As you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Please welcome Amelia Kibbie, author of the short story “Idylls of the King.” Here’s the first paragraph to get us started:
James glanced at his mother every few moments as they walked briskly towards the train station. Her expression was blank, though she raised her lace-trimmed handkerchief to the corners of her eyes from time to time. Once, she caught him looking, just as another family with their children trotted past, toting small luggage. The two young girls wailed openly and their mother streamed silent tears in a continuous torrent.
What inspired you to write this story?
I actually wrote this for another anthology called “Heart of Steel.” The prompt was to write an LGBT love story that featured a knight of some sort and had a happy ending. I heard about it in a writing group and wanted to participate. However, I didn’t want to go the traditional fantasy route. So I thought, what if an old suit of armor could help someone have the heart of a knight, even if they weren’t one in the traditional sense? I also have to give credit to the sequel to “The Woman in Black” which isn’t a good movie but has a cool premise — the kids removed from London to escape the bombings and move in to a isolated manor house.
I could use a suit like that!
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
This is a story of bullying, and yes, the bullies get their comeuppance, but the only way that happens is when someone EMPOWERS the bystanders. That is one of the underlying lessons here that anyone can take away. You might not be the one being targeted, but if you stand there and watch you are complicit.
An important—and timely—lesson indeed.
Amelia, how long have you been writing?
Since third grade. We had a our first ever creative writing unit and I wrote a Superfudge fan fiction.
Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?
I work for a small school district. We are preschool-12th in one building and we have a daycare with babies as young as three months! I spent 10 years teaching middle school English, one year in high school, and now I am a teaching coach and part time MTSS interventionist. That means I work with kids who face barriers to success that are not in special ed. So this would include things like emotional regulation, executive functioning, some forms of autism, home problems, etc. It keeps me VERY BUSY!!
Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)
I used to only write long, long novels. I wrote a few short stories and considered them practice. When I hit 30 and decided this writing thing was something I really wanted to try and do, I started taking them more seriously. Especially after one won a prize. I wrote a novel but I pretty much hate it now. I love writing short stories because you get to the meat of the conflict without the extra stuff. Also editing is a breeze, and beta readers are easier to get because it isn’t such a big time commitment. If your short story fails, you wasted your time maybe, but NOT as much time as I wasted on that novel I’m sick of.
I understand all too well.
However… I am working on a novel again!
What does your typical “writing day” look like?
I don’t have one. I work full time and I have a toddler. You gotta get while the gettin’s good. Mostly when she is napping on the weekends I try to get something done. I steal little bits of time when I can.
A toddler and a demanding job? I am secretly vowing to never complain about being busy again. Is there any chance you squeeze in time for reading, just for enjoyment?
My husband and I just celebrated our sixth anniversary. He planned the whole thing, which he dubbed the Anniversary-Scary. He gave me a bunch of books to read before we went on a secret spring break trip. They were ghost stories from Lincoln and Broken Bow, Nebraska, Cheyenne, Wyoming, and a new copy of The Shining. We road tripped down to Estes Park to stay at the Stanley Hotel. I powered through all those books before the trip and I’m still working on King’s collection Bazaar of Bad Dreams.
That. Is. Amazing. Well done, husband! (Mine sometimes pretends to be interested when I run plot ideas by him. Ha!)
Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?
I have a short story in the pro-human science fiction anthology (made famous by tumblr) called Humans Wanted. It’s a fantastic collection and I’m honored to be featured with other authors of such talent.
Fabulous! Readers, check that out.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
First, live a rich life. I’ve based so many of my characters and locations on places I’ve visited. You have to DO STUFF so you have a great treasure chest to pull ideas from. I think fanfiction is a great gateway to writing. I’m not hating on ff in any way, but I see it as a stepping stone to your own original work. Some people I know want to write, but they are so nose-deep in consuming the narratives of other people that they don’t give themselves room to come up with their own ideas. Lastly, keep a notebook with you for ideas, lists, clippings, etc. I call mine a commonplace book (in the tradition of the old English variety) and I can’t live without it. One night I thought I lost it and I cried for an hour before I found it.
I get it, man. I get it.
Where can readers learn more about you and your work?
Check out ameliakibbie.com and click on the tab “read Amelia’s work.”
I hope they will. Thank you for being here!