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Three Questions: Kim Wright (and a BOOK GIVE-AWAY!)

Kim Wright been writing about travel for more than 25 years, so who better to pen a novel about the end of a marriage and the beginning of …something else on a plane? It’s called Love in Mid Air, and Publisher’s Weekly says, in a starred review, “Wright hits it out of the park in her debut, an engaging account of a woman contemplating divorce…Wright delivers fresh perspective and sympathetic characters few writers can match.”

Want to know more? Here’s the trailer!

If you want to win this book, there, are as usual, 4 ways to enter, and Kim is ponying up three delicious copies of the poppin’ fresh new trade paperback.

Way One: Leave a comment here. Easy peasy chicken squeezy.
Way Two: Post a link to this contest on your facebook page. Then post a SEPARATE COMMENT here saying you have done so.
Way Three: TWEET a link to this contest. Then post a SEPARATE COMMENT here saying you have done so.
Way Four: Post a link to this contest on your Blog. Then post a SEPARATE COMMENT here linking back saying you have done so.

Comments are valid entries until MIDNIGHT EST on Thursday, August 4. Now, the good stuff.

JJ: Can you talk a little about the significance of your title and how you came up with it?

KW: In some ways “Love in Mid Air” is a pretty literal title since my heroine Elyse meets Gerry in the opening chapter, when they’re both on an airplane. In their very first conversation they discuss how she’s afraid of taking off and he’s afraid of landing and that’s a little foreshadowing of the whole love affair to come.

And one of the funny things about my writing process is that I write out of sequence. The next-to-last chapter in the book is actually the first one I wrote and it’s a scene of a woman falling through the air and what’s going through her mind as she falls. At the time I wrote it I didn’t know who the woman was or where she was or why she was falling. But all the sensations were there and I just started with that scene and wrote backward. It was almost like a mystery I was solving for myself.

I knew I wanted “love” and “air” in the title and my editor and I bandied around a lot of ideas. Choosing a title is a little crazymaking for me because you can’t help but feel this is a huge decision, one that can really affect the first impression people have of your work. But I also wanted to get the word “mid” in there because there’s the sense throughout the book that Elyse is disoriented, that her life is quickly changing and she’s not sure where those changes will take her. So she’s in mid-air in all sorts of ways. “Mid” also seems to connect to the fact she’s in midlife. She starts her affair when she’s on the cusp of turning forty and having all those midlife issues – the sense that time is running out, the feeling that if she doesn’t do something romantic and impetuous now, she probably never will.

JJ: Do you think of yourself as a Southern writer and what does that mean to you? Could your book have been set anywhere else?

KW: I love it when people call me a Southern writer. There’s such a great tradition of Southern storytelling that I’m proud to be mentioned in the same breath as people like Flannery O’Connor, whom I consider the highest of the high holies.

“Love in Mid Air” is set in the gated communities of upper middle class Charlotte, so it’s more New South than Old South. The most Southern thing about the book is that it’s got a lot of dialogue. Even the sex scenes are full of dialogue. These people just won’t shut up. One of my New York editors actually challenged me on the fact. She was like “I find it unlikely these women would talk so much” and I was like “Have you ever been to the South?”

The book is first person, so we’re in Elyse’s head for the whole ride and she has that kind of run-on breathless style that I think of as being very Southern. My grandfather used to tell stories and they were always weaving and meandering and have a cast of thousands but somehow he’d manage to come back to the main point in the end. Voice is part of the great Southern oral tradition, people sitting out on the porch at night telling stories.

That said, the plot could pretty much happen anywhere. It’s the story of an unhappy marriage and risky affair and how taking this risk upsets every aspect of the woman’s life, including her relationship with her longtime girlfriends. The whole idea of an upscale group of friends whose nice homes and flatironed hair is hiding a bunch of secrets is also pretty universal. I remember I once visited a book club in Connecticut and when the hostess picked me up at the train station she said “This book is very Connecticut, but I guess you already know that.” I thought “I didn’t even know Connecticut was an adjective.”

JJ: What’s a day in your life like?

KW: Pretty ritualistic. I get up in the morning and take my dog Otis to the park. He’s a rescue dog named after Otis Redding because they literally found him sitting on a dock. So anyway, we take the trail that laps around the lake and he barks at the ducks. Then we come back and he naps and farts under my desk while I write. I’m definitely a morning writer – most of my important, first draft work happens then.

I usually meet someone for lunch. In the afternoons I’m more prone to take care of the business side of writing – interviews, social networking, research.

And every single night I dance. I belong to a ballroom dancing studio and I compete with my Russian instructor Max in the waltz, tango, foxtrot, and quickstep. So I go to the group lessons every evening and most of the time a few of us walk down the block to an Italian restaurant for a little wine.

This is a very important part of the day for me. I’m more social than a lot of writers seem to be and the isolation part of the job can get to me so I need to do something that’s the drop dead opposite of sitting around thinking, which is ballroom dance. It’s cool because you really have to rely on your instincts, your body balance, and your partner. While we’re whipping around Max is always whispering to me “Don’t think, don’t think.”

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