Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her brand new book, The Things We Cannot Say, is Kelly Rimmer.
Kelly Rimmer has sold over 600,000 digital copies of her previous four novels: ME WITHOUT YOU, THE SECRET DAUGHTER, WHEN I LOST YOU and A MOTHER’S CONFESSION. BEFORE I LET YOU GO was Kelly’s first novel with Hachette Australia and was a Top 10 bestseller. Kelly lives in rural NSW with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than 20 languages.
Hello Kelly. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. Thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
I’m an equal opportunity beverage enthusiast – I’m yet to meet a hot drink I didn’t like. I feel much the same about chocolate and all forms of chocolate inspired baking – so today I think I’ll have a coffee with a nice chocolate croissant.
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
This is my sixth women’s fiction novel. I also write contemporary romance and the first titles in my Startup in the City series will be released later this year.
The Things We Cannot Say has just been released. Can you describe it in just a sentence?
It’s the story of a woman who has to juggle the complexities of family life with a quest for answers from her grandmother’s past, and also the story of a young couple living in occupied Poland during WW2.
What came first in the creation of the novel – the title, plot, characters or setting when you first set out to write The Things We Cannot Say?
In this case, it was a combination of setting and the characters that became clear in my mind first. It happens differently with each book, but I do usually have an idea for the characters early on in my planning.
How long did it take you to write The Things We Cannot Say?
This book is a little unusual for me – I started thinking about it/reading for it around a decade ago. In terms of focussed writing, I worked on it for about 18 months.
Can you tell us about the research process to bring The Things We Cannot Say to life? How did you incorporate this research into the narrative?
I spent several weeks in Poland researching for this book, as well as years of research here in Australia. Research has two roles for me – firstly, it informs the direction the plot takes, and secondly, it adds a layer of detail that hopefully brings authenticity to the reader’s experience.
The Things We Cannot Say is a dual time period novel, did you find one time period easier than the other to write? How hard was it to link the two time frames together?
Both were difficult to write with this book, because both time periods required so much research. The modern day timeline in this novel centres around a family dealing with autism spectrum disorder. I have two nephews with autism so this is a topic near to my heart and family life. I also spent a week with a friend who had undertaken her postgrad degree in autism studies and has worked for years as a teacher in an autism-specific school.
The historical timeline presented all kinds of other challenges – it’s not easy to get fine details of what life was like in a specific region of Poland eighty years ago!
But bringing the two threads together was actually easy in this case, because I knew right from the outset how the book would end…
Where did the inspiration for your characters come from?
I like to think that every character I write is a mosaic, made up of tiny bits of many, many people I’ve met over the course of my lifetime. I’d never write a character that matches any one person, but rather, tiny aspects of my characters are made up of tiny details I’ve noticed in friends and family and strangers over the years.
Can you tell us more about the different settings featured in The Things We Cannot Say?
Most of the book actually takes place in Poland, both modern day and historically. Part of the story takes place in United States, and I picked that particular setting for reasons that are hard to explain without giving away spoilers!
What do you hope readers will take away from reading The Things We Cannot Say?
I hope that readers lucky enough to still have parents/grandparents alive will take the time to ask them about their experiences earlier in life, and to learn from those stories while they can.
How will you celebrate the official release day of The Things We Cannot Say?
I’m having a launch at one of my favourite cafes in my home town of Orange, in New South Wales. This will feature all of the usual release day things – delicious cheese and wines, and of course, books and book chat! I’ve also just informed my husband that we are going out for coffee and a nice chocolate croissant for breakfast on release day, because you’ve got me thinking about that now!!
How has your writing evolved since your first published novel?
I wrote my first novel for an audience of one: me. When I wrote the first drafts of that book (Me Without You), I was just writing for fun and exploring ideas that interested me, and many years passed between me finishing it and me seeing it published.
Five books and hundreds of thousands of readers later, I do still think I do my very best writing when I’m locked away in a room with the door closed, writing for that same audience of one. So my answer to this question is – I hope it hasn’t changed too much.
How do you balance life with writing?
Not well. When I’m really engrossed in a story, everything else suffers. I’m trying to get better at this but it’s probably the area I struggle with most.
Is there a genre you haven’t tried writing yet, but want to in the future?
I have been toying with a few speculative fiction stories that I haven’t dared to finish or expose to critical eyes yet. One day!
If you could slip back in time, what era would you travel to and why?
For all of the problems the world faces today, this is still by far the best time to be alive in history. We focus so much on humanity’s challenges and struggles because we want to do better, but we’ve already come such a long way and I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to go back at all!
What is next on the horizon for Kelly Rimmer? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I’ve just finished my as-yet-untitled novel which will be released in 2020. It’s the story of a mother and daughter, each dealing with the same health issue 40 years apart.
What 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
I’m really looking forward to The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff and am already counting down the days to The Testaments (Margaret Atwood). It’s going to be a great year for books!
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
After writing this book, I’d have to say my grandmother. Oh, the questions I wish I could ask her about her life before she came to Australia!
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Kelly. Congratulations on the publication of The Things We Cannot Say!
A searing page-turner of family secrets and the legacy of war by the Top 10 bestselling Australian author of BEFORE I LET YOU GO
2019 Life changed beyond recognition for Alice when her son, Eddie, was born with autism spectrum disorder. She must do everything to support him, but at what cost to her family? When her cherished grandmother is hospitalised, a hidden box of mementoes reveals a tattered photo of a young man, a tiny leather shoe and a letter. Her grandmother begs Alice to return to Poland to see what became of those she held dearest.
WWII Alina and Tomasz are childhood sweethearts. The night before he leaves for college, Tomasz proposes marriage. But when their village falls to the Nazis, Alina doesn’t know if Tomasz is alive or dead.
2019 In Poland, separated from her family, Alice begins to uncover the story her grandmother is so desperate to tell, and discovers a love that bloomed in the winter of 1942. As a painful family history comes to light, will the struggles of the past and present finally reach a heartbreaking resolution?
Inspired by the author’s own family history, The Things We Cannot Say unearths a tragic love story and a family secret whose far-reaching effects will alter lives forever.
The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer is published by Hachette Australia. Out now. $29.99
Connect with Kelly here: