Monday, December 23, 2013

Meet Kim Flowers

Hello, I hope all of you are enjoying this wonderful time of the year.  Today I have Kim Flowers here to chat about her work including her latest novel, The Divide, Book 1: Uprising.  Welcome Kim!

Happy Christmas Eve-Eve!  I hope everyone has a great holiday season and New Year.  I am honored to be a guest blogger here and talk about my YA dystopian series. The Divide, Book 1: Uprising was published January 2013 and Book Two: Unity will be published March 2014, both through QueerTeen Press.

Two things that make these books unique are not only that all the major characters are LGBT, but also that every character is multi-racial.  The Divide takes place 200 years in the future, but for reasons the main character Serenity does not know, the government hides information, encourages a Post-Racial Era, but attempts to erase individual racial knowledge.  All Serenity knows for sure is that as a result of Civil War Two, people are now classified as either “normal” or “gay.” Anyone discovered to be in the LGBT spectrum gets banned to walled Gay Communities.  Serenity is 17 and knows she isn’t “normal.”  In her desperate attempt to find answers about who she really is, she joins an underground organization attempting to overthrow The Divide and must keep her membership a secret from everyone . . . even her new girlfriend Dawn. 

I think this book is a metaphor for what many gay teens go through today, as well as what I went through as a teen lesbian afraid to come out.  Serenity hides her identity and actions from her parents and best friend, secretly searching online for someone to talk to.  Even she finds the perfect girlfriend, she lies to her because it’s become such a habit.  I never considered this series as a warning for something that might actually happen in the future, but in the light of current upheavals against the LGBT community in places such as Uganda and Russia, and conservative preachers who say gay people should be locked away and left to die off, maybe it’s not impossible.

I have entered Book One in the Lambda Literary Awards, and the shortlists of finalists will be released just in time for Book Two.  If Lynn will have me, I’d like to return in spring for the release of Book Two, and hopefully I’ll have good news about Book One!  Happy Holidays!


What is your story about? 
My story is about 17-year old Serenity, a girl growing up in a futuristic US.  Anyone LGBT is labeled “Gay” and gets banned to walled Gay Communities.  Serenity has grown up in a so-called normal town, but knows she isn’t normal.  She searches online for someone to talk to, wanting to belong to both worlds, and joins an underground organization which is trying to abolish The Divide between gay and straight.

What traits were you looking for when you were creating the main character for this story? 
I wanted a strong female MC! I have read several YA stories lately where the MC is insecure, lives her whole life for a crush, or doesn’t actually seem to be involved in moving the story forward.  I wanted someone strong, and even though she has problems and imperfections like anyone else, she takes the action to control her own life without depending on someone else to do it for her.

Did you do any types of writing while you were in school.  If so did you receive any awards or recognition for your work? 
When I was in school I was on the school paper and was the editor my senior year.

Was there anyone, in your life who was an inspiration for you to write.   If so what did they do?
My family was great inspiration.  They always believed in me, listened to me read stories, and told me they knew I could do it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?  Can you elaborate on what has worked for you?
I want my readers to know that I try to write books including all diversity, and especially GLBT.  I want them to know that if any of them are struggling they are not alone.  The best advice that has worked for me is to never give up.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love spending time with my 3-year old son, going to drag shows, music, reading, and contemplating my next writing projects!

What has been your favorite part of being an author?  The least fave?
My favorite part has been the entire journey—the day I finally got officially published.  I can’t say I have a least favorite, because it’s what I’ve always loved.

What has been the strangest thing a reader has asked you? 
I’ve had one reader ask me to put him in my next novel—and kill him!  He always asks me, “Am I dead yet?”

Where would you go for your dream vacation?  Would you ever use that location as the main location in a future story? 
My dream vacation in the US would be California . . . . Outside of the states would be almost anywhere because I’ve only been to Canada!  I’m always looking for new settings for future stories, too!

What is in the works next for you? 
The Divide, Book Two: Unity will be released March 2014.  I have two short steampunk stories, part three and four of a series, which will be published April 2014.  Sometime next year the entire steampunk series will be compiled into paperback under the title Revolt of the Perfectly Free.  I’m currently working on a YA Contemporary novel with a 16-year old female MC with Asperger’s who gets bullied and has a crush on a deaf girl.

