Interview with Debut Author Kristy Fairlamb

One of the golden rules of being a writer is understanding that it’s a lonely business, and how important it is for one’s sanity to surround yourself with other writerly people who can celebrate your success, and offer support in times of struggle. The hard thing is finding people to connect with, especially as a lot of writers are introverts who find the idea of making small talk rather nerve-wracking. One of the best ways to meet writers is at writing classes and workshops, which is exactly where I met my writer (now officially author) friend, Kristy Fairlamb.

I lucked out in that class sitting next to Kristy. We come from entirely different backgrounds and are at different points along our writing journey, but we clicked from that very first lesson. Now I am so proud to be able to support her as her first novel Lucid is published, with its sequel to come early next year.

Lucid is the story of Lucy Piper, who lives a lonely existence on the precipice between life and death. She possesses the horrifying ability to resurrect real-life tragic events in her nightmares, reliving over and over, as if she were there, the last few moments before the victim takes their final breath. Car accidents, drownings, plane crashes – Lucy has seen it all. No one understands what it’s like living death by night and fearing sleep by day.

When Tyler Sims and his family move to town to escape past traumas, Lucy is drawn to him. The two of them are linked through their dreams, and with Tyler’s trust and friendship, hope for a brighter future returns to Lucy’s world. But Tyler’s presence awakens something else in Lucy, and with this new knowledge, she will be forced to make impossible decisions. Decisions that will change history, and the future.

Chilling, haunting and compelling, this novel is the first in a two-part series for fans of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Hidden Memory of Objects that will leave you breathless for days.

Kristy grew up in Murray Bridge, a small town 75km out of Adelaide, South Australia. Although she didn’t dream of being a writer while growing up, she unwittingly set herself up for success by experiencing the world working as a nanny in country England, and traveling around Europe when she finished school. Her high school sweetheart followed her overseas and after 18 months they returned to Australia, got married and started their family.

Although she never aspired to a particular career, Kristy kept busy working in her mum’s retail shop, and became a Thermomix group leader while she raised her 3 children with her husband, Joe. Then in 2015, Kristy found herself at a crossroad. Her Thermomix business had turned into a full time job and had unfortunately become more stressful than enjoyable, so she decided that enough was enough. She wanted to spend more time with her family and focus on the things that were important to her, so she gave away Thermomix and settled into life as a full-time stay-at-home mum.

Of course it wasn’t long before she realised that she needed something to fill the space that work had left. Kristy wanted more than just the duties that came with being a stay-at-home mum; she needed a creative outlet. She’d often thought about writing a novel before, and now seemed like the perfect opportunity. Although she says she doesn’t remember the day she sat down and started writing, Kristy’s daughter, Ajah, says she remembers her mum announcing it when she got home from school that day, and when Kristy sets her mind to something, she doesn’t do it by halves.

Although Kristy knew she wanted to write a novel, it didn’t take her long to figure out that she didn’t actually know how to. Luckily, there was a wealth of knowledge at her fingertips, and so along with writing Lucid, a story she initially intended for her daughter and as a birthday gift for her mother, Kristy researched writing techniques as she went. A year later Kristy had completed a first draft and had a whole lot more insight into how to write, from both her research and firsthand experience.

When she decided to start writing, Kristy put together a basic plan using some tips that she learned from her research, and even though the idea wasn’t fully formed on that first day, it came together throughout the plotting process. Kristy had long been fascinated with dreams and remembers having incredibly vivid ones herself when she was pregnant. Coupled with a near-death experience that left her wondering, ‘what if?’ Kristy settled on the story of Lucy Piper, a teenage girl who dreamed of death, and developed her story into Lucid

Kristy’s first big mistake in her writing journey is one that most writers might be tempted to make: she let her daughter, her mother, and a few others read her work before she had done any revising. She had proven to herself that she could achieve her goal of writing a novel, but now that she had done it, maybe she could do more. She had started not knowing anything about writing, but as the words added up her confidence grew. She was proud of all the words she had written, and now she wondered whether others, people she didn’t know, would be interested in reading them too. Could she go from mum-with-a-dream-to-write-a-book to published author? The first thing she needed to do was stop giving out her first draft, and then repeat her process of learning-while-doing, and start editing.

Now that she had actually written a novel, albeit an unpublished one, Kristy found confidence to share her new passion for writing with more people. She went to a class about writing a synopsis, and started researching what to do now that her novel was both written and somewhat edited. She sought the opinions of a few more friends and entered into the Writers SA Pitch Conference where Lucid didn’t get any bites from publishers. Although it was her first taste of rejection, Kristy has come to realise that at that time both Lucid, and herself as a writer, weren’t ready to be published.

Despite the disappointment of the conference, Kristy found the inspiration she needed. She threw herself into revising and editing Lucid, even recruiting some beta readers, and also worked on new projects, writing another two novels while entering Lucid into competitions and shopping it around to agents and publishers. With her only goal for people to read her book, she also considered self-publishing. If she was going to self-publish though, she wanted to do it right, which is what ultimately led Kristy to engage the services of Kate Foster, a freelance editor and Editorial Director at Lakewater Press.

The only problem with selecting Kate, who Kristy had a good gut feeling about, was that she didn’t have an opening for several months. However, Kristy had made her mind up, she wanted Kate and she was prepared to wait for her. When the time came Kate got in touch and demanded to know why Kristy wanted to self-publish, and would she consider traditional publishing, more importantly would she consider signing with Lakewater Press?

“I was so shocked,’ Kristy says, “Kate had taken a while to get back to me once she started reading Lucid, so I thought she didn’t like it. When she said she was loving it and wanted Lakewater to take it on, it was such a surprise.”

After receiving the news Kristy sought advice from a well-known Adelaide based author and also did what she does best: research. Ultimately she felt completely comfortable and it’s lucky she decided to sign because along with the contract came the first round of inline edits along with an 8000 word critique of her blood sweat and tears. She says “If I didn’t have the contract in my hand, I would have thought Kate hated Lucid. I was totally overwhelmed with the feedback. I had no idea where to start and it seemed like such a big job.”

Kate had made a lot of suggestions and Kristy could see that most of them strengthened the story. Some of the ideas validated concerns that she’d had from the start and gave her ideas about how to fix them, while other issues took a bit longer to nut out solutions. After the first major round of edits were done Kristy started to panic a little. The story didn’t feel finished yet, but she didn’t need to worry, Kate worked with her to perfect every last detail, and she never felt rushed. When Lucid was turned in for the final time, Kristy felt that the story, her story, was the best it could possibly be. And this will come as no surprise to any experienced writer, the final draft was absolutely nothing like the first.

Kristy’s family have been her biggest support right from the start and they couldn’t be more chuffed that their mum surpassed her original goal of writing a book to become a published author. Kristy’s daughter, Ajah, is the most excited as she’s been there through the whole process, and witnessed firsthand all the hard work and dedication that goes into achieving your goals. While her younger sons don’t quite understand the gravity of getting your words published, they’re still proud of their mum, just as long as she doesn’t come and talk to their class at school.

Joe has not only leant his emotional support and a shoulder to cry on when things got tough, but practical help as well, designing Kristy’s website and being her go-to tech guy. She says he never made her feel guilty or selfish for prioritising her writing and on some days completely losing herself in the story or edits.

Now that she’s a published author, Kristy doesn’t want to stop. She didn’t want to be a writer when she was a child, but she discovered that she wants to be one now, and that it’s never too late to chase your dreams. She says, “I’ve never loved anything more than I’ve loved writing. I want it, I want to do it, even though sometimes it’s hard.” Her advice to new writers: “Give yourself permission to write as a priority. Just start writing, learn on the job. Get up at 5am, watch less TV. Just write.”

Need proof that Kristy’s advice is worth its weight in gold? She’s currently working on edits for Luminous, the sequel to Lucid, which will also be published by Lakewater Press in 2020.

Get your copy of Lucid by Kristy Fairlamb

Lucid is out now via Lakewater Press and launching May 9th at the Cathedral Hotel, North Adelaide.

Get your copy from Amazon, Booktopia, or other good brick-and-mortar and online bookstores. If your local store doesn’t have Lucid in stock, ask them to order it in.

Check out Kristy’s website and sign up to her newsletter for exclusive info about her upcoming events and books.

 

Congrats Kristy! I am so excited for you and I can’t wait to celebrate with you at your launch party.

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