By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)
Today I have the privilege of interviewing debut author Kim Cleary. I’m especially excited to offer this interview because I edited Path Unchosen and so I had a sneak peek long before it was available for purchase When you hear about the obstacles Kim overcame to write this book, I hope you’ll find her as much of an inspiration as I do.
When eighteen-year-old Judy Hudson discovers she’s a necromancer and sees first-hand the pain her powers can cause the dead, she just wants to deny who she is. The zombie plague is long over. She wants to find a more normal life, but that’s a challenge when a beautiful otherworldly man, who claims to be her guardian, saves her life.
Judy tries to set right the harm she inflicted on a spirit she raised, but new zombies attack—zombies raised from among the long-time dead. Someone else just like her is out there, and he’s not trying to set anything right. To save her own life, and protect the innocent inhabitants of the nearby town who’ve become her friends, Judy has to figure out who’s raising the dead and why.
She must also learn to control the darkness inside her—a seductive darkness that promises her power beyond her wildest dreams.
What was the spark of inspiration that started you writing Path Unchosen?
I started writing a short story called “The Darkness” when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune illness which caused permanent damage in my hands and stopped me from typing. I had to teach myself how to use voice software and a good friend gave me an opening line to get me started. (The opening line was “The darkness surrounded me, enveloped me, I felt strangely warm, as if a quilt had been wrapped around me.” This line has since been taken out, but what is left of it is now halfway through chapter 3 and says “Warmth encircled me as if someone had wrapped me in a downy quilt, but it was a fleeting sensation before darkness surrounded me.”)
I’ve always loved fantasy and science fiction stories and found myself gravitating to the style as soon as I started writing. I shared pieces of the story with my sister and a small number of friends, received positive feedback and encouragement, and I just kept going with it. By the time I was let go from work, I had 35,000 words written and several ideas of how to keep the story going.
That battle with darkness is a recurring theme in Path Unchosen, and so readers might expect you to cast your necromancers as villainous (because of their dealings with the dead). How did you choose to deal with the preconception of necromancers as dark and evil, and why did you make that choice?
My heroine was always going to be a necromancer. I’m not sure I can explain why! Even as a child, I was interested in the culture of death and the dead. I’ve also always been a bit contrary, so perhaps I just wanted to go against the norm. I tried to paint Judy as a compassionate character from the start of the story, and to show her own conflict with her power over the dead.
In this story, it’s just one generation on from a man-made plague that killed more than half of the world’s adults. After the plague, zombies rose and attacked survivors. In this world, people are comfortable with magic and witchcraft; they accept, and fear, life after death in a variety of forms. Judy accepts that she has a responsibility for the dead. She not only speaks to them, she cares for them as well.
What do you feel makes your book unique from all the others out there?
I’m not sure it is unique! At one level, it’s just a coming of age story in a fantasy setting. If there is any uniqueness perhaps it’s that my heroine is full of hope in a rather bleak world. She is determined to be compassionate even though she can access enormous power.
I felt your book took a fresh take on a lot of fantasy tropes, but what I liked best was Judy’s emotional journey. If there was one message or emotion you wanted your readers to walk away with at the end, what would it be?
I had one reader tell me she really identifies with Judy and how she discovers herself, makes sense of her life, and finally meets herself. That put a huge beam on my face. But my main message is twofold: (1) knowing who you are doesn’t trap you – it makes you stronger, and (2) compassion doesn’t make you weak – compassion combined with bravery gives you power.
Thanks so much, Kim, for taking us behind the scenes on Path Unchosen!
Kim writes urban fantasy for anyone who longs to discover they are extraordinary. She writes about hopefulness and determination, and about heroes who push through extraordinary situations and obstacles, one step at a time. Magical friends and gorgeous guys help, or hinder, in one adventure after another.
When not writing, revising, or thinking about writing, Kim gardens, plays with her dog, chats on social media, catches up with friends or cooks an Indian feast. She is a member of Writers Victoria, Romance Writers of Australia, The Alliance of Independent Authors, and a certified chocoholic.
Kim grew up in Birmingham, UK, studied medieval history and psychology at Adelaide University in South Australia and has worked all over Australia and in London. She now lives with her husband and an adorable Cocker Spaniel in Melbourne, Australia.
You can buy Path Unchosen (Daughter Of Ravenswood)on Amazon.
I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.
And don’t forget that you can receive a free copy of my guide Everything You Always Wanting to Know about Hiring a Freelance Editor by signing up for my newsletter. <–Click right there. You know you want to