Today Suzette and I are thrilled to post an interview with a dear friend and fellow writer. Kimberly Griffiths Little's book The Healing Spell was just released. I had the pleasure of reading this book and must say Kimberly has a magical way with words. She is a prose ninja... reading her book was like reading a piece of art. Seriously.
Here's a bit more about the book and author.
1) How long have you been writing?
I started writing very bad stories when I was about nine or ten years old. I was such an obsessive reading maniac and it didn’t take long before I knew I wanted to create that same kind of magic that books were to me.
As an adult, I took two courses—a short story course and a book writing course—through the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut and my first sold short story was Assignment #6, a fictionalized account of a very strange episode that happened to Mozart before he died. I sold a couple dozen magazine stories, but I really wanted to publish novels for kids because they were such an enormous influence on my life.
2) What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?
Slow learner warning!
1. Revising and getting the words right is MAJOR brain work. Harder than studying for a Biology Final. I revise dozens of times and often for years.
2. Rejections are pretty tough, too, especially when you’ve worked so hard or when you know you’re getting closer to that publication level and yet there might be years of work still ahead of you as you perfect your story structure skills and prose on a sentence by sentence level.
3. Staying motivated. See #2!
3) What inspired THE HEALING SPELL?
Four words: A Family Road Trip. About twelve years ago, my family and I drove the corridor of Highway 10 through the southern states, stopping in Louisiana and New Orleans for several days to explore. We met with a Cajun tour guide whose enthusiasm and knowledge and fascinating stories immediately captivated me. We also took a boat into the bayous and swamps with another guide who showed us where he lived along the banks and hunted and fished and even took us to his crawfish traps. He even fed chicken to the alligators that swam up to our boat to say hello. Well, maybe they were just hungry!
4) Are any of the characters like you? Like anyone else?
Livie Mouton, my main character, is probably similar to me when I was eleven-years-old and full of angst over everything that happened in my life. Actually, I’m STILL like that! Just like Livie in The Healing Spell, we all have our guilt and secrets and have to figure out how to fix the things we’ve done wrong - and seek forgiveness and redemption.
5) Your book takes place in the Louisiana bayou country, yet you're from the south-west. How did you manage to capture the Cajun magic?
I was born and raised in San Francisco and the Bay Area so I’m actually a California girl. I’ve lived in Utah and Oklahoma as well, and have now been in a small town along the banks of the Rio Grande for twenty years. Amazingly enough, the Rio Grande is similar in some ways to the Louisiana bayous, for example, the brown, muddy water, crawfish in the irrigation ditches, the towering cottonwood trees which remind me of the bayou cypress groves.
Four more words: I fell in love with Louisiana. Hard. I couldn’t stop thinking about my experiences in Louisiana and the magic I felt there and the people of the bayous. I started reading dozens of books—everything I could get my hands on—gobbling it all up.
I returned again and again, staying in a cabin on the bayou, eating crawfish and dirty rice—yes, an actual dish!—dancing to live Cajun bands, visiting all the museums, watching documentaries. Last year I did a two week road trip with a friend from the South and we met with seven different traiteurs in their homes to hear about their experiences and practices as a traiteur (a Cajun religious folk healer tradition that goes back three hundred years).
Unusual settings have always been a springboard for my work.
6) You talk a lot about Cajun food. Have you tasted everything you wrote about?
Yep! I’ve eaten in people’s homes as well as small, local restaurants and I have my own Cajun Cookbook that I bought in New Iberia at Books on the Teche. Boiled shrimps and cold potatoes, crawfish etoufee, fried catfish, gumbo, dirty rice, pralines, beignets – it’s all really yummy!
7) What can you share about any future projects?
I’m working on a companion book to The Healing Spell, which is already under contract with Scholastic and will be published late 2011 or 2012 – if I can get it written this summer! Miz Mirage Allemond, the traiteur that Livie meets in the story, is such an intriguing character and only gets one real chapter. I wanted to know more about her so the new novel is from the viewpoint of Miz Mirage’s eleven-year-old daughter, Shelby Jayne. Plus it has a ghost! And secrets!
I also write YA and I’ve got a contract with Scholastic for my first YA Fall 2011 (I hope!) called SECRET RITES OF THE GODDESS. It’s about the roots of belly dance in the Middle East and the sexual rites of the goddess temples of Ashtoreth in 1700 BC. Delicious, sexy, romantic, and dangerous. There are tribal raids and camels and evil sheiks and handsome strangers in the deserts of Arabia.
Thank you so much for having me, Bethany and Suzette! This has been a blast!
There’s a HUGE party happening at Kimberley’s blog, too. If you want a chance to win her Awesome Prize Package, go here to visit, eat a beignet, and leave a comment!
Don’t forget to check out The Healing Spell on Amazon or your favorite bookstore.
Enjoy Kimberley’s new Southern-styled website and don’t forget to download the Teacher’s Guide and the brand new Mother/Daughter Book Club Guide, with discussion questions, activities for moms and girls and a fun Louisiana dessert!