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Author Chats > Ask Kimberly McCreight!

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message 1: by Margo (last edited Jun 20, 2013 02:42PM) (new)

Margo (maothrockmorton) | 4 comments Mod
***This thread is now closed***

Join us on Thursday, June 13th for a special discussion with author Kimberly McCreight! Kimberly will be discussing her newest book Reconstructing Amelia and The Killing.

Kimberly will be answering questions on Thursday. In the meantime if you have a question for Kimberly about her book or her favorite episode of The Killing feel free to do so in this thread.


message 2: by Rebekoval (new)

Rebekoval | 1 comments Hello, Ms. McCreight. I really enjoyed reading your novel, Reconstructing Amelia, in part because I know that you were a successful litigator before you decided to write full-time. I just graduated from law school myself, but, and as English major, I've always been passionate about writing. Could you explain some of the reasons why you left your litigation practice to pursue a career in writing and if you wrote at all while you were still a practicing lawyer? Thank you, and I am very much looking forward to reading more of your novels in the future.


message 3: by Chivon (new)

Chivon (tallnpretty33) | 1 comments IF there was anything about the book you could change what would it be and why?


message 4: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (neednewspace) | 3 comments For me, Reconstructing Amelia, was one of the best books of 2013! I absolutely devoured it! Your writing kept me enthralled and interested right up to the last word! So, Thank You!
My question is about your writing process. How do you write? Are you a computer writer or do you write long-hand? Do you have a set schedule or do you go off on a writing tangent? Do you outline or do you let the story and characters guide you?
I am sure that with this manuscript you had little trouble finding an agent. How long was it before it was picked up by the HarperCollins publishing house?
Once again, thank you for writing this awesome story!
Can't wait for the next book!


message 5: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (neednewspace) | 3 comments For me, Reconstructing Amelia, was one of the best books of 2013! I absolutely devoured it! Your writing kept me enthralled and interested right up to the last word! So, Thank You!
My question is about your writing process. How do you write? Are you a computer writer or do you write long-hand? Do you have a set schedule or do you go off on a writing tangent? Do you outline or do you let the story and characters guide you?
I am sure that with this manuscript you had little trouble finding an agent. How long was it before it was picked up by the HarperCollins publishing house?
Once again, thank you for writing this awesome story!
Can't wait for the next book!


message 6: by MBP (new)

MBP I loved your book, and think it will be great for a book discussion! In Reconstructing Amelia, pretty much every adult fails the kids - whether through selfishness, willful ignorance, or outright malice. I see that you're a mom. What kinds of things do you do as a parent to prevent your kids from engaging in bullying and destructive behavior? How much do you feel a parent can do?


message 7: by Randi (new)

Randi (randiw) Reconstructing Amelia is a timely story centered around bullying and peer pressure. My question: Can you explain how Sylvia had time to write Sorry on the wall and get away without being seen?


message 8: by Malia (new)

Malia (calypso007) Congratulations on the deserved success of your book!
I am writing a book myself and was curious about your writing style? How long did it take you to finish the first draft? How many drafts are considered the norm? Was it very difficult to find a publisher/agent?
Thanks:) I look forward to your next book!


message 9: by B the BookAddict (last edited Jun 12, 2013 01:13PM) (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) Reconstructing Ameliais such an excellent novel. I simply couldn't put it down. I was impressed that you resisted giving any glaring hints about Amelia's death. As readers, we traveled the bewildering paths that her mother endured.

I was particularly drawn to how well you wrote in the style of a fifteen year old girl. I found myself thinking in that same manner and tone as Amelia for a couple of days after I finished the book.
How did you so effectively 'become' Amelia for the narration of her part?


message 10: by Tina (new)

Tina | 1 comments I loved your novel, and I can't wait to read your next! I finished it in two days an immediately told my family and friends to go get a copy of it! I also just graduated from law school and have always wanted to write.

My question for you is: how/where do you find the inspiration for your writing, especially for a story such as powerful as this one?


message 11: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Hi everyone! I'm here; headed down the list of questions now!


message 12: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Rebecca wrote: "Hello, Ms. McCreight. I really enjoyed reading your novel, Reconstructing Amelia, in part because I know that you were a successful litigator before you decided to write full-time. I just graduat..."

Hi Rebecca!

Thanks so much for reading and I'm so glad you enjoyed. I left the practice of law because it really never was the right fit for me personally. I needed to be doing something more creative. It just took me a long time to a) figure that out and b) admit it. I always had the heart of a writer, but my brain was very afraid! As to writing while a lawyer, I absolutely did. I took online writing classes through NYU's extension program. I know they are also offered through places like Gotham Writer's workshop and Mediabistro. When you have limited time to write (for me it was getting up at 4:30 every morning) I think having a class is helpful in structuring your time. Best of luck to you! Keep at it! All the best, Kim


message 13: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Hi Kimberly! I was wondering if you see any similarities between the characters in your latest book and in the newest season of The Killing?


message 14: by Deb (new)

Deb | 4 comments What do like most about writing mystery novels? How do you you feel it connects or may be similar to writing something like The Killing?


message 15: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Chivon wrote: "IF there was anything about the book you could change what would it be and why?"

