Now, yesterday, you saw me go all "OMG!" over Desires of the Dead. Today, I got an email from Headline, with answers from questions I (cheekily) sent them, asking if Kimberly Derting would answer them. She did. AAAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!
Kimberly, thank you for answering some of my questions. First of all, I wanted to know where the idea of Body Finder came from?
My. Husband’s. Favorite. Question. Ever! So, we were driving along one day, when he threw out this random idea: “What if there was this kid who could find dead bodies?” Of course, in his head it was a middle-grade boy adventure series because all of his ideas are about middle-grade boys. So after changing the main character to a teenage girl, and coming up with the “echoes” that would lead her to the dead bodies idea, I also decided she needed to have a love interest…that was when Jay was born!
Where did Violet's ability to sense echoes come from?
All Violet knows is that her grandmother had the same ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints on their killers. It’s possible that she may delve into where her ability came from in future books, so I probably shouldn’t say too much about it now. Honestly, though, I really haven’t decided yet.
Most people who have read The Body Finder talk about Violet and Jay's relationship. Did you base it on your own experiences or did the relationship come organically from writing Violet and Jay?
Jay actually came out of nowhere. When I was writing TBF, he kind of snuck up on me. I wasn’t planning on having the romance (or him) play such a huge role in the book. But once I started writing his character, I just couldn’t keep him off the pages. And I may have fallen in love…just a little!
In The Body Finder, you had chapters told from a serial killer's point of view. Something that is rarely seen or tackled in YA fiction. Did you ever feel that this might have been too dark to tackle?
At first I really did. I thought my editor was going to make me dial back that POV during editing, but she surprised me when she asked for more. I couldn’t have been happier! I know, I know, that makes me sound creepy... but I loved writing the killer’s POV!
In Desires of the Dead, you brought the FBI in and with them, brings the threat that Violet's ability will be discovered. Was that an easy decision to make?
I really wanted the FBI element in DotD to put some pressure on Violet. I think it forced her to make some tough decisions about whether she should share her secret or not, and how she might be able to use her ability in the future. For Violet, it was a very tough decision. For me, it was pretty easy!
Unlike most YA books, Violet's parents and uncle are very much in the forefront of both the Body Finder and Desires of the Dead. Was that a conscious decision?
I definitely though Violet should have the kind of family support I would want if I had her ability. It wasn’t until after I wrote TBF, that I realized just how unusual that is in YA books.
I love reading about Violet's friends (the first chapter from Desires of the Dead made me laugh out loud). Are they as much to write as they are to read?
Other than Vi and Jay, Chelsea is probably my favorite character to write! Maybe it’s because she’s the most like I was in high school... although I couldn’t have spiked a volleyball to save my life!
I want to ask some questions about writing. When did you get the writing bug?
I’ve had it since the 7th grade. Of course back then, I had big dreams of being a jet-setting journalist. When I was older, and realized what being a real journalist entailed, I realized that writing books from the safety of my home would be a little less... dangerous.
Most people (myself included) want to know about how you got your literary agent and your publishing deal? Was it quite an easy journey or was it quite hard going?
Both, really. I started writing (and even had an agent) when I was in my early 20s (in other words, many years ago!) for a full-on horror novel I’d written. I picked up A LOT of rejection letters for that one!
The good news: It never reached publication. It was terrible.
The bad news: It was another 15 years until I wrote The Body Finder, which landed me my first-choice agent (who I met at a writing conference) and sold within weeks of being on submission.
So, yeah…sort of a long, torturous journey, with my fair share of rejections!
How long did it take you to write The Body Finder from the original idea?
It took me about 6 months from beginning until I was pitching it to my agent.
What is your typical day of writing?
I have an office (complete with lock), but I still end up doing a lot of my writing in the kitchen where all the action/chaos is. Apparently I have the uncanny ability to tune everyone out when I need to. Not always a good thing when the kids are telling me they’re starving!
Random question: Did you write The Body Finder and Desires of the Dead in long-hand or straight onto the computer?
On the computer. Honestly, I can’t imagine writing an entire book long-hand!
While you were writing both books, you must have written scenes that you, sadly, edited or completely cut it? How did you decide what stayed in and what “little darlings” you cut out?
There are always scenes that have to be cut for the sake of pacing. And yes, sometimes those are scenes that I love. When this happens, I add them to my secret file, telling myself that I can always use them some other time (in another book). I almost never use them, but for some reason it makes me feel better to think I might.
Was there a scene you loved writing but you had to edit out?
Actually, there was one scene in particular that I went back and forth on whether to cut in Desires of the Dead. I loved the scene, but only because it was a great interaction between Violet and Jay, the scene itself wasn’t pivotal and didn’t lend anything to the story. Ultimately, I cut it. BUT…I just figured out a way to use it in book three! Not only does it fit perfectly, but it IS pivotal, so it will definitely not be cut this time.
What do you feel when you see people reading The Body Finder & Desires Of The Dead and their reactions on blogs/facebook/twitter? Does it feel surreal?
TOTALLY! But as much as I love reading their reactions (well, the positive ones, at least!), I also feel a little like I’m spying on them. Still, it doesn’t stop me from peeking :)
I read on your blog that you are writing two more books in the Body Finder series (yeah!). Do you feel any pressure from the fans to make these two books live up to their (and your) exceptions?
Of course I do. I think all writers, especially those writing series books, feel pressure to keep their readers happy. And I don’t want the storylines to get stale or just be a repeat of the previous books, so there’s that to contend with as well. I want to see Violet keep growing and having creep-tastic new adventures!
I also read that you are writing a stand-alone novel called “The Pledge”. What can you tell us about this?
The Pledge is the little love child I created while I was waiting for The Body Finder to hit the shelves. It’s set in a war-torn world where classes are separated by the languages they speak, and it’s illegal for one class to even know—or acknowledge—the language of another. But the main character, Charlie, has a secret: she understands them all. And she may be the key to saving her world.
It’s dark and romantic and action-packed…and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!
Quick note to say thank you to Kimberly for answering these questions (I think I love you more after reading your answers!) and thanks for Sam at Headline for getting these questions to Kimberly (you rock!)!
Now go get a copy Kimberly's books! Now! Quickly!