I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m so glad I started this book blog!!! Otherwise I would have overlooked Kimberly S. Lin’s debut novel, “Recession Proof.” From page one, I was lured into Helen’s plight as an overworked, underappreciated corporate career girl. Trapped in a thankless job and a loveless relationship, she knows her only shot at happiness is to abandon the status quo. Is she brave enough to finally call her own shots and pursue her dream of becoming a writer? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Much like her main character, Kimberly S. Lin worked as a financial analyst but always dreamed of becoming a writer. She was kind enough to chat with Chick Lit Café about her connection with Helen, her new magazine venture, and why you should never push your passions aside and settle for less.
How did you go from financial analyst to women’s fiction novelist?
The two basically overlapped. I was writing my novel in my spare time before and after work. I usually woke up at 3:30 a.m. to write, get into work at 9 a.m. and then maybe wrote a little bit at 11 p.m. I think my best work comes at odd hours of the day. Also there’s something about being awake while everyone else is asleep that is incredibly calming.
I published in June 2011 and in a stroke of fate, was laid off 4 months later. Logistically, I’ve been rather fortunate. Having the unemployment income has been very helpful. It’s given me a full year to focus on building my business at Minted Magazine. But since it’s in its start-up phase, it’s definitely not generating a full-time income in any way. I’ve also been blessed with a very understanding and supportive family, including a wonderful and talented boyfriend. And honestly, I couldn’t do it without my business partner, Shirley Lau. Achieving your dreams takes a village. The hardest and scariest decision to date has been taking that first step and deciding to forgo looking for a job in finance that would have given me stability and instead, pursue what really makes me fulfilled. Also, I have never once regretted the time I spent in finance. It definitely comes in handy as an entrepreneur.
Beyond that, my journey so far has taken an incredible amount of discipline and patience. We are trained in our society to have everything right away. However building a business or a brand takes an incredible amount of time. I wake up everyday and grind it out and most of the time for no visible financial gain. Moreover, start-up hours are no joke. I have never worked so hard at anything in my life but I do wake up and go to bed everyday completely at peace with my decision and proud of myself. It is truly a matter of having faith that hard work, perseverance and talent will eventually get you to the finish line.
Would you say that you and Helen have shared similar experiences?
Absolutely. I think many people have the same experiences as Helen. Everyone has experienced the fears of not knowing what they really want to do in life and whether or not a relationship is truly right. Most importantly, everyone has settled and been a little disappointed by life. In writing Helen and in writing all my characters, I do create psychological, familial and societal reasons for why they do the things they do. So for Helen, the underlying reason was her dysfunctional family upbringing, which was very different from my own upbringing. The only experience that I share with Helen is that I worked at a hedge fund so I wrote what I knew. But it just so happens that it works well because it fits in with the whole recession/finance theme.
“Recession Proof” is full of secondary characters, who is one that you’d like to spend an
afternoon with and why?
Sophie, of course. I love me some Sophie. And how can you not? She’s hysterical and inappropriate— two things I value and treat in the highest regard.
If you’re book ever hit the big screen, who would you like to see playing Helen?
Anna Kendrick from Up in the Air.
What message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
The message that I want to communicate in all of my work, including Recession Proof, is that you don’t have to settle. Settling is a choice and so is not settling. Pursuing your dreams is a rocky road but it’s completely worth it.
Can you describe your writing process?
Booze and multiple cuddle sessions with my dog. I’m not completely joking. This is always a hard question to answer because I don’t really have one. I just know that I start with a topic I feel very passionate about and that my work is very character and dialogue driven.
What’s the most important piece of advice you could give an aspiring novelist?
You can read my comprehensive advice here. However, the most important thing is to have online presence. That means, get yourself a Facebook as an author, a namesake website, a Twitter, a Google+, be on fine blogs like this one…etc. Basically Google yourself and you should take up the entire first page. Recognize the fact that you are a brand. Then, of course, write a great book.
Finally, can you tell us a little bit about what readers can expect from you next?
The Spring Issue of Minted Magazine should be out by the time this post publishes, so definitely check it out! It’s AMAZING. The magazine has taken over my life and I am forever stuck on Chapter 13 of my second book, Thirty-Something.