More About the Author
This is the Short Version:
I grew up in a small town. It wasn't right for me, so I got out. I went to university, got married and moved to LA. I wrote two "practice" novels before TRAFFICKED. I had two kids. We all moved to New York, which I love. In my spare time, I'm a swimmer and a runner and a yogi. I dance in elevators and change rooms. I laugh a lot and sometimes I yell.
This is the Long One:
The first book I wrote was in Mrs. Aalto's fifth grade class when I was picked for an enrichment class. I was so proud. Mine was called the Mystery of the Poison Ivy. It probably isn't any more brilliant than any other child's book and I didn't win any prizes, but it changed my life.
I realized then that having an imagination was a good thing. Before this point, it was a bad thing. I was constantly daydreaming in school and teachers would yell at me for not paying attention. One teacher dropped a stack of books in front of me and another threw an eraser at me. "Kim tends to daydream" is on nearly every elementary school report card. On top of this, I couldn't read very well and I was terrified to read aloud for years. But finally, I learned how to read and discovered that I could escape into books. I became an expert at walking and reading, which was an effective way to cut out a world where I didn't fit in.
I grew up in a small logging town in northern Canada where I didn't meet any novelists, artists or people who made their living doing creative things, ever. These kinds of dreams were "foolish." I made it through some pretty tough years by daydreaming, writing and reading.
I went to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC to get a degree in International Relations and English and there, I learned something about the world. After I finished, I traveled to Mexico and Central America for a year, during which I wrote my experiences in my journal in Spanish. I realized I needed to tell stories, but I was going to be "practical" and get a journalism degree. I went to BCIT to get a broadcast journalism degree.
In the summer, I worked at the radio station in my small town, driving around and reporting on baseball games and fairs. I wanted to spend time with my family, but I wanted to travel the world. I thought I'd be a foreign correspondent, and maybe write a novel.
Shortly after I graduated journalism school, I moved to Korea to teach English with freelancing contacts in my pocket, but they quickly got thrown out when I met my future husband, Gavin, who was also teaching English after college and encouraged me to follow my dreams. I started writing my first novel. It turned out to be an overly autobiographical 'practice' novel and so I moved on to my next.
I moved to LA with my husband (who began working in the TV world) and started teaching ESL there while I worked on my second novel. I took writing classes, rewrote my novel about twenty times and sent it to some agents. Nobody wanted it. I rewrote it some more.
I started mentoring girls at WriteGirl (writegirl.org), an organization that pairs women writers with teen girls, many of whom live in South-Central LA. After a couple years, I became the Curriculum Director for WriteGirl, incorporating some of the fun teaching methods I'd developed in ESL into teaching creative writing. I wrote a book about teaching creative writing with the director, Keren Taylor, and some of the other writers at WriteGirl (PENS ON FIRE).
I kept teaching ESL and along the way, I discovered I loved teaching my foreign students. I loved hearing the stories they told me. It was a lot like journalism, but with more compassion. They told me stories about being mistreated and also stories of mistreating others. I helped one woman get out of a slavery situation and on the other side of things, I had students who thought it was no big deal to have a slave working in their homes. "Life is better for them." "They have food, don't they?" I became interested in the subject of modern-day slavery and the trafficking of humans. There are so many domestic workers in LA that I realized anyone could be a slave. Your neighbor could have someone working in their home as a slave and you wouldn't even know it.
I traveled to Moldova to research my next book, TRAFFICKED. I came home and wrote. I had a baby. We didn't have much money for babysitting, so I wrote every time the baby slept. That baby grew and then I had another baby. I stopped WriteGirl and started an ESL blog to share some of my knowledge with a broader audience. I did some freelancing for It's My Life, a PBS website. And I kept rewriting my novel.
Shortly after we all moved to New York City, I found a wonderful agent. Then, I found an editor in the most unusual way. I was coming home from the National Book Awards reading with some friends and we were talking on the subway about how my agent was about to send out my book when I noticed a woman was listening to us. I figured she was probably another writer - Park Slope is full of them. But then, when I got off, this woman got off and she said, "Excuse me, I'm sorry for eavesdropping, but I'm an editor and I'm interested in your book." I told her I'd love to get my agent to send it to her. She gave me her card. When I walked away, I looked down at it. I expected her to be from a small publisher because of the unusual way we met, so I was both shocked and thrilled when I read "Penguin". We sent it to her and they bought it. So it was a serendipitous moment, preceded by years and years of hard work.
My bio, in many ways, is about never giving up. And doing what you love because you love it and that alone is a great reward.