January 22, 2018 - 8:30am
When Kim Clark returned to school at Vancouver Island University (VIU), she had been diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis and was dealing with four kids at home, an (almost) terminally ill husband and a disintegrating marriage. She says her time in VIU’s Creative Writing program helped to energize her and credits her professors with giving her the consideration and confidence to keep going.
After graduating in 2009, she went on to become a well-respected poet and author. Clark has published short fiction, poetry and co-edited an anthology. She’s also been a finalist in both Theatre BC’s Playwriting Competition and The Malahat Review’s novella contest, and she has a novella under option for a feature-length film.
Clark will be at VIU on Thursday, January 25 from 10 – 11 am to read from her latest work – A One-Handed Novel, which features Melanie Farrell, a single woman with multiple sclerosis who finds out she only has six orgasms left in her whole life. Here’s a little more about Clark, in her own words.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a writer because of my multiple sclerosis, partly because that damage to my spinal column left me with a question mark instead of plans for a “productive” able-bodied future, and partly because the damage to my brain gave me a heightened fascination with words – their shape and meaning and associations. Sounds weird, I know, but the unpredictability of life is mostly what I enjoy writing about. I love stretching the “what-ifs” in my fiction right out of the realm of reality. In my real life I’m an introvert. Answering these questions is hard!
What did you do before enrolling at VIU?
Oh, my! I was an active, stay-at-home mum with four kids, busy but unenlightened. Before that, I held the variety-pack of jobs, snacking on career choices like stained-glass artisan, bartender, production-line camper-manufacturer, grocery clerk, window glazier…
What have you been up to since graduating from VIU?
I’m still in Nanaimo (nine years later) which is a surprise as I’d only expected to stay until classes were done. It’s a great little city with quite an active arts community, including writing and theatre – the areas I’m most involved in – and you can’t beat the beauty of Vancouver Island.
You have written poetry, plays, books and novellas. Do you have a favourite genre?
Longer fiction suits me best right now but an hour or day working on poetry is a wonderful respite from any big project when it stalls or scatters or suddenly becomes a dumpster fire. Because I type one-handed (hence the name of the novel), work is slow and I edit heavily as I go.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a sequel to A One-Handed Novel. It’s exciting because I’m shifting from one disabled female protagonist to four main characters with different disabilities. Challenging! I’m also reworking a play.
Give us three random facts about yourself.
1. My pet peeves are unexpected phone calls and drivers turning right-on-red before they notice me trying to cross in my scooter.
2. I love medical terminology, hummingbirds and smoky cheese. No, make that any kind of cheese.
3. I don’t have a bucket list (except medically assisted dying, does that count?) because I’ve been lucky enough to experience so many “wonderfuls” and plan to just carry on doing that…for a long time.