Sunday, 21 July 2013

Interview with Kim Curran

Today I am very pleased to bring you an interview with Kim Curran, author of Shift and Control. You can read my review of Shift from last year. Control, out in August, is the second book in the series.

But first some competition news:
To celebrate the release of Kim Curran's Control, Strange Chemistry are offering 5 Signed Copies of Control and Shift! To enter, all you need to do is tell us what embarrassing moments you'd change if you could shift! Simply tweet @strangechem and use the hashtag #Control to tell us what red-faced moment you'd like to erase. Winners will be picked at random; the competition is open to international entrants; and competition ends on 31 August.
Now, without further ado, on to the interview!

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Some of my readers are also writers. Could you tell us a bit about your publishing journey and what it's like to work with Strange Chemistry, a relatively new imprint?

My journey was, in some ways, a pretty familiar one. I wrote my first book – a YA urban fantasy – and started submitting it to agents. At first, all I got was form rejection letters. But I kept working on the book. And I guess it got better and better, because pretty soon I was receiving full requests with every submission. But after 20 or so ‘liked it but didn’t love it’ letters, I put that book away and started a new one.

The book I started then was Shift. It seemed to flow out of me and I wrote it in about three or four months. One of the agents who had passed on my first book saw me tweeting about how Shift was inspired by quantum physics and, as a fan of physics himself, asked me to send it to him when I was done.

I did – emailing the MS from a hammock in Mexico where I was travelling with my husband. The agent, Sam Copeland of RCW, DMed me to offer representation about a week later.

About six months after that, I signed with Strange Chemistry.

Working with the team at Strange Chemistry has been a joy. And it’s been especially interesting to be working with an imprint who, just like me, are just starting out. There’s an amazing family feeling at SC and I’ve become very close friends with many of the other authors on their list – something I haven’t seen much with big publishing houses.

We all want each other to succeed and the support network has been invaluable. Especially as in this business, the heartache and rejection never really goes away. Even after you’ve been published.


I read that Shift was inspired by quantum physics. Being a physicist myself, I find that intriguing; could you tell us more about that?

I have zero training in physics beyond my GCSE. But it’s a topic that has always fascinated me. Especially on the quantum level where it seems as if all the ‘usual’ laws of physics are thrown away. After all, they say if you think you understand quantum physics, you don’t. The one experiment that messed with my head most is the Double Slit experiment. I won’t take up space explaining it here, as I cover it in Shift or you can watch this video.

There are two things we can learn from it. First, that light acts as a wave and a particle. And two, that whether it acts as a wave or particle changes depending on whether the experiment is being observed.

This idea niggled away at me. That the very nature of matter is altered by human presence. And one day, when I was sitting on a bus, looking down at all the people below, and wondering about the decisions they have all made and whether they would like to change them the idea came to me: what if someone had the power to change their decisions, the way that light changes from particle to wave. And BAM! Shift was born.


I saw on your website that your day job involves writing copy for videogame ads. Do you think this has influenced the kind of books you write?

I have always loved games. I didn’t have a computer growing up, but I spent a large amount of my time and pocket money in arcades, playing games like Golden Axe and Street Fighter. And when the first PlayStation came out when I was at university I wasted days and days killing zombies. Now, as you say, I write adverts for video games. And I’d love to one day write the games themselves, rather than just the ads for them.

So it’s unsurprising that games have been a huge influence on my work. The first chapter in Shift is actually the main character playing a Zombie Survival game (maybe all those hours playing Resident Evil weren’t wasted after all).

For me, games are just another storytelling medium.


There's a third book in the Shifter series, isn't there? Can you tell us about that and any other future writing plans?

There is indeed. The third is called Delete and should be coming out next year. It will be the last of the Shifter series and I hope to go out with a bang.

As for what comes next, I’m not entirely sure. I have another YA novel I’m currently looking for a home for. A Middle Grade series I’ve started working on and a notebook filled with other ideas. I’m also interested in exploring all the other avenues open to writers these days, such as KickStarter and self-publishing.

I’d also love to make the move from novelist to screenwriter, comic writer and, as I’ve already said, I’d love to write for games.

The industry is going through interesting times. And those who will come out the other side still successful are those who are able to embrace change.

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Thank-you very much for taking the time to answer some questions, Kim! And thanks to Caroline from Angry Robot for organising this. And if you want to win copies of Kim Curran's books, don't forget to enter the competition!

For more info on the books, see Strange Chemistry's pages for Shift and Control or Kim's website.

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