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Author, Kim Edwards
Kim Edwards is the best-selling author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter and winner of the Sainsbury's Popular Fiction Award at the 2008 British Book Awards. The book was adapted for television by Lifetime Television. She is also the winner of multiple other awards for her short story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King. Her most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller, The Lake of Dreams, was released early 2011.
I was recently given the opportunity to interview Ms. Edwards for Teen Ink.
Rachel- Tell us about yourself.
Kim Edwards- I grew up in Skaneateles, NY, in the Finger Lakes district, and went to Cayuga Community College for two years before I transferred to Colgate University. I did my graduate degree at the Iowa Writers Workshop, and then taught for five years in Malaysia, Japan, and Cambodia. Now, I am an Associate Professor at The University of Kentucky. I live in Lexingon,Kentucky.
RH- How did you first become interested in writing?
KE- I have always loved books, even before I learned how to read, and I have always dreamed of being a writer.
RH- One of your most popular novels is The Memory Keeper's Daughter; tell us about the writing of it.
KE- I thought about the book for about three years before I started writing it, and I wrote the first chapter very quickly, which is unusual for me. Then I was so interested in the story and the character that in had to write the rest of the book to find out what happened. It took about three years.
RH- What part did you play in bringing your story to life for film?
KE- Very little. Film is very different from writing—there are things you can do in novels that you can't do in movies, and vice versa. I did go to watch the filming for a day, and it was very interesting. I learned a lot.
RH- What has been your favorite novel to write?
KE- It's impossible to choose. I love them all. But of course I feel closest to the most recent, The Lake of Dreams.
RH- Who are some of your favorite authors?
KE- I read widely and have many inspirations, but I always come back to Virginia Woolf, as well as to the Irish writer, William Trevor, and the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro.
RH- Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
KE- Stories come from everywhere—a newspaper article, something I overhear, dreams.
The Memory Keeper's Daughter started when the pastor of my church read my story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King, and felt moved to give me a story she knew, about a man whose brother had been given to an institution at birth, and was kept a secret from his family for over 40 years, because he had Down Syndrome. I was struck by the secret at the center of her story.
RH- What can readers expect from The Lake of Dreams?
KE- Like The Memory Keepers Daughter, The Lake of Dreams has a secret at the center, but this time the readers don't know the secret right away; the book unfolds something like a mystery, and readers discover the story along with the protagonist, Lucy Jarrett. This is Lucy's story—she needs to cone to terms with her sadness and sense of responsibility for her father's death a decade before. On a visit home from her life in Japan.
RH- Currently, you are traveling South America and Europe; what has been your favorite part of your travels?
KE- I had a wonderful time visiting Rio de J, a stunningly beautiful city, and attending a literary festival there. Then I flew to Milan, Italy and went to another festival in the beautiful ancient city of Mantova. It was fantastic. You can see some photos on my website www.kimedwardsauthor.com
I love to travel—I lived for six years in Malaysia, Japan, and Cambodia—and I learn so much from every trip I take.
RH- What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
KE- Write as much as possible. Also, read as much as possible. Don't worry about publishing right away. Find a supportive group of other writers to share your work and get feedback. Always,write for the joy of it.