Frequently asked questions – and replies

A lot of people are thinking about writing their own books and therefore ask me a lot of questions. Maybe some of the answers to these questions can help you in your writing!

I have written a book. What do I do now?

Send the story to a publisher, if you feel it's ready. Then go to a bookstore to find out the right publisher for your type of book. The first pages in a book show there names, addresses and sometimes even phone numbers of the publisher. Send them your story but be sure your manuscript has double spacing between the lines, so the editor can make alterations. Don't forget to number the pages! And do not forget to write your name, address and phone number on every page of the script. If you have a computer you can do that automatically.

How old do you have to be to become an author?

There is no specific age, you may be very young or very old. The important thing is that you have a good story.

How many pages must a book consist of?

Books are of different length. It all depends on what type of book you're writing. Illustrated books are sometimes very short, chapter books could be very short and thin, but there's also VERY thick books, like the ones about Harry Potter with almost 1000 pages. My books have between 188-268 pages. So you see it varies a lot.

Can you write books for both children and teenagers?

Of course! A lot of authors actually do that.

How many pages must a chapter have?

There are no exact rules. My chapters are at least three A4-pages long, printed in size 12 and double spacing. A longer chapter are ten pages or more.

Can I send a script to a publisher even if I'm not an author?

Of course you can! Everyone has to start somewhere. From the beginning everybody was a “rookie” sending their first story to a publisher, dreaming of becoming a real author. I was eight years old when I decided to become one, but thirty years passed before I sent a script to a publisher. Now I am an author and have published five books. It's an amazing feeling!

Will you be rich if you're an author?

Some authors make a lot of money. But then you have to sell an awful lot of books and have them translated to several languages. Most authors (and I'm one of them) struggle to get enough money to survive. But we don't write to become rich, we write because we HAVE TO, because we love to write and nothing can stop us. But I admit… things WOULD be easier if I was rich as well…

How do I write a good story?

If you are to write a really good story you should imagine writing the story to yourself, something you would like to read, about something that you find fascinating. Don't think about writing to someone else. WRITE TO YOURSELF! Enter the story and become the person you're writing about, even if you have ten persons in the story you should "enter" every character, feel and think what he/she feels and thinks. Try also to imagine the surroundings, so you can describe every detail. Don't be afraid to do that but don't make it too long so you loose the story and the excitement.

Is it fun to be an author?

Yes, it's great to be an author. I love to write and spend as much time as possible in my fantasy.

How long does it take to write a book?

It depends on the type of book. For me it has taken between one and five years, depending on my everyday life and how fast I can do my research. (I write historical adventure books so I have to do a lot of research.)

tWhat education do you need to become an author?

You don't need a special education to become an author. You just have to love writing and wanting to spend your time doing just that, not aiming to become rich, but just because you love the written word.

How can you know so many facts?

From your question I assume you have read one of my historical books. You have probably noticed that each book is about an historical event. My first book is about the volcanic eruption in Pompeii in the year 79 AC, the second book is about the persecution of witches in the 17th century, the third is about Pharaoh Tutanchamun in the year 1332 BC, the fourth about Inca indians in the 16th century and my latest about Vikings in the 10th century. In the beginning I don't know much about every event, so I read a lot of books with facts. It may add up to 25 to 40 books in Swedish/English/Danish to learn more about people, environment etc. during the specific period of time. An incredibly hard work but very stimulating. I choose every subject because I want to learn more about it. In other words I write an exciting book that I would want to read myself.

Now you know my secret. I don't know much from the beginning, but I learn, more and more, while writing more books.

How do you manage to make a book on more than 100 pages?

A good way to start up a book is to write "Post-it-notes". Scribble your ideas and thoughts on the notes, try to come up with ideas for the story, write down the beginning and very important: write how you want the book to end. Look through your yellow notes and start sorting them in the order you want things to happen. Don't forget you must build up the excitement the further the story goes.

Write something you want to tell, something you know about. Then it will be a great book!

Before you start writing the story: sit down for a moment and think about what you want to say. Write a few notes about the contents, think about where you want the story to lead, try to think through the end too. Try to become the person you write about. Avoid too many dialogues. What is the person doing while he/she is talking? What does it look like around him/her? What is the person thinking before/after he or she has said something? What are the clues? How do you describe them? Then you have loads of material for a book!

Is it fun to write books?

I LOVE to write books, it's the best I know.

What are your books about?

My books are historical adventure books and they are about real historical events.

The first book "Back to Pompeii" is about how the girl Ramona is transported in time when she's on a school trip to the remains of Pompeii. The city was ruined by a volcano eruption a long time ago. There she meets the boy, Theo. Ramona's time travel takes place only days before the eruption. She's really frightened because she knows that everybody will die, even herself and Theo if they don't get out of there in time.

Next book is "I am not a witch". It tells about the persecution of witches in the 17th century. Innocent people were accused of being witches and were burnt alive. A scary story, exciting and filled with action.

The third book "The curse of Pharaoh" describes pharaoh Tutanchamun in Egypt and a curse. He became pharaoh when he was only eight years old and adults around him helped him reign. When he became a teenager he wanted to do the reigning himself, but the adults didn't agree so instead they decided that pharaoh Tutanchamun must die.

