Check My Shelf with…Kelly Rimmer

Kelly Rimmer is a talented writer of Historical Fiction and Contemporary Romance. Her latest novel, Truths I Never Told You blew me away, and I have vowed to read her entire backlist! I got to sit down with Kelly as part of my Aussie authors series feature to chat all things Truths, her latest reads, and writer life.

Hi Kelly! So lovely to have you on. What are you reading right now?
I’m finishing a book right now so exclusively re-reading through the reference books I used for research, trying to make sure I haven’t missed any gems of information or context that would help bring my story to life. When I submit the manuscript in a few weeks’ time, I’ll gorge on all of the releases I missed while I was writing!

What’s your latest #bookstagram made me do it purchase?
It was Sarah Hogle’s You Deserve Each Other (which is every bit as funny
and clever as the hype suggests!)

What’s your favourite underrated book?
It’s definitely The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan by Lisa Ireland. I want
everyone to read this book!

What’s your favourite childhood book? 
Heidi, by Johanna Spyri.

You get to host a dinner party with 3 other authors, dead or alive. Who do you invite and why? 
Firstly I’d invite Kirsty Manning, because I’m dying to meet her, and I know
she’d bring great wine (she owns a wine bar). Then I’d invite Jodi Picoult,
because I’d so love to have a conversation with her, and finally I’d invite Andy Griffiths, because if he wasn’t on the list, my kids would probably disown me.

How do you organise your bookshelves? 
It’s less an organisational strategy and more of a “as long as they aren’t on
the floor, we’re good”. I have a huge bookshelf in my living room and my
husband is forever trying to get it back in order, because the kids and I are
constantly messing it up.

Who is your ultimate literary crush? 
I was pretty determined to marry Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green
Gables series when I was younger.

Who are some other historical fiction authors you admire?
I’ve loved every book I’ve ever read by Pam Jenoff, Kristin Hannah, and Julia Kelly. I’m in awe of their talent

A friend has 24 hours to kill in your home city/town. What are your
recommendations?
There’s only one bookstore in my town but it’s a pretty great one, so we’d start at Collins Booksellers Orange, and then we’d move onto Groundstone café, which is right next to the beautiful town library. After that, we’d go for a hike in the amazing Mullion Range near my house, the take a leisurely drive to see the view from the top of Mount Canobolas, before finishing up with a wine tasting at one of the nearby vineyards.

Writing Life
What attracts you to writing historical fiction? What is your favourite time period to write about?
I’ve never set out to write historical fiction. It’s generally the case that a
particular idea catches my attention and it requires a historical setting. For this reason, I don’t have a favourite time period, although I’m currently writing my second book set during World War 2. It’s one of a few eras I find particularly fascinating—in this case, because it was so recent, but despite a veritable flood of WW2 books over the past few years, there are so many stories and angles that remain uncovered.

Do you have any writing rituals that help you get in the zone? 
If I’m writing something particularly sensitive, I sometimes take the time to
pause and reflect on the experiences I’m trying to capture, to try to be mindful of those who walked those journeys. But other than that, I find I’m more productive the earlier I start and the less distraction I deal with before I dive in (ie Kelly DO NOT clean the kitchen before you start work because nonsense like that leads to cleaning the rest of the house and before you know it, the day is gone!).

What’s your favourite part of the publishing process? 
Publishing can be a brutal industry and I was completely clueless about this
when I first started out. There are lots of aspects I love or have learned to
navigate, but my favourite part of the process remains the writing itself.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 
I like to read as widely as I can. Every book you pick up has something to
teach you, even if it’s a book you don’t particularly enjoy. Reading critically
(asking yourself why did this work? what did I love about it or why didn’t I love it?) is the best way to learn how to write, in my experience.

Truths I Never Told You
What inspired you to write this story? Which aspect of it came to you first?
I wanted first to write about post-natal depression–I’d heard that 1/5 women will suffer from it after the birth of a child and that statistic blew my mind. How is it possible that so many of the women I know and love have suffered in this way, but it’s not a topic that we freely discuss?

What struck me most about the two time periods is just how far women’s rights and issues have come in some respects (for example, recognition and treatment of PND, family planning) but also, how some things remain the same today. Is this something you set out to do from the beginning, or did you discover the parallels yourself as you started writing?
This is exactly what I wanted to explore. I had a feeling there would be areas where women’s right and access to health support had improved and areas where we still had a long way to go, and once I started researching, that’s exactly what I found.

Was one time period or voice easier to write than the other?
I found it very difficult to write from the point of view of not one but two
characters who were effectively telling their story from the depths of
depression. By its very nature, depression is a difficult experience to confront. I wanted to try to capture the rawness of it. I wanted those aspects of the book to be harrowing because PND is harrowing, but writing those passages was incredibly difficult.

What sort of research did you have to do to bring this book to life
authentically?

I read widely on a subject when I’m planning a book, so I started with months of this, but the most effective research technique I have ever used is talking to people, or listening to oral histories. This book was no different – I interviewed more than a dozen women who have experienced PND and I also listened to hundreds of hours of oral history exploring some of the other issues/settings in the book.

What songs would you include on a soundtrack for this book? 
Sometimes I get into a pattern with the music I’m listening to as I write a
particular book, but this book was an exception – I wrote in silence a lot of the time.

If this book was to be turned into a film, who would you cast as the leads? 
I’d need two actresses who look quite similar for young Grace and Maryanne so it’s hard to say who that could be, but for Beth, I think Ginnifer Goodwin or Lizzie Caplan would be perfect.

What do you want readers to take away from this book?
With every book I write I’m trying to entertain and to explore ideas, but with this book, the generosity of the women I interviewed was so inspiring and I hope I did their stories justice. I hope that as they read this, people might get a glimpse of what life with PND is really like.

How can readers help their favourite authors on social media?
If you don’t like a book, don’t tag the author in posts about it. To some people this seems obvious, but it happens all of the time. Please, please, do write your honest review—good or bad, they help other readers to find the books they are most likely to enjoy. But if you’re written a highly critical review, the author doesn’t need to be tagged in your post about it. That doesn’t help anyone.

Do you have any new projects coming up you can tell us about?
I’m currently finishing a story that’s set in Warsaw during and immediately
after the WW2 Nazi occupation.

Thanks so much for stopping by Kelly! I just loved this book when i read it earlier this year. It was such an unflinching, raw and honest look at some of the aspects of motherhood that are not talked about. Kelly has generously provided a copy of Truths I Never Told You, so if you’re interested in entering, hop on over to my instagram account! Truths can be purchased wherever you buy good books.

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