Author Interview: Kimberly Derting
Kimberly Derting began her publishing career in the Seattle area by making homemade coloring books, and then going door-to-door to sell them. Unfortunately she was forced to seek her fortunes elsewhere. In 7th grade she chose Journalism as an elective, and she fell in love with writing. She moved on to become copy editor of the high school yearbook, where she enjoyed correcting other people’s writing mistakes. On she went to college where she majored in Biology. She was really good at it, taking classes like Cellular Biology and Calculus. Instead of becoming a doctor (as she originally planned), she went back to writing.
Kim is now the published author of The Body Finder series (with Book 3: The Last Echo coming out April 17, 2012 and Book 4: In Progress) and The Pledge series (with Book 2: In progress). Currently Kim still resides in the Pacific Northwest, but now with her husband and three beautiful (mouthy) children. If you would like to learn more about Kimberly, please check our her blog where she discusses event happenings, mascara options, and how her husband is the sweetest person ever (he really is! Look what he got her for their anniversary!)
Dark and dangerous, The Pledge is filled with secrets, deception, and war. And kissing too. (15 words exactly!)
In the acknowledgements of The Pledge you mention Marie Lucas, and how she inspired the beginnings of your amazing book. Can you give anymore information on what motivated you to write such a gripping story? Also, can you tell us a little bit about the timeline of writing The Pledge?
Unlike The Body Finder, which came to me all at once, the original idea for The Pledge came in pieces…more like a puzzle. The first piece was just a simple question: “What would it be like if someone could understand all languages?” But I definitely wanted the story itself to be bigger than just that component. I spent a lot of time—over a year—thinking about how Charlie’s ability would work, what kind of world she would live in, and creating the monarchies and her friends and family, before I’d ever written a single word.
I talk more about how I got the idea here .
I was really impressed on how you intertwined language and social classes. It made this novel seem more historical than any dystopian novel I have ever read. Can you give anymore insight into how you came up with focusing on the power of language?
Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I’m fascinated by language on so many levels. Not just how it can be used as a weapon—or a divisor—as in The Pledge, but also how it can be used as a tool to bring people together. And people will often use language to judge others and/or make assumptions based on their grammar, idioms, or dialect. Often times, language is one of the first impressions we make on someone else.
I read The Pledge in two separate sittings, and I have to say I was holding my breath through a lot of it. There were so many gripping twists and turns that really kept me on my toes. I loved it! How do you keep track of all the elements that you include in a story? Do you use a storyboard or do you write extensive notes on each character/event?
I don’t usually make many notes during a first draft; mostly I just plow through to make sure I have the plot (and all the major plot points) down. It’s usually during the second draft that I have to make some sort of timeline and start making elaborate notes about the characters so I don’t mix up the details. Because I’m fairly visual, I keep a giant whiteboard in my office to keep track of running details, and it will have notes on it like: “Make the queen meaner” or “Brooklynn’s father is a neglectful fool.” And, of course, I count on my editor to catch any glaring errors I might have made!
In your previous series, The Body Finder, you introduced us to one of my favorite male characters of all time: Jay. Max in The Pledge is starting to trump Jay as far as my fictional boyfriends (But I still adore Jay very much). How did you come up with the character of Max and how were you able to make him so appealing to female fans? Is he based on anyone in particular?
I’m sure in some ways, all of the male characters have traits that I crush after. With Jay, I hadn’t planned on making him such an important character, he was just the best friend Violet was going to start having feelings for. But the more I wrote him, the more I liked him, so his role kept expanding. With Max, I knew what I wanted from him from the start—and who he was going to be. So I was careful in crafting him since he needed to keep his secrets, but he couldn’t be a total jerk either. I mean, I wanted Charlie to like him…just not too easily.
If your fans could take away one emotion, theme, or idea from The Pledge, what would you want it to be?
The Pledge is going to be a series (which I am so excited about). Can you give us any teasers of what will happen next for Charlie and Max? By the way..the cliffhanger at the end of The Pledge is driving me nuts (in a good way)!
There is definitely going to be a lot more Sabara in book two. And Charlie is not very happy about that.
If The Pledge was turned into a film (which I hope happens) who would you cast as Charlie, Max, Angelina, Xander, Brooklynn, The Queen, etc?
I’m afraid to answer because I’m really bad at this game! But, since you asked, I guess I could see one of the Fanning girls (Dakota or Elle) playing Charlie. I’m sure it has to do with their hair…very Charlie-esque, don’t you think? Other than that, I have a hard time picturing who would play the other roles. I’d be an awful casting director.
I’m actually working on the fourth Body Finder book at the same time that I’m revising the second Pledge. Thankfully I really like all of these characters!
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The greatest compliment is easy, it’s when a reader tells me that they normally don’t like to read, but that they couldn’t put my book down. As the mother of a child who wasn’t a reader, I get how tough it is to find something for some kids to connect with. The fact that I can—in some small way—do that, is sort of incredible.
The toughest criticism? I actually had a review that used the word “barfalicious”. On the positive side, one half of that word is “delicious”, right? 🙂 Sometimes I like to use a line from a bad review, when I give school presentations, to show teens the darker side of being an author. The kids always get a kick out of that!
Seriously though, I generally try not to get too caught up in harsh criticisms. I much prefer the constructive ones that come from my agent and editors.
Do you have any preferred writing habits or routines you would like to share (creating a playlist, etc)?
I don’t have any weird quirks if that’s what you’re asking. Unless you count consuming mind-boggling amounts of tea as a quirk. That, and Pinterest.com, which I totally use to save visual images for inspiration. Nothing gets my creative juices flowing like a great picture. And tea.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book, The Pledge?
I’m not really the kind of person to look back and second-guess myself. There’s no point worrying over what should’ve been when it’s too late to change something.
I’ve recently been using Bare Escentuals. I like that it’s very non-clumping, and that the tube has lasted me a couple of months now. (A lot of the bargain ones starting clumping after a couple of weeks!) Of course, I’m always open to suggestions!
What’s a completely random fact about you that most people don’t know? Any fun facts will do!
Some of these are on my website, but I’ll share anyway: I can’t touch my toes (well, I can, but not when I bend over), I hate being barefoot, I love bubblegum (I once had a 20# box of Nerds gumballs delivered to the house), I’m a closet Kardashian junkie (okay, not so closet any more, I guess), Target is my favorite store, and my husband and I have been together for 20 years.
If you were a flower, which one would you be and why?
I think I sort of have to say Violet…you know, because she’s a character in my book (The Body Finder series)!
Thank you so much for doing this interview Kim! We really appreciate your thoughtful answers, and cannot wait for The Last Echo and The Pledge: Book 2 to come out!