Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Interview with Kim Boykin, author of 'Palmetto Moon'

Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.
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About the Book:

June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.

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Q: Thank you for this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing background?

Thanks for having me. I’ve always written stories down. In 1989, I got my first computer and started writing a REALLY BAD romance. While I’m not sure it did much for my process, the computer changed my life. I could finally type as fast as I could think and that was when the stories just started gushing out.

As a stay-at-home-mom, writing became the one thing that was just mine. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job and being pulled in a million different directions, but at the end of the day, writing was something that belonged only to me. I think every woman needs that. So, I wrote novels and raised kids and helped my family chase their dreams. Last year, I got my dream when Berkley Books published my first novel, The Wisdom of Hair. This year, Palmetto Moon. Life is good.

Q: What fact about yourself would really surprise people?  

I always wanted long hair, but my husband, mother, even his mother liked it short. His mother once even did an intervention when I was in that inbetween stage. She asked me to tag along to her hair appointment, but she had made an appointment for me to get my hair cut, and worse yet, PERMED. People who know me would be shocked to know I listened to them for so long. At 56, I may be a little old to have grown my hair way down my back, but I love it and I’m NOT changing it unless I want to make the change.

Q: What scares you the most?

No contest. Losing one of my kids.

Q: What makes you happiest?

Having people read my stories and connecting with those readers at book events and conferences—that and a good tiramisu. Really, any dessert will do.

Q: What are you most proud of in your personal life?

I raised two amaizng kids who are loving, caring adults, and had a blast doing it.

Q: What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?

The writing has never been hard, getting published was challenging until I figured out a better way. But marketing? Trying to get the word out about your book is like standing on a corner of Times Square, whispering to the person across the street, and hoping you’ll be heard.

Q: Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you? 

Do I want to be on the bestseller lists? Yes. But if I never do, if I continue to have folks read my books, I’d be happy. Truth is, if the world almost ended tomorrow and I was sitting around a campfire with no electronics, I would be the one telling stories. Actually, I’d have to take turns with the other authors who would be doing the same.

Q: Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?

Palmetto Moon is set in 1947. It’s the story of Vada Hadley, a Charleston high society runaway bried who escapes the night before her wedding and runs away to a little crossroads community to start a new life. There, she falls for Frank Darling, owner of the Sit Down Diner. While Vada’s powerful father searches for her to make her marry the wrong guy, Vada learns her dear friend Darby from back home is in trouble. Vada will have to confront the life she gave up and decide where her heart truly belongs. 

I wish I had some grand explanation how this book came to be. The truth is, I hear voices. They tell me their stories, and I write them down. I’m kind of like a glorified stenographer, and I had to write fast when Vada started talking. She’s smart and Southern and sassy, and SO full of surprises. When she started telling me her story, I thought she was just a fluffy blonde. Boy, was I wrong.

Q: When you are not writing, how do you relax?

YOGA! Walking, reading. I used to garden, I had over 150 rose bushes, but I don’t have time for them, and the deer are very happy I’m not fighting them anymore.

Q: Please tell us why we should read your book?

I love Vada’s new friendship with Claire, and Vada’s love for Darby. While the love story is central in this book, all of my stories are about women helping women find their happily every after. It’s what we women do, and what I love most about us.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other authors just getting their feet wet?

With all of the publishing options, now is the best time in the history of writers to have their work read by others. My advice is always, WRITE. That means do it and do it regularly; it’s the only way you get better. Get in a critique group. And submit, you don’t, if you never look into self-publishing, you’ll never have your work read, so put yourself out there. Most importantly, and this comes from a woman who sold her first book at 53, NEVER give up.

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