Friday, March 15, 2013

Author: Kim Boykin Interview and Giveaway!

Brought to you by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours...

I'd like to welcome chick-lit author, Kim Boykin, to the blog today to celebrate her debut novel! Welcome to Books à la Mode, Kim! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief bio with us?

I was born in Augusta, Georgia, but raised in South Carolina in a home with two girly sisters and great parents. So when you read my stuff if there is ever some deranged mama or daddy terrorizing the protagonist, I want to make it clear: it’s not them.

I had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, for some reason, it’s very appealing that the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Today, I’m an empty nester of two kids with a husband, three dogs, and 126 rose bushes. I write stories about strong southern women because that’s what I know. I’m an accomplished public speaker, which basically means I’m good at talking.

If this doesn’t tell you what you want to know, check out my blog for a few laughs and some good stuff on writing, gardening, food, and, of course, hair..

What is your newly released The Wisdom of Hair about?

“The problem with cutting your own hair is that once you start, you just keep cutting, trying to fix it, and the truth is, some things can never be fixed. The day of my daddy’s funeral, I cut my bangs until they were the length of those little paintbrushes that come with dime-store watercolor sets. I was nine years old. People asked me why I did it, but I was too young then to know I was changing my hair because I wanted to change my life.”

In 1983, on her nineteenth birthday, Zora Adams finally says goodbye to her alcoholic mother and their tiny town in the mountains of South Carolina. Living with a woman who dresses like Judy Garland and brings home a different man each night is not a pretty existence, and Zora is ready for life to be beautiful.

With the help of a beloved teacher, she moves to a coastal town and enrolls in the Davenport School of Beauty. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Cathcart, she learns the art of fixing hair, and becomes fast friends with the lively Sara Jane Farquhar, a natural hair stylist. She also falls hard for handsome young widower Winston Sawyer, who is drowning his grief in bourbon. She couldn’t save Mama, but maybe she can save him.

As Zora practices finger waves, updos, and spit curls, she also comes to learn that few things are permanent in this life—except real love, lasting friendship, and, ultimately... forgiveness.

How did you arrive at writing chick-lit?


It’s nice to even see the words chick-lit. The publishing industry decided to strike them form the lexicon a few years ago, but chick-lit are stories for women, about women, usually humorous, but they always affirm who we are to a certain degree and provide a guaranteed happy ending. Does it get any better than that?

I absolutely know what you mean! What a relief chick-lit exists. What was the inspiration for The Wisdom of Hair?


Okay, don’t tell anybody, but I hear voices. My characters come to me fully formed with their own story to tell. I just pay attention and type fast. I never know where the story’s going and most of the time, I’m as surprised as the reader at things my characters do.

The beauty school/salon stuff came from hanging out at my mom’s beauty shop as a kid. I was lucky enough to go to beauty school with her a couple of days in the summer when my older sisters couldn’t baby sit for some reason. I saw women come in to mom’s shop, drop their cares at the door, and for an hour, she loved them up and made them beautiful. Most of those women believed if they got their hair “fixed,” their lives would be a little better. I believe that’s what stylists do for us. They change our hair and change our lives.


I don't think I've ever given it thought because I've never had that kind of relationship with a hairdresser personally, but it sounds like a magical connection. How did you get it published? Tell us your call story.


I did things a little backwards. I went to a pitch conference and got 3 editors interested in reading the manuscript. That was the first paragraph of my query letter. I sent out 167 electronic queries, had 60 reading the manscript. Of the 60, 20 read the whole thing, and I ended up with three offers. After trying so hard to get noticed for so long, it was euphoric.


I'll bet! Sounds like a dream come true. Are the characters from your book based off anyone you know in real life?


Never. Like I said, they are all lined up in my head, waiting to tell their stories. Some are more patient than others.

So, 

how much of your actual life does get written into your novels?



Zero. Real life is too damn scary, which is a very good reason to write fiction.


That's pretty much my life motto ;) What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

My biggest strength is texture and characterization, making the reader hear the protagonist’s voice loud and clear and texturizing the story with ample detail to make the writing rich. My biggest weakness is that I am extremely ADHD and can’t copyedit to save my soul, so be forewarned. I drop words and when I go back and reread my brain inserts them. Luckily I have someone do that for me now.


