Kim Westwood is the award winning author of the recently reviewed The Courier’s New Bicycle as well as her first novel and many short stories that have been highly acclaimed. We took the opportunity to ask Kim some questions for a little more insight into the mind behind Sal Forth.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to this point?
I could try to answer this in a sentence or two, but the bio on my website www.kimwestwood.com gives a better picture!
What made you decide to be a writer?
I didn’t exactly decide. I’ve always written because I’ve felt compelled to. It’s my way of trying to make sense of a crazy world. The galvanising moment was when my short story ‘The Oracle’ was published in Redsine 9 and won an Aurealis Award. That told me there are people out there who might like to read what I write. Until then I didn’t actually know.
A lot of your material is set in the not too distant future, in a world that has suffered much change. Can you tell us what drove you to write these stories? Where did you get your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from so many places: history, personal life events, the daily news, the strange and sometimes wonderful sometimes terrible interaction of humans with each other and their environment. I’ve always had a preoccupation with humanity’s capacity for destruction and equal instinct for survival.
Your writing is extremely poetic and lyrical. Did you start out writing poetry?
I think so. I remember being entranced by haiku in primary school. It’s a Japanese form of poetry that has a very compact beauty and power. My first novel, The Daughters of Moab, came out of the love of poetry. Each chapter began as an image or a phrase that grew into a vignette, each vignette combining to make the novel. That’s why, to plumb the novel, a reader needs to approach it as they would a poem. The Courier’s New Bicycle is a very different creature, made in a very different room of my imagination. It’s a much faster ride—there’s a mystery to solve, after all, and time is of the essence.
What is the most memorable job you have done to support yourself while you write?
I’ve done a lot of jobs I’d prefer to forget—but then they become fodder for stories. For instance, ‘Stella’s Transformation’ (Encounters, Best US Fantasy) came out of a job photocopying things for other people, and ‘Tripping Over the Light Fantastic’ (Orb #6; Best Australian Speculative Fiction Vol 3; ABC Radio National) was how I exorcised the experience of an awful job interview.
Are you a big reader as well as a writer? What was the last book you read?
I’ve always read a lot, and different styles, genres. When I’m working very hard on my novel, my reading becomes closely related to the realm of my work. This makes for a certain ebb and flow to my reading patterns. The book I’ve just finished reading is Chris Womersley’s Bereft. It’s a compelling story, and fantastic prose. I’ve also been dipping into a poetry anthology called Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times.
Can you tell us what’s next for Kim Westwood?
A couple of short stories and novel number three.
Where is the most exciting place your writing has taken you?
Wild places. The Australian interior. Tasmania. I’d also say my imagination. In there, the possibilities are infinite.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers trying to get published?
I don’t want to say something that just sounds like a cliché. My best advice is that to keep writing and putting your work ‘out there’ despite the detractors, the setbacks, the multiple rejections, etc, you have to learn to nurture yourself somehow.
What does being a woman mean to you?
What short answer can I give to such a complex thing? The term contains assumptions I don’t necessarily agree with or believe in, and expectations I don’t feel the need or desire to fulfill. But that’s a wishy-washy answer! If you really want to know, and are prepared for the more complete answer, you’ll need to read The Courier’s New Bicycle.
Thank you so much for your time Kim, it was great to get to know you a little better.
My blurb went missing… so now I have to bring you a new one. One that is a little broader too.
I devour books, vampires and supernatural creatures are my genre of choice but over the past couple of years I have broadened my horizons considerably.
I inhale music, hair metal that satisfies my inner bogan is where my musical passion lies, but again I’ve been exposed to lots of different music I wouldn’t normally listen to and have broadened those horizons also.
In a nutshell – I love to write! I love interacting with a diverse range of artists to bring you interviews.
Perhaps we were perfect before – I LOVE WORDS! Reading, writing, speaking, listening – if it’s got words I’m there!