Author Interview with Got Fiction about The Eighth Wonder

What Kimberly had to say about the writing process. 

I can tell you that I wrote the entire story in a few months while recovering from retina surgery. I wrote every day for 12 hours. I didn’t sleep. I had so much on my mind and I was scared that I would not see out of my left eye. Writing was my therapy during my recovery.
I definitely remember the day that the characters told me where to do. I could see them interacting in my mind. I could hear them telling me the dialogue. I was a joyous moment. I am told by other writers about this same experience. I was so grateful to have it. The story flowed easily from there. The story stopped being about me but about them.
I did not plan to write about myself. Writing was also therapy for me during an emotional time after losing my father, as an only child, this was a significant loss. At 35, I was career driven like Nicole and I was commitment-phobic about marriage.
The hardest part about writing my novel was reliving my father’s death (it is obvious he will die at the beginning of the story so I am not giving anything away). My father had died only months before I began writing my novel. Loosely based on my life, Nicole Benson moves to a small town inPennsylvania to be near her father in nearby Buffalo. Dying of cancer, she sees this as a way of making amends for her workaholic existence in New York where she lived for 15 years building a career and completing her doctorate at NYU.
As I wrote, I shifted from thinking about Nicole’s character to Tom. What hardship he felt in losing a child and how this impacted his marriage to Rose. They had been so happy as a couple but as a psychologist, I have counseled couples who have lost a child. It is one of the hardest things to overcome.
I did not have an outline or any sense of the ending when I began the novel. I just wrote. The more I wrote, the story focused on Tom and Nicole’s relationship.
Interestingly, I wrote the entire novel without ever visiting the Kinzua Bridge. I often characterize The Eighth Wonder as a modern Bridges of Madison County, except with more depth to the characters.
Why I make that comparison is when I searched the Internet looking for a place where Tom and Nicole could meet I found The Kinzua Bridge, once dubbed The Eighth Wonder of the World as the longest and tallest railroad bridge when it was built in 1882.  All at once, the entire story came to me. I saw the title, the way the couple could engage the bridge, the cabin where they would later meet. It was rather sweet reading about the history of the bridge, and it almost becomes a third character as the backdrop of the story.
Overall, the writing process was great. Since I was eight I wanted to be a writer. The greatest feeling in the world was when the ideas flowed and I just wrote my heart out. Those cherished moments when I could see the story unfolding and I almost couldn’t type fast enough to catch up with my thoughts. I had no outline or plan when I started The Eighth Wonder. It was exciting to see what was going to come next.

A Career Driven Woman

As I mentioned, The Eighth Wonder focused on how I came to be in Bradford after finishing my doctorate. Unlike Nicole, who graduated from NYU with her Ph.D. in Political Science, my doctorate was from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Clinical Psychology.

I felt the same struggles as Nicole. I was 30 years old and alone. It was not easy at first. I felt like a failure. Many of my friends from high school and college were married and many had children, while I did not have anyone. I had just broken up with a long-term boyfriend. I had marriage proposals. Like Nicole, at that time, I just couldn’t commit.

I also had student loan debt and I did not pick a career that was going to lead to big money. I gave up a business career to go into psychology. Again, like Nicole, at that time, I wondered if I did the right thing.

I look back now, several years later, I realize that I did do the right thing. The Eighth Wonder is more than a love story between Nicole and Tom. It is a journey that Nicole is forced to take when she questions why she had given up marriage and children, things that every woman should want. Triggered by her father’s illness, the one anchor in her life after her mother left the family, she senses how alone in the world she has become. She doesn’t have a husband to lean on nor does she want to feel that dependent upon anyone. We see her fears unravel the more she becomes close to Tom. It is the first time she has ever been that vulnerable with a man.

The story focuses on Nicole’s ambition to teach at an Ivy-League school, something I had thought about after I graduated with my doctorate. It wasn’t until I started teaching at a small college that I realized how much I loved it over any big university.  Tom helps Nicole analyze her own ambition. Being ambitious himself before his daughter died, he realized that there was more to life after her death. We see this in Tom from the beginning with his focus on the community and giving back. Nicole is too wrapped up in her own issues.

Ultimately, The Eighth Wonder is a story about self-discovery as Tom helps Nicole realize what is most important in life, and that life is not always about money, status, or prestige but it is about being content at where you are in life and who you are as a person.