I love great characterization, and yes, the editing is trivial! Someone else can do it for you. Imagination is where the talent is! 

Name the top five novels that have made the biggest impact on your life or on your writing.

I was so ADHD, I could write, but really couldn't sit and read until about fifteen years ago, so my top 5 are more recent.

Robert Olen Butler's short story collection, Had a Good Time; Ann Napolitano’s A Good Hard Look; Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon; and Lolly Winston’s Happiness Sold Separately really made me want to connect with women.


Those all sound marvelous; I've added them to my never-ending to-read shelf. 

How do you react to a negative or harsh review?

Nobody like someone pooh-poohing your work, but it’s their opinion. I had a review from a woman who I know hasn’t read my book because I have a list of folks who have gotten advance release copies. My first instinct was to write and ask her why. But even if she hasn’t read the book and just believes in her heart of hearts that she’ll hate it when and if she does, that’s her deal, not mine.


Excellent way to look at it, and no, she really has no right to do that! Fake/spam reviews need to be filtered out better on review and retailer sites. Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

Put your big girl pants on. Getting published is as gut-wrenching as a woman with no hope going through fertility treatments. On the other hand, never give up. Get better. Grow. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to. If The Wisdom of Hair had been published as soon as I wrote it, it wouldn’t be the book it is now, and that would be a shame.


Now give us your best personal advice—something you wish you had known when you were younger and would offer to your own kids.

I didn’t know any better, then—I didn’t know I wasn’t cool because I came from a one-stoplight town. I just kind of lived my advice without knowing it wasn’t acceptable at times. Be yourself no matter what. I remind my kids of that every day.


What’s a question you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview?

So how crazy WERE you when you planted 175 rose bushes, and why weren’t you able to put the real number on your bio? Did 126 just sound more sane to you?


LOL! How would you answer it??

Okay, I had a rose problem, but I’ve been clean since I sold the book and I am PAYING for my sins because all those roses are NOT “almost carefree” like the tags claimed.


You're a hoot! Glad you're stepping into the "right" path now ;) What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?



LOVE what you do. If you don’t, find a different outlet to express yourself. And don’t kid yourself into thinking that getting a publishing contract is the end of the journey for your book. Self-promotion is a pride-swallowing siege... thank you very much, Jerry McGuire, for coining that term. It’s a perfect fit.


I like how you put that! And I can only imagine how challenging the marketing aspect to writing would be. Share with us, your all-time favorite quote, whether it be one you live by, or one you just find beautiful.


“We are strong women, like steel, and don’t you forget that.”
— My mom

What’s the most interesting comment you have ever received about your books?

“As a male, I was a little leery about the cover art and title of The Wisdom of Hair by Kim Boykin. But my qualms disappeared by page three.”


Aww so this isn't JUST chick-lit—it's a humorous story with a universal message—one we can all read and enjoy. What are your goals as a writer?

I want a very long career and I want women to enjoy my stories and men too—if they’ll keep the eye rolling to a minimum.


Let's have our fingers crossed! Finally, what is the message in your book that you want readers to grasp?



Aside from the lesson on forgiveness, love your hairstylist and appreciate them for what they do for you. The book is really a love letter to hair warriors. Who else makes you look and feel beautiful? 
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I've gotta admit, chatting with you is making me a bit sad! I wish I could meet such a hardworking, awesome hairdresser. Who knows, maybe I will in the future :) Where can you be found on the web?



It was a real treat having you over at the blog today, Kim! Thank you so much for joining us, and good luck with the rest of the tour.


Giveaway!


We've a terrific giveaway for you readers! TWO lucky commenters will each receive a set of two copies of The Wisdom of Hair—one for themselves, and one for their hairdressers! How cute is that?? To enter, tell me
:
What's the wisest thing your mom ever told you?
Please make it MEANINGFUL—comments like "I can't remember" or "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry!!!!
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends 29 March 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally! Woohooo!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I will be selecting winners via Rafflecopter (Random.org), I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!