Get ready to learn more about the book Damaged in this discussion with sapphic author Kim Pritekel.
Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Kim Pritekel about Damaged, writing, reading, and more.
This book is part of the Divorced Character category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.
Why did you write Damaged?
People have fascinated me my whole life. I have never met a boring person nor heard a boring story from them, about their life, family, etc. So, I decided to tackle not just two main characters and their journey, but that of an entire family, each member with her or his own separate story that circled back to the main story of the novel.
I wrote this novel back in 2016. I had just gotten out of the darkest few years of my life, and I think I just had a lot to say. I was able to deal with a lot of what I’d gone through and learned through this novel. So, it was just the perfect time to get it on “paper”.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
I have two answers for this question. Nora and Shannon are my favorites in this one. Nora is very much like me: spent much of her life hiding behind her talent as a photographer to not deal with her family or herself. I’ve done that off and on with my writing. Also, just her quiet, observant nature. Very much me.
Shannon, on the other hand is a favorite in this one because of the extraordinary things she had to overcome, and not just the events that framed the main plot of the novel. But, her entire life until the end. Her resilience and tremendous love for her daughter, Bella are incredible. I adored her and who she became, despite it all.
What inspired the idea for Damaged?
In a word (or more), to see if I could do it. lol But also, my mom and her two youngers siblings survived unbelievable adversity growing up, and though this novel is very different from their story, I’ve always been intrigued by what becomes of adult siblings after seemingly insurmountable odds as children. This was my way be playing in that pot.
What was the biggest challenge writing this book?
To be honest, there really wasn’t one. In my mind – and thus through my fingers – it just flowed so smoothly. I felt every one of these characters, truly loved all of them and made myself cry more than once as I told their story.
What part of Damaged was the most fun to write?
The backstories! That is my absolute guilty pleasure in writing. I love psychology and have studied it extensively throughout my life. So, for me to psychologically get my characters to where they are in the “present day” of the novel, I configure their backstories to explain so much of who they are – where they came from, their childhood, etc. So, in this one, with it having so many main characters, it was my absolutely candy store to create where they all came from, how and why. Yes, I’m aware I’m a dork.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
For this one, there was no other title but Damaged. All my titles have multiple meanings for the story, but for this one, it was pretty much straight forward.
How much research did you need to do for Damaged?
I needed to do research for the investigative parts of the story (police involvement in the missing case) as well as in the educational system. Luckily at the time I wrote this, my sister had worked in education for twenty years, so was a great help for LJ and Adrienne’s careers. Also, in dealing with the aftermath of Tyler’s horrible decision.
What is your favorite line from your book?
“Great minds.” Sarah took a step forward and raised her hands, cupping Nora’s face.
She brought their lips together for a soft, lingering kiss.
As Sarah pulled away, Nora looked at her, eyes wide. “Why did you do that?” she asked
Sarah smiled. “Because I knew you wouldn’t.”
What is your writing process like?
I’m both a plotter and a pantser. I’m an extremely fast writer, averaging sixteen to twenty-two days to write a novel. I have a basic plan of plot and – opening scene, key middle scenes and an ending – but my characters truly tell the story. The pantser part comes in because in every single book they change the rules. So, I’ve learned not to fight what my characters want, as they’re usually right. So, as long as they mostly color in the basic structure of plotlines I’ve laid out, I let them do their thing.
Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
I have an area of my house that is just for writing. My desk is there. Really the only thing I need are my ear buds, as I listen to music while I write. So, my ear buds charger case – I have several pairs of ear buds since I write for several hours a day and the batteries have the audacity of dying on me. So, I circulate them. Oh, and coffee.
If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?
It would be V.C. Andrews. I began reading her books at age ten, and she taught me so much about writing characters. She had a way of bringing you in and making you adore her MC, be it Cathy in the Flowers in the Attic series or Heaven in the Heaven series. She taught me how to go deep and truly let the reader into the mind of the MC, into their heart and into the deepest parts of them. I’d want to thank her.
What’s your favorite writing snack or drink?
I’m not a snacky kind of person, so pretty boring there. But, coffee for sure!
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
Usually I’m crying by the end. lol And, that’s usually because I’ve had so many different emotions swirling around inside me during the entire process that it just all comes out at once. I grieve when I finish, as these characters have been my best friend, my lover and my focus for XYZ weeks that I’ve written their story. So, not so much a celebration as taking the time to let that book go.
Is there a particular genre you would love to write but only under a pseudonym?
Honestly, no. My Destiny series, which is twelve books, ten of which were written in 2023, hit every single genre: lesbian, history, mystery, action, sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, etc. that I literally have now covered every single genre. Before the series in my standalones – such as Damaged – I’d covered many of them, as well. I just hadn’t tackled fantasy or sci-fi. I’ve always been extremely versatile, so never something I’ve struggled with.
