I have Kim Wright over for an interview today. I reviewed her book, Love in Mid Air back in February.
Could you tell me a little bit about yourself…
Love in Mid Air is my first novel, but I’ve been a food, wine, and travel writer for 35 years. I live in Charlotte, NC and have two grown children. My present obsession is competitive ballroom dancing. I have a tango competition coming up next week!
Where did you get the inspiration for Love in Mid Air?
When I got divorced, women just started coming up to me and telling me their own divorce or unhappy marriage stories. It was really strange – I certainly wasn’t asking them questions or encouraging them, but it seems like when you’ve been divorced yourself you become a safe person to talk to. I’d laugh and say I was the Mother Confessor for every unhappily married woman in town. I’ve always kept a journal and I started writing down the stories, and I always knew I’d eventually turn them into a novel. Love in Mid Air is a very loose interpretation of these “confessions” – I took care to slice and dice the stories to the point that no one would recognize themselves or feel I had betrayed their trust. But, like most fiction, the plot does have a basis in fact.
Friends play a big part in this book. Would things have turned out differently if she hadn’t had friends to complain to?
I wanted to show the effect that an affair and divorce can have not just on the couple involved but on their entire circle of friends. So I gave Elyse her book club so that we could see a variety of women’s reactions to what was going on. This was another thing I learned through my own marital breakup, that it made some of my friends very nervous. They felt I was upsetting the applecart and I know at least two of them said it made them evaluate their own marriages.
I sure do not like cheating, but here it seems like it had to happen. There is no other way. How did you manage to get this feeling?
I didn’t write the book to advocate cheating. I don’t like it either. That said, it does happen and I wanted to put my main character in crisis to make the book a more interesting read. So I had her meet a fascinating man in the first chapter, when she’s on a plane. I think all women have some notion of this whether they are married or single, contented or not….that a handsome stranger is going to suddenly appear and pay the right kind of attention of attention to us, that in his presence we would feel prettier, smarter, funnier, etc. She wasn’t lured by the sex as much as the promise of romance and I think few women are utterly immune to that promise.
You write that what women do best is staying, and it was just perfect. What was the cause behind this?
It just seemed true. That we’re the gender that keeps hanging in there, trying to make things work, even when it’s obvious it’s not working at all. I’ve written for a lot of women’s magazines and I know we’re always reading articles on how to understand men, attract men, comfort men. It’s like the women are the societal custodians of the marriage and it’s our jobs to keep it together, come what may.
Are you writing something else at the moment?
Yes, something quite different. It’s a mystery series about the first forensics unit in Scotland Yard, which was formed during the Victorian era. The famous case of Jack the Ripper, which of course was never solved, was actually a boon to scientific policework because he was one of the first serial killers, someone who selected his victims at random with no apparent motive. So detectives had to switch their thinking and stop asking “Who benefits from this crime?” and begin asking “How was it done?” because, for the first time, they saw that the “how” could lead them to the “who.” It’s a fascinating period of history and I love my lead character who is a detective who is being very reluctantly pulled into the modern world.
What would you say to aspiring writers?
Don’t work in isolation. Find a critique group, or attend workshops and conferences. If that’s tough because you live in a rural area or have young children or health problems, make friends online. The Internet is a great way for writers to connect, via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. So many writers stay off on their own, just spinning their wheels, but I think community is essential. Not just to strengthen and then sell our work- although networking certainly helps with that – but sometimes just to keep our sanity!