Author Kristy Kamin’s novel, Somnium, was inspired by her daughter. Come along as Kristy and I chat about turning inspiration into fiction, novels that call for social change, and the challenges of being an indie author.
Q: Somnium was inspired by some of the challenges your daughter has faced. Can you tell us a bit more about your daughter and how she influenced the novel?
A: Hayley is eight years old, and has Cerebral Palsy. When she was first diagnosed, I was understandably upset, but the doctor told me something which changed my whole outlook on disability. He said that physical ability is on a spectrum. No person is physically perfect. I am on one part of the spectrum, and my daughter just happens to be on another part of the spectrum. Over the years following that time, I have come to detest the word ‘normal.’ Really nobody is ‘normal’ or better than anyone else. We all have our own unique abilities, and ‘disabilities.’ It is from this belief that I came up with the idea for my novel. The idea of a world where everyone is seen as unique individuals who all have a place in our world. The main protagonist, Claudia, has Cerebral Palsy and is in a wheelchair like my daughter. I wrote Claudia’s character in such a way that there is no focus on her disability. The focus is on her relationships with others, and the confidence she needs to basically save the world from destruction.
Q: How has writing the novel impacted your life? What message do you hope readers will take away from Somnium? (Note, we can split these two up if the answers are unrelated).
A: Writing the novel helped me to feel I could accomplish something that has (already) made a difference to others.
The main message I hope readers will take away from Somnium is that we all have a place in the world, we are all special and unique.
I also hope that my novel can help people to have more of an understanding of disabilities, and that we don’t need to be afraid of them. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that by the time my daughter is a teenager, I hope that people will treat her the same as everyone else – not as someone to pity, ignore, or make a big deal about her being some kind of ‘inspiration’ for others. I want people to see her, not her disability.
Q: Somnium is set in the future, in a utopian society. How did you decide on setting?
A: Since Veronica Roth’s Divergent came out, I have been somewhat of a Dystopian Fangirl. So I had the Dystopian type thoughts running through my blood at the time, but at the same time, I wanted to create the ‘perfect’ world for my daughter. I needed Somnium to be far enough into the future to be believable. Also, pretty much ninety percent of the Dystopian YA’s I’ve read, take place in America, but I’m an Aussie. So Somnium mostly takes place in Australia.
Q: How did you come up with the concept for the virtual world in Somnium?
A: You know I honestly thought it was an original idea that popped into my head. I woke up at 2am, the day after my birthday, with the idea of this world you could travel to at night – kind of in your dreams, but you can see others in there as well. Now that I’ve written a few books though, I’m starting to realise there’s no one hundred percent original thought. It’s just ideas building on other ideas.
Q: Tell us a bit about your writing life. What does your process look like? How do you schedule writing time? What do you do to improve your craft?
A: Don’t kill me, but I’m what they call a ‘pantser.’ Usually, an idea pops into my head, then I just sit down and write, write, write. It’s actually a really exciting way to write, for me, as I often don’t know what’s going to happen until the words land on the page (or computer). It’s like reading a new book – except that I’m writing it.
Scheduling writing time has become increasingly difficult now that I work. The first couple years (when I wrote and revised Somnium, and wrote Somnium 2), I would write for a couple hours every afternoon while my kids were resting in their rooms. Now that I’m working, I have to rely more on weekends away (thanks to hubby), and the one day a week that I have at home alone.
To improve my craft, I write and write some more. I feel my writing improves the more that I do it. Lots of reading. I read for an hour every night before bed – pretty much a book or two a week. And I listened to a group of sessions from a Writer’s Conference, which I purchased through Writer’s Digest, which were teaching on revising and editing. Those talks were most helpful for everything that happens between writing the first draft, and publishing.
Q: Which authors have had the biggest impact on your writing?
A: Definitely Veronica Roth. The book, Divergent, helped me to put how I was starting to feel, into words. I also love Lauren Destefano, I relate to her a little. I love following her Twitter and Instagram accounts. Lauren Oliver, with Before I Fall, and Replica, encouraged me to branch out into other genres with my writing – I have written first copies of five Dystopians, but I have also recently completed a more Contemporary Novella. Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series, helped teach me how to describe sexual tension with my characters.
There are too many to mention.
Q: What is the biggest struggle you have faced as an indie author and how have you worked to overcome that?
A: I’m still struggling with getting my book ‘out there.’ I have a website I haven’t yet worked on, but I am in the very beginnings of making a book trailer for Somnium. One of the things I have found most helpful is being on Instagram and Twitter. Through Social Media, I am starting to build relationships with other authors, and getting a small fan base as well.
I also struggle with feeling my writing isn’t ‘good enough.’ When my teenage cousin read my final copy of Somnium, she was bouncing up and down on the spot saying how fantastic my book is, and how it’s her second favourite, after The Harry Potter Series; I started to think that maybe I am a good writer. But that feeling waxes and wanes.
Q: What is next for you?
A: I’m in the revision stages of Somnium 2 – Reawakening. Admittedly I’m pretty slow with it, as I keep going back to writing my first draft of another series I started writing last year. I am hopeful to have Somnium 2 out early next year, and then get working on releasing my next series soon after.
Meet the Author:
Kristy Kamin is a Young Adult Fiction author, who loves delving into the teenage world; as she currently has teenage children, and is still a teenager at heart, herself.
Kristy’s debut book, Somnium, is set in her home country, Australia. The main protagonist, Claudia, was inspired by Kristy’s young daughter, who has Cerebral Palsy – and the ability to make people look past her disability.
Connect with Kristy Kamin!
Check out her website, kristykaminauthor.com.
You can also connect with her on your favorite social media platform:
- Facebook: @kristykaminauthor
- Twitter: @Kristykamin
- Instagram: @kristykamin
Don’t forget to check out Somnium!
Somnium. A perfect virtual world, where the sleeping mind walks
…but corruption and evil can not be silenced for long.
2504 AD. Global peace, earth restoration, and equality. The perfect world. During the day people live out their passions; and each night, with the help of headsets, they can be anything and go anywhere with merely a thought.
Decorated with skin art and a wild spirit, Somnium allows Claudia the freedom to be herself, while exploring a world long gone. Yet peace rarely lasts, and anything manmade can be corrupted.
Somnium can be purchased in hard copy, or eBook through Amazon Kindle.