Mimi Williams, Thanks so much for agreeing to be here this evening, and thank you everyone for your support, do you want to start this event with saying something about yourself, for instance how was it for you to co-author Beautiful Monster with Jared, maybe if you could start with sharing that experience with us a little, we may get a better understanding of you as a person please? — with Mimi Williams.
Mimi Williams It was far different than I expected. Jared was actually my student. I had been mentoring him, and helping him write his novel that he is currently revising. Somehow between the two of us, we got the wild idea to write a book together. It evolved over time, and Beautiful Monster was born. We worked really well together because we had a great synergy. I'm not sure that happens every time.
Shah Fazli Thanks, have you written the three books as shown above, or you have more, can you please tell us a little about each one of them, briefly please?
Mimi Williams Yes - I've written those and others. The pink one on the left (Kiss Kiss Bark) is a middle grade novel for children in elementary school. It's the story of 14-year-old Mattie and her 4-year-old brother Donald. Mattie is convinced that Donald's only purpose in life is to ruin her social life. Mattie has a crush on her best friend's brother, Nate. This book is humorous and I'm very proud that it has been around for seven years now! It was rereleased last fall with a new cover and a new title. The one in the middle is called The Deepest Blue, and it is a young adult novel. The main character, Michael, loses his dad in a tragic accident and he has to stand up for what he knows is best for him - not returning to live with his biological mother. This book will be published in October of this year, and I just finished the last round of revisions. The book on the right is Beautiful Monster, the story of a serial killer and his victim. It's very graphic, and it was a challenge to write, but I'm quite proud of the work that Jared and I did on this. I've also written three nonfiction books for kids in the Hey, Ranger series, and I have an adult nonfiction self-help book I coauthored called Love and Loathing.
Shah Fazli Thank you, so what is your favourite genre of writing, what makes you sit down behind your computer and write about, now that you have a few books written already please?
Mimi Williams I simply love writing. My head is filled with stories and if I live to be 150, I won't be able to write them all. What makes me sit behind my computer and write is that I can't NOT write. I tried it once and I seriously almost went crazy. Writing is really the center of my soul.
Catherine Mahoney it is a passion, a craving, the words need to be release to the universe, so true
Shah Fazli Great answer, we all love that attitude in a writer, and that is what makes a writer special, no wonder why your books are around for several years, what do people say about your characters, style of writing, etc, please?
Mimi Williams That is exactly how I feel about it!
Catherine Mahoney stirs the soul as a calling, some have the insight as you do and can capture the readers' minds.
Mimi Williams Many of the reviews for Kiss Kiss Bark focused on how real the characters were, how awkward and honestly 14 Mattie was. I pride myself on knowing my characters at a very deep level. I want readers to fall in love with them, and so far, they have. On reader even told me that I was telling the story of her and her best friend. I love moments like that!
Catherine Mahoney true to reach the deepest core of one's soul is enriching
Shah Fazli Thank you, describe a scene from Kiss Kiss Bark, please, if possible, now we want to be there with your characters and the place where it takes place please?
Mimi Williams There is a scene where Mattie discovers that Nate is interested in her, and in fact, he gives her her first real kiss. Mattie talks rapidly about what is happening to her, and she describes her heart and being a hummingbird in her chest and she's afraid it will beat itself to death. Sadly - the original file for the manuscript is on another computer. Mattie says: "My mouth freezes. My brain freezes. My eyes lock with his. He leans closer and I can't believe it but his eyelids are lower and he gets closer and I lean closer, and befire I know it he kisses me and my insides feel like a million pieces of machinery flying apart all at once and melting into my toes."
Shah Fazli Thank you, what did you say you are writing now, do you want to tell us a little about your new project, please?
Mimi Williams Right now, I'm working on a project with a local publisher to help them get started. I'll be writing three books in a series about a former CIA agent named Jake Davis. Interestingly, it's a nine book series, and I'm writing the last three books in the series. I'm also working on another young adult novel where a young woman falls in love with a boy and discovers he is Death. Very dark, but the ending is quite uplifting.
Tricia Drammeh Sounds like a very intriguing premise.
