Jen: Today we welome Kimberly Belle to Romancing the Book as her blog tour continues. Kimberly, will you share a short bio with us?
Kimberly: Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She’s the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST. She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Kimberly: The Ones We Trust is about Abigail Wolff, a former DC journalist who in an attempt to rehabilitate her career, finds herself at the heart of a US army cover-up involving the death of a soldier in Afghanistan—with unspeakable emotional consequences for one family. As the story of what happened comes to light, Abigail will do anything to write it.
The more evidence she stumbles upon in the case, the fewer people it seems she can trust, including her own father, a retired army general. And she certainly never expected to fall in love with the slain soldier’s brother, Gabe, a bitter man struggling to hold his family together. The investigation eventually leads her to an impossible choice, one of unrelenting sacrifice to protect those she loves.
The inspiration for this story began with Abigail and her relationship with her father, Tom. I’m fascinated by people who do bad things for (in their mind, at least) good reasons, and I wanted to explore how far you can stretch the bonds of trust and loyalty with someone you love. When things are not as they seem, it’s incredibly easy to misjudge someone’s behavior, to assume the worst of them, to react inappropriately because you don’t understand. And even in the closest of relationships, trust is not a given, and we don’t give it infinitely. There’s a point where doubts start to surface and we draw a line in the sand, where we can no longer justify what we are experiencing with the belief that the other person is behaving with good intentions.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Kimberly: I’m a little bit of both. When I sit down to write a story, I always know my four or five big plot points. I know where the story starts, the major twists along the way, and a general idea of how it’s going to end. But how I get from one spot to the next develops mostly when I sit down to write, and I always end up surprising myself with a plot twist that comes out of nowhere.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Kimberly: I write best in an empty house, so my writing routine consists first and foremost of getting the kids and the husband out the door. As soon as they’re gone, I find a good spot to settle with my laptop and a cup of coffee. I have a beautiful desk overlooking the back yard, but I never, ever sit there. I like to write in the rocking chair on the back patio, an armchair in the living room, standing at the kitchen counter. Have laptop, will roam the house until I hit my daily word count.
Jen: Who has influenced you as a writer?
Kimberly: Oh, gosh, how much time do you have? I adore so many of my colleague authors – Cathy Lamb and Mary Kubica and Pam Jenoff to name just a few – but there are so many other good ones out there. In women’s fiction, Heather Gudenkauf, Steena Holmes, Laura Dave, and Allison Winn Scotch are automatic buys for me. Jonathan Tropper can always make me laugh out loud, and whenever a new Black Dagger Brotherhood book from J.R. Ward comes out, I will literally block off a day or two on my calendar to read it. And everything I read has an influence on my writing, from how the author builds suspense to their tight and fast-moving plotlines to the clever ways they lighten up dark subjects with humor. It’s every writer’s affliction; I read with an eye to writing.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Kimberly: I have an ongoing list of names that strike me as interesting, and I consult it for every new story. Especially with my main characters, I can’t really get into their skin until I get their names right. A name says so much about a person! Baby name websites are also a fabulous resource, as are yearbooks and social media sites. And yes, I’ve been known to change a name halfway through a manuscript in order to get the character right in my head and on paper.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Kimberly: I am a yoga fan, some might even say a fanatic. For me it’s more than getting up and out of my writing chair; it’s about getting grounded, about letting the story go long enough to let my subconscious take over. Especially when I’m stuck, I’ve found that as soon as I let go of the story and do something physical, my plot knots unwind and I figure out how to move forward. The longer, leaner yoga bod is an added bonus.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Kimberly: My next book is as-yet untitled story about how a husband’s untimely death unravels a web of secrets and lies. Here’s a quick blurb:
When Flight 23 crashes into a corn field, Iris Griffith is glued to the tv, and the constant news coverage of charred earth and smoking debris. She’s devastated for the families of those on board — one hundred and seventy-nine lives lost in an instant — and she grieves for people she never knew…until investigators show up at her front door and tell her she’s lost someone, too. Her husband Will was one of the victims.
Only, Will was supposed to be at a conference in Florida. Why was he on a westbound plane? And why would he lie about his whereabouts? Iris goes on a desperate quest for answers, and her search leads to people and places she had no idea her husband ever knew existed.
And then the letters begin arriving, postmarked after the crash and written in her husband’s distinct scrawl, demanding she stop her search. Is Will still alive? Is this some kind of morbid joke? Iris is horrified—and in danger. The clues she uncovers show a man very different from the one she married, one whose past could make her the next victim.
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