KIMBERLY STEELE is the author of five novels, including 2005’s Forever Fifteen, the first free vampire audiobook on the internet. Kimberly’s style has been described as V.C. Andrews meets Chuck Palanuik and her book Forever Fifteen has been referred to as “the dirty Twilight”. Kimberly lives near Chicago, Illinois with her husband and her beloved feline daughter, Kiki.
What inspires you to write?
I never wrote so much as a complete short story before I turned thirty around the year 2003. Around that age, I found myself trapped in a hellish situation as my husband and I bought and remodeled a house in the country. Finding myself lacking a computer, I woke up one morning in the country house and began to write a story inspired by a bad recurring dream about being forced to repeat high school. I wrote every day as fast as I could as the story seemed to jump onto the page. Within a year, Forever Fifteen was a finished novel. Not knowing quite what to do with my novel, I decided to self-publish an audiobook using equipment I had from my alter-ego project, singer-songwriter Queenie. I read my entire novel and uploaded it to several podcasting sites, including iTunes. Forever Fifteen became my most successful project to date, gaining over one million downloads in the following years. A writing project I started when I was in a frustrated place became one of the best things I have ever done with my life. To this day, I receive encouraging messages from fans telling me to keep writing. They are the lights of my life.
Tell us about your writing process.
I get up in the morning, have green tea and cookies, and answer my emails. Afterwards, I sit at my computer and write a thousand words. I got the thousand word a day idea from Stephen King’s book On Writing and from the NaNoWriMo contest, which encourages writers to churn out a novel in the month of November. If I ran NaNoWriMo I would change the “Mo” (month) until whenever the book is finished. I don’t seem to have an issue with writer’s block, though every now and then I’ll get burnt out and I’ll have to distance myself from a book for awhile. When I write, I contemplate the scenes I’m going to write the night before. As I have done in my music, I often use the material that comes from dreams to fuel scenes in my book.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen to them. They tell me what they are doing, not the other way around. One great exercise is to think of a past situation that you have been that represented great trauma and then re-write that scene around your characters, making them choose what they would do with your problems if they were you.
What advice would you give other writers?
Stop trying to write the next great American novel. I’m never going to be the next Maggie Atwood (I worship her), Julian Barnes, or Jonathan Franzen. Don’t let a lack of perfection stop you from expressing yourself.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to self-publish after careful readings and rereadings of J.A. Konrath’s blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. I used to wish I had been chosen by Harlequin Romance and/or Dorchester Publishing (as I write both romance and horror) until finding out that both companies screw their authors royally. Google it: both Harlequin and Dorchester were downright evil to authors. Dorchester went out of business. Sadly, a bum deal for authors is par for the course among large publishers who are often called the Big Six. If you’re not Stephenie Meyer or James Patterson, it is almost a given you will be taken advantage of. That’s why I’m proudly independent. I realized that many authors I admire and buy books from are making less money than me as an independent even though they sell more books than I do and are represented in nationwide libraries and bookstores.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think there will be more ebook readers than ever before. This makes me sad as I love dead tree books with an almost unnatural passion — if you look at the photos of my living room on my blog you’ll see the walls are covered floor to ceiling with books! One of the big reasons I have chosen to stay indie is because the Big Six do not give anywhere near the royalties I get directly from Amazon.com.
What genres do you write?
horror, romance, gay, historical
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print