Author Kim Ligon published her debut novel, Polly’s List, this year, courtesy of The Wild Rose Press. We thought a fun Q&A about process and inspiration was in order.
Please welcome Kim to the publishing trenches and to Write Despite.
What inspired you to write this novel?
I had a list of things that were really “pent up demand” items that I wanted to tackle when I retired. Writing and publishing a novel was one of them. I had written several other stories before I began “Polly’s List”. The inspiration for Polly’s story sprang from another of those demand items. I bought a spinning wheel and taught myself to spin. It is a complex process but once you get it going, it’s very rhythmic and peaceful. I sit and spin looking out my window. We live on a cul-de-sac at the end of the street. Mostly what I see is critters creeping out of the nearby woods, the mailman, and the occasional lost soul turning around because they turned one street too late.
I began thinking about looking down on the neighborhood activity from a third story window. No one would know you were there. What if you saw something evil? What would you do? What if the perpetrator of the crime knew you were up there? Would anyone believe an old woman who lives alone? How could you prove there was a crime? Then, Polly and what she saw while spinning was born.
How did you choose the voice?
It wasn’t a conscious choice. I float between the main characters and what they are seeing and thinking including Polly from her coma. The story unfolded that way and it stayed that way.
Most difficult aspect of the process?
Remembering that the reader couldn’t see inside my head unless I put the words on paper. Early readers helped point the problem out by asking lots of whys about characters and about actions. Dianne Rich, my editor, did a yeoman’s job of pulling the story into deep point of view and immeasurably improving my writing. After it was published, I’d say marketing is the hardest. It can suck down so much of your time.
How many drafts do you go through?
You can’t hear me, but I’m laughing. There were at least four before I let anyone else see it. By the fourth draft, I had added all the characters that were going to be in the final cast. I went through three more rather substantially altered drafts before TWRP got it. Then another major improvement before I got the contract. After I started working with Dianne, we went through three drafts that were in part me learning more about my craft; comma splices, en and em dashes, Oxford commas. Probably things I should have already known but my manuscript did not show it. I wrote a verse about it and posted it on my blog www.spinningromance.com.
Who were your manuscript readers/feedback posse along the way?
My husband is a voracious reader and willing to be my first reader and to give me feedback. He had just finished reading a Sue Grafton novel when he read my debut novel. He said my mystery was on a par with hers and I really didn’t need to ruin it with R******. He wanted me to be a novelist/author, not just a romance writer.
My other early-and-often reader was my dear friend, Millie. It takes someone who really knows you and loves you to tell you where the story sucks. She had spot-on recommendations and a gift for asking just the right questions to send me in the correct direction.