Kim Kelly

Australian Author

Month: January, 2020

Walking front cover

WALKING RHYTHMS

It’s not long now before my ninth novel, Walking, steps out into the world – in February – and I’m letting myself get a bit excited.

This story has been fifteen years in the dreaming and scheming, and as always, she’s a bright, bold piece of my heart – maybe even brighter and bolder for the long wait.

I came across the inspiration for Walking way back when I was researching my first black diamondsnovel, Black Diamonds. That story was set during the First World War and, much to my shock and dismay at the time, about halfway through it I blew my hero up – then had to figure out how I was going to put him back together again. In the process, I learned more than I wanted to know about early orthopaedic medicine. But it was there that I came across the real-life story of German-Australian surgeon, Max Herz.

Max’s exploits and the challenges he faced were so incredible he deserved a novel of his own, but I wasn’t sure how to tell his tale. He was a medical genius, and a complex man; he was also interned and unjustly, insanely persecuted in Australia during the war – only to then emerge as a quietly powerful hero who changed the lives of thousands of Australian children. What a guy.

The more I researched Max himself, though, the more elusive he became – there just wasn’t enough information out there to show what really made him tick. But then, out of the soul-soup of all that reading and wondering, his essence appeared to me in fictional form. He stepped into my imagination as a man called Hugo Winter – and with him came his young protégé, Lucy Brynne.

Hugo and Lucy took off with the story from that moment on, and at such a pace I could hardly keep up.

Each day writing, and even throughout editing, the rhythms of Hugo’s and Lucy’s intertwined narratives drove me on as though the words were charged with music. And in a way, they are. Real-life Max was a musician and performer in his spare time, renowned for partying like a champ – that man had energy to burn. And the mystery man lovely Lucy falls for turns out to be a bit of a musician too – among other surprises.

As the story shifts from scene to scene, so too do the tunes, ranging through jumpin’ jive, tango, jazz crooning, string quartet and big band sounds, such a mix, I thought it might be fun to put together a little playlist of the beats that give Walking her bounce.

And here they are for your listening pleasure …

  1. The irrepressible Louis Jordan with Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens
  2. A good old-fashioned tango!
  3. Al Bowlly’s perennially romantic Goodnight Sweetheart
  4. A bit of Beethoven with your schnapps
  5. Glenn Miller’s boppiest rendition of Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree
  6. Billie Holiday’s timelessly silky interpretation of The Man I Love 
  7. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – was a clarinet ever so sexy?
  8. And the happiest, toe-tapping-est beats ever in Benny Goodman’s Sing Sing Sing

I hope you enjoy that little sentimental journey. And I hope you enjoy Walking, too.

If you’d like to preorder the paperback, you can here at Book Depository, or if you’re treblelocal, put your hand up for a signed copy at Collins Booksellers Orange or Books Plus Bathurst. The ebook can be preordered here at iBooks and Kobo. Lots of other retailers to come – including the audiobook edition from Bolinda Publishing. News on all that soon!

butterfly

STOCKTAKING

So many heartbreaking and frightening things have happened lately, and are continuing to happen, most of us here in Australia are finding it hard to celebrate the new year this time around. But I’m taking a moment to take stock of what I can merrily shout about, to mark the end of the decade.

As we leave the Terrible Teens behind and head into 2020, here are my top ten personal achievements of the past ten years, in no particular order:

  1. I took a gigantic leap of faith and married my muse de bloke Deano, and we’ve made the homiest home I’ve ever known at The Bend.
  2. I’ve delighted in watching my boys grow into men, and acknowledged that I might have had something to do with that, warts and all (and plenty of grey hair to show for it).
  3. Seven of my novels were published, all of them going on into audio, too. Wowzies, that seems a lot in a bunch. A lot of work. A lot of love. A lot of persistence.
  4. One short story of mine shocked me out of the park by actually winning a prize.
  5. I donated a kidney and witnessed a miracle of life.
  6. I’ve learned to (mostly) control my social anxiety, and bit by bit I unleashed my true carny soul at author events all over the place – and even on the radio. Can’t shut me up now.
  7. I’ve made wonderful new friends, especially through books and reading, and strengthened some old bonds as well.
  8. I wrote my way through two quite scary depressions, crying buckets and shamelessly laughing at all my own jokes, and found a new respect for my resilience and tenacity (previously known as resistance and obstinacy).
  9. I began reviewing for The Newtown Review of Books, and discovered that even my sensible, grown-up voice needs to colour outside the lines.
  10. I’ve gradually been living smaller, with less waste, less plastic, less corporate crap, less stuff generally (except for frocks), and I’ve let this aphorism of Nietzsche’s speak to my heart every day: ‘We must remain as close to the flowers, the grass, and the butterflies as the child is who is not yet so much taller than they are … Whoever would partake of all good things must understand how to be small at times.’

May the next decade bring more of the same: love, curiosity, wisdom, growth, togetherness – and for everyone, as we face the challenges ahead. I hope we learn to care larger and more fiercely, for each other and for our world. Let’s try to make these coming years the Terrific Twenties.

Good health and good cheer to all, and if you feel like shouting out your own bunch of good things, please feel free to share them here.

Kim xx