Interview by Ben Peek
Kim Wilkins is the award winning author of eleven novels, including The Infernal, winner of both the Horror and Fantasy Aurealis Award. Her latest release is Giants of the Frost.
1) In 1997, your first novel The Infernal won both the horror and fantasy Aurealis award, but many people have considered your adult work more on the dark/fantasy horror side. Most recently, you’ve had a successful young adult series with Gina Champion, a girl who can read psychic vibrations. There’s a dark genre thread in your work, but how much does it concern you when it comes to genre? Or do you just shrug and let people go with what they want?
I think that genre has only a tangential relationship with author intention. So many other factors, like what a reader expects from your previous books, or how various industrial factors position your work, or even what reviewers say, end up categorising your work. So I just follow my aesthetic instincts. And, yes, I’ve always been interested in what is strange and beautiful and melancholy. I realise this makes me sound like a cliche, but you have to follow the feelings where they take you. I must say, I do wince at the word “horror”. It seems such a coarse word.
2) In previous questions here, people have stated that they don’t think Speculative Fiction needs more young adult fiction, while others have said it’s the way to bring people in, and still others have shown that even if teenagers do read it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that will translate into a reader of adult Spec Fic. Obviously, you’re writing both, so the question is where you see the place of young adult fiction in such an argument?
I think that a big chunk of readership is interested in SF, and some of that readership is adult while some is young adult (and of course some is children). The young adults would, naturally, prefer to read about characters closer to their own age and experience. That doesn’t mean that we should feel a sense of obligation as SF writers to convert young minds to the cause, but they are a viable market and if you like writing about young people (which I do), then go ahead.
One thing that I do want to add, though, is that children and young adults seem to be more comfortable reading SF. I think that there is probably a sizeable percentage of adults who deny themselves fantasy because it seems juvenile. I meet a lot of people like this, who loved Tolkien when they were teenagers, but now won’t have anything to do with the genre. Sad, isn’t it?
3) What motivates you when deciding to begin a new project?
A feeling, an idea, a relationship between people. Quite simply, I never have an empty head creatively. I’m always thinking about the next book (and sometimes the one after) and I’m always collecting impressions or dilemmas which might fit it. I find the work of developing, researching and planning a book very very pleasurable; the sweet delicious promise of it. It’s like foreplay. And there’s still nothing as challenging, exhilarating and satisfying as the process of writing for me. So I guess the short answer is that I’m motivated by pleasure.
4) You’re dead. They said a glass of wine a day, you said a box of wine an hour. It was going to end badly. Still, God likes a drink, and you go to Heaven and you see him. You say?
Can I have a rest now?
5) Favourite swear word?
It’s not so much a favourite swear word, but a favourite combination of adjective and swear word. Sneaky cunt.