Hi Chivon!

What a great question. The answer is nothing, it's perfect :) I am, of course, joking. I think most writers could find ways to edit their own work forever. Or at least, I know that I could.

I wish I had better clarified that Lew's investigation was "off the books" done as a favor for the Commissioner (and Jeremy). No one thought there would be anything to find. That is always how I saw it (unofficial, hence loose on procedure). But I think I could have made that clearer with just a few sentences. Thanks for asking and reading!

All the best,
Kim


message 16: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Teresa wrote: "For me, Reconstructing Amelia, was one of the best books of 2013! I absolutely devoured it! Your writing kept me enthralled and interested right up to the last word! So, Thank You!
My question is a..."


Hi Teresa!

Wow, what and amazing compliment! Huge thank you!

As to my process, I write exclusively on a computer (do people still write long hand? I'm addicted to deleting--I could never) and I work 9-5:30 five days a week. That's not always on new fiction--sometimes it's answering great questions like these. But I keep regular work hours and have a set word count I try to hit every day 2,500-4,000 depending on the hours I will have to devote to new material. For me, that's critical in keeping my work moving forward. Especially because I don't outline. I write my way into the story through the characters. After I have a very messy (and usually overlarge) first draft I start locking in the plot by outlining--though I do take notes as I go along about things I would like to have happen or character motivations etc. Some of these get deleted before they ever make it to the page.

As for the sale, I had my amazing agent years before I wrote Reconstructing Amelia and I got her through standard querying related to another project. So she's been holding my hand all along! Once the book was out to editors, the sale went very quickly in a few weeks.

Best of luck in your writing endeavors!

All the best,
Kim


message 17: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments MBP wrote: "I loved your book, and think it will be great for a book discussion! In Reconstructing Amelia, pretty much every adult fails the kids - whether through selfishness, willful ignorance, or outright..."

Hi MBP!

Thanks so much! And as to what can be done to keep our kids from becoming bullies, I think the most important thing is the example we set for our children. Children learn how to treat other people by how they see us treat others--whether it's that other driver who's driving you crazy, or the waitress who forgets your oder, or the person who accidentally steps on your foot.

I'm not saying I always succeed (not by a long shot) but I try to set an example of patience and kindness. And I tell them, too, of course about what it means to hurt someone's feelings and about the power of words. It's a process, instilling empathy, one that we're all not going to succeed at every day. But I think we owe it to our children, and the world, to try.

Oh yes, and they are NEVER going to be allowed to have a cellphone. :)

All the best!
Kim


message 18: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Randi wrote: "Reconstructing Amelia is a timely story centered around bullying and peer pressure. My question: Can you explain how Sylvia had time to write Sorry on the wall and get away without being seen?"

Hi Randi,

I think quite easily, if you consider the time it would have taken for people to process what had happened, to call emergency personnel and for them to begin focusing on an investigation (as opposed to saving Amelia). Remember, no one saw it happen. They wouldn't have even known where she came from.

All the best!
Kim


message 19: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Malia wrote: "Congratulations on the deserved success of your book!
I am writing a book myself and was curious about your writing style? How long did it take you to finish the first draft? How many drafts are co..."


Hi Malia! Thanks so much for your kind words about Reconstructing Amelia.

It takes me about four or five months to write a very rough first draft. But that length of time varies wildly between writers. My first drafts are such that it's probably my second draft that is equivalent to many writer's first drafts. I just keep going and never look back. I have friends whose first drafts take much longer, but they are in much better shape when finished.

And I have had several agents (though the last had been the charm!) and always obtained them through cold-querying. You don't need connections. Just write a great book, then find the right agents to approach i.e. ones who represent your kind of book. And this book sold at auction quickly. But I was writing for a decade (4 previous completed books) before I sold this one. So it that sense, it did take me a long time to find a publisher. But when I did I found the perfect one in Harper!

Writing is not a quick process--not the doing or the publishing. I think realizing that early helps stave off disappointment.

Best of luck to you!

Kim


message 20: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Bette wrote: "Reconstructing Ameliais such an excellent novel. I simply couldn't put it down. I was impressed that you resisted giving any glaring hints about Amelia's death. As readers, we traveled the bewil..."

Hi Bette!

Thanks so much for your lovely compliments! And, yes, my ability to so easily inhabit a teenager is a bit frightening. Think about my poor husband! Worse yet, my children. As they age they will most certainly die of embarrassment.

