I have been gushing about an emotional book that I recently read. And by gushing, I mean that figuratively and quite literally! This book wrung be dry, and left me feeling like I’d survived a tsunami. The book: Bright Side by Kim Holden. Since this book had such an intense, insane impact on me, I knew that I HAD to know this author. I mean, who is this woman who created this piece of art that affected me so deeply? Well, my stalker skills are pretty advanced, so I tracked her down and made her do this interview. Okay, I asked nicely, but if she’d said ‘no’, then there definitely would’ve been some coercion involved! Well, here she is; I love her, and I know you will too:
H: Tell us a little about yourself: Who are you? Where are you from? What do you like? What do you do?
K: I’m just Kim. ☺ I’m a Denver, Colorado native. Love the Mile-High city! I’ve been with my high school sweetheart (and the coolest dude around) for almost 25 years (dated 5 years, married 20). He’s a saint. Seriously. We have a 10-year-old son, Phoenix (he’s the coolest little dude around). My pay-the-mortgage-and-put-food-on-the-table gig is accounting. My passion and fill-my-soul-with-goodness gig is writing. I’m an avid reader and a MASSIVE fan of music. If it’s alt rock, I’m all over it! I listen to music pretty much every minute of every day. Can’t function without it.
H: When did you start writing? Why?
K: I started writing in 2009. One day I woke up and thought, “What the hell are you doing? You’re 36 years old. You better get started on this dream pronto. Stop wasting time.” So, I did. I started writing. That book, All of It, wasn’t self-published until December 2013. It was a LONG process. I had no freaking idea what I was doing. (Who am I kidding? I still don’t.) ☺ But, I made it through, made a lot of mistakes, and learned a lot along the way.
H: What would you say your writing style is like? Are there any authors that may have influenced your style?
K: I’m not technically sound, that’s for sure. I don’t have a degree. (Ask my editor, I can’t place a damn comma correctly to save my life.) I just write from the heart. I don’t try to emulate anyone’s writing style. Their writing is theirs. It’s already been done. I do love humor in good writing though. I’m a sucker for sarcasm. (What can I say? Sarcasm is WHO I AM.) ☺
H: What do you read for fun?
K: I read a lot of YA and NA. My favorite book of all-time is The Catcher in the Rye. My favorite author is Rainbow Rowell. She’s a freaking goddess. So funny!
H: Let’s talk about Bright Side for a bit. I’d like to begin with the cover, since it’s our first impression. Why did you choose this cover?
K: Ah, the cover. My husband designed it. (Did I mention yet how much I love him?) I knew I didn’t want models on the cover. Though lovely, a half-naked shot doesn’t apply to this story. (Not knocking a pair of great abs … AT ALL. They sell books. Those authors are geniuses. I’m an idiot.) Our first go at the cover was shattered glass. I shared it with family and friends on my personal Facebook page. Nobody, me included, was really feeling it. I saw a book cover walking through Barnes & Noble one day. It was black and red, simple. I love minimalism. I showed it to my husband and told him I thought the cover should just be solid orange (because it’s Kate’s favorite color) and he was on board. He came up with the text layout and we picked out the fonts together. The rest is history. I love it. So. Hard.
H: Why did you write this book?
K: I wrote my first book as a love letter to my husband and family. My second book, Bright Side, was a story just for me. I wanted to write about the most positive (believably positive) and real woman I possibly could.
H: What inspired this story?
K: The older I get the more selective I am about the people I surround myself with. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE people, but there are certain people you meet that inspire you. There’s something special about them. They make you want to be a better person. Those people in my life, the women in particular, inspired Kate.
H: So Bright Side is now one of my favorite heroines? What does she mean to you? Are there any similarities between you and her?
K: Thank you! Kate means everything to me. She’s a total badass. She’s the person I want to be when I grow up. As far as similarities: we both LOVE music (I don’t play or sing though), we both frighten people with our driving, we’ll both love you … to death, we’re both sarcastic (though she’s much funnier than I am), we’ll both defend people or ideas that are important to us (I’m a honey badger if you mess with someone I care about), we both play Spanglish charades, and we both love old Elvis (because he COULD sing his ass off). ☺
H: Music is intricately wound into the story of Bright Side, in fact, it’s almost a separate character; is music such an important part of your life as well? Why was it important for you to include it in the story?
