Kimberly Sabatini is a former Special Education Teacher who is now a stay-at-home mom and a part-time dance instructor for three and four year olds. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and three boys. Kimberly writes Young Adult fiction and is represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency. TOUCHING THE SURFACE is her debut novel.
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?
You must find your inner compass and know what it feels like to point to your own true north. This business is like a roller coaster, it has tremendous ups and downs and you can easily get thrown around and lose your sense of direction. No matter how much you have it together, you will get tossed off course from time to time. That's okay as long as you know how to get back to the heart of who and what you are. I also think it helps to think of this process as a journey where you clearly visualize yourself being successful at some point, while still giving yourself enough space to slowly grow and change. I made a clear decision early on. I loved what I was doing with or without the "success" of publishing, but I also believed that I could be published. My mantra became--eventually, with hard work and persistence, I'll become a good enough writer to sell a book OR agents and editors will eventually get so tired of hearing from me that they'll publish my book just to shut me up. Forty or fifty years of me sending you queries would have to take it's toll LOL! I decided I could live with that game plan and it took a lot of the stress away to be on someone else's time table.
What's your favorite book and why?
My favorite book is The Giver by Lois Lowry. I remember reading it in high school and clearly thinking…thank goodness I'm not the only freak in the world who thinks about this kind of stuff. It was an amazing moment for me. I was so full of questions, even if I lacked the courage to do something with them. It took me almost twenty more years to find my voice, to speak my own questions out loud, but in that moment it was enough to know that someone else was like me. I buried that seed until I was strong enough to let it grow.
Where did you get the idea for Touching the Surface?
I can't really take full credit--it was my subconscious hard at work. My dad had died and as I just mentioned, I am a person full of deep questions. I could not contain what was inside of me any more. And the time had come when I didn't want to.
Did you hit any snags while writing Touching the Surface? What were they and how did you fix them?
The biggest snag I ran into was that I had no idea how to write a novel LOL! This was my first attempt and I was learning as I went. I'm a slow writer to start with, but the process was even more drawn out as I researched and practiced along the way. I can't even imagine how many drafts I have of this story. I can't tell you how many people I must thank for guiding my way.
Which one of the characters in Touching the Surface is your favorite and why?
That's like asking me to pick between my children--can't be done. Each character has bits and pieces of the best and worst parts of me woven into who they are. I can't untangle what's been woven and pull it apart.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?
I've arrived surprisingly late to the party, considering that I loved to write from a very young age, but confidence was an issue. I spent a lot of time undermining myself, but when my dad passed away in 2005 a switch flipped in my head and I saw the world from a different perspective and I started to write again. It's been a learn as you go journey, but sometimes those are the very best kind.
What are you working on now? Sequel? Something new?
Right now I'm revising my second book THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY to sell and starting a third, CHASING ADAPTATION. They are not sequels but perhaps there's a loose connection between them all. Time will tell. :o)
You're a dance instructor! Though you teach children now, we assume that you had quite a dance background in order to do this? What's your favorite form of dance and who is your favorite choreographer? If not that, then what's your favorite recital dance and costume ever?
I danced from the time I was three until I went to college. And after I moved back home and my boys got old enough I returned to class and started teaching. It's something I love to do. And as a teacher, there is nothing better than a three-year-old with a tutu on and stars in her eyes. I love that. I remember that. I've always enjoyed ballet, tap, and jazz but I think character dancing and lyrical has become my favorite because it's just another form of story telling. I recently participated in a lyrical 9/11 tribute and it felt powerful. Of course, this also explains my love for Mia Michaels and Travis Wall from SYTYCD. When I watch their pieces, I can't help but think about how I want to write the way they choreograph. Here's a few of my favorites from the archives...
Touching the Surface seems like a very deep and heartfelt sort of novel. Were there points in it that made you feel like you were being too cruel to your main character, Elliot?
No--life is hard. I always had this sense, that to leave these stones unturned, would be like turning my back on someone who's really gone through some similarly heartfelt experiences. Besides, so many of Elliot's fears are my own. Even though it was hard, I felt better for facing them with her. In my mind, it was what it had to be.
It mentions in your bio that your father's death was what made you start writing. What sorts of questions were you asking and what did you discover?
I wasn't asking those questions out loud, but my subconscious was in over drive LOL! So much of the journey of this book, I couldn't see until it was on the page and I got some perspective. The truth was that at the time, I was flailing around in a dark room--feeling my way. But I'm glad I stuck with it, because when you reach the light, there are no words…
Kimberly is giving away a signed copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE as well as some swag.
Touching the Surface: Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.When
Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have
messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the
afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things
Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be
forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather
keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and
people she’s killed.
As she pieces together the secrets and
mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of
the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the
two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.
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