Kim was on a guest blog from 11-17 about writing both books in The Divide series during Camp NaNos.  Click on the link to read more:

Kim's Arecafe interview

Below is my review of The Divide, Book 1:  Uprising:

Lynn Lawler's Review

Here is an excerpt from The Divide, Book 1: Uprising:

     I spit blood and sway, determined not to collapse.
    The man in the three-piece suit punches me again. Thick clumps of dark, matted hair cover my face as I fall to one knee and force myself back up.
     “Tell me about the confidential information you delivered,” he says calmly.
     “I never looked at it,” I whisper. Screams have long ago torn my voice from my throat.
     The man’s pale face shows no emotion as he uppercuts my jaw.
     I can’t see him anymore; instead, a swirling universe sparkling with distant galaxies and suns fills my vision. Somewhere out there is surely another world where I won’t be punished for who I am. But then the illusion fades and I’m back in the gray room. Instruments of torture hang upon the wall, and even though the light is dim, I see bloodstains all over the floor.
      “You are a liar,” the man says matter-of-factly.
     It takes all my willpower not to beat the man with his own weapons. I’ve been standing here for almost an hour, unbound. But if I even attempt to defend myself, I’ll be executed immediately.
     The man clasps his hands in front of him. "This is a godly nation. You were raised in the church. Don't you recall how the Lord is going to separate the righteous from the wicked in the end? The goats on his left; the sheep on his right. Why have you have deliberately chosen to walk the path of the goats?”
     I say nothing, knowing it won’t matter either way.
    He raises an eyebrow. “Answer the question. Why have you strayed from your rightful path? What Bible verse could you possibly recite to prove that flaunting authority is beneficial?”
     I sneer. "‘Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing.’”
     The man’s face reddens. “You’ve brought this upon yourself.” He reaches for the Peacemaker.
     My breath catches in my throat. I have nothing to tell the government, but they don’t believe me. I’ve been taught in school that minors have special protection under the law, and can’t be imprisoned or tortured the way adults are.
    But apparently, those rules don’t apply to seventeen-year-olds who sneak off to join the Gay Community.
     I cross my arms over my ragged, filth-encrusted shirt as the man steps closer, holding a small black rod. I’ve lasted the whole session today without crying out in pain, even though I’ve been lashed with a leather strap and punched repeatedly. But the Peacemaker is the worst.
     Tears fill my eyes. I back into the shadows and desperately wish for some way to delay what is about to happen.
    The man lunges and presses the rod to my temple. My teeth clench; my skull sparks with electricity. It feels like I drift to the floor in a fog until I actually hit the ground and the back of my head slams onto concrete. He releases the charge only to jolt the other side.
      I sprawl on the floor helplessly, and know I’ll be questioned again soon to see if my answers have changed. I’ve already been interrogated under multiple conditions using various techniques, but my answers haven’t made the government happy. The Peacemaker is their latest tactic.
     After multiples shocks, I feel myself drifting. I try to force my brain synapses to function -- to secure my short-term memories, even as they fade -- but the Peacemaker causes me such confusion. I think the man hopes I’ll forget why I’m there, but not the long-term memories I’ve retained, so I’ll tell him what he wants. Fortunately for me, no matter how much technology or the study of medicine and pain advances, humans still can’t master the inner workings of their own brains, so I know that in the morning I’ll have my memories back, though the torture sessions themselves always remain blank.
     What’s going on?
    “Where is the Human Equality Organization headquarters?” a pale man asks, swimming in and out of my blurred vision.
     “I don’t know ... Dad?”
    There’s pain in my head, followed by more questions, as I lie on the floor paralyzed. I have no idea what’s happening to me, but finally I am carried away to a scratchy cot in a cell.
There are no windows, and the room is dark. I don’t know what just happened, or why I feel so weak. I curl up and sob, feeling like a little kid.
     “Mom? Dad?”
     Why am I here? When will someone take me home?
     I’m so thirsty
     I sob myself to sleep.
     When I awake, I remember.
     I step carefully across the cell. I know it’s morning now because a small cup of water and bowl of oatmeal have been set inside my door. I sit on the floor and try to savor the meal, in case I don’t get anything else for the rest of the day. After using the freezing metal toilet, I lie on my rancid cot, waiting for the torture.
   Maybe I’ve been headed towards this moment since the day in third grade I realized I was a lesbian and decided not to confess and be sent to therapy. Or maybe it was my freshman year that changed things, when I began hacking into forbidden LGBT chat rooms. I’d tried to act the way I should my whole life, but it never made a difference.
     Actually, it wasn’t until I met Dawn that I stopped caring about being the perfect citizen. Now I can’t help but wonder if there’s anything I should have done differently.
     I roll to my side, surprised that the man hasn’t come to get me yet, and desperately replay my memories. Maybe today the Peacemaker will overcome me, and I will be left with nothing.

      Before you go check out all of Kim's links including the purchase link:

      Kim's Web Page

Twitter:  @KimFlowersBooks

And come check out my webpage and like me on Facebook:

Happy Holidays!!!

Printed With Permission

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