Today, Kim Williams-Justesen stopped by to chat about her current projects and finalize plans for our Thelma and Louise-style weekend getaway.
E: Welcome, Kim! Glad you could stop by. You remembered the bail money, didn’t you?
K: Yeah – I mugged an old lady at an ATM just to be sure I had enough for both of us.
E: You have some new projects in the works. What can you tell us about them?
K: I’m so excited! I have a paranormal young adult novel called DEATH’S KISS coming out in September from Angelic Knight Press. This story focuses on a 17-year-old girl who can see Death – an actual being who collects souls. She becomes so obsessed with Death that she doesn’t really live. She winds up in a locked-down psych facility where she falls in love with a boy who teaches her to live again. The second story is a contemporary young adult novel called THE DEEPEST BLUE. It’s about standing up for yourself and for what’s best for you even when the rest of the world is telling you that you’re too young to know what’s best for you. It comes out in October from Tanglewood Press.
E: You also write under another name. What is it and what was the book?
K: I do – it’s my alias (and one of my alternate personalities) – Mimi A. Williams. The book is called BEAUTIFUL MONSTER and I coauthored it with my former writing partner Jared Anderson. This is the story of a charismatic serial killer and one of his victims. We wrote it in alternating chapters between the serial killer and the young girl he stalks. It’s pretty graphic, and pretty brutal, and I didn’t want it shelved near my kids’ books on accident, so I used a pen name.
E: You’re the first guest that I know of that writes under more than one name. What is that like on the business side of things? You know, like filing taxes, and whatnot.
K: Really, it’s no big deal. My contract, my W-2s, my royalty statements all have my legal name. Mimi is only on the cover. It does get challenging when it comes to marketing stuff. I used to have two Facebook Pages, but I’ve just transferred everything to one page now. I think I was worried it would be a bigger issue than it has been, and I do know a few people who’ve used pen names who’ve had various issues with it (like filing a DBA and getting a tax number, etc.) but since I used my legal name for all the legal documents, it’s not a problem at all.
E: You also teach classes and workshops. Where could we find you if we wanted to take one of them with you?
K: Are you stalking me again? Really? The restraining order is still in place you know! (snickering)
I help out with a lot of local (meaning Utah-based, but I’ve traveled to other states too) conferences. The local libraries have had me come in and do workshops, and this fall, I’ll start teaching for the University of Utah’s Lifelong Learning program – noncredit courses on writing and publishing. I used to teach English and Literature for several local colleges, but I found that didn’t leave me a lot of time for writing, so now I have a boring job that leaves enough brain cells when I get home that I can still write.
E: Your audience is younger than most people who’ve dropped by. What do you like best about writing for these ages as opposed to writing for adults?
K: I just like writing – whether it’s for adults or for kids. The thing I like about kid readers, though, is their absolute honesty. Adults will get a book (whether from the book store or the library) and then because they have invested time or money (or both) to get the book, they feel like they have to read it. And if someone told them it was a good book, they feel compelled to like it. Kids don’t come with those issues. They pick up a book, and if it doesn’t grab them, they don’t bother reading it. If they read it and don’t like it, they will absolutely tell you. And if they DO like it, they will absolutely tell you that, too! I have wonderful letters from readers who have told me how much they loved my book, and those are the best letters to get! I have a copy of one in my Facebook Pictures that I post now and then when I need a morale boost!
E: What book made the biggest impression on you when you read it?
K: Um – wow. That’s hard. I was one of those kids who got busted reading under the covers, late at night, with a flashlight. I guess one of the most powerful moments in reading came in junior high when I read the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe. Something about the way he told a story just riveted me, and I wanted to be able to do the same thing.
E: Stephen King recently decided that he wouldn’t be releasing his new book in ebook format. What are your thoughts on that? Is that something you would ever do, or do you find it’s worthwhile to offer a digital format?
K: I believe each writer has to choose what’s best. For me, digital formats are an important part of getting my story out to the world. I want to make that as easy as possible so that readers have access to my work in a variety of formats. I’m still a big believer in books (I personally love them, love holding them, love owning them – oh, yeah, and reading them, too), and THE DEEPEST BLUE will actually be released in hardback. But it will also be available in digital forms so that no matter what method a reader prefers, he or she can get their hands on my story.
E: Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you look really good in orange. I have a feeling we’re going to end up wearing a lot of it.
K: Thanks, and a big thank you to my guards for escorting me, and for taking off the ankle chains while I was here visiting!