Hello Reading Friends!
A little later than scheduled, but hey – life gets in the way sometimes, I’m thrilled to introduce Kelly Rimmer to an author Heart-to-Heart💗. Kelly is a top ten bestselling novelist in her home country, Australia, as well as being a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. I first fell in love with her contemporary fiction, and couldn’t resist when she switched genre, publishing The Things We Cannot Say, a historical set in wartime Poland, inspired by her grandparents’ experience. A sequel, The Warsaw Orphan, will be published here in the UK on 1st June, 2021. So, let’s get started…
Hello, and welcome to an author Heart-to-Heart💗, Kelly. Please tell readers a little about yourself…
Hi! I’m mum to 9 and 11 year old humans, two extremely naughty dogs, two cats, two goats, and three chickens. I’m hoping to add 2 alpacas to that menagerie very soon! My main hobbies are reading and buying books, half of which I will never get around to reading, but I also really enjoy hiking in the bushland near my house. I’ve had a lot of really interesting jobs over my lifetime, many of them in IT, although I have been writing full-time now for four years. It was always my dream to be an author, and I have loved writing for as long as I can remember.
As readers, we are very grateful you accomplished that dream! Your bestselling historical, The Things We Cannot Say is based on your family history. How much research was required? And did having a personal interest make it easier or harder to write?
I always say that this book was “the book of my heart”. Often it’s only a year or two between idea and publication, but in this case I wanted to write this story for a decade before I actually attempted it. I was anxious to try to tackle anything related to World War II — it is a huge responsibility to write about those stories in a way that honours the people who actually lived in that time. For many of the years between idea and actually writing, I was researching on and off. When I finally decided that I would actually try to write the story, I spent three weeks in Poland completing the research, which was one of the best experiences of my life. Having a personal interest is nothing new to me —every one of my books has some kind of personal connection, at the very least because I’m personally curious enough about the subject to want to write about it, and these days I am often lucky enough to speak to people who have direct experience if the subject is one I’m not directly familiar with myself.
It is true that in this case the personal connection was particularly intense because I adored my grandparents and this story was inspired by all of the questions that I can never ask them about their lives before they came to Australia. There were eerie moments in the research, where I discovered that things I had planned in the book were somehow parallel to my grandparents story – for example, while I was in Poland I learned that my grandmother was sent away for forced labour at the age of 14, after her parents were told that they had to select one of their children to remain behind to work the farm and the others would need to go into labour camps. Until I tracked down a long-lost cousin, I had no idea that this was my grandmother’s experience, but I had already planned a similar situation in the story.
Gosh, we can only begin to imagine how moving your trip to Poland must have been… Let’s focus on your next release, The Warsaw Orphan, due to be published at the beginning of June here in the UK, which follows on from The Things We Cannot Say. Did you always plan to write a follow up? Or did you find the seed of inspiration during your research?
Much of the content of this new book was actually inspired by a subplot I had hoped to write in The Things We Cannot Say. I ultimately had to cut the subplot from that book because it was just too much for an already expansive story, and I actually forgot all about it for several years, until someone at a book club asked me if I could write a sequel. At first I told that woman that I simply couldn’t, because I had tied up all the loose ends in that first book, but then she asked me, “Well, what about Emilia? Couldn’t you just write her story?”. I thought about that subplot I’d discarded and decided…well, you know what, I can just write her story! The kernel of the idea that became The Warsaw Orphan was also inspired by that trip to Poland. My aunt came with me to translate (I don’t speak Polish unfortunately), and she loves to walk, so we walked the length and breadth of city over the period we were there. I had no idea at the time, but over those weeks I saw so many monuments and sites that would ultimately become key to the setting of The Warsaw Orphan.
I’m unapologetically nosy about the authors who inspire authors, so, when reading for pleasure, which novelists do you enjoy?
I love to read across lots of different genres. If I hear about a new book by Charity Norman, Jodi Picoult, Sally Hepworth, Beth O’Leary, Kristin Harmel or Pam Jenoff, I’ll be counting down the days until its release! Recently I read a book called Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason and it was one of the best books I have ever read.
Thanks Kelly, for fantastic recommendations for readers to explore. Also, Charity Norman joined us last month for an author heart-to-heart💗. Finally, can you tell us a little about what’s next?
I’m currently working on the final draft of a book which is likely to be titled The German Wife. It follows two very different women, one in Germany and one in rural USA, through several decades of their lives.
Sounds fascinating. One for Heart-to-Heart💗 readers to look forward too. Thanks so much for making time to chat.
To discover more about Kelly and her writing, follow the links below, but in the meantime, stay safe and happy reading!
And/or to support independent bookshops: https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/kellyrimmer
Follow Kelly on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KelRimmerWrites
Follow Kelly on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kelrimmerwrites/