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Kimberly Cates can't remember a time she didn't want to be a writer. As a three-year-old she mounted covert operations so she could read at night — pretending to be asleep when her dad checked on her, then, the moment she heard his snore, grabbing the pile of books stashed under her bed and reading them under the hall light until her mom got home from work at three in the morning.
Her nefarious undercover career continued in elementary school where she wrote stories and poems in a jillion spiral notebooks, naming all the chapters to come, and rarely writing beyond chapter three. Her first "novel" was set on a ranch she called by the inauspicious name "Carrion" — hey, she was only in third grade, and it was a chewy sounding big word! So what if she didn't know exactly what it meant.
In third grade, her parents were summoned to school by an irate teacher who complained that Kim insisted she didn't need to learn her times tables. She was going to be a famous author when she grew up.
Throughout her high-school years, Kim's parents became increasingly alarmed by visions of their daughter as a starving artist (i.e. living in a rat-infested garret, eating stale cornflakes and mumbling to herself about voices she heard in her head). At one of those grim but loving "come to Jesus" meetings at the kitchen table, they convinced her she needed to be able to support herself once she graduated from college. Kim became an elementary school teacher because she adored kids, and for a few years toyed with writing children's literature until some wise soul told her to "write what you love to read."
An incurable romantic, Kim sallied forth into romance, historical and contemporary. For her twenty-fifth birthday her husband, Dave, presented her with an electric typewriter and a gift of time, saying, "You have five years before Kate starts school. If you publish a book by then, you can stay home and be a writer like you've always dreamed."
Her first book was written during Sesame Street, Kate's nap times, and from ten o'clock at night until two in the morning. Hearing of Sandra Brown's trick of bribing her kids to give her a little writing time by promising to put their names on every page of the book, Kim took the pseudonym Kimberly Cates. Her daughter, who taught her everything she knows about royalty, thought this was a fine idea, and thought the C in Cates should be wearing a tiara much like the one she wore to the grocery store when she was five.
During this time Kim started running into another aspiring writer/mom at free day at the Zoo, swimming lessons and preschool pageants — the woman who would become her incredibly talented partner-in-crime and critique partner, Susan Carroll. What history-nut, book-crazy person could resist someone who didn't mind a phone call at midnight with a lunatic in a frenzy of delight over some tidbit of research she'd found? (Such as the fact that King Charles II of England took a stick of wood to bed with him like a teddy bear when he was a child. Honest — he really did!)
It was during Kim's research on Charles that she discovered and fell in love with his dogs: Cavalier King Charles Spaniels — a parade of whom have been her adoring muses over the years. Her current "Three Musketeers" are Sir Tristan, Sailor and Huckleberry. All three are brilliant, and very proud of their contributions to Kim's writing career, not to mention the giant tumbleweeds of dog hair they are able to whisk into every corner of the room whenever they shake themselves.
The dogs are delighted that mom is able to stay home to worship them most days, but can't understand her fascination with the little black box she pays so much attention to. After all, the dogs correctly reason, they are much more adorable and fuzzy than it is.
When Kim attended her first RWA conference with the first hundred pages of a novel in hand, she chose an agent appointment in the most professional, logical manner imaginable. She picked the one who had her hero's last name. What became Sky of Ashes, Sea of Flames sold within the week, and she had to face the exhilarating yet terrifying consequence — she had to actually finish a book, something she'd never done before. Remember the whole spiral notebook, Carrion gig? To make it all the more challenging, she'd set this book in the most romantic time period imaginable — the Irish potato famine.
Twenty-six books later, she still feels amazed and awed that she now gets paid for the daydreams that got her in so much trouble in school. She and her husband live in the perfect "writer's house": The home that once belonged to her beloved grandmother, a children's librarian who introduced Kim to all the classics by delivering stacks of books to Kim's door every week without fail. One book a day and two each for Saturday and Sunday. She never doubted Kim would be a writer someday. And maybe it was fate. After all, Kim was planted in a family full of characters she actually has to tone down to make believable when she uses some of their traits for characters in her books.
Sometimes, Kim fears writing for a living is too good to be true, but her dogs keep trying to convince her not to worry. She won't suddenly wake up to find herself back in third grade, the teacher ripping the spiral notebook containing Kim's latest masterpiece out of her hands and expecting her to know what the answer to 123 x 27 might be.
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