In all seriousness, all my books (the previous, unpublished ones) have included a teenager--I didn't realize that until I started reflecting on them with the publication of Reconstructing Amelia. Something about the rawness of that age--the fragility and the strange power of it--still really resonates with me. And my favorite part of writing fiction is disappearing into the skin of someone else. To me that's the whole reason for doing it.

Thanks again for asking! All the best,
Kim


message 21: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Tina wrote: "I loved your novel, and I can't wait to read your next! I finished it in two days an immediately told my family and friends to go get a copy of it! I also just graduated from law school and have al..."

Hi Tina!

Thanks for reading and for your excellent grassroots marketing efforts! Hugely appreciated.

The inspiration for the story came piecemeal, mostly through news accounts of suicides related to bullying. Reconstructing Amelia wasn't inspired by any single one of those stories, but reflected the heartbreak in all of them. It is also informed so much by my own experiences as a mother--not with bullying per se. But with the terror that is seeing your children go off on their own into the world. Once I had the characters developed the story was driven first and foremost, though, by them and who they were.

Thanks for asking and for reading!

Best wishes,
Kim


message 22: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Deb wrote: "What do like most about writing mystery novels? How do you you feel it connects or may be similar to writing something like The Killing?"

Hi Deb!

Yes, I think that writing a great mystery is all about great pacing and excellent character development and that applies whether it is a short story, a novel, a television series or a movie. You need to keep the mechanics of the story moving forward without sacrificing the emotional content. I think that is something that The Killing does extraordinarily well and I hope that Reconstructing Amelia achieves as well.

All the best and thanks!

Best wishes,
Kim


message 23: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Sarah wrote: "Hi Kimberly! I was wondering if you see any similarities between the characters in your latest book and in the newest season of The Killing?"

Hi Sarah!

I think I just accidentally deleted my response to you! If not, you'll get it twice!

But yes. I think there are huge similarities between the teenagers in The Killing and Reconstructing Amelia. On the surface they have nothing in common--kids living on the streets in Seattle and privileged kids from Brooklyn private school. But deep down, so many of the kids in both settings are lost in exactly the same way--lonely, terrified. And the consequences of being so unmoored are just as tragic.

Thanks for asking!

Best wishes,
Kim


message 24: by Martainmia (new)

Martainmia | 3 comments Kimberly,

Found Reconstructing Amelia absolutely intriguing and relevant. Loved how you incorporated the modern investigation techniques they used to solve the case and for Kate to ultimately find closure. Nowadays, we have no choice but to rely in technology. Besides the bullying, it seems the story is also about the guilt that goes along with being a single parent and trying to do it all. I found it absolutely brilliant!
Question: Do you personally feel that technology has made life better or deteriorated our family structure and personal relationships?


message 25: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (neednewspace) | 3 comments Kimberly wrote: "Teresa wrote: "For me, Reconstructing Amelia, was one of the best books of 2013! I absolutely devoured it! Your writing kept me enthralled and interested right up to the last word! So, Thank You!
M..."


Thanks so much for answering all of our questions! I hope I can one day be as disciplined as you are with your writing! Best regards! Teresa ;)


message 26: by Martainmia (new)

Martainmia | 3 comments I didn't get an answer. Did I do something wrong?


message 27: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly McCreight | 12 comments Martainmia wrote: "Kimberly,

Found Reconstructing Amelia absolutely intriguing and relevant. Loved how you incorporated the modern investigation techniques they used to solve the case and for Kate to ultimately find..."


Hi Martainmia!

Just saw that you posted after I'd come by to answer...

Thanks for the question and for reading the book! With regard to technology, I think it has both improved and deteriorated our relationships--or has the potential to do both. There are so many ways in which technology has enabled me (and I think a lot of working parents) to be home more and with my kids i.e. having a mobile device to answer e-mails while with my kids instead of having to be at a desk. But I do think that technology has made the borders between work and home life a lot more porous. And that leads to a lot of distraction while with kids and spouses that wouldn't have been true back when work stayed "at" work.

I don't think technology itself is damaging anything. But I do think we can let it interfere with our relationships by being distracted by it if we're not careful. And as you can see in he book, I absolutely think it has certainly complicated what it means to be a teenager and made it a lot scarier place. It's made it harder to be a victim of harassment and a lot easier to be a bully.

Best wishes and sorry for the delay!

Kim


message 28: by Martainmia (new)

Martainmia | 3 comments Thanks for your response and most of all for sharing your gift with us all!


message 29: by Malia (new)

Malia (calypso007) Kimberly wrote: "Malia wrote: "Congratulations on the deserved success of your book!
I am writing a book myself and was curious about your writing style? How long did it take you to finish the first draft? How many..."


Thanks so much for the advice and answering my questions, best of luck to you!


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