Friday, 22 November 2013

Friday Feature: Author Interview with Kristen Zimmer

As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, I absolutely loved Kristen Zimmer's wonderful NA romance, The Gravity Between Us. This story of two childhood friends, one now a Hollywood star, finding out they had deeper feelings for each other than just friendship, is one of the best LGBT books I've ever read. The chance to interview her was awesome!

1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
Honestly? A teenage version of me. That was a tough time in my life, and I looked toward books to help me through it. But being a bit different from my peers sometimes made it difficult to find characters I could identify with, so I set out to write a novel that my teenage self would have really wanted to read. I think 17 year old Kristen would’ve enjoyed Gravity.

2. I love books with dual narratives, so The Gravity Between Us immediately sucked me in with Payton and Kendall’s wonderful voices. Did you ever consider writing it from one point of view, or did you always plan to use both as narrators?
From its inception, I knew this novel was going to switch perspectives between the two protagonists. It was important to me to illustrate that even though you’ve been close with someone for years and feel like you know that person as well as you know yourself, they inevitably have secrets – things that they’re afraid to share. Both Kendall and Payton have big, complex personalities, and when they each begin to realize that their feelings for the other are changing, it’s a very personal experience. Essentially, it’s two sides of the same story.

3. On that subject, which of the two narrators do you think is more like you, and was one easier to write for than the other?
Payton is without a doubt more like me. She’s a musician, an athlete, ambitious, but constantly questioning the decisions she makes… Yeah, I definitely put a lot of myself into Payton. That being said, Kendall was actually the easier of the two to write. I think maybe that’s because she is quite different from me, so I basically got to create her completely from scratch. I tried to stay away from drawing on personal experience while shaping her, and that was fun.

4. I hadn’t actually heard of Bookouture before reading The Gravity Between Us, although I’m keen to read more of their books now! What made you decide to go with a relatively new publisher?
I really liked their business model, their marketing strategy: the plans they had laid out for me as an author were very cohesive to the plans I had for myself. Plus, I’d worked as an editor for a startup publishing company in the past, and I know new companies are willing to take risks with the books they acquire because they want to stand out and build a reputation for themselves. Frankly, I’d make the same decision again. I only have great things to say about Oliver Rhodes. He was so supportive of every creative decision I made, threw out ideas when I was stuck, talked me out of the panic I think all debut authors have when it comes to rewrites, and paired me with brilliantly insightful editors. Overall, it was a wonderful experience.

5. I somehow forgot to mention this in my review, but one of the reasons I first picked up The Gravity Between Us was the absolutely stunning cover. Did you have any input into it, and did it look as you’d have imagined it to?
I did have input into it, yes. Bookouture came to me with three cover designs, all of which were beautiful in different ways. We had a slight dilemma on our hands as to which we’d choose, so we enlisted a handful of bloggers to share their thoughts with us. The results were too close to call, believe it or not! In the end, I sort of just threw my hands up and said to my publisher, “Oh, whichever you go with, I’ll be happy!” But I definitely think they made the right choice. It’s everything I imagined and more.

6. How is being a published author? Has the month or so since The Gravity Between Us was released lived up to your expectations?
You know, at first I was really nervous about it. Will it sell? Will it get good reviews? And things of that nature. I mean, everyone wants people to like what they’ve put out into the world, right? So far I’ve gotten a lot of lovely feedback, and it’s doing rather well. At the end of the day, being a published author is a dream come true for me. The fact that people like the book is a bonus!

7. Summer Ronso created a music video to go with the novel. How did that come about – was it your idea, or did she approach you?
Shortly after I finished the first draft, I sent it off to Summer, who had graciously agreed to act as one of my 'beta readers'. We’d been friends for a while at that point, so I trusted that she would give me an honest opinion on the manuscript. A few weeks later, she got back to me and (very excitedly) said, Kristen, this is really good! It should be a movie! From there, she pitched the idea of making a music video based on the book. She is such a talented photographer, and she’s currently studying to become a filmmaker, so I jumped on board right away. I threw some music together for the video and the rest, as they say, is history.

8. I’m always on the lookout for great New Adult fiction as I think it’s a category packed with potential – is there anything you’ve read that you’d recommend to readers while they are waiting for your next book?
Hmm… It’s funny. I usually read and am a huge fan of Sci-Fi and Dystopian fiction, but it seems that we’ve yet to see many Sci-Fi/Dystopian titles that fit into the New Adult category. I think Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro could be classified as New Adult. I can tell you it was an enjoyable read. Also, I liked Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.

9. Who has been the biggest influence on your career as a writer so far?
Lots of writers name other writers as their biggest influences, and while there are so many authors who inspire me, truthfully my biggest influence as a writer and as a person is my mother. Not only did she teach me how to tell a great story, she’s always been the one person who told me I could achieve anything in the world, as long as I wanted it enough and worked hard enough.

10. What's next for Kristen Zimmer?
I’m currently working on two new books, but you know, I’m a newlywed… and with all the writing I did last year, I think I’m going to shelve them for a little while so we can finally get around to doing that 'honeymoon' thing I’ve heard so much about! No worries though, I’ll definitely have something new for you in 2014.

Fab to talk to you, Kristen - thanks so much for taking part in this interview.

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