Last week, I shared a little about the amazing Algonkian Writers NY Pitch conference I attended in March. I am still making connections from the conference and reaping the benefits of all that I learned there. I was lucky enough to be placed in group C, under the training of Susan Breen, an author and professor at Gotham University. She taught our group how to perfect our commercial novel pitches so that we were ready to pitch to editors from impressive publishing houses. It truly was the best writers conference I've ever attended. If you'd like to read more about it, last week's blog post contains much more information about the conference itself..
Our group, which we have since called The Algonkian 14, has created a Facebook page on which we can share ups and downs, our success stories and information about writing and publishing. We now have a place to go to support each others’ careers, share pertinent field information, and simply stay in touch. We have the wonderful Kathy Ramsperger to thank for creating the FB page, and I’ll be sharing her interview next week.
This week on Whatever Inspires, I would like to introduce you to the talented Kimberly Bunker. Kimberly lives in upstate New York, where she is finishing both her novel and her MFA from St. Joseph's College. Her fiction recently won Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction Contest and The Story Plant's Authors First Short Story Content. She's also had stories published in PANK, Used Furniture Review, and other magazines. When she's not writing or reading, she's learning a new vegan recipe or practicing aerial silks.
1. Tell me about yourself and your writing.
My focus is on my novel, but I also write short stories. I work as a freelance writer, so I write
Nonfiction too - blogs, articles, etc. But my heart is in fiction.
When did I start writing?...when I learned to write, I suppose. I stopped being embarrassed to show it to people a year or two after college. I was working for a nonprofit that led life history workshops into a women's prison. I was leading one called Live Your Dream, and the discussion question was, What is your dream? For me, the answer was easy - it came immediately, though I'd never said it out loud. "To write a novel."
2. What are you currently working on?
My novel, Dream, Awake, is about an artist named Jessi who, for the past year, has made a living working for the elderly recluse Errol Spice, who pays her to sit at his bedside, listen to a dream he had, then paint it. The story starts when he dies. Days later in the mail, she receives a letter that was written to him years before she met him, yet mentions her by name, and insists that he can save himself from some tragedy if only he contacts her. Shocked, and intrigued, Jessi goes in search of the letter's writer, turning first to her paintings for clues. She finds herself on a quest to uncover Errol Spice's past, and how it - and his dreams - intertwine with her own.
3. Do you outline, or do you write by the seat of your pants?
More so the former, but I wouldn't really call it outlining. I happened upon a new method a couple summers ago, when I was living in North Carolina. I would go off on a long walk with one scene in mind, and I would just climb into that scene and live in it. Then, when I got back to my computer, I'd have that scene in my mind, vivid and real and sensory, and I could write about it from a place of "having been there." Of course, I'd still need to revise it a hundred times, but that was the method for getting it on paper.
4. What was your impression of the Algonkian Pitch conference, and how did it specifically help you in your journey as a writer?
Publishing, and trying to get published, is not antithetical to the "art" of writing. On the contrary, trying to get published has helped me become a better writer. For so long I've been told that I shouldn't care about getting published - I should just write for the love of writing. But those two aren't mutually exclusive. Instead, they - getting published, and loving writing, and becoming a better writer - are all interrelated; they augment each other.
Also, now, I can't imagine ever NOT writing a pitch before I start a new project. Writing a pitch is so effective in chiseling down a big story into the essential parts, the motives and the crossroads and the bare bones of the story.
5. What are your top 5 favorite books?
"Look at the Harlequins" - Vladimir Nabokov
"Kiss of the Spider Woman" - Manual Puig
"Slowness" - Milan Kundera
"Eat, Pray, Love" - Elizabeth Gilbert
"Final Exam" - Julio Cortazar
6. Where can we find more information about you and your books?
I'm still working on building up a platform. Truthfully, I haven't done much yet. I'm getting there. For the moment, I'm just on Twitter - @kimberly_mb. Also, you can find one of my publications in Glimmer Train’s bulletin online - http://www.glimmertrain.com/b81bunker.html
Thanks Kimberly! Looking forward to seeing Dream Awake in print someday soon!
Until next time, be inspired!