Today I'm welcoming Kim Culbertson to my blog. She is the author of Songs For A Teenage Nomad which is a book I just loved, so I was very excited to get to interview Kim. I hope everyone enjoys the post. :)
Hi Kim, Welcome to Anna's Book Blog! I'm glad to have you here. To start off can you tell the readers a little about yourself?
Thanks, Anna! I’m excited to be here. A little about me. Songs for a Teenage Nomad is my first novel. I’m also a high school Creative Writing and English teacher and the mom of a six year old girl named Ana (just one n but the same name as you!) I live in Northern California near Tahoe. My favorite things (besides writing of course!) are reading, hiking, snowshoeing and yoga and being with my family.
Songs for a Teenage Nomad is your latest release, can you tell us a little about it?
Songs tells the story of Calle Smith, a girl entering her freshman year of high school who has been in 14 schools in eight years – she drifts around with her nomadic mom. Because she lacks roots, Calle keeps track of the memories in her life by chronicling the way music reminds her of her past. Each chapter starts off with a section of her song journal, little snippets of her life with her mom as memory. She collects songs the way others collect stamps or stickers or baseball cards. Songs remind her and root her to a shared history. At the start of the book, Calle lands in a small town where she starts to feel some connection but she also starts to learn why they’ve been drifting for so long.
What is your writing day like?
Well, I teach in an independent study high school and I also have a six year old daughter who is in a homeschool cooperative, so I have to really manage my time. I usually only get about 2-3 hours a day for any real sustained writing but I find this really focuses me. I also tend to be a writer who goes through big bursts of writing – like a full day on a Saturday or a bunch of nights in a row of staying up late. I’m a horrible role model for people looking for a ‘writing schedule’ because I never stick to one.
When your not writing what kind of books do you like to read?
I read all kinds of books in all kinds of genres – I’m kind of an equal opportunity reader. I just love good stories and good characters. I just finished a book called Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan – it was a fabulously well-written little slice of life novel. And I just re-read Tanya Egan Gibson’s How to Buy a Love of Reading because it just came out in paperback and I loved that book – it’s so funny and satirical and I used to tutor in a really highbrow sort of community so that book was just right on the mark – fun to read but also really sad and dark. I love to re-read books like The Tribes of Palos Verdes by Joy Nicholson or Art Geeks and Prom Queens by Alyson Noel. Or You Remind Me of You by Eireann Corrigan which is a YA poetry memoir – it’s fantastic. And I love John Green and Richard Russo – I’ll read anything by those guys.
What are 3 things that are "must haves" for you when you sit down to write a book?
1. Pandora for music. Love that I can create my own stations.
2. Coffee (I have a little attachment issue with lattes)
3. I want to say something like ‘inspiration’ (too cheesy?) or something practical like my laptop – but really the key thing is TIME – I need to have a good solid hour or two if I’m going to get any real work done and I think Time seems to be the thing I have the least of lately
In Songs for a Teenage Nomad Calle's mom has a string of boyfriends and husbands and they all drive Ford's. Why Ford's, do they hold a special meaning?
That’s a great question! You know, I was writing in a cafe at one point near a school where I used to teach and I was thinking about a student of mine who would only date boys who drove Chevy's – bow tie boys, she called them. And I thought, wouldn’t that be a funny little detail if her mom just happened to keep ending up with guys who drove a certain kind of car. Right at that moment, an old Ford truck drove by outside and I thought Okay, Fords it is so it was really just coincidence.
How did you decide on what songs and musicians to mention?
This was such an evolution and it’s interesting because I get asked this a lot. Most of the music came from suggestions from my students or songs I heard on the radio at the time I was writing this and a few songs that have some significance to me. The thing is, though, with this book – the specific music that’s in it is really secondary to the role music plays in our lives, the way it follows us throughout life and becomes kind of our own private soundtrack. These songs could be any songs that have a history for Calle. For Calle, so much of her music is her mom’s music (which is why so much of it is older stuff) and it’s one of the things that distances Calle from her own generation. I’m really excited, though, about how some really recent music ended up in the book too because it really shows how music has followed her through her whole life and has become a really important partner to her both for her past and for her future.
Did you put any of your teenage self into Calle and her friends?
Oh, absolutely. But Calle is far stronger than I ever was. She has had to go through things I never had to. But no matter our childhoods, we’ve all felt alone, felt like we don’t fit in, or felt like we want something we can’t have. I’ve certainly felt all those things and that made its way into Calle for sure but it morphed into whatever that meant to her, specifically.
Are there any real life people that have inspired the characters in your series?
My students always ask me – is this me? Is this character me? And of course, like most people, I am constantly informed by the people I meet and interact with in my life. But no one character is ever one specific person – they are all sort of mash-ups of different personalities that I’ve encountered in my life and in my teaching and some are just total inventions.
What is up next? Will we see this characters again or have you got something new planned?
My second novel will be coming out in May from Sourcebooks Fire. It’s called Instructions for a Broken Heart and it’s a separate story with brand new characters. Instructions is about a school trip to Italy and a young girl’s artistic and personal awakening on that trip in the wake of a very painful break-up (and her ex and his new flame also happen to be on the trip which makes things complicated). Thus far, I haven’t felt pulled to write a sequel to Songs, but we’ll see if that changes.
Thank you so much for having me at your blog, Anna!
WHAT IS THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR LIFE
After living in twelve places in eight years, Calle Smith finds herself in Andreas Bay, California, at the start of ninth grade. Another new home, another new school...Callie knows better than to put down roots. Her song journal keeps her moving to her own soundtrack, bouncing through a world best kept at a distance.
Yet before she knows it, friends creep in--as does an unlikely boy was a secret. Calle is torn over what may be her first chance at love. With all that she's hiding, and all that she wants, can she find something lasting beyond music? And will she ever discovered why she and her mother have been running in the first place?
Amazon|Barnes & Noble|The Book Depository
Amazon|Barnes & Noble|The Book Depository
Thanks to Sourcebooks I have 2 copies of Songs For A Teenage Nomad to giveaway. To enter leave a comment telling me about a song that holds great meaning to you, along with your email address. Open to U.S. & Canada. The winners will be announced on September 9th. Good Luck!