Hi everyone! For today’s stop in The Death of Us blog tour, author Alice Kuipers shares valuable thoughts on writing and her latest novel in this special Q&A!
At what age did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I have always, always loved reading. My parents read to me as a small child and as soon as I could read myself, I spent hours of my childhood deep in book after book. I wrote stories and poems for school, and started to do more writing in my free time too. When I was eighteen, I travelled for a year. During that trip, I thought I’d write a journal but I wrote stories and poems. I realized that writing was important to me during that journey. But I don’t think I would ever have thought of being a writer if I hadn’t loved reading.
What makes a good writer?
A good writer is excellent at observing the world. They notice details that pass most people by. And they are good at taking those details and crafting sentences with them. Writers have to love the actual writing process – they have to be in love with the written word and want to spend their time moving a comma or rewriting the same page for the fiftieth time, as well as coming up with ideas and dreaming.
Where is your favorite writing spot?
I love writing anywhere. I go to cafes, or I sit in my yard, or I curl up in the chair in my office, or I use my treadmill desk, or I sit on my bed. My laptop is a great tool for writing. It means that whichever spot I’m in, I can get into writing. I do need headphones, though. Having music helps me block out the real world.
What is an effective way of beating writer’s block?
I’ve been saying for years when people asked me this question, that Barbara Kingsolver said: “I have three children, I don’t have time for writer’s block.” Except she never said it. I just checked!!! I seem to have made it up entirely! She, in fact, has two children. She does say this about writer’s block: “It would be easy to say oh, I have writers’ block, oh I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.”
So, now I’m going to be the one to say, “I have three children, I don’t have time for writer’s block!” I’m not trying to get out of the question, or dismiss writer’s block for those who suffer from it. What I mean by this is that when I have a moment to write, I seize it. I don’t worry if the writing is wrong or messy or imperfect (it is nearly always all three). Instead, I let the words go onto the page and tell myself I can always edit later. I am far, far from a perfectionist and I think that makes it much easier not to feel blocked.
What is your best moment as a published author so far?
I feel really lucky to be able to write full time as my job. There have been a lot of good moments in my life as a writer, but the best is probably when my two oldest asked me to read my picture book to them. It’s coming out in December and it was brilliant to be able to have them turn the pages of the galley copy.
Which of the books you wrote changed your life? How?
Each of them has affected me. The first I published – Life on the Refrigerator Door – made it possible for me to write full time. It was published in lots of countries and hearing from readers all over the world gave me quiet confidence in my writing. When I get a bad review now, I am able to step away and respect that people see things differently. Something that someone loves, someone else will hate.
My second and third books helped me learn and grow as a writer. They both needed a lot of editing and I felt myself changing as a writer during those editorial processes. The Death of Us probably changed me the most. The work I had to do to make the story the best it could be was really challenging. By the time the book was finished, I was a different writer (and I’d had two more children). I have understood a lot more about character through the writing of this book, things I wish I’d understood before. But each book I’ve written has shown me more clearly how to write the next one. So each one changes me and my life, making me more attuned to stories, to characters, to possible ideas for the next book.
Your new book, The Death of Us, will hit shelves on September 2nd. How are you planning to celebrate its release?
By the time I’m on your site, the book will have been out for a few days. On the day of release, I’ll go for lunch with my family. There’s a great café near our house where I enjoy eating super delicious soups and sandwiches with lots of good coffee. Or maybe we’ll go out for supper instead. Save me from cooking! I love cooking, but with a large family it’s nice to have a break sometimes. In the evening, there’s a meeting at my child’s preschool. It’s very boring, but it roots me in reality. Yes, the book came out, but the day to day of my life just goes on exactly the same. Except, multiple times a day for the first few days, I’ll glance at the gorgeous cover and think: wow, I wrote that!
I have a book launch at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon on September 15th at 7pm. I’m excited to see friends and family there, and to eat scones and cookies. McNally’s has a catering service that I think is great for a book launch. I’ll go out with some friends after the launch too. That night will be the big celebration.
Behind every book, there’s a story of why an author wrote it. What then sparked your interest to write The Death of Us?
The Death of Us is written from three perspectives. I was interested in how three people saw the same event. In my own past, I had a terrible falling out with a friend and her boyfriend. Their two perspectives and mine were so different it was like we were reading two entirely different books on the same subject. I wanted to explore the way that the same events could be seen really differently.
In the book, there is a tangled love story, an accident, lots of drama and intrigue, but hopefully the characters are what makes the story work. The characters felt real to me and I tried to capture that on the page. In itself, bringing Callie, Ivy and Kurt fully to life was what really sparked the book for me. I could hear them and suddenly the ideas for the book appeared. It’s a magical process, having an idea, and I can’t fully explain why some ideas hold on and won’t let go until the book is finished.
If you could pick a theme song for The Death of Us, what would it be and why?
River by The Belle Game – it’s mysterious, dark, romantic, unnerving. The layers and the lyrics fit well too, I think.
Alice’s answers are truly inspiring, don’t you guys think? As an aspiring writer, her thoughtful answers are exactly what I need to keep me motivated in pursuing my dream. 🙂 Thank you Alice for sharing with us wonderful insights!
About the author:
Bestselling, award winning author Alice Kuipers moved to Saskatoon from the UK in 2003. Her first novel, Life on the Refrigerator Door, was published in 28 countries. She has published three further award-winning YA novels internationally, most recently, The Death of Us. Her first picture book Violet and Victor Write The Best Ever Bookworm Book will be published this December.
Find her here: www.alicekuipers.com or on Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads.
About The Death of Us:
A recovered friendship, a dark secret, and a love triangle with a deadly angle…
Callie is shocked when her friend Ivy reappears after an unexplained three-year absence, but the girls pick up where they left off, and suddenly Callie’s summer is full of parties, boys and fun. Beneath the surface, things aren’t what they seem, however, and when a handsome boy with a dark past gets tangled up with Ivy, the girls’ history threatens to destroy their future.
*Synopsis from Goodreads
Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Books-A-Million / Indigo