1. What inspired Lights! Camera! Dissatisfaction? Why did you choose that title for your book?
Lights! Camera! Dissatisfaction…came about as a way to extinguish the annoyance, the distress, the anxiety I used to often feel as an actress in real life. I loosely based some incidents from my reality into the life of Alice Kumplunkem, the main character, as well as writing enough pure fiction to hold a comedic novel together, from start to finish. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that anger or venting is what often drives my writing. However, these stories have to be edited and I’m usually long over the dilemma bothering me then. If I like the story, I take out the whine and replace it with fine (haha). When it came time to choose a title, I wanted it to represent Alice’s struggles in show business. Using a popular expression, I figured adding the ‘Dis’ before Satisfaction would subliminally get the point across.
2. Can you talk about how you went about writing Memories of Marilyn. How did the idea come about? At what stage did you know that the play was ready for production? What changes did you make to the play (if any) as the production started) and you began touring?
Memories of Marilyn was the first play that I ever wrote, written, and produced in the last millennium. At that point in my acting career, I decided to go blond. Suddenly I was inundated with Marilyn Monroe-type parts. I wanted to write some kind of play about Marilyn and entered a few Fringe Festival Theatre events. Here is where I made changes – before casting, one night I had a couple actor friends read the play aloud. I ended up drinking a bottle and more of wine….and I rarely drink. I was just hating what I heard. Boring! Nothing other than a retelling of her life. Same ol’ same ol’. So I rewrote the play completely, made it about Molly, an actress set in modern times, who was very similar to Marilyn. And it had flashbacks to the real Marilyn and her life. I was so grateful to have had enough time to fix it before handing the script over to the other actor. And it all worked out quite well in the end – sold-out shows and an extra week added at a theatre.
3. Why did you write Dirty Numbers? Did you have an audience in your mind when you write the title? What were you exploring in that title?
When I wrote Dirty Numbers, I had no particular audience in mind. I knew it was definitely not for minors and I didn’t think perverted men would enjoy being “outed”. This was my first book, and it wasn’t fictional – it was a memoir. For the many months that I worked as the ORDER TAKER for a phone sex business, I secretly wrote down comments many of the customers made. This type of business amazed me! I could not believe the degenerates in this world. I eventually quit that job when the acting biz got busier for me. That shoebox of dialogue however constantly suggested I share my incredulity about my past temporary office job. I look a wee bit of creative license when I finally put an e-book together, changing my actual name as well as the job I really desired. Of course, the clients’ names aren’t revealed! Since every word is verbatim, that’s where I got my title. A suspicious wife checked out her Visa bill and called to ask, “Is this one of them dirty numbers?”
4. What specific incident incited/inspired your last piece of work (of any form or length)?
Going back ten years, my now-deceased husband walked out on me and the kids. He forgot to take his mother, who was living in the basement suite. She had recently been diagnosed with diabetes and began acting weak and frail. One day I saw her receive a casino coupon in the mail and it was such a divine deal, I suggested we book that $30 suite at Casino Rama. Well! This little old lady came alive! She didn’t spend one second in that luxurious room. On the way home, I said I had a book brewing in my head and the main character would be based on her. Eighteen months later, driving home from a casino vacation cut short, the truck was silent. I told Nanny I was three-quarters finished writing Kitty Casino and did she want to read any of the manuscripts? She coughed a couple times and said she wanted to read it when it was a book. Two days later she passed away. Kitty Casino is dedicated to her.
5. What was the most satisfying aspect of your recently completed work?
Editing Kitty Casino, my most recently completely finished work, has given me the most satisfaction of all my novels. For one thing, I have wanted to be published by a Canadian company all my career and Kitty Casino got picked up by one – Tamarind Tree Books. I thought the manuscript I submitted was good enough to go to print but hah! Turns out there were edits to be made and I ended up having to read through my novel many times. I would often find myself amazed at a great phrase or witty comment and then astounded that it was me who wrote it. But I sure was happy to replace the thrice-used ‘amazing’ in one short paragraph with a couple other words…among other editing atrocities. Now I’m proud to call Kitty Casino my masterpiece. I will say I did gain a whole new appreciation for editors though. When writing my next book, I am going to start immediately by avoiding stupid errors!
6. Do you have a writing routine? Or writing rituals? Or patterns you must follow regularly? Or rituals that you practice say when you are writing in certain forms, say a longer piece of work like a novel, as opposed to a shorter piece, say a poem?
