Sunday, October 13, 2013

An Interview With Kimberley Graham, Author of Rocking Horse of Tuscumbia

I'm very pleased to introduce to you today, Kimberley Graham, author of Rocking Horse of Tuscumbia, her debut novel.

Kimberley Gardner Graham grew up in Madison, Mississippi. She’s always been fascinated with the art of storytelling, but for most of her life she studied the visual arts, not the literary arts.
    Before earning her BFA in Graphic Design and Photography from Memphis College of Art, Kimberley studied design at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and photography at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon.
    She now lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband and three wonderful children. She believes that through writing, she’s able to use the creative gifts God’s given her to tell stories that bring glory and honor to the Lord.

Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from a lot of places—conversations with friends, old books, my childhood memories. I usually hold on to them for a while and allow my memory to sort through what I might use in order to touch a reader. For example, just this morning I turned on the radio while I was getting dressed and was immediately taken back to a childhood memory of my father. Dad always got ready for work while the radio played next to the sink in his bathroom. People don’t do that much now because technology allows us to skip 

conversational radio shows (thank you, Pandora) and just listen to selected music instead. I know the character I’m currently writing will be an early morning radio listener. Those are the types of little things you can add to a character’s profile that will magnify a reader’s ability to identify with them. You can show the reader a lot by simply deciding if the character turns the knob to adjust the volume or presses a button. Does the radio automatically turn on at the same time every morning? Is the radio always next to the sink in the bathroom, or does he pull it out every morning and put it up again before leaving for work?

Do you write full-time or part-time?
Full-time. All day. Every day. But that doesn’t mean that I’m always sitting in front of my computer while plowing through 7,000 words a day. My life simply doesn’t allow that type of work. I have three wonderful kids with very busy schedules, but I’m always thinking. I’m lways taking notes in my head and writing down ideas in my journal.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
No. Never. I know myself well enough to be certain that setting numbered goals for my writing will make me both crazy and a producer of poor work. Instead, I try to live every day for the glory of the One who gave me the ability to learn, grow, write, raise kids, make beds, laugh, argue, and sit quietly with my husband. I think writers, even ones who write Christian fiction like me, often confuse their “calling” with their area of giftedness. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not “called” by God to be a writer. I’m called by God to glorify Him. He simply gives me the ability to write as a means of doing that—just like He gives me the ability to hold my children and sing to them as a way of pointing them to Him.

Why do you think your readers are going to enjoy your book?
 My hope is that readers will see a little of themselves in every character, and that they’ll be challenged by the ugly parts and encouraged by the good.

How did you come up with the title?
It was once common for proper young ladies to be introduced by their name and their hometown. For example, “Mr. Johnson, if you don’t mind, I’d like to introduce you to Miss Helen May of Memphis.” So, I liked the idea of titling the book in a similar way, but I chose to exchange Amanda’s name with the object/internal struggle she battles throughout the book.

Who designed the cover?
I designed the cover. That was the easiest and most exciting part of the whole process for me, because I majored in graphic design and photography in college. I actually created two covers and let my Facebook friends vote for which one they liked the best. That was a ton a fun, and a HUGE help.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
I love Mama. I know a lot of people can’t stand her, but I totally get her struggles. And, no, she’s nothing like my mother.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I’d like to meet my great grandmother, Lillian Yates Gardner. I feel like I know her even though she passed away before I was born. My grandparents were wonderful about preserving several of her letters and books before passing them down to me. My favorite is her 1909 University of Mississippi annual where she’s listed as one of only ten girls in a freshmen class of about one hundred students. My other favorites include her 1906 copy of King Lear, and a well-worn copy of The Story of Crisco; 615 Tested Recipes and a Calendar of Dinners by Marion Harris Neil—because you never know when you might need a good recipe for milk bread.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?
This answer has remained the same for many years and was told to me by my high school art teacher.  “Creativity is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.” -  Bob Moawad

What is your favorite book and why?
My favorite book, the one I return to over and over again, is The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. That novel was the one that forced me to stop just writing in my head, and instead start putting actual words on the page. I closed that book knowing the type of story I wanted to tell.

Book Links

Thank you so much for joining me today on my blog Kimberley. We've enjoyed getting to know you a little bit better, and finding out more about your book.

If you have any questions for Kimberley, please post them in the comments and I will post her responses to them.

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