Across ‘The Ditch’ – an interview with Kim Koning, NZ author

I’m thrilled to welcome Kiwi author and poet, Kim Koning to my blog. Kim lives in Auckland, NZ. I got to know Kim when we both joined a very supportive international group, the NaNoWriMo Warriors.

Thanks so much, Kim for coming on to my blog.  It is with heartfelt sadness in this tragic time of the Christchurch earthquake – Tuesday 22nd February 2011, and I wish you and your compatriots in Christchurch and throughout NZ healing times ahead.

Kim Koning, author, poet and blogger

Welcome to Australia, Kim!

Thank you for having me on your blog, Sheryl. After doing a few interviews now with other writers, it is an interesting process to be on the other side of the interview process.

I notice you also write poetry. What genre you like doing best?

This is a difficult question to answer. My favourite genre to write would be realistic fiction or moral fiction. I believe there is great power in words and that as writers we have the power to challenge bias and challenge people’s thought systems.

How long have you been writing, Kim?

I have been writing since I was a little girl. From journal writing to short stories to poetry. Writing has always been a way of communication to me. It is a way for me to work through difficult things in my life.

And how’s your current work-in-progress shaping up?

My current work in progress is something that is very close to my heart. It is not an easy story to write as it deals with a harsh story line but it is a story that came to me after a dream I had a few years ago. It is a realistic fiction story with a crime/suspense element.

It is also a difficult story to write as it is based on experiences of people very close to me. But this is a story that haunts me every day and that I need to write.

It is one that will pull at the emotional heart-strings and also challenge people’s perceptions on the idea of good and bad. If my writing this story can get people talking and maybe changing certain things and bringing secrets into the light, then my task and purpose is done. This is the essence of the plot:

A nameless girl is attacked and a trauma psychologist is called into help. These two have more in common that bind them together than what keeps them apart. One tragedy opens old wounds that threatens to destroy one of the women and threatens to irrevocably change the other.

Nobody is all good and nobody is all bad in this story. The weak can be strong and the strong can be weak. Actions can cause a ripple effect that will change the surface of all lives.

Kim's blog

Does Auckland have good writers’ support networks or organisations?

Auckland is a very spread out city. I did not know of any organisations or support networks until mid year last year when I was introduced to Romance Writers NZ by a fellow Auckland writer. I went to my first writers’ conference and met my two critique partners there. I also participated in NaNoWriMo last year and met quite a few Kiwi writers through that. There are organizations here but not enough and not varied enough. The romance market is catered for very well but there is not much else for other genre writers.

Writers sometimes need to work in other fields as well because writing is so lowly paid. Do you work in a writing related field? Or in a job far away from writing? Tell us about your experience.

Currently my EDJ (Evil Day Job) is not in writing. I am a manager in the sales industry. I often say to people that I have two full-time jobs: my EDJ and my writing.

I am working towards doing writing full-time though. I am a trained freelance journalist specialising in travel journalism. I would like to do this in the near future.

Getting published is every writer’s dream, but requires persistence, hard work, talent and a dash of luck. What is the situation in New Zealand, a much smaller publishing arena? How difficult is it to get published?

This depends on how you want to be published and where your market is. You are correct in saying that the New Zealand publishing arena is a small one.

For myself, I am not looking at being published here in New Zealand. I would be looking at the USA and UK publishing arenas.

The NZ publishing industry is a difficult one to break into as a new author because most times you are dealing directly with publishers and editors. So if you’re having to do other work outside of writing then the time needed to sell your pitch and your book to publishers is nigh on impossible – especially as there are few agents. Because of publishers’ financial and size limits, it is more difficult to break out in New Zealand than in other larger markets.

In Australia, it’s not essential to have an agent to get a publishing deal, whereas in the States it seems to be the opposite. What’s the situation in NZ?

From what I know in New Zealand, agents are not essential to getting a publishing deal here. I think that is a Catch-22 situation. I definitely believe that having an agent work on behalf of you the writer is far less stressful and more expedient towards that successful publishing deal in the right market.

Agents are invaluable to when it comes to the paperwork side of a publishing deal like helping the writer decipher and understand contracts.  Totally agree, Kim!! 🙂

Even though it is a difficult road to follow, what is it that keeps you fired up enough to keep following your writing passion?

Of course I want my fiction published. I am fortunate in that I have already been published in my poetry. However I do not write for publication.

I write because I must. Words are my anchor in this world. I write to make sense of my emotions or to make sense of senseless situations. I write to purge myself of negative emotions. I write to capture positive emotions and events. I write for myself. If my writing can touch one other person or help them through something, then of course, that is gratifying. Writing is a life long passion. I am a writer irregardless of whether anyone buys or reads my writing.

I feel most liberated when I have a blank screen up before me or have a blank page in front of me.  For me writing is an escape, a hobby, a joy, a passion and my purpose.

I believe everyone in life has something that they really excel at and that really fulfills them. For me this is writing.

Do you have a Writers’ Centre in Auckland – are you a member? If so, what activities do they have to include writers?

I am a member of RWNZ: Romance Writers of New Zealand. They meet once a month and then once a year they have a large conference. They also have competitions and workshops throughout the year.

Are you a ‘plotter’ of stories? Or do you just write instinctively, a ‘pantser’?

I am definitely an instinctive or an organic writer. For me I have a whisper of  story through the voice of a character and then I sit down and write. Sometimes I do not know where my writing is going but then I will turn a virtual corner and everything will click into place. For some of my stories that are research-intensive I use mind-mapping as a tool to guide my research. But some stories can not be plotted because when I begin them I do not know where they will end up. For me, that is the joy of writing stories!

