2007 Snapshot Archive: Kim Wilkins

Interviewed by Ben Payne

First published at ASiF!

Kim Wilkins has been publishing dark fantasy novels for over a decade, to much enjoyment and acclaim. Her latest novel is Rosa and the Veil of Gold.

1. You’ve been successfully publishing horror novels (if you’ll forgive the use of the blanket term) in Australia now for a decade, while the genre in general has struggled here. What do you think has helped your work to transcend the difficulties that other horror novels have had, and to find a market with publishers and readers?

My first book was a horror novel, my second book and third book were kind of gothic-y horror novels. I have not written a horror novel this century, but the label follows me around like a bad (corpsey) smell. I’ve been lucky enough to continue to be published because I have great support from a great agent and wonderful publishers. That is, I don’t think it has much to do with my work in itself. Also, I have survived, too, through great international support. International publications make a writer more viable on home soil. I do not sell huge numbers of books. I have a loyal but reasonably small readership. I am definitely mid-list. Publisher goodwill is an extraordinarily lucky thing to have.

2. When your last novel, Rosa and the Veil of Gold, was released, it was marketed as straight fiction rather than genre. Was this an artistic or marketing decision (or both)? And was it, in retrospect, a successful one?

It was mostly a marketing decision. It did work. I sold more copies of that book than the previous two put together. But I am still midlist. Also, it was an attempt to shake the “horror” tag, hence not entering it in the Aurealis Awards. We thought that on the off-chance it was shortlisted, having the word “horror” anywhere near the book would shrink the book’s audience.

Also, I wanted to do something different, reach more people. Rosa is a historical fantasy like Mists of Avalon, which has a very wide readership. After Rosa, I wanted a break from SF and had a hankering to go somewhere else. To scratch this itch, I wrote a straight-up mainstream saga called Duet, which will be published under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman in September. I anticipate very little, if any, crossover between readerships. I’ve also written a non-supernatural historical adventure novel for teenagers, out next year. It’s been very instructive. I’ve learned how to create narrative tension without monsters. But now I want to go back to SF.

3. Your Gina Champion series has been on the go for several years now. Are you noticing a great deal of difference in the themes you explore in your YA writing as opposed to your adult works? And are your readers following you from one to the other?

Actually, it goes the other way round. My adult readers end up loving the Gina Champions. The books have very different themes, they are about young adults and young adult concerns. The main themes are family, friends, the struggle for identity. The supernatural stuff is just the set dressing. I haven’t written one for a couple of years now. I wrote a children’s fantasy series for Omnibus on their Fantastica imprint, and it has been the most commercially successful of anything I’ve written, due to a very fat advance from the US. Also about family and identity.

4. Enough about your own work. What other authors have you enjoyed reading lately?

Oh… Proust, Eco, Flaubert… Joking! I’m having a renaissance of high fantasy, so I’ve been reading Kate Elliot, Robin Hobb, J V Jones, and playing a heck of a lot of World of Warcraft. Deep inside me, a fantasy trilogy is brewing I think. No, I know. I’m just scared of pulling it out into the light of day. What would it do to me?!?!

5. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you’re given the opportunity to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most. Who’s it gonna be?

Scarlett O’Hara, but only as long as my husband can be part of the fun too. I reckon she’d go.

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