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February 22, 2011

Kim Marcus: Things That Got Me Though Writing EXPOSED

Posted by jordana
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Exposed Cover.jpgKim Marcus Author Photo.jpgEXPOSED, a novel in free verse (unrhyming poetry) by debut author Kim Marcus, is out this week. For today's post, we have Kim here to tell us about some of the things that got her through the writing of the book. EXPOSED is about a girl who is torn between her brother and her best friend when accusations are made that threaten everything.  

Liz Grayson is the main character in my novel, EXPOSED. She’s a talented photographer, excited about her senior year in high school and looking forward to getting into college. She can’t imagine going through life without taking photos, or without her forever-best friend, Kate. But after an argument at their monthly sleepover, Kate suddenly starts avoiding Liz. Liz tries to make amends, but all of her attempts fail. And, when she learns the true reason behind Kate’s distance, her whole world changes and she wonders how she’ll make it through.

EXPOSED is my first novel and, at various points in the writing of it, I wondered how I would make it through, too. Here are 5 things that helped:

Thing #1: Coffee.

Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Extra large, light with milk and 2 1/2 Sweet & Lows). Many, many cups of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

Thing#2: Research.

Liz works in the concession stand onboard ferries that run between the fictional town of Shoreview, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, and the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Her father is a ferry captain. I spent time traveling back and forth on those ferries, talking to the workers, taking in the ocean air. I also spent time on Martha’s Vineyard, eating ice cream at Mad Martha’s (chocolate chip, in a cup, with jimmies) and taking a few spins on the Flying Horses Carousel. It was grueling, I tell you. All of it. But it had to be done.

 I knew little about photography, beyond “point and click,” when I started this book. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to shadow a darkroom photography class, at my local high school, over the course of a school year. They were a talented group. I don’t consider myself a talented photographer, but that’s not at all a reflection on them!
 
Thing #3: My family and friends.
My husband and two children were key in helping me through the writing of this book. I’m lucky enough to be married to someone who is better than I am at tending to household tasks including laundry, grocery shopping, and de-cluttering my clutter (the toughest task of them all). My children tolerated my lack of home-prepared meals though, sad to admit, that had less to do with writing the novel and more to do with my poor cooking skills. My non-writing friends and family have always been in my corner, and I may well have given up on this dream if they weren’t there.

Thing #4: My writing community.

Where would I be without them? Not here talking about my first book, I’m sure. I’m lucky to be part of a fabulous writer’s group. We get together once a month and share our stories, give and receive feedback, and hold hands during what can often be a long and bumpy journey. I also have trusted friends who are willing to read what I send them and listen to me talk about all the crazy things that go on in my head. Exposed didn’t start out in free verse, it started in prose. One of those friends, a wonderful writer named Sarah Aronson, knew how much I loved poetry. When I was stuck on a prose scene, she suggested I try to write it as a poem to get unstuck. I credit her with giving me a suggestion that dramatically changed the writing of this story. Writing is often done in solitude. I’m grateful to have connected with so many writers who keep me (somewhat) sane, and help me to grow.

Thing #5: Liz.

I think one of the main things that got me through the writing of this novel was my main character. Her dilemma was one that scared the heck out of me because I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be in her position. That was the hardest thing, figuring out her story in a way that felt real and true. And while it may have been the hardest thing, it was also what got me to The End. I needed to know how she would work things out. I needed to know that in a way that was so powerful it kept me going, even in the darkest moments when I was tempted to throw it all away. I felt I owed it to Liz to see where she would end up. I hope I’ve done her journey justice.