sagan and started wanting to be Stephen King. Carl Sagan is still super cool, but King has the better job in my opinion.
Favorite line from a book:
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” I’m a hopeless King fan and not afraid to admit it. The dude has talent. That line pulled me in faster than anything.
Of course, there’s this first line, another favorite. “Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison.” Loved, loved, loved Damned by Chuck Palahniuk. Madison’s take on hell and death was priceless.
I love a powerful first line. They’re the first impression to a story and so very important. They’re also the most difficult thing to write.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Talisman. Wolf really stole my heart. Even reading the book again doesn’t quite bring him back for me again because I know what’s in store for him.
Favorite book about books or writing:
To Each Their Darkness(Gary Braunbeck). This guy knows how to tell a story. Even better, he knows how to pick one apart. In To Each Their Darkness, Braunbeck picks apart some of his own work. In my favorite section, he talks about his story “Union Dues” and his difficulty getting rid of a character who really did have to go. He weaves in writing with stories about his life and kept me reading the whole way. One hell of a writer and one hell of a nice guy too.
You thought I was going to say On Writing, didn’t you?

Thanks, Kim! Yes, I did expect to see On Writing

Leave a comment to be entered for your chance to win a copy of The Keeper. What was your favorite book as a child? I was a huge fan of The Secret Garden

18 thoughts on “Q&A with Kim Despins and W*n a Book

  1. One favorite book? Probably any of the Heinlein “juveniles”, The Rolling Stones, Starman Jones, The Star Beast…
    On an aside, Chuck Palahniuk was in Tulsa last night,doing an Adult Sleepover, along with Chelsea Cain. Wasn’t able to attend, darn it!

  2. I was in such an Ann McCaffery fan. I devoured all her books over and over after reading the Harper Hall Trilogy when I was 12 🙂 Congrats on the new release!

  3. Oh man…I can’t believe MOBY DICK is the lead in the “faked reading” category. That’s one I actually liked, although I do admit the whole whaling explanation could’ve been cut down a bit.

    As a very small child, I loved Cookie Monster & the Cookie Tree. As a slightly older child, it was One Hundred and One Dalmations. Middle school: Robin McKinley’s Beauty and Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (I got my own copy of the set at 12 years old). 😀

  4. My favorite book as a child was A Wrinkle in Time.
    The Keeper sounds great and I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing it and the great interview. evamillien at gmail dot com

  5. I loved the stand too! I read that when I was like 8 and can still reread that to this day! 🙂 I dont really know what one was my favorite. I’ve always loved The Lorax so maybe that one or The Hobbit. I reread that one about every 2 weeks,but I started reading adult books when I was about 6. I was just too bored with childrens. I was a big Stephen King and Dean Koontz fan. Still am.

  6. Oh…I had sooo many favorite books. But my all time favorite, that I had for many, many years, until I lost it in a flood, was The Pokey Little Puppy. My Grandparents gave it to me back in 1965. I had it until 2011. I had thought about replacing it, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

    I also loved The Secret Garden, Little Women, and of course umpteen Disney books.


  7. OMG! I was a huge fan of The Secret Garden too… AND I loved the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series too. I would devour anything about Greek mythology and dinosaurs too. I remember our public library would call us when they got something in as I’d read everything they had. :-))) Thanks for the giveaway! This book sounds really good!

  8. Depends on age! Pre-age-10, Narnia was my favorite. In middle school, it was His Dark Materials (the first books I purchased on my own!) and then Harry Potter (SS came out when I was 12 so I grew up with the series). Harry Potter stayed my favorite until college!