Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Interview with Kim Culbertson!

Instructions for a Broken HeartI recently did an interview with Kim Culbertson about her book Instructions For A Broken Heart. I was really excited to do this because I really enjoyed both her books, this one and Songs For A Teenage Nomad.

You can find Instructions for a Broken Heart on Goodreads HERE and
Songs for a Teenage Nomad HERE.

If you want to read Songs For A Teenage Nomad (You can find my review HERE), from today to May 9th you can get a FREE download of the E-book. You can find it here  http://bit.ly/dPzyVa.  

1) How would you describe “Instructions For A Broken Heart” in a few words?

In the wake of a broken heart, Jessa gets the trip of a lifetime to grieve – and breathe. And eat gelato. Lots and lots of gelato.

2) Did you always want to be a writer?

I think I realize now that I was born a writer – I feel like writing is a mindset, it’s a point of view, a lens. Being a writer is the way we see the world in all its details and interactions. Being a writer is being an observer of things, a wonderer of things. In that way, I think I’ve always been a writer. I tell my students this a lot – you already are writers. Writing is seeing. As far as always wanting to put words on the page and tell stories and talk about books and characters – I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It’s part of my fabric; it’s who I am. As far as wanting to be a professional writer…I didn’t always want to be a professional writer. I didn’t really know what that was and I was so drawn to being a high school teacher and loved that job so much that being a professional writer always seemed like a second thing to me. Now, though, I’ve managed to find a school to work in that has a flexible schedule that allows me time to write and I’ve realized – oh, wow – I can do both things I love!

3) What (or who) inspired you to write “Instructions For A Broken Heart”. Did you incorporate any of your own experiences into to the book?

In my second year of teaching, I went with sixteen high school students and another teacher to Italy. So the backdrop of this book is based on my own experiences. I decided, though, to tell the story from a teenage point of view (Jessa) but I went on that trip as a teacher. Travel is so transformative – it really knocks me out of my current state of mind and forces me to take stock of things and I saw this happening with my students
on that trip. At the time, I thought – this would make a cool setting for a book. So I stored it away and that setting became Instructions for a Broken Heart.

4) Did you find it easier to write “Instructions For A Broken Heart” or your first novel “Songs For A Teenage Nomad.”?

Songs for a Teenage NomadOh, Instructions for a Broken Heart was easier partly because I had more time to devote to writing it. I wrote Songs for a Teenage Nomad while I was teaching full time and directing three shows a year for the school’s drama program. When I wrote Instructions, I had much more time for the actual act of writing. But I also think authors learn something from each book they write and we just keep trying to get better at this messy
task of novel writing. I think that’s why we have to let novelists grow up – we have to give them time to mature as writers. I think our culture loves the debut success story but I think that’s hard for writers. I was a basketball player throughout high school and part of college and I was just a totally different player by the time I got to college than I was as a freshman in high school. I truly hope my novels will just keep evolving in that same sort of way.

5) Do you have a favorite place or time to write?

Anywhere I can find an outlet to plug in my laptop J Seriously, though, my daughter is in a homeschool cooperative so she goes to school three days a week and I homeschool the other two days and I teach in the high school version of the program, so I really have to carve out little pockets of time here and there to write. I love to write where I can see outside or be outside. I tend to think about the book a bunch – while I’m driving or walking the dog or watching my daughter’s softball game – and then I just sit down and write in a big waterfall of words. My husband says I write in “bursts.” I think for now, with my life the way it is (and I love the way it is), I don’t really have tons of time to write every single day, but I write every chance I get and I’m grateful for my writing time. I love to write. I just also love to teach and be a mom.

6) Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Love words. Love books. Read other writers. Read books about craft. I think writing is about loving stories and characters and it’s important to just read as much as you can and watch good movies. And write as much as you can knowing that if one story isn’t going anywhere, you can start a new book, but that one that didn’t go anywhere taught you something for the next time. Trust that you have a voice to share with the world, that your point of view is unique. In the newsletter I write each month (http://www.kimculbertson.com/newsletter.html), I really stress the idea of point of view. Most stories have been told but they haven’t been told by you and you’ll have a whole different spin on it, a whole different voice.

7) If “Instructions For A Broken Heart” was made into a movie who would be in your dream cast?

I would love for Zachary Levi to play Mr. Campbell and someone like Elizabeth Banks to play Ms. Jackson. I think it would be really cool to have the teachers be bigger names and have the students be a cast of really amazing unknown actors. But I could really see Miranda Cosgrove playing Jessa – she’d be amazing.

8) The Drama Club was a big part of “Songs For A Teenage Nomad” and “Instructions For A Broken Heart“, were you involved in your high school drama club?

I loved drama in high school – that was really my central friend group. But I also taught high school drama for the better part of eight years so that became a huge part of my world during that time of my life too.

9) Can you tell us what you’re working on next?

I’m working on a story set on a ranch in Idaho. A sort of fish out of water story. It’s another emphasis on changing your place to reassess your life – I guess I like that theme right now! I’m really excited about it mostly because I’m not a ranch person and know nothing about horses but I’m getting to learn so much through the eyes of my main character because she’s new to that world too.

Thanks so much for having me here on your blog!!

Thank you for stopping by! I would love to see Zachary Levi play Mr. Campbell, I love him in Chuck (my favorite TV show!)  I think he would do a great job plus I just love Zachary Levi. :)

 I'll be posting my review of Instructions For A Broken Heart tomorrow, so make sure you look out for that tomorrow.


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