I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Australian women’s fiction author, Kimberley Freeman who has dropped by to chat about her latest release with Hachette, Ember Island. Kimberley Freeman was born in London and grew up at the seaside on the Queensland coast. She loved writing stories from year one, and has a drawer full of half-finished novels and illustrated stories that she wrote throughout her childhood. She was first published in 1997, while still an undergraduate at university, under her birth name Kim Wilkins. Since then, she has published more than 20 books, in many different languages, has been shortlisted or won several significant awards. She has a PhD from the School of English at the University of Queensland, where she also serves on faculty in the Writing program. She lives in Brisbane.
Hi Kimberley, welcome to the Australian Bookshelf! How would you describe Ember Island in five words?
Bronte sisters meets Australian coastline
I love the idea of islands: they are places in between. I wanted to write a book about Moreton Bay, where I grew up, because it’s beautiful and so steeped in history. Ember Island is a fictional island based a little bit on Moreton Island, and a little bit on St Helena Island (which really was a maximum security prison in the 19th century). I had to spend a lot of research time on Moreton Island. It was a tough gig. 😉
How did you come up with the idea of using two women from different eras who are drawn to Ember Island?
I always like to write stories that go back and forth in history. The place links them together through old diary entries that have been left behind in the superintendent’s house. I am interested in women’s stories and women’s lives, and how they have changed over time.
What’s your alter ego, Kim Wilkins up to at the moment?
I just had a collection of dark fantasy novellas out called “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”.
As a former student of the Year of the Novel course (2012) that you created, I’ve wondered how you balance your time between writing and sharing your knowledge with other writers.
The time I spend writing is my “me” time. I adore it and will never get sick of it. I teach a lot less than I used to, simply because I needed more time to write and to spend with my children. The answer to your question “how do I balance it” is “quite badly”.
And just for fun, when writing do you prefer…
Coffee, tea or hot chocolate? Tea! Irish breakfast tea, made in a pot with real leaves.
Plotting, pantsing or both? (I saw you at the plotters vs. pantsers debate at GenreCon last year… so I kind of already know this one!) I am on the plotting end of the spectrum, but not obsessively so.
Quiet solitude or background noise? It depends. Solitude is nice.
A warm, sunny day or a rainy day? Rainy.
Typing or pen and notepad? Typing. I can do 110 words per minute. That’s how I write the books so fast.
Thank you for stopping by for the chat Kimberley. For those of you who want to rush out and buy Ember Island now, it’s available for purchase at Fishpond and other leading book retailers. You can read my review for Ember Island here.