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Kim Hood

Kim finds a voice with debut novel

KILSHANNY-based Canadian, Kim Hood  has been shortlisted for The Bookseller’s inaugural Young Adult Book Prize for her debut novel, Finding A Voice.

The competition was open to writers in Britain and Ireland and the winner of the £2,000 prize will be announced in March.

“Basically, it’s a story about friendship. A girl, who is 13, is basically a caregiver for her mother, who suffers from mental illness. Life isn’t going so great for her, between home and school where she kind of has the reputation of being ‘the weird kid with the weird mother’. She volunteers in the special education wing and she meets a character called Chris, who has cerebal palsey and cannot talk. It’s basically about how they both develop a voice through their friendship,” Kim said of the book.

Writing for young people comes quite easily to her, she says, while her own teens, difficult as they were, have given her a useful insight.

“When I started writing, I planned to write for adults but the book I was writing really wasn’t working and I think it’s a natural audience for me to write for. I really relate to teens.

“I was definitely one of those kids that just didn’t quite fit in and I really kind of struggled to find my way. It’s easy for me to relate to that,” she added, noting that she is half way through another novel for young adults.

Kim grew up in British Columbia and after earning degrees in psychology, history and education, she spent some time travelling before settling in the Banner County.

“I was over here for a couple of summers in the early 1990s and absolutely fell in love with the place. I don’t know why, it certainly wasn’t the weather but something in it clicked for me. I was away for nearly 10 years after that and missed Clare so much. I came back on a holiday in 2005 and decided it was time to write a novel and I really, really wanted to do that here. I came back in January 2006 to write and then life just kind of got in the way, I ended up working. I now have a partner and a child, who’s seven. The novel, even though I had come back here to write, I didn’t get started on it until about 2010. I finally sat down to write it but not in the timeframe I expected,” she reminisces.

While writing was always something Kim enjoyed, it took her a while to reach a stage where she was willing to undertake something as challenging as writing a novel.

“I always wrote but I had to hit 40 to believe it was a realistic goal that I could achieve and, secondly, to sit down and put in the work that is required. It’s one thing to dabble and write when you feel like it and another to sit down day after day for as long as it takes to write a novel.”

Kim says she is “in shock” at having been nominated for the prize, the winner of which will be picked by 10 judges including author Philip Reeve, World Book Day director, Kirsten Grant and RTÉ broadcaster Rick O’Shea.

The Bookseller is a weekly magazine reporting on the publishing industry, which was founded in 1858.

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