Do you have any odd writing quirks?
I often say my dialogue out loud as I’m writing it and with great passion. lol But, more so would be when I’m not actually sitting down typing. I pace throughout my house as I work out a story. I mumble to myself, practice dialogue and work through tangles or story issues. I make myself laugh, honestly. It can be pretty absurd, depending on what I’m trying to work out.
Do you have a pet who helps/hinders your typing?
I do have a cat, Lilly Bean, who is a little white and black sweetheart. She’s 10 years old and honestly, could care less about what mom does. She’s always close by but isn’t the type of cat that is up on the desk or walking across my keyboard.
What animal or object best represents you as an author or your writing style?
Cats, domesticated little guys or the wild big ones. Their power and majesty have always inspired me.
What are three words that describe your personality?
Feisty – I have strong opinions and thoughts on things and am not afraid to speak my mind.
Giving – I care deeply about others and, even with my writing, I have given away many books to those who are having a hard time, in the hospital, etc. As a psychic medium, I’ve done countless readings for people who need some peace of closure. I don’t believe in charging for that.
Funny – I can be an absolute goofball. I find humor in crazy things and it often is peppered throughout my books, even during serious situation.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?
Prior to becoming published, I wrote online, starting with Xena: Warrior Princess fanfic back in around 2000. After I moved on from the fanfic, I continued online, but my own stories. One of them, a novel called, ‘First’ (became my first published novel) was a massive online hit. It really put me on the map. Well, I was only in my early twenties, and it scared the heck out of me that I’d never write anything that good for that popular again. I stopped writing.
I decided to reach out to an author named LJ Maas. I really admired her work and hoped she’d give me some advice. She gave me some fantastic advice. She explained to me that i had the Sophomore jitters and that I should never give up on what I was put here to do. She told me to not worry about writing for my readers but to write for me, the readers would follow. I took her advice to heart and the next novel I wrote, ‘Lesson’s’, became my bestseller for many years once it and ‘First’ were published.
What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?
My vision. I was born legally blind, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten worse. I’m not fully blind, but I struggle with things now that I didn’t before. Editing is a nightmare for me. I can no longer read (my books or anyone else’s) so the Read Aloud function in Word has become my best friend. Luckily, my publisher has been fantastic about this. An editor has been assigned to me and she is phenomenal. She does her thing on her end and, what would have been sent back my way to do on the computer we do together over the phone. So, though as I’ve always done in life – found a way around the issue to make it happen anyway – has been tough.
When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?
I don’t I just plow in. I feel everything my characters do, so I cry right along with them, or my heart rate picks up or whatever. In fact, just the other day I wrote a chapter where the entire chapter was heart racing action. I literally had to step away from the keyboard several time just to breathe!
What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?
Well, I got back to what I’d said earlier about my and psychology. Since I begin my novels creating a psychological file on all of them – down to their favorite color and why – I’m already there. So, it’s super easy for me to slip from one character’s head to the next, whichever one I’m following their POV in the given chapter. I know them inside and out, and honestly, don’t really fully leave any of their heads until the book is done.
Have you ever cried when writing an emotional scene?
Every. Damn. Time. The details of why is because, as I said, I feel everything my characters feel. If I don’t feel it, the reader won’t feel it because it won’t translate to the page.
Do you feel bad putting your characters through the wringer?
Oh, so very often. Example would be in my Destiny series. I can’t go into detail as it will give away significant situation, but something happens to one of the original MCs. So, not only did I have to deal with that MC dealing with this horrific situation, but then all the other characters and their grief, too. Oh man! I was absolutely inconsolable as I wrote that. All my books hit me hard, but nothing like that before.
Have you ever fallen in love with one of your characters?
How much time do you have? lol I do in every single book. But, there are some that have stuck with me throughout the years. One is Wyatt from my Wynter series and another is Enori from my Destiny series.
What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?
I’m pretty picky about what I read – or listen to. I read far more in my teens and twenties. Back then it was Dean Koontz an Stephen King. V.C. Anderes in early teen years, as I’ve mentioned. But, once I came out in my early twenties, I pretty much only read lesbian novels.
What books have you read more than once in your life?
There are many. For me it’s like watching a movie or rebinging a TV series. It’s getting back with old friends. It’s comforting.
What book do you wish you had written?
I love the movie, Somewhere In Time. I wish I’d written that story long before the movie. However, I would have been an infant, so not likely. lol
Describe your favorite reading spot.
Since I have to listen to books, all over the house. I love to listen to books while I do dishes or fold laundry, things like that. Things where my hands ae busy but I can allow my mind to wander with the story.
Have you ever thought you’d hate a book, but ended up loving it?
Stephen King’s, It. Thought I’d hate it because it was as thick as a bible. lol Adored that book. I loved the kids-turned adults. Brilliant characters and story.