Mimi Williams She meets him while she is in a psychiatric hospital, so she thinks he's crazy when he tells her the truth. It's a very wild ride.
Shah Fazli Wow as Tricia Drammeh said it sounds very intriguing indeed, let us get a view of you more as a person, what is it that you like doing a lot, it's diffidently writing, can anything else compete with it in your personal life, loving someone maybe?
Catherine Mahoney very busy, wow
Mimi Williams I am married, I have a daughter who is married, a son in college, and a daughter about to graduate high school. I also have the world's cutest grandson! He is almost two, and he is my little buddy. We read books together, and color, and he likes to splash in my wall fountain. I also have three cats and a dog. I love hiking and camping in the summer, so I'm eager for all our snow to melt here in Utah. I'm tired of winter. I like to cook, and I make a mean omlete! And when I can find spare time - which is never - I like to knit and crochet. I read all the time, and I read a wide variety of things. I'm curently reading a nonfiction book called In the Garden of the Beasts about the US Ambassador to Germany in the mid-1930s. To me, reading is an extension of writing.
Mimi Williams Oh - and I have a full-time job, too.
Shah Fazli Thank you, can you read from one of your books for us please?
Ariel Marie Mimi, what would you consider a great creative challenge, in terms of character and topic/theme, to write a book about?
Mimi Williams Sure - this is from The Deepest Blue, the one that comes out in October. In this scene, Michael (the main character) is at the mortuary and he is about to see his father's body for the first time since learning of his death: I look at Mr. Smoot. “Can I see him? Now?” I say before I lose my nerve.
“You may,” says Mr. Smoot, “but please remember that we haven’t performed any restorative work on him.” He looks at the ground for a moment then looks right at me. “I understand it was a car accident. You need to know that he is very bruised, and he won’t look exactly like the man you knew.”
Maggie draws a very shaky breath and takes my hand. Chuck follows behind us. The bald guy leads us down the hallway and through a swinging door. The room is as cold as the walk-in cooler at the fish market, and the light is almost blue, lending to a creepy feeling that causes my heart rate to speed up. Lying on what looks like a hospital bed is a body, wrapped like a mummy in a white sheet and blanket. I want to turn around, I want to run out into the heat of the morning, but I stay close to Maggie.
Maggie steps closer to me. We are still holding tight to each other’s hands. In the middle of the blanket is a face, Dad’s face. It is pale, a grayish color. There is a large gash that angles from the bridge of his nose, across his forehead, and back across his scalp. His eyes are closed, but the lid of his right eye is dark blue and purple. His nose takes a sharp turn about halfway down the bridge. His lips are closed, and at one corner of his mouth are a few dried specks of blood.
Maggie begins crying,making quiet noises. Chuck moves up beside her. She drops my hand and buries her face in his chest. But I can’t stop staring at this body. It resembles my dad: the dark hair with flecks of grey, the strong chin, but that is not my dad. I take another step closer. I reach out and put my hand against his cheek. It is ice cold and feels firm to my touch, not soft and warm like my dad’s face should feel.
“Mike. . .” Maggie says in a hushed voice.
I don’t move, my hand still resting on his cheek. “Can I be alone?” I ask.
Maggie hesitates a minute beside me, then I hear footsteps and the door swinging open and shut.
I look at the bruises and the huge slash across his face. Somebody did this to you, I think. I’m so pissed off that they did this, and I don’t even know who I’m pissed at. I want the idiot who caused this. I want him in jail for this. I want him dead . I see my dad, but he isn’t my dad anymore, and while I don’t feel scared by how he looks, I feel scared anyway.
This is a nightmare, I think. A real one. Only I’m awake, and there is nobody who can tell me it will be all right. My own voice echoes in my head. I’m shaking from the cold, from the emptiness. I have to get out of this room, but I can’t pull myself away. My hands are balled into fists. I want to pound the walls and scream.
Mimi Williams Oh Ariel! I think the greatest challenge for me is to develop a story that allows the reader to walk away feeling as if they know a little bit more about what it means to be human. It may not be that reader's experience, but if they can understand my characters, then they can extend that understanding to other people.
