STORY OF THE WRITER:
Featuring Kim Vandel
I first came across Kim Vandel on kmweiland.com as one of 5 recommended muscle-bound-muse authors to be read. She received high praise from my mentor, Jedi Master and mother hen, KM Weiland which took me by surprise. So naturally, I had to figure out who this person was. Vandel made her debut splashing onto the scene with her YA superhero novel Into the Fire. Be sure to check it out. Here’s a peep.
Praise for Into the Fire
“…this was possibly the best book I’ve read this year. It’s one of those stories, likes Weeks’s, that sucked me in deep and wouldn’t let me go.”
“So, so good. Vandel does all the good stuff of supernatural teen stories–and does it better.”
K.M. Weiland, author of Storming and Amazon bestseller Outlining Your Novel
“Vandel’s debut shines in a market where well written
young adult urban fantasy is hard to find.”
Jess Evander, author of the TimeShifters series
Ladies, gents and voracious readers I present to you Kim Vandel! *standing ovation* Kim, welcome to the Writing Train it’s so nice to have you with us. Before we begin, I have to admit you’re definitely the great Princess Leia. There’s no doubt in my mind. Leia with a pen, I might add. Love it.
Here’s a little more about Kim.
Kim Vandel is a grownup who loves to read and write teen fiction. She worked in the field of environmental science before pursuing her dream of becoming a novelist. Her first book, Into the Fire, released in 2015, and it’s currently a double semifinalist for the Realm Award (debut and young adult categories). Kim lives with her family in the Seattle suburbs—the land of Microsoft, Nintendo America, and approximately five million Starbucks. You can learn more about Kim at Kimvandel.com
~It’s customary for me to ask a few questions in order to have a proper introduction. So here it is!~
Do you see yourself as princess Leia? Kind of a sassy princess?
Hmmm. Can I take The Fifth on this one? No? Well, when I was a kid, I never got in trouble for anything I did. I got in trouble for things I said—or more precisely, the manner in which I said them. And “Kimberly” means “from the royal meadow,” so sassy princess might be more accurate than I’d like to admit. I definitely identified with Princess Leia when I was growing up, and not just because of her sassiness. I wasn’t a girly girl. I hated wearing dresses, and I didn’t play with dolls. Leia was a princess I could relate to because she didn’t stand around while Luke and Han rescued her. She grabbed a blaster and started shooting. She showed me that a girl could be beautiful and strong—that it was okay for a girl to be strong. A princess could be a hero right alongside the guys.
Hah! I love it. Having this background resonates with me on different levels. I love your spirit, or sassiness, as you call it. Leia wasn’t a passive princess sittin’ on her laurels waitin’ for ol’ Luke and Han, she was in the battle! That’s great. “She grabbed a blaster and started shooting.” Love this statement. I almost want to print it out and plaster it on my wall. It really speaks to what kind of person she was. A princess hero with a blaster, splendid.
Do you drink Starbucks Coffee? If so, what’s your M.O.?
Dude. I live in the Seattle suburbs. Of course I drink Starbucks coffee. (And yes, Starbucks is everywhere.) Favorite hot drink: tall skinny vanilla latte. Favorite cold drink: venti unsweetened black tea. At home it’s usually French or Italian roast.
Well, we won’t hold that against you. Don’t stone me, but I love Tim Horton’s coffee. Starbucks is a little bitter on the palate. However I will get their white chocolate mocha once or twice a year.
Where did you go to school?
I graduated from Northwest Nazarene University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. I know, I know. I’m a science nerd. But it’s useful when you write speculative fiction.
Nothing wrong with being a science nerd, especially if your writing speculative fiction! I find it pretty cool actually.
Favorite snack when writing?
I’m not a snack-while- I-write kind of girl, but if I was, it would involve something that’s salty and/or crunchy and covered in chocolate. Beverages are a necessity when I write. I always have tea or coffee close by.
I’m not much of a snacker either while writing. I ditto the tea or coffee though! I’ll fire up a cup of Earl grey, peppermint or some nice ginger flavors.
1. You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?
I grew up in a family with a love for good stories, whether they were in the form of books or movies. Those stories sparked my imagination. They opened up worlds—entire galaxies!—of possibilities. They inspired me to think and dream and look beyond what was right in front of me. To create worlds of my own.
Yes, I have a very similiar background. Those stories set fire to our minds, opening up the vast worlds, and the galaxy of our imagination.
a. What did you learn in writing Into the Fire?