K: Like I mentioned before, I listen to music every minute of every day. It’s a driving force in my life. I love the way it makes me … FEEL. There’s nothing quite like seeing a band you’re in love with play live. I love concerts! To be in the company of like-minded music lovers, have a few cocktails, dance and sing along to every word – it doesn’t get any better than that. I included music in Bright Side because it just made sense. I think a little bit of every author goes into the characters they create. I took a chance including alt rock specifically, because maybe every reader doesn’t relate, which is cool, everyone has their own taste. But I thought if I’m going to put my heart and soul into this book, I’m not going to do it half-assed. I’m gonna go for it. The bands and musicians in the book (with the exception of fictional Rook and Reign to Envy) are real. They’re some of my favorites. ☺
H: The characters in this story are very diverse, which I love! Do you choose to create these types of characters, or is it more of an organic process for you?
K: Writing is pretty organic. Like I said before, I’m not really even qualified to be writing books, so believe me when I tell you there’s no real plan. But, I think characters should be distinct. They should have personality. No one wants to read a book with ten of the same character. I tried to put together a diverse group because that’s life. Everyone’s different. That’s what makes them so beautiful. I’m an advocate for individuality – be who you are and be PROUD of it.
H: Boys, boys, boys! Bright Side has two male leads, both of them are very loveable, and each has a special relationship with our heroine. The story isn’t a love triangle, per se, but I’m sure readers are drawn to one character more than the other. Are you drawn to one more than the other?
K: Ha! That’s a running joke with my best friend, Debbie. She’s SO Team Keller. She beta read for me from the very beginning. She loves Keller. Passionately. Rabidly. When someone reads Bright Side, it’s the first question she asks them, “Team Keller or Team Gus?” I think she bases future friendship with them on their answer. ☺ Me? I love them both. For different reasons. When I started writing Bright Side, my focus was more on Keller because I knew he would be the love interest. Gus was supposed to be more of a supporting character. But here’s the thing about Gus – you can’t contain the dude. He’s larger than life.
H: What else are you working on?
K: When I finished writing Bright Side I had this nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away. I kept thinking about Gus. I missed him. So I started writing his story. It picks up exactly where Bright Side leaves off with him. Should be out in early 2015.
H: Where do your ideas come from?
K: That’s a potentially loaded and scary question. You sure you want to ask that? No one wants to see what runs through this mind. ☺ I don’t really know though. Life, I guess. Experiences I’ve had. Even inconsequential experiences make for a great story. I try to pay attention to what’s going on around me. Small things inspire me. I’m pretty damn simple. I’ve got LOADS of sticky notes and scraps of paper with words and ideas and songs jotted on them in my purse, my laptop bag, and my car. Did I mention my memory is crap? Yeah, when something comes to me I jot it down or it’s lost. ☺
H: What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?
K: I would kill for a salted caramel shake. Seriously. Okay, maybe not kill. Maim? 😉
Interview Cont’d…View Spoiler »SPOILERS…
H: So the ending of Bright Side was, well, epic. I was a mess for days afterward. I’m still a mess! Some people ask if this story ends with a happy ending, and it’s a tough question to answer for me. Do you think it ended happily?
K: I do. Does my heart ache for everyone? Hell yeah, I love these characters. But here’s the thing, it’s real life stuff. That’s why it hurts so freaking much. I’ve lost many people I love to cancer. Many. I f*cking hate cancer. When I sat down with my editor after she did the initial read through of Bright Side, she asked me, “What do you want people to get out of this book?” My answer was the final line of the book, “You are brave.” I want people to feel brave, even in the worst of times. It’s hard as hell, but I admire people so much that can do it.
H: We know that you’re working on Gus’ story next, but what about Keller? Does he get another shot at love? I loved him so much, and even though it’s tough for me to imagine him falling for anyone else, he needs a happy ending. That boy has been through too much!
K: Sweet Keller. He definitely deserves a happily ever after. He and Stella will be in Gus’s story. I don’t have it in me to write another agonizing ending. It will be happy, for everyone. I promise. « Hide Spoiler