Ariel Marie As I was 'with you' via FB during the process of Beautiful Monster, I would say that research crossed over into The Deepest Blue, yes? Especially the mortician.
Tricia Drammeh Mimi, I'm a big fan of YA. Do you often find yourself self-editing books in order to keep it in the YA category, or do you just write what you want and categorize it later?
Mimi Williams LOL - actually, this book was written several years before Beautiful Monster! I started it nearly six years ago, but when my own father passed away, I put it down for a while. In fact, that's the two year time frame where I didn't write. But I finished it three years ago and watched it collect rejections, and it sold in December of 2011.
Ariel Marie So there isn't a specific challenge in mind for you as a writer, nothing outside of your element or comfort zone that you've entertained thoughts about?
Mimi Williams Hi Tricia! Actually, I don't have to do a whole lot of self-editing for my YA writing. My characters are pretty good about stearing me in the right direction. I try not to over think where the book will fit - I sort of leave that to the publisher.
Mimi Williams Ariel - YES absolutely! I've got a story idea right now that violates my comfort zone in a dozen plus ways. But until I have a better grip on the story line, and until I have the actual time to sit down and work with it, it's sort of on the back burner. But the main character goes from nice, average person, to mean, nasty, vindictive person during the course of the story - I'm struggling with that.
Ariel Marie Ah, my mistake The mortician scene reminded me of convos we shared with Jared during R&D. Grief isn't always a theme in your writing, tho I have enjoyed your poetry on the subject. In your books, is there any common thread in them?
Mimi Williams I don't really think there is a common theme except that each main character faces a personal challenge of some sort. For Mattie, it's the challenge between liking a boy and losing a friend. For Michael, it's the challenge of standing up for what he believes in at the worst time in his life. Brenna, from Beautiful Monster, had to fight for her very survival. And Maylee, from Death Kiss, is fighting her own self to figure out what's real and what isn't, and if she even cares enough to find out. But I think my characters are all unique - or at least I hope they are. I want them to be individual people that readers care about and not stereotypes or cookie-cutter people who get lost in the story.
Ariel Marie May I ask what is the catalyst of that character's transformation? (Personal or impersonal or ?) And do they ultimately redeem or do they 'end' that way?
Mimi Williams The very new one? The catalyst is that the main character (a woman) feels she has been used, that she has been wronged, and that it has happened repeatedly. She decides that nothing short of destroying her foe's life will give her satisfaction - which, of course, it ultimately doesn't. But what's disturbing about this one - and I have NO idea where this came from - are the lengths to which she is willing to go to inflict pain on her opponent.
Shah Fazli Thank you so much Mimi and everyone for joining, it was such a pleasure, the interview will be open for as long as there is questions and Mimi is happy to answer. Thanks once again for joining.
Mimi Williams Thank you for this AWESOME opportunity, and to everyone who came! MUAH!
Catherine Mahoney Thank you too Mimi, Tricia and Ariel and all it was a stimulating conversation, wish you much success in all your endeavours Mimi.
Mimi Williams Thanks Catherine! You guys are wonderul!
Ariel Marie Given many world events right now, and trends both in individual mental illness, violence and crimes rates, as well as predatory societal trends, do you think this new novel is real world thermometer of what we're seeing? And do you hope to make a point with it? I feel that most of your work does come to such points, usually in themes if healing oneself after great cost and difficult acceptance. Quiet models instead of showy heroes...people we can see ourselves as, which is more important albeit less glamorous.
Catherine Mahoney It is the authors and their inspiring minds that are wonderful
Laura Coates I am looking forward to The Deepest Blue now, you do write so well that in the exerpt you chose to share I could totally relate to Michael, to where I actually choked up, and now I am invested in him, just from that. As Brenna is always with me now from BM..so wish there was going to be a sequel...I'm also thinking I may just check out your Love and Loathing. Just keep powering through for us wonderful writer.
Ariel Marie (Sorry I was late joining in Mimi and I look forward to your new work as well!) xx
Catherine Mahoney Hi ladies I believe Mimi exit the event, will let her know you were looking for her