There’s a lot of personal growth going on behind the scenes of a book. If you want your book to connect emotionally with your readers, then it has to be real, and being real is scary. It means exposing a little piece of your soul to the world. But something beautiful happens when you do: you grow stronger. As I wrote Into the Fire, I went on a journey with my protagonist Kate. As she found the courage to keep going in spite of her fear—in spite of how hard life can get sometimes—I learned to do the same. She may be fictional, but Kate inspires me.
Wow, this is amazing. When we write our stories we’re indeed sending little pieces of our soul out into the world. Amazing. I do like the thought of taking a journey with the protagonist. It’s a mutual journeying experience. I also love the thought of being inspired by a character that you wrote. That’s awesome. Inspiration first brought you the character, you developed it, and now she’s a continual source of written inspiration. That’s awesome!
2. What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
My ultimate goal is to connect with readers. I want to create stories that will transport them to another world, and I hope they find something in my story that will inspire them to see themselves and their own world in a new way.
I LOVE that you want to connect with your readers and take them on a meaningful journey. Just by this statement, I can tell you’re a good storyteller. That means a lot and says what kind of writer you are.
a. What’s it like being published? A lot of us dream about this. You’re not only published, but your book Into the Fire is a double semifinalist in the Realm award.
Being published is both terrifying and the best thing ever. It’s terrifying in that there’s no going back. My work is out there where anyone can read it (and criticize it). You feel very “exposed” as a published author (which for an introvert is pretty much a nightmare). But being published is also the best thing ever because you hear from readers who have totally connected with your characters and “love, love, LOVE” your story. And sometimes you get to see all your hard work pay off with professional recognition—things like your book being a double semifinalist for the Realm Award.
That’s great! As we said earlier, it’s like we’re shipping out a piece of ourselves out into world for mass exposure. But it’s also displays an intrinsic theme, a story, character we want them to know about. First is resonates with you, then with readers from all walks of life. That’s mind boggling! It’s an echo of hearts, we just make the first sound.
3. What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
Lack of time. Lack of focus. Fear.
Ah, yes. Time, focus, fear. The three evil siblings that do their masters bidding. I ask every writer these questions and time and fear are always listed.
4. What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
I love to create stories, and I believe that’s what God has called me to do. Those two thoughts keep me grounded. Now that I’m published, reader feedback is a huge factor in staying motivated. A teenage boy said I’m his favorite author, and a teen girl said she’s dying to read the next book. Another reader said that when she finished Into the Fire she wanted to read it again and spend more time with the characters. Those are the kind of things an author loves to hear, and they help me stay motivated. I know that all my time and effort will eventually pay off.
Again, love your spirit. These kids are feeding off your stories and you’re feeding off their encouragement. Beautiful how that works isn’t it?
5. What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
I am my own worst enemy. All too often I let fear and self-doubt hold me back.
Aren’t we all? This is just human nature itself. Self-doubt and fear. Yet you overcame them both! Now your story connects with readers and authors. Very inspiring.
a. A lot of us think being published is the goal, since you’re there, what’s the next battle?
The next battle is to keep going and stay focused on what’s important. You can’t let things like negative feedback or sluggish sales discourage you. Haters gonna hate, and the sales will come. Make sure you celebrate every success, no matter how big or small. You worked hard for those successes. Enjoy them! (Yes, I’m also preaching to myself here.)
It’s only the beginning for you I’m sure. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they always say.
6. If you have given up your dream, why? (If no skip to next question)
When I first started writing, there were a couple of times I gave up because I was so discouraged. The urge to write never really went away though, so eventually I started again. There are still days when I want to give up, but it usually means I’ve been pushing myself too hard and need to take a day off. I’ve learned to keep going when I want to quit, but it takes practice and a healthy dose of stubbornness.
Because writing is really, really hard. It’s a lot of work, often with little or no reward. (At least not that we can see.) We put our very hearts on the page, and we take a huge risk by revealing our hearts to the world. It’s almost impossible not to take rejection personally, because it’s us on the page.
Take a deep breath. Know that you’re not alone. Now go find other writers. I can’t stress that enough. Whether it’s online or in a local writers’ group, find the people who “get you.” Draw encouragement from them. Learn from those who have gone before you and lived to tell the tale. You don’t have to face the big bad publishing world all by yourself. Don’t give up your dream!
Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.