I am on a treasure hunt. I can see a few steps ahead of me but most of it is a treasure to be searched out and explored. I find plotting too restrictive to the story and every time I have tried to plot a story, it never stays the same way. My characters all seem to be rebels in this way. But I believe each to their own. For some writers, plotting is the only way they can write. I also believe you write as you live. I am not a planner in life. I am very impulsive and thrive on change and challenges. My method for writing stories echoes this need for freedom without boundaries.I am a gypsy at heart and on the written page.

What would your favourite pieces of advice be for developing and beginning writers?

  • My favourite piece of advice would be not to give up. Even if you fall down or stumble, get up again. Do not let criticism or critiques stop you from writing.
  • Writing is an art form – there will always be people who do not understand the passion or the need for writers to write. Find your own way with your words.
  • Don’t copy other writers’ voices – develop your own. Trust in your abilities. Write from your heart and soul, not from your mind. Write stories and poems that make you cry and laugh at the same time. This will come through your writing. Write for yourself first.

Kim, we met doing the NaNoWriMo – what did you think about the whole process of that crazy, productive, amazing month of November?

I absolutely loved NaNoWriMo. It was truly one of the best experiences of my writing life so far. I learnt so much, both about myself and both about the writing craft.

I also learnt that even though time is sometimes a rare commodity, you need only 1 hour to write seamlessly. My favourite part of the experience was the camaraderie of knowing that tens of thousands of writers all around the world were taking part in the same challenge as me. I met so many wonderful writers who have now become friends through NaNoWriMo and through our FB group. The support of this group really carried me along and I managed to finish my NaNoWriMo novel in 12 days.

The most amazing thing is that this group has continued post-NaNoWriMo and is my favourite water cooler in my world. Whenever I feel disheartened or overly challenged I can come to this online writing group and find support, encouragement and advice. Totally agree with you again, Kim!

Many people turn their noses up at NaNoWriMo because they believe it is an impossibility to write a book in 1 month. All I can say is this sort of thinking comes from people who have not partaken in a NaNoWriMo. It teaches you about the need for self-discipline in writing. It teaches you about the importance of committing time every day to your writing craft, whether that be 1 hour or whether that be 4 hours. It gives you a sense of achievement if you are a new writer.

Overall, I believe that NaNoWriMo was a learning curve and has been a necessary step in my writing journey. Will I be partaking in another NaNoWriMo? A resounding YES.

Kim, tell us about your blog.

My blog has been up and running since July 2010. Initially I was sceptical about starting a blog. But after talking to a number of writers and bloggers out there, I put one small toe into the blogosphere and created Dragonfly Scrolls. I started off with an independent blogging host but came across more glitches than anything else. It was not long before I switched to WordPress.

On my blog, I write and share about all things creative. The main focus would be the writing craft; both chronicling my own writing journey and giving tools and tips that I learn along the way that I hope help other writers. I also use my blog to post my poetry and my photography; two great passions of mine.

I have found blogging to be a useful platform to both build a network of support from readers and writers but also as a platform to teach non-writers about writing and why writing and words are so important to me as a woman and a writer. I have also recently starting running a series of interviews where I interview creative people on their passions.

On the whole this has been a series of enlightening interviews with some amazing writers on writing with all its complexities and simplicities. I am also partaking in the 2011 Wordpress Challenge where I post every day or every week this year. It is amazing what you can come up with when you know you have to write a post that your readers are waiting for. I also love having a blog for the amazing people who I have met through it.

You can find me at:

DRAGONFLY SCROLLS on WordPress.

Last Lines on Twitter and  On tumblr

Kim Koning Writer at Dragonfly Scrolls on Facebook.

Thanks so much, Kim for coming on to my blog. I wish you well and I also wish those of your compatriots in Christchurch and through NZ, my heartfelt sadness in this tragic time of the Christchurch earthquake – Tuesday 22nd February 2011.

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12 thoughts on “Across ‘The Ditch’ – an interview with Kim Koning, NZ author

  1. Nice to meet you Angela!:) Sorry it took me a while to comment back…I had a slight WordPress problem and could not access any WordPress site. Glad some questions got answered. 🙂

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  2. I really enjoyed this interview, Sheryl. As an Auckland born and raised writer now living in Australia it answered a lot of questions for me. Nice to meet you, Kim.

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  3. Great interview, Sheryl. It was nice to read about the New Zealand publishing industry. In India too we need to connect with publishers and editors directly due to lack of literary agents.

    Kim…your current WIP sound absolutely wonderful.

    Hugs to the two of you .

    Rachna

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  4. Thank you for inviting me to Australia Sheryl. I always have a good time here! Thank you also for your thoughts and concern re Christchurch. Us neighbours have had a tough 2011 this year. What with Queensland/Victoria floods, WA Fires and Christchurch earthquake. My thoughts are with all those affected by any of these happenings.
    Dee – Hi and waving back at you.
    Denise – Hi Denise, fancy finding you here in Australia “via Sheryl’s blog” too. 🙂
    Kerri/Kaz – Hi and lovely to meet you.

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  5. Welcome to Australia, Kim….waving at you and Sheryl from the other side of the country.

    I love the sound of your current WIP, Kim. It sounds very compelling.

    Thanks, Kim and Sheryl for a great interview:)

    Dee

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  6. Nice interview Sheryl, it’s always fascinating to see what makes another author tick.

    Good questions and really nice to meet Kim!
    Thankyou for a bright, sane haven in this crazy day!

    Like

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