The fourth book, "The hidden Inca city" tells the story about the city Machu Picchu which is surrounded with myths. People suddenly disappeared, letting everything they had in their hands go and just vanished in to thin air. Nobody knew where they went, not until now… You will get the explanation in the book.

The fifth book "Viking thrall" takes place during the Viking age. It's very exciting and it was fantastic to do the research and then write it. As you might understand from its title, it's about Viking thralls.

All these books are connected as the main characters – Ramona and Theo – are the same. They get transported in time to the exciting historical events. You can read the books in any order you like because the stories are separated and ended in each book.

Where do I find inspiration to a story?

I usually get my inspiration from the most different things, like pictures or photos, TV-programs, things people say, something I read, but most of the time from my dreams.

What's the series about Theo and Ramona called?

I call them my "Historical Adventure series". Many readers call them "The Kim-books".

When was your first book published?

My first book was published in December 1997, and was called "Back to Pompeii". It was republished in the autumn 2004, with a new cover and a lot of new text, plus a dictionary like in the other historical adventure books.

Where do you turn if you want to get published?

If you've written a book, you check the story and make a clean copy of it. Then go to a bookstore to find out the right publisher for your type of book. The first pages in a book show there names, addresses and sometimes even phone numbers of the publisher. Send them your story but be sure your manuscript has double spacing between the lines, so the editor can make alterations. Then put your story in an envelope followed with a note stating your name, address etc. and mail all of it.

Can you become an author and be something else at the same time?

Most authors share their writing with another work to make ends meet. Usually you start as a "hobby-author", but if your book becomes a bestseller you simple don't have time to work with something else, and you'll become a full time writer/author. It's OK to have a profession and do your writing in spare time.

How did you become an author?

I decided to become an author when I was eight years old. I have been writing since then. But it took a long time for me to gather enough courage to send something to a publisher. When I finally did, they accepted my book "Back to Pompeii" and it was a success. I guess it was then I "became" an author, though my husband claims I've always been one because I've been writing so much.

How do you make a story exciting?

Start your story when something unexpected happens to your main character. If you have chapters in your book, try to end every chapter with something mysterious or unexpected. (Take a look in my books.) The ending of the story should be unexpected and of course tie the story together.

Can you publish a book if you're under 18?

Of course you can. You just have to mail your work to an editor.

Can you write about anything?

Of course you can write about anything!

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas turn up when I least expect it! Often when I sleep. I sometimes wake up doing something in my dreams and I start writing in the middle of the night. When I saw the image of a dog in a casting I got an idea, I would save the dog from dying in the volcano eruption. That made me write the book "Back to Pompeii".

Then I wanted to tell how innocent people were accused of being witches and burnt alive. That's why I wrote "I am not a witch".

Egypt has always fascinated me. I started to read about Egypt and the pharaohs, then I wrote "The curse of Pharaoh Tutanchamun".

Indians has fascinated me for ages, especially the Indians whose heritage was enormous buildings covered in mystery. That's why I wrote "The hidden Inca city".

Vikings have always had a reputation of being warriors, but they were also skilled tradesmen, travelling to the distant parts of the known world. The Vikings in fact discovered America. I have been fascinated by Vikings for long which made me write "Viking thrall".

I have a lot of manuscripts still sitting in my drawers that might be printed sometime in the future. I have many types of books, depending on where I got the ideas. Maybe someone has told me something, I overhear a sentence when I go by plane or train and suddenly the ideas start to lead their own lives.

As you might understand I have an incredible imagination, for good or worse. Fantasy makes me very scared of the dark – I sometimes believe there are THINGS out in the dark.

Can you make a good story without knowing from the beginning what it's all about?

It's hard to create a good story if you don't have a clue what it's all about. Then you'll end up with talk, talk, talk and not much action. Probably not so interesting for the reader.

I'm stuck in the story! How do I get on?

Without knowing what you're written so far I will try to give you a push. Ask yourself first: did you have a particular idea what to write about? If not – try to follow these advices!

Take a cube of "Post-it-notes" (yellow sticky notes). Write the ideas that pop out of your head, one idea for each note.

Think in chapters, events, people, places and scribble them on your notes. Go through your notes and add details on every note. Sort your notes in the order you want them to happen/appear. Make sure you don't write your story until you've figured out the ending and make sure to put that on a yellow note.

Put your notes on a wall, study them closely, move them around if necessary, remove or add. You'll see it's a great book.

I want to write a book, but I'm not sure about what. Can you help?

To give you a tip what to write about is hard. The subject must be something close to your heart, something you feel for, something you want to happen, something you wish for etc. Think… what do you want to say? Then it's easier to find a subject. Maybe you want to talk about harassment, horses, dogs, love, illness, death etc. Hope this will help you on your way.

Who is your favourite author, and why?

One of my favourite authors is Agatha Christie. I think I have all her detective stories. It's exciting to try and figure out who's the killer. I never manage! Apart from that she describes the scenes in a fantastic way and she takes the reader to exotic exciting places, or to a lost time and world thrilling to be a part of.

But there are so many authors I like: Astrid Lindgren, Selma Lagerlöf, David Eddings, Katharine Kerr, Stephen King, Dean Koontz and many, many others. All of them gives me something very special, an exciting moment and an world of my own to hide in.

Good luck with your writing

Kim M. Kimselius

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