I have a writing routine that goes something like this: When everyone in the house is asleep and I don’t have a show to rush off to and no phone to answer, then I plump up many pillows behind me on my bed. I re-read the previous couple pages of my current manuscript, just to recapture the feeling of the scene. Downing cup after cup of strong coffee, usually in my vintage Blue Mountain Pottery mug and a plug-in heater to keep it warm, I write for hours. My time. During the day, I will walk the dog and work out a scene that’s stumping me, or try to come up with a better closing line to a chapter. At some point, I usually have a too-long nap so that I can write again in the night. But I recently came across an article that shines a lot of light on my sleeping habits. Seems I am a segmented sleeper – a first sleep and a second sleep – which used to be common in medieval times. Hence my four-hour naps should be considered normal.
7. Is your writing practice influenced or in any way informed by a sense of writing to or for others? Do you have an audience in mind when you write?
I would estimate that 95% of my writing was always just meant for me. If you saw the huge filing cabinet in my office, filled with stories, plays, film scripts….and shown to no one. These were written because back then, writing was my hobby. I was an actress, I saw film scripts and plays all the time, and ideas would come to me. Next thing you know, Miss Fortune is written and then hidden away, to be followed by dozens more stories. It’s when my husband, who never read a book in his life, devoured the Dirty Numbers manuscript. I figured maybe others might want to see what I’ve written. It’s only my latest book – The Rubber Tower – that I wrote with an audience in mind. It’s an exciting space adventure, written for pre-teen boys, about …uh…erections. Kind of like an out-of-the-box health class book. Boy, this is going to be a difficult sell. As wonderful as I think it may be, this one might have to go into the filing cabinet.
8. Do you train your subconscious in certain ways to deal with success or rejection?
I think my subconscious has trained me. I have always shied away from criticism, even though when I finally reluctantly took it, well golly gee, they were right! It was the same with rejection – I didn’t want to experience it so if I didn’t send anything out, there would be nothing to experience! But when I turned 50, it was like I got a new attitude. I didn’t take things so seriously anymore when it came to rejection. As for success, who doesn’t love that? But life finds a way of keeping me in check. Take the day I saw the awesome cover for my latest novel. The joy was tempered an hour later when the mail came and I was called in for jury duty. The way I feel today? Bring on the successes, by all means! But if I have to have a rejection or two, I know that life goes on. With names changed, I can always write about it!
9. Does your writing practice impact your emotional state in any way? Does it put you in a certain mood or an emotional state; or helps you get away from a certain mood or an emotional state? Can you reflect on that?
My need to present myself as a sane, law-abiding citizen is what usually propels me to write. At times I could be so angry at my husband, but I would transfer my ire to my computer. One year of angst inspired the screenplay Average White Female, about a housewife who turns out to be a serial killer. Good thing I had a handy keyboard and an imagination or I’d be behind bars. No Fire Escape in Hell was written in the last year of a bad marriage and likely saved my sanity. In a nutshell, writing soothes the savage beast in me. No matter if I come to my keyboard with a chip on my shoulder or if I am just mildly trying to write a piece to make a deadline, I always feel such satisfaction when I finish. Writing is my joy. When I have time off, if I know I have hours to spend doing anything I want, I will always happily choose to stay home and write my stories.
10. Are you conscious about developing a distinctive voice or a narrative style through your work?
I have been told that my writing has its own distinctive style. Some people have said that it feels like I’m actually talking to them. Others have said they felt they were actually watching the scene unfold. It worried me when I began to write my latest manuscript. Would I still have that narrative style? But when I realized I didn’t try for any style with my earlier works, that it was just the way I naturally wrote, I stopped worrying. I won’t lie; I find it quite an honour for people to think I have a distinctive style. It sets you apart from other writers. But if I were to describe that style, I’m sure I would be stymied. I know dialogue is my forte but I also write honestly, whether it’s about sex, drugs, or humanity.
A novelist and professional entertainer, Kim Cayer has been writing for much of the past 35 years. Coming out this year will be her fictional novel, Kitty Casino, as well as a piece in the anthology, “Crazy Cove”. Past books include No Fire Escape in Hell, Dirty Numbers, and Lights! Camera! Dissatisfaction…Dirty Numbers is available on YouTube as a podcast (Readings by Kimmie). Kim also has been featured in The Artis Magazine twice and had a piece in the Courtney Park Connection. She hopes her next novel – The Book of Boys – doesn’t shock too many people!