It is my pleasure to welcome Kim Lock to Mrs B’s Book Reviews for a Q & A session. I recently discovered Kim’s writing after reading her third novel, The Three of Us. I loved this novel so much that Kim is now one of favourite Australian novelists. My Q & A with Kim follows a five star review I published earlier this week of Kim’s latest novel, The Three of Us on the blog.
About the author…
Kim Lock was born in Mount Gambier in the 1980s. In her early twenties she moved to Darwin, where she spent several years as a senior graphic designer for the Northern Territory’s top advertising agency. As always, she wrote – but she kept it to herself.
After living in Darwin, Melbourne and Canberra, Kim returned to South Australia, where she lives in the Barossa Valley with her partner and children.
Inspired by a fascination with the tales that develop behind closed doors, Kim’s fiction explores the stories that shape people’s lives, but that they hide from society.
Kim qualified as a breastfeeding counsellor when her first child was young, and has volunteered supporting parents in this role for almost ten years. She has a particular passion in activism for women’s rights in pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
Kim Lock’s debut novel, Peace, Love and Khaki Socks, was released by MidnightSun Publishing in 2013. Her second novel was selected to participate in the QWC/Hachette Australia Manuscript Development Program 2013 and was released by Pan Macmillan Australia titled Like I Can Love in March 2016. (Titled as The Good Mother with Little Brown, UK and Random House, Germany.) Her third novel, The Three of Us, was published by Pan Macmillan Australia in February 2018. Kim’s writing has also appeared in, amongst others, Kill Your Darlings, The Guardian, Daily Life, and The Sydney Morning Herald online.
In between writing, Kim works as a freelance graphic designer.
Hello Kim. It is my pleasure to welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. I greatly appreciate the time you have provided to answer a few questions. To begin, The Three of Us, your latest novel published by Pan Macmillan Australia has recently been released. Can you give us an outline of what we can expect?
A. Hello, Amanda, thank you for having me. In the small town of Gawler, South Australia, The Three of Us tells the story of an ordinary street that has seen it all: gossip, arguments, accidents. Births, deaths, marriages. Until the arrival of newlyweds, Thomas and Elsie Mullet. And when one day Elsie spies a face in the window of the silent house next door, nothing will ever be ordinary again. This is a tale of three people with one big secret.
Q. What came first in the creation of this novel – the plot, the characters or the setting when you first set out to write The Three of Us?
A. The main premise of the plot came to me first, as a rumour I overheard. The characters followed immediately after, as I found myself overwhelmed with questions: who are they? What would life be like for them? How did they keep all those secrets, and for so long?
Q. Did you need to undertake any research to bring The Three of Us to life?
A. Yes, quite a lot. It would be difficult to say a lot without giving too much away … but I poured through books such as Sex at Dawn and The Dangerous Bride. I spoke to people and listened to people’s stories. I learned the term compersion, which is defined as the vicarious joy or pleasure one feels when witnessing the joy or pleasure experienced by a loved one – the opposite of jealousy. I took a day trip to the National Archives in Canberra, to visit the harrowing Without Consent exhibit on Australia’s past practices of forced adoption.
Q. I love small town settings and I can see The Three of Us is based in a little country town. How did the idea of featuring the small town of Gawler in South Australia come about?
A. The settings of my past novels have always been somewhat of a love letter to places I have lived. Darwin, the setting for Peace, Love and Khaki Socks, was home to me for four years in my early twenties; the south-east of South Australia was the setting for Like I Can Love and is where I was born and grew up; and now Gawler, which neighbours my current home in the Barossa Valley. I also needed a setting that had a small country town feel – a place where ‘everyone knows everyone’ – yet that also sits close enough to a bigger city, from where I could bring in other characters … and where I could also send characters to hide.
Q. Do you have a soft spot for any one character featured in The Three of Us?
A. Hmm, that’s a great question. All of the characters have touched me in some way, but I must admit I think Thomas is the character I found the most surprising, and also the most endearing. I never knew what he was going to say until he said it!
Q. Is there a particular scene in The Three of Us that you are proud of?
A. There is a scene where one character bathes another. I re-wrote this particular scene over and over, aiming to capture a sense of ambiguous emotion, tender yet hesitant. Because that is how I felt when I wrote it. A reader has since said to me that it was their favourite scene in the novel, so I was very pleased.
There are also some lengthy, dramatic scenes that were cut during latter structural edits. Over 10,000 words worth! Culling these scenes definitely involved the killing of darlings. I loved the scenes, but I knew why they had to go. (If any readers would like to know what those beloved deleted scenes are, when you’ve finished the book, drop me an email and I’ll tell you!)
Q. I featured The Three of Us recently in the Australian Women Writers Challenge Romance round up. Would you class The Three of Us as a romance novel?
A. Thank you so much for the feature! This is an interesting novel in that it straddles a few genres. I think it’s got a little something of everything: family saga, historical-contemporary drama, or even general fiction. But at its heart, yes, it is a love story. Love between adults, the love of a parent and child, love of being true to ourselves.
Q. How different was the experience of writing The Three of Us compared to your previous novels?
A. Writing my previous novel, Like I Can Love, was quite an emotionally challenging experience. I didn’t actually realise how taxing the story had been for me until several months after the book was published. I think that is the reason I found such a deep urge, writing a new manuscript, to create a sense of levity, of love. In a new kind of boundary pushing, I was deeply compelled to make everyone okay.
Q. Can you tell us how you balance life with writing?
A. Oh, I don’t know if I do balance it, to be honest with you! I find editing easier to schedule, in that I’ll simply sit down during business hours and work until it’s done, like any other day job – life happens around it. Writing new material is more of a mercurial beast, it often comes in unexpected bursts, so I tend to write simply whenever I can. Sometimes that means lots of scribbled notes for whenever I can snatch some time at the keyboard, sometimes that means half an hour before dinner or when I wake up at 1 AM, or sometimes that means long hours of uninterrupted typing. I really am still learning to incorporate writing with life. I suspect perhaps I may always be doing so!
Q. What is next on the horizon for Kim Lock? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
A. I have a new novel in the wings. The story is still in its nebulous form, circling around in my imagination, but I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of it.
Q. Finally, what 2018 book releases are you most excited to read?
A. I’m very much looking forward to Lia Weston’s new book, You Wish, which is released as I am writing this. I have also recently taken a peek at D.M. Cameron’s debut novel, Beneath the Mother Tree, which is a gorgeous, dark story that will be released later in the year.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews Kim and congratulations on the publication of The Three of Us!
Thank you for having me, Amanda, it’s been my pleasure to chat with you.
Connect with Kim here:
If this Q & A enticed you to read The Three of Us, here is the blurb:
A life lived in the shadows. A love that should never have been hidden.
In the small town of Gawler, South Australia, the tang of cut grass and eucalyptus mingles on the warm air. The neat houses perched under the big gum trees on Church Street have been home to many over the years. Years of sprinklers stuttering over clipped lawns, children playing behind low brick walls. Family barbecues. Gossipy neighbours. Arguments. Accidents. Births, deaths, marriages. This ordinary street has seen it all.
Until the arrival of newlyweds Thomas and Elsie Mullet. And when one day Elsie spies a face in the window of the silent house next door, nothing will ever be ordinary again…
In Kim Lock’s third novel of what really goes on behind closed doors, she weaves the tale of three people with one big secret; a story of fifty years of friendship, betrayal, loss and laughter in a heartwarming depiction of love against the odds.
The Three of Us by Kim Lock was published on January 30th 2018 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.