It’s About Time for Kim Lakin-Smith

This month, it’s the turn of Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy and Young Adult author Kim Lakin-Smith.

Kim is the author of the immersive steampunk novel Cyber Circus (shortlisted for the 2011 BSFA Best Novel award),  young adult novel Queen Rat, and has been featured in numerous anthologies and publications including Black Static and Interzone.

Let’s find out how Kim makes time to be creative and balances family life and full time authoring!

GB Tell me what a typical day looks like for you?
I wake up to a chorus of dogs, cats and guinea pigs demanding feeding. Once everyone is satiated, I see my daughter, Scarlet, to her desk where she logs onto her laptop, ready for the online school she attends. Then I get out my mat and do my best attempt at yoga or Pilates, ‘assisted’ by two excitable dogs!

The writing starts around 10am, when, coffee in hand, I collapse onto the sofa and open my notebook. I write nonfiction on a pc and fiction using pen and paper. I am a Paperblanks addict; opening the little metal clasps of an antiqued notebook is very inspiring. I also love the fact that I can write anywhere, a coffee shop, library, train, etc.

I aim to write 6 pages every day. I’m not sure of the word count but I write in a tiny, indecipherable scrawl so it’s usually enough to make my brain feel emptied out. In-between, I perform the duties of your average domestic goddess and try to post on social media – something I struggle with as I’m a pretty private person. Usually I try to think of the inanest thing I can and go with that 🙂

I finish up work around 4pm, in time for the next round of feeding at the zoo. Evenings are reserved for family time, Scarlet’s homework, US TV shows, and the occasional night out. I’d love to say I collapse in bed with a good book around 11pm, but more often than not, my husband, Del, and I are also accompanied by two cats, a fat Labrador and a mad spaniel.

GB What is your biggest time challenge at the moment, and how are you dealing with it?
Everyday life is my biggest time suck. I think it is a conscious choice whether a person allows themselves to be interrupted or not. Some writers are totally self-absorbed; family, friends, reality, everything comes second to the writing. My persona choice is to embrace these interruptions to my writing day. I do dream of a perch in the garden in summertime a few years from now when Scarlet is happy at college and everything is peaceful.

GB Do you make use of internet limiting tools? Do they work?
I live in a family of social media addicts and do my best to personally steer clear of mobile phones and being online too much 🙂 That said, I use the internet daily for research. On the occasions, I have had no internet connection, my productivity has increased tremendously. It is a modern dilemma for us all!

GB How has your craft evolved since becoming a parent?
I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge the compromise that comes from trying to juggle work and parenthood. But there are also great splashes of technicolour which come from the wonder, pain, joy, and awe of having a child. In recent years, I have switched gears from adult SF to Fantasy for children and young adults. I’d love to say I write for Scarlet, but she doesn’t read books so I settle for remembering the child I was once and the kinds of stories I loved to read – J M Barrie, Enid Blyton, Lewis Carroll, Michael Ende, and their ilk.

GB What tip would you give someone struggling to find time to create?
You really do have to create time, by which I mean dedicate a realistic portion of the day to working on your craft. In terms of writing, I think it is all too easy to underestimate how valuable it is to read. See your reading time as adding to your practice. In addition, I find that I can achieve a lot in a very small amount of time so long as I dedicate myself wholly to the writing. Tuck yourself away, set an alarm and focus entirely on letting the words flow.

GB Tell us a little secret about your art/writing/craft
I am often to be found making strange hand gestures! By this I mean I will act out a scenario or an action with my hands to try to spark ideas and come up with the ideal description. I also have to find exactly the right mood of music to fit each individual story.

GB Do you have any recommended reading/resources that have helped you with your artistic time management?
Only paper and pen, and a lock on the office door!

GB Do you ever involve your child(ren) in your craft, or is it a no go area?
I have asked Scarlet her advice on occasion, but she is a very fierce critic! She has introduced me to some wonderfully inspiring resources which I would never have known about otherwise – South Korean music videos, Japanese Anime and Manga, Youtube stars, and Cosplay.

GB What couldn’t you do without to get you through the day?
Coffee and music 🙂

GB Final words of wisdom?
How hard do you want to work as a creative? I would say that is the only difference between success and mediocrity. That, and wholly embrace the ethos of artistic self-reliance, as expressed so eloquently by the inimitable David Bowie:

I am immensely grateful to Kim for taking the time to answer my questions and let us sneak a look at her daily process and finding time to be creative. As ever, please comment below to ask more questions or share your own tips. If you’ve missed the previous interviews then just follow the links below:

Aliette de Bodard
Gareth L Powell
Joanne Hall
Andy Bigwood

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Great interview! And I’d never seen that Bowie clip before. Shall have to store that one somewhere… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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