Today Book Club Babble is excited to be talking to Kim Hooper. Kim, thank you so much for joining us today. Let’s get started…
Maribel Garcia: I love that this particular novel centers on neurodiverse characters. In your novel, Dave is a dad with Asperger’s. He sees the world differently than most, and he feels like he has no idea what he’s doing when it comes to raising his 15-year-old daughter, Cleo. What inspired you to write the book and more specifically, what inspired Dave’s character?
Kim Hooper: A couple years ago, my husband and I started to suspect that he was on the autism spectrum. I ended up doing a lot of reading on it and seeing him in a brand new way. We got an official diagnosis in 2020, right at the start of the pandemic. I felt compelled to write a story with a main character who has ASD (autism spectrum disorder, also called Asperger’s). Dave, like my husband, is considered “high functioning.” His brain is wired differently than many people, but he’s so interesting and lovable (like my husband!).
Maribel Garcia: What did you learn when writing the book?
Kim Hooper: I learned a lot about, as the title says, ways the world could end. Ha. In the book, Dave is obsessed with doomsday prepping. It’s what people in the ASD community call “his special interest.” So, I had to really research that, which was both terrifying and liberating. There is so much that is out of our control.
Maribel Garcia: What surprised you the most?
Kim Hooper I was surprised by how attached I became to some of the secondary characters. When I went into writing this book, Dave and Cleo were very clear in my head and I got to know the others as I wrote. By the end, I felt very close to all the characters in a way I didn’t expect.
Maribel Garcia: In your novel, Dave dedicates his attention to his newfound hobby of doomsday prepping, researching the various ways the world could end. Was this novel written during the pandemic and if so, how did our “new normal” influence any of it?
Kim Hooper: Oh yes, this is my “pandemic novel.” Those early months felt so apocalyptic and that definitely influenced my decision to make Dave a doomsday prepper. There was something inside me that wanted to gain a little control (or illusion of control) by researching and looking at the science of the end of the world.
Maribel Garcia: What does the title mean? How did you come up with it?
Kim Hooper: This title came to me in the same way the title of my first book came to me. My first book started with the line “People who knew me think I’m dead.” From that, I had the title: People Who Knew Me. With this book, the first line (from Dave) is “There are several ways the world could end.” The title came from there and it stuck.
Maribel Garcia: Your fans love that you are such a prolific author. So, the following questions specifically address the question: HOW DO YOU DO IT?
Kim Hooper: I really just love to write. I think because I’m so busy (I have a full-time job, I’m a mom, etc.), I don’t get too up in my head about writing. There are long stretches when I don’t write much. If I get an idea I love and want to write a novel, I set a goal of 5,000 words per week and I look at it as something I “get” to do for an hour or so each day. If I had whole days open before me, I’d probably be paralyzed. Writing is such a good escape for me and I’m lucky that my escape translates to books that others can enjoy (well, hopefully!).
Maribel Garcia: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have loved writing stories since I was very young. I remember getting an assignment in third grade to write my own version of a fairy tale and I felt so alive doing that. I asked my parents for baby name books so I could find the best names for characters. Writing wasn’t something I ever sought out. It found me.
Maribel Garcia: How long does it take you to write a book?
Kim Hooper: It takes me about 4 to 6 months to write a first draft, then I set it aside for a few weeks to give my brain a rest. After that, I edit for a couple months. Then it’s usually ready for my publisher. Typically, I have a novel done in less than a year.
Maribel Garcia: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Kim Hooper: I work full-time so I fit in an hour of writing a day in the early morning or after my daughter goes to bed. I also jot down ideas on Post-its throughout the day. When I’m working on a novel, I’m kind of always “writing” even when I’m not writing, if that makes sense. I see it as necessary for my mental health to write, so I’m happy to fit it in.
Maribel Garcia: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Kim Hooper: I love to read. I read about 80-90 books per year. I love watching good shows (and am always looking for recommendations). Running is also great for my brain–I’ve come up with so many ideas while running.
Maribel Garcia: Do you have any suggestions to help people become better writers? If so, what are they?
Kim Hooper: Trust your voice. Don’t get too up in your head about writing. Let it flow. There will be time for editing and judgment later. Set aside time in your day. I don’t believe in waiting for the muse. If you have an idea that won’t leave you alone, commit to a certain word count or time per day. I love having that structure.
Maribel Garcia: Do you hear from your readers much?
Kim Hooper: I do! I’ve stopped reading reviews because I’m way too sensitive for that, but I do have readers reach out via email. It really makes my day that people take the time for that. Reading is very subjective. I don’t assume my books are everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine. That said, it does make me so happy when people say they love my stories or my writing style. I’m generally pretty introverted and private, so my stories are a way of saying, “Hey world, here I am!” When others embrace my stories, it’s like they are embracing me.
About Kim Hooper
Kim Hooper novels: People Who Knew Me (2016), Cherry Blossoms (2018), Tiny (2019), All the Acorns on the Forest Floor (2020), No Hiding in Boise (2021), All the Love: Healing Your Heart and Finding Meaning After Pregnancy Loss (2021) and Ways the World Can End (2022). Her debut, People Who Knew Me, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2016.