Friday, 30 August 2013

YA Crime Report: GUEST POST - Kim Kane

Here’s another exciting addition to our YA Crime guest posts, and I’m thrilled to be hosting today’s guest - ladies and gentlemen, it’s the fabulous Kim Kane!!! *wild applause, whistles, cheering*

All the hullabaloo is well-deserved, folks.  Kim Kane has been writing children’s fiction for some time, starting out with The Family Forest.  Recently she collaborated with writing buddy Marion Roberts on the novel Cry Blue Murder – it’s an eerie tale about a serial killer who stalks a Melbourne community, told in a unique way, through a series of police and court documents.

Woven together with the other strands of Cry Blue Murder are the emails of two girls, Celia and Alice, who are living in the middle of the nightmare.  As the killer becomes more brazen, the exchanges between Celia and Alice become more tense and heartfelt – and you won’t believe what’s coming…

I met Kim recently during the Emerging Writers Festival, and she’s lovely – not a serial killer at all! – and I was really happy to hear that Cry Blue Murder has just made the shortlist for this year’s Inky Awards!!  Congratulations, Kim, it’s so well-deserved!  So without further ado…

Kim – hi!  It’s lovely to have you visit with us!

Thanks Ellie. Thrilled to be invited. Congratulations on your book!

Gosh, thanks :)  Now first, a question I always want to ask other writers (so excuse me if I diverge): what chair do you use?  Or do you stand to write, like Hemingway?  (In other words, how do you combat lower back pain from all the sitting??)

Hmm, I don’t have a study or even a desk so I work in a café when I feel a bit lonely or have to be out of the house (when the kids are driving me nuts) or on my bed or at the kitchen table. My favourite spot is definitely bed – all propped up with pillows, especially in the evening when it’s cold – but if I have research to do, the sunny kitchen table is best.   All I really care about is sunshine and warmth (having written half ‘Pip: the Story of Olive’ in a charming but completely unrenovated and uninsulated former belt factory). When I’m getting to the end of a book and am mainly copy editing, I need to sit at a table and I also tend to listen to musicals – one per book – over and over again until I can recite the lyrics verbatim. I’m not sure why. I am sure Hemingway never did that.

Cry Blue Murder is a dark mystery with a criminal twist, and the story is developed within all these fragments – emails, police witness statements, investigative documents.  Did you and Marion find that it was a bit like putting a jigsaw puzzle together?  How did you know what to include and what to discard?

Cry Blue Murder started as a very different novel for younger readers, but once Marion and I knew what we were doing and had a story and a proposed form for that story, we plotted extremely carefully. We had to, really, as we each wrote a character and we needed to make sure we were dripping information to the reader punctiliously; we had to be in complete agreement about the role each document served.

It was actually a fantastic discipline as we were forced to do some of the harder thinking I tend to put off until later drafts when I’m writing alone (as it’s dull and difficult – although putting it off only makes it duller and more difficult). After we’d done the plotting, the rest of the novel was colouring in. I should note, however, that the few changes we did make to the documents were a nightmare as there were so many consequential changes – in the emails and in our police and legal reports. Sometimes the whole thing felt like a house of cards.  We changed the colour of a car, for example, and watched our structure teeter!

The book seems to be designed to encourage the reader to be the detective – I often found myself flicking back to previous pages, to check clues I’d found and see if they matched up with my theory about the killer.  Did you plan it this way?  And did you have the final twist already in mind before you started?

Yes and yes! We started the book with the final twist – that came to us very early on in the process and completely informed the characters we then developed. We found the most interesting murder mysteries were the ones in which the reader had to play a role – drawing conclusions from the facts presented, experience first-hand the frustration of dead ends – and we were keen to replicate that for the reader. In some ways, we wanted the reader to keep reading to affirm what s/he already knew.

Can you tell us a little bit about what kind of research you did for the book? (It sounds like it would have been uncomfortable to research…)

We looked at a number of cases about grooming here and abroad. We also had to research all of the documents in the book – the pathology reports, witness statements, citilink documents etc and speak to relevant professionals. We needed to understand how the documents for a crime are put together, the role of police, the psychology of both the victim and perpetrator.

The villain of Cry Blue Murder is incredibly creepy.  Did you kind of freak yourself out when you were writing those scenes?

Marion wrote the character Alice and she was a wonderful creep – it’s quite frightening to hear her discuss the various states of her character in the novel and the reasons for this (if you’re interested here’s a link to a Radio National interview we did in which she discusses Alice Sometimes Marion did freak me out and I haven’t quite ruled out my suspicion that she may in fact be a serial killer...

On a lighter note, who is your favourite fictional detective? (and why, of course)  And do you have any skills that would serve you well if you were called on to be a detective yourself?

I like PD James, Alexander McCall Smith’s gentle The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series, and I completely adore TV crime – Midsummer, Law and Order, The Killing, Morse. I’m not sure that I’m systematic enough to be a detective although I’m certainly nosy enough and I’m fascinated by the psychology behind crime. 

So what do you do when you’re not reading and writing?  How do you recharge?
I like running, walking and swimming although I’m finding less time to do that these days. I adore my family and spending time with them – scooting, walking, hanging at the library or building castles at the beach. The twins are four so we go to lots of panto and theatre, playgrounds, or we just knock around with sticks at the park. I have some very amusing friends whose company I adore, but really any down time is usually spent reading as I’m too tired to do anything else and have to be home to look after the kids.

I can understand that!  Thanks so much for coming over, Kim – good luck with the Inkys!!

If you’d like a copy of Cry Blue Murder, go to where all good books are sold.  You can find out more about Kim over here :)

Well, it’s going to be a busy weekend for everybody.  The Splendid Wrens outside are dashing around, looking for mates, and the pobblebonks are going off in the creek – and I’m going to the annual Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards, the grand celebration of Australian women’s crime fiction, on Saturday night.  I’ve already got my red and black gear picked out (not a frock, sadly – I really need to get a proper Sisters in Crime frock, for special events) and I’m looking forward to seeing good friends and kicking up my heels.  I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

Now here’s another bit of exciting Every Breath news – I’m starting a Goodreads giveaway today, so if you’d like a copy of Every Breath, go on over to the website and put your name down (or check the widget here at right!).  There are three copies to giveaway, and I’ve actually opened it up internationally as well, so bootscoot on down there quick!

And…a little birdy told me that the Readings newsletter in today’s edition of The Age features a wonderful review of Every Breath by the lovely Emily Gale from Readings Carlton :)  Have a gander and see if it’s true-all-true…

Remember, if you’re ready to party, we have two parties coming up.  The Official Every Breath Launch, which will be on at Readings Carlton on Thursday 12 September at 6.30pm, is almost upon us!  I’m ordering enormous cakes and buying bottles of wine, even as you read this.  If you can’t make it to Melbourne, you’re also welcome to come on down to the Castlemaine Every Breath Big Bash, which is on at the Castlemaine Library on Friday 20 September at 6pm.  Send me an RSVP to elliemarney[at]gmail[dot]com if you can, or just come on over and help me celebrate.

I’ll be giving big hugs to everyone who’s been involved in bringing Every Breath to life – friends, family, reviewers, editors, copyeditors, bloggers, supporters all!  I can’t wait to see you at the parties, and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone involved.  So many people have been amazingly supportive in the lead-up to the book’s release – respect, guys.  I couldn’t have done it without you.

Talk again soon.


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