Kim Knight: My Guest Author with multi-cultural characters in exotic locations
My Guest Author this week is Kim Knight who is talking about her writing, both as a traditionally published and self-published writer of romantic suspense, set in exotic locations with multi-cultural characters. I’m booking my ticket to paradise right now.
This is the first time I have featured an author of romantic suspense and so I hope you enjoy finding out about Kim and her writing as much as I have.
Welcome to my blog Kim, it is fab having you here.
Please tell us something about yourself. Why you write, what inspired you and when did you begin to write stories?
Hello, thanks so much for having me. I’m thirty four, from London. I write because writing fills me with so much happiness. It’s helped to pull me out of some difficult times in life. I started really young, since my school days journaling. Two years ago I started to write my first full novel.
My motivation comes from my love of creativity, I can’t think of anything else I’d like to do in life. Apart from maybe work as a make-up artist or fashion designer. I’m also passionate about my genre as a reader. My sub-conscious inspiration came over ten years ago when I first stumbled upon the genre, and read my first romantic suspense book. Fast forward over ten years later, I’m a proud romantic suspense author.
Your stories are set in the most exotic locations – Cuba for example – have you been to any of these locations?
Cuba has been on my list of places to see for so many years! I had to research a little into what it’s like in Cuba whilst writing Havana Heat. My next book in the Romance Set in Paradise series is set in Sri Lanka – again research is the key. I’d love to visit the country some time. I have been to some of the places I use in the other stories I am working on.
Tell us about your experiences, we are sure to be green with envy. If you have not visited these places how do you research and make sure descriptions and cultural depictions of your locations and characters are accurate?
I speak to people who originate from the region I’m using for a character. I ask their views and seek clarification. I use the internet a lot as well and use sources I can trust.
You write using multi-cultural characters to tell your stories. Do you find it difficult getting inside the skins of these characters?
Err, yes and no if I’m honest. To write from the POV of someone from a different cultural background, for me, is a challenge if I focus on writing certain stereotypical views their culture may have or experience. This is not my aim. As I mainly feature a diverse line up of characters e.g. race, religion, sexuality, then write from the character’s POV e.g. how they are as a person – it’s no problem. This is because I just create a character line up that’s diverse, in their appearance/style/way they speak, rather than get into their head and write their views from a cultural perspective. If that makes sense? Sometimes it can be a challenge to portray accents. I listen to accents on YouTube, or do whatever I must do to get speech as accurate as I can.
How do you write in a ‘Spanish or Cuban voice’ for example – do you have experience of living/working with people from those backgrounds?
Yes, my girlfriends are so diverse in their backgrounds. In London you have the opportunity to meet so many great people different to yourself. I had a conversation with a European Spanish girlfriend of mine from Madrid on Skype, she lives in Brazil now. I asked her about the differences between Spanish dialects, when I wrote Sebastian and Filipe in Havana Heat. They are both Spanish speakers, one is a Caribbean Hispanic and one is a European Spaniard. My Spanish native girlfriend pointed me in the right direction!
When I wrote A Stranger in France I took the same approach. I have a few French speaking girlfriends, who I practice my French with. I cross checked my accents.
I’ve tried portraying Russians and Ukrainians and am terrified of stereo-typing them. Do you find it difficult?
The last thing I want to do is stereotype. To avoid this I check accents via listening and ask where possible a native speaker for their views. I too am terrified of stereo typing, but I must admit my style is to use the actual language of the character to speak as well. Sometimes it’s more about translating English text to the language in question.
Do you have any tips for those authors who have steered clear of writing characters from different cultures and backgrounds?
Do your research and crack on with it! Don’t be scared. Just stay clear of trying to make your character act like a “typical stereo type,” of the background you are using. This could offend someone. If I ever read a story and the writer has gone out of their way to portray young black, Hispanic, African-American or ethnic males as “aggressive trouble makers and public enemy number one,” I’d be offended. I have a son. This stereo type in my humble view is the cause of many race relation problems in society but that’s another discussion! Just use diversity to pepper your stories with different types of people, as that is the reality of life, we are not all the same.
Where do you like to write? Do you use a computer or write by hand? Do you have a special place where you write? Do you have a special time of day?
