Dear Kamilla Reid...
How old is Root? And, while we’re at it, how old are Lian and Dwyn? And Hilly and Kor and Tamik and Milden? And why don’t you write their ages?
This I get asked a lot. And the truth is, I think of them as a ‘time’ rather than an exact age. They, to me, are a time of growing up, a span of life when things move away from innocence. Root's is an age of bewilderment, newfound independence and all the stumbling blocks along the way. I also feel strongly that they are each inhabiting a time in young adulthood when we start to question the so-called ‘authorities’ and face the terrible decision of whether to conform and inevitably collapse under its rules, doubts and naysaying or squeeze our dreams tight and forge a new reality.
What would you say The Bone Grit Historeum is truly about?
Y’know I’ve wondered at times why this particular story felt most pressing. Was there a message? An overall meaning? But such thinking can bung you up when you’re just trying to let it through as organic and unedited as possible.
To me The Bone Grit Historeum feels mythical and yet afoot…a past perhaps that streams along the present, if that makes sense.
I can say that, as the story builds and lives are at stake, the over-arcing feeling that seems to repeat is not about the fear of dying but the fear of not living. I do feel that in my own life, that extraordinary need to be who I am fully and the despair when I am thwarted, especially in this world as an artist.
When did you first start writing?
I met and fell in love with writing when I was eight years old. I had been given a homework assignment to write a story and the moment I stirred those creative cogs I was hooked. I turned down TV, music, hanging out with friends, the lure of teasing my brother, dinner, and even a bike ride with Terry, my eight-year-old crush! Since then I’ve always written, taking a long journey from poetry and shorts into theatre as a playwright, actor and director then back into prose and now trying to balance it all.
I love it! And I honestly feel I would wither without it.
What are your favourite books?
Growing up, my number one all-time most beloved book was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I adored that book! I will never forget how I felt when he unwrapped the foil and found the Golden Ticket! I leapt from my skin!
A few years later I came across The Island of the Blue Dolphins. It was the first time I cried reading a book and I remember feeling so strangely elated that words had moved me so.
Now, there are simply too many books to mention, but off the top of my head… A Christmas Carol, The Littlest Witch, The Luck Uglies, Plain Kate, Harry Potter, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Princess Bride, Stardust, The Lord of the Rings…
I have always steered away from heavily placed romances, choosing instead the ones that are adventures first and foremost, especially when there’s loads of humour. I just naturally loved the idea of a girl who might stumble upon love on her way through an adventure rather than one who stumbles along adventure on her way toward love. There’s a monumental difference. And I think the former truly is the happier ending.
What is your writing process?
I write pretty much all day, from about 7:30am to 3:30pm. Often, if I'm focused on a really intense part or the last stretch of a section I'll go later. I try not to write on weekends but often find myself daydreaming scenes and running to my office to write it down.
I’m highly visual so pictures are always great for inspiration. I collect them in a file on my computer.
There is usually a first draft that is just getting the bones down. Then a second draft of filling in where I left things blank. The third is like icing or similar to when I was in the theatre and dressing the set and costumes. It's filled with all the lovely details. Later drafts are tweaks until I just can't look at it anymore and have to let it go.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Expression and purpose. It gets me out of myself and into the world. It feels amazing. Like I'm free and clear with nothing moving through me but timelessness.
What do your fans mean to you?
I love when a fan is like "oh my god, that part when..." or "I nearly died when..." or "I couldn't stop laughing/crying after she..." and it is the exact reaction that I had conjured and hoped to create. I love that alignment. It means I've connected, not only to readers but to myself, that I've done the thing I came here to do.
I love knowing someone is enjoying reading the books as much as I enjoyed writing them. There's such a synchronous give and take. It's awesome. Fans are awesome.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Walking with my dog. Reading. Hanging with my daughter, who thinks I’m somewhat cusping cool. Youtubing (usually a how-to). Music-ing (writing, listening, downloading, tuning). Baking (and burning) something chocolate-y or peanut buttery. Having friends and/or wine over. Gardening aka murdering. Going to a play or movie (alone or with M&Ms). Marathon-ing Lord of the Rings/TheHobbit (again). Stretching. Competing for the laugh.
Stuff like that. Life.
What advice do you have for new writers?
If it is what you love doing, if it is your passion, then write and never, ever, EVER give up. Keep at it. You will only get better. And those that persevere will find it pays off. Do not listen to the naysayers. Write. And trust.