Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Chat With Kim Savage, Author of IN HER SKIN

We have with us today Kim Savage, whose new novel In Her Skin hits shelves on April 17 (in just 3 days!). Keep reading to learn what inspired her to write her story, her favorite underrated novel, and more.

Kim Savage is the author of three critically acclaimed young adult novels, After the Woods, Beautiful Broken Girls (named by Kirkus as one of the 10 Best YA of 2017), and In Her Skin (releasing April 17, 2018), all with Farrar, Straus, Giroux/Macmillan. Her novels have been published in Spain, Brazil, and Turkey, and have been optioned for TV. K

Kim presents at conferences and book festivals nationwide; has been featured on NPR, Herald Radio, and on local cable stations; and she reads from her novels at bookstores across the country. A former reporter with a Master degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, Kim's stories are based in and around Boston. She lives with her family near Boston, not far from the real Middlesex Fells Reservation of After the Woods.

Kim and her husband have three children, each of whom beg to appear in her books. They shouldn't.
(photo and text taken from Kim's
Goodreads profile)

How did you come up with the premise for In Her Skin?

In Her Skin is based loosely on the life of a real-life con artist, Frédéric Bourdin, who impersonated a missing boy. Bourdin didn’t look like the boy, had an Algerian accent, and offered an unbelievable story of having been held by a kidnapping ring. It’s hard to understand how the parents of the missing boy could accept Bourdin as their son for as long as they did. I wondered, what if I created a character who attempted the same con, and the parents’ reasons for buying in became clear as the novel unfolded? Jolene Chastain, meet the Lovecrafts.

If you could pick one song that goes with this novel, what would it be? 

“Secrets” by One Republic. In Her Skin is about the power of confessing secrets, and the ways those confessions bind us to people, for better or for worse (okay, mostly worse!). At the same time, those secrets can free us when we release them:

Got no family I can't blame
Just don't let me disappear
I'mma tell you everything

Of course, there is danger in telling, as Jo finds out!

What do you think makes a fictional character compelling? Do you have any tips for other writers?

Credible contradictions. My protagonists have the most devastating flaws, but they always have believable moral centers, too. In my work in progress, I’m writing a character based on the greatest villain of all time—Richard III—who also happens to be the most morally courageous person I’ve “met.”

What's more challenging for you as a writer: wrapping up the end of a novel or starting the first chapter?

Beginnings are easy for me, because I’m used to writing leads (I was once a reporter). I always know the ending, too: you have to, with suspense. It's the early-middle that does me in, when I'm trying to avoid to much exposition, but I need to give the reader enough information to make the next plot points logical. I really, really, really hate that early middle.

Thriller movies: love them or hate them?

I’m meh on thriller movies, which rely on splashy action. On the other hand, I love psychological suspense!

What is one underrated book you would like to recommend to everyone?

The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos is smart, well-written, has a literary feel, and hits my sweet spots: a daughter’s love for her father, and forensics.

Release Date: April 17, 2018

Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest heist of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

When Jo takes on Vivi's identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.
(taken from