On my laptop to write my stories, via hand for my journal in pretty notepads. Normally I’m at my kitchen table, or a café.
Being a mum, I write when the house is quiet and peaceful. Normally in the late evening. It helps that I’m more of a night owl when it comes to creativity. My most creative hours I have noticed are about 10:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m. That’s when I knock out the most words. I’m in the zone.
Where do you get your inspiration for a story? How long does it take you to write a book?
Life, being a woman in her mid-thirties, earlier life experiences. Experiences I’d love to have! Anything is an inspiration to me. Be careful what you tell me about your love life, it could end up in a novel. It depends on what I’m writing, how much research is needed and whether it’s a full novel, novella, or short story when it comes to time. My Romance in Paradise series are novella length books. Havana Heat in all honesty took me just a few weeks to write, I was in the zone. Same with Lover’s Retreat book #2. But as you know that’s the easy bit! The editing, perfecting and cover design takes everything from start to finish about two months for novellas.
Do you do a lot of plotting and note-making or do you write at the computer with a rough idea of what you want to write? Tell us something about your writing process.
I’m a plotter, I give myself a brief outline of my story and chapters. Develop my characters on paper in detail and then write. I don’t always stick to the outline, I let my creativity talk to me. But I must always have a plot outline so I know where I’m going. For me as a suspense writer it is a must, so I know where to build the heat and where to hold back.
You self-publish but have been traditionally published too. Can you tell us what you think the benefits and downside of traditional verses self-publishing is from your own experience?
Yes, at first I was traditionally published then discovered self-publishing. I kinda like the freedom of self – publishing that’s a massive pro, I don’t regret it, I love it! That said my romantic thriller has been requested by another traditional publisher, as soon as I finish it, and I’m in two minds whether to self pub or go traditional. The drawback is (with self – publishing) you must understand and learn the process to do it well, but that said if you’re a serious writer this is not an issue. The pros of traditional publishing are that if you have a good publisher you don’t need to worry. Everything is taken care of for you. Just write and do your edits to the best of your ability. The drawback is if you have a crappy editor you are stuffed… well and truly my friend you are stuffed. And you have less control over deadlines and what you want for your work. That said if you find the right publisher you won’t have this problem. My advice is ask questions, make sure your publisher is the right home for your work, and never compromise on quality if you ain’t happy walk away.
Please add anything else you’d like us to know about yourself and your writing, including a list of your published books with links where to buy them, and also any new books in the pipeline.
Readers can download the first four chapters of Havana Heat on my author site for free, and receive a 15% discount on Smashwords until 14th May.
Please share something from Havana Heat to give our readers a flavour of your writing:
Sebastian takes Melinda’s hand as they leave the dance floor of Casa De Amigos. They weave their way in and out of the crowds. The crowds have built up the bar is now busy with local Cubans and tourists, enjoying the ambience of cheap cocktails, beers, the wide screen TV and small dance floor to salsa.
As they exit the bar into the late afternoon sunshine, the humid heat does nothing to cool down their perspiring bodies hot from all their dancing.
“Sebastian, which way from here? I have no idea where I’m going.”
Sebastian looks down at Melinda fanning herself with one hand. With the sunshine on her smooth brown skin, Sebastian can’t deny that his attraction toward Melinda is growing. His eyes sweep up and down her curvy body as he admires her sun dress and wedge heels. He wonders to himself what’s underneath her sundress, his mind runs wild as he fantasies about the kind of underwear Melinda likes to wear, and the kind of underwear he would like to see her in. Tearing his eyes away from her he hides his smile.
“Hmm, let’s try this direction.”
“Okay, let’s go.”
With a warm glow inside of each of them they take off in the opposite direction from where they came. Walking along the hot pavement they admire the colourful array of pastel colour buildings and downtown hotels they pass, as they walk deeper into the town. Local youths pass them on moped bikes zooming down the main road, along with 1950s era Cadillac cars which catch Sebastian’s attention.
“The cars out here are really something, a real throwback in time.”
Melinda follows Sebastian’s gaze over to the main road as he smiles and admires the retro Cadillac cars.
“Totally, they’re amazing aren’t they. But totally fitting with the Spanish architecture and colourful buildings.”
Within a twenty minute walk the sea comes into view in the distance.
“Well, look what we’ve found.” Smiling Melinda tugs at Sebastian’s arm.
“C’mon let’s go check out the beach, we have time for a stroll before we head back.”
“What about food?”
“That’s what the hotel’s for.”
Melinda calls over her shoulder as she takes off jogging toward the beach. Sebastian smiles, then ups his pace to keep up with her.
“Wow, this looks like some kind of paradise.”
Melinda kicks off her wedge heels as she steps onto the warm sand. Sebastian joins her removing his comfortable plimsols.
“Sure does, the water is so blue.”
They walk farther onto the beach toward the water’s shore. Melinda and Sebastian take in the ambience of the beach. Palm trees slightly lean to one side as they sway in the light sea breeze. The sand is clean with a bright sugar white colour. The beach is calm but busy with sun worshipers stretched out on their beach loungers, and groups of friends playing volleyball. A few teenagers splash around in the sea making fun of each other. Taken back by all of Santa Maria del Mar beach’s beauty both of them lower their shades as they walk along the coastline at a leisurely pace, with the warm sea water washing over their feet. As they stroll farther up the coastline a secluded area of rockery comes into view, they head over and settle themselves on the sugar white sand to admire the aqua blue sea.
“So tell me a bit more about yourself Sebastian, other than work how do you spend your time?”
Sebastian thinks for a moment, of late his free time has been consumed with mourning the absence of his late girlfriend Anna, and what he could have done to ensure Anna felt needed and valued as his partner. A vision of Anna appears in his mind’s eye as he stares out into the calm sea. Sebastian rubs the back of his neck and tries to push his vision of Anna’s face to one side.
“Ah, to be honest … not much. I guess I’m kinda boring.”
Melinda let’s out a small laugh and looks up at Sebastian.
“I’m sure you’re not, seriously you have no hobbies or interests?”
“Hmm, I like music— a lot, and to work out I guess, books interest me too.”
“What kind of music and books? I love them both.”
“I listen to a lot of classical, flamenco and modern music. When it comes to books obviously, crime is my thing.”
“Of course, Mr. Detective. And …”
“And that’s about it Melinda. I never realised how boring I am until you asked me that question.”
The pair crack up laughing.
“No girlfriend back in London then?”
Sebastian looks down at Melinda sitting by his side, his reflection in her large oversized sunglasses stares back at him. Damn she looks hot in those shades runs through his mind. Suddenly he feels overwhelmed and confused. He loves Anna and is still not quite over losing her. At the same time his attraction to Melinda is becoming more obvious to him. Her style, beauty, rhythm to a salsa beat, and bubbly sense of humour appeal to him in a major way.
“Did I say something wrong Sebastian? You’re looking at me like I’m some kind of alien.”
Sebastian snaps out of his weird trance of heartache over his late girlfriend, and lust over the ebony skinned beauty with exciting potential by his side.
“No sorry… I don’t have a girlfriend as such no.”
“As such? What does that mean?”
With disappointment Melinda cuts Sebastian off as she gazes out at the deep aqua sea.
“Hmm, it always is with you men isn’t it.”
Thoughts of all the wasted dates she had been on over the last year run through her mind.
“No, I mean it’s complicated as she… she died almost one year ago.”
Melinda looks up at Sebastian as he stares off into the sea again.
“Oh, my Sebastian I’m sorry I didn’t mean to—”
“It’s okay, honestly by now I should be coming to terms with my loss. Well at least that’s what my shrink tells me.”
“You see a doctor?”
“Yeah, I have been for a while now. He helps but I know that the main bulk of the work to deal with my grief is down to me.”
“It’s hard, grieving is different for everyone.”
Many thanks for agreeing to be my guest, it has been a pleasure having you Kim, I wish you all the best with your writing and publishing future.
Connect with me:
https://kimknightauthor.com/– author site
@kimknightauthor – Twitter
@kimknightauthoruk – Facebook
Other books by Kim:
Lover’s Retreat: Romance Set in Paradise series (released June 2017).
In the Name of Love: Romantic Thriller (released summer 2018)
Code Red – A Serial Novel
Not Just For Christmas: A Romantic Novella
A Stranger in France- Romantic Suspense
Buy now links:
I hope everyone enjoys reading Kim’s interview and will leave comments for her to answer. Thanks for being here.