Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Michele Richardson, non fiction author of The Unbreakable Child. Read below for Kim’s insights! If you have any comments or questions for her, leave your info in the comments and she’ll stop by later to answer them.:)
Before we get started with the interview, here’s a bit about The Unbreakable Child. (There's also an excerpt after the interview):
During the 1960’s, and as early as the 1930’s, Saint Thomas Saint Vincent Orphan Asylum and the Roman Catholic Church abandoned true Christian values and subjected the children entrusted into its care to unspeakable horrors. Its location in the back roads of Kentucky enabled the nuns and priest to commit their sins far from polite society and prying eyes. For decades vulnerable children without families were grossly abused. What happened next was the 2004 nationally recognized lawsuit against the Sisters of Charity and the Roman Catholic Church and a historic legal decision. The horrors were relived by all, but in the end justice prevailed.
Hi Kim! Thanks so much for talking with me today. First, I’d like to talk a bit about your debut work, The Unbreakable Child. Can you tell us a bit about what made you decide to share your story with the world?
During the lawsuit, I kept a journal for catharsis. Upon conclusion of the lawsuit it was given to lawyer, William F. McMurry, my real life protagonist in The Unbreakable Child, as gratitude for his hard work and to show him his own self worth. More importantly, to learn from past history, stamping history, so that history does not repeat itself to ensure the safety of vulnerable children.
Throughout The Unbreakable Child, I found myself often gripping the book, unable to stop reading. You have an undeniable gift for relating such a heartbreaking tale, while managing to shift into a message of hope in the end. Although you make it look flawless, I imagine that balance was not easy to strike.
Tell us a bit about who you were aiming to reach with this book as I’m certain this story will be a comfort and inspiration to other victims of abuse, but also spread your message and hope to anyone who happens to pick it up.
One of my most cherished goals is that my story will kindle the hearts of people who have been victimized. And many write to inform me you don’t need to have lived my life to relate. Anyone looking for a story of hope, justice and redemption, can find inspiration in The Unbreakable Child.
Since there are probably some aspiring authors that will read this, can you tell us a bit about your road to publication? When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
A roller coaster. Over four years ago, I begin researching and learning about agents and traditional publishers, spending thousands of hours doing such. Then, The Unbreakable Child was placed with what appeared to the traditional publishing world as an up and coming, prize-winning publisher.
What was the best part of writing TUC?
Separating myself from the pack of memoirists around the world, and going up against the celebrities who had their own memoirs to share.
Tell us about your journey to getting an agent.
In 2007, and after thousands and thousands of hours of hard work and many, many drafts later, several agents offered representation.
And how about finding your publisher?
A month after signing with a literary agent (2007), The Unbreakable Child was put up for auction. Still, The Unbreakable Child, the first-book of its kind in mainstream publishing, simply wasn’t ready, nor was the publishing world ready for it. It would take more drafts and more hours to finally land a publishing home.
Upon release of publication, The Unbreakable Child earned a rare Starred Review from Booklist and quickly gained a wide readership, picking up great momentum. I found myself working 24/7 on promotions. I was rewarded. TUC went into a second printing after only 1 month out.
Then unbeknownst to me and my literary agency at the time of The Unbreakable Child’s sale, the former publisher took on my book when its house was experiencing financial difficulty. The Unbreakable Child did extremely well in its short, three-months-out, but in August 2009, the former publisher and his group of private investors closed shop, taking with them every cent of large earnings due, which was earmarked to help others.
What is the best part of the publishing process?
So many to choose from!
The generous support of writers and the literary world.
I immediately gained great emotional reward by having my then- agent donate the proceeds of the sale (advance) of The Unbreakable Child to two advocate groups. Even greater; the day I received my first thank you from a stranger whom I had touched with my work. And a still greater reward and catharsis comes from having the privilege to work with survivors—victims of all types of abuse.
And one of the best humbling and gratifying gifts came from landing an amazing and wonderful literary agent in 2010, who was passionate about my work and who placed The Unbreakable Child with an equally passionate mainstream publisher, who is reputable and honest. There, it has found its “forever home.”
To find my work had been abandoned in its short time out.
Are you working on anything new? What can we expect to read from you next?
Yes, I have three works in progress I’m very excited about. Two fictions and one non-fiction, which I hope to finish in the New Year. And I currently contribute to the Huffington Post, writing about many social issues I’m passionate about.
Thanks Kim! Looking forward to reading more from you in the future!
Thank you, Jenn!
Read and excerpt of The Unbreakable Child, or contact Kim at the links below:
Excerpt, The Unbreakable Child:
"I looked at the two photographs and the bracelet I'd plunked down on the conference table. It had been decades since I'd pulled them out. These three objects were the only tangible remains of my youth. The realization punched me in the gut. One of the photos depicted me standing in front of a large, weatherworn statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Another showed my First Holy Communion day. And Mrs. Lindauer, a State social worker, gave me the prize scarab bracelet when I turned eight years old.
I picked up the bracelet and rubbed a colored bead. My hand trembled. I curled my fingers around it to stop the shake.
Over thirty years ago I'd walked out of Saint Thomas Orphan Asylum-Saint Vincent Orphanage, and on that day, I took with me only the clothes on my back and my treasured scarab bracelet, hidden in my sock.
'This is all I have from my childhood,' I said softly.
I looked away, bit hard on my lip. To demand justice meant reliving the horrors. The beatings. The starvation. The force-fed drugs meant to keep us compliant.
I was afraid to speak, because speaking brings back voice. William F. McMurray, attorney-at-law, waited, exhibited quiet compassion, interrupting only when necessary.
A forgotten childhood meant a lifetime of evasiveness with acquaintances: friends new and old, avoiding eye contact, and dancing around the subject of youth that others so freely shared.
I'd been running a long time not knowing where I was going, but I knew I had to come home. Someone had to bring me back, and destiny chose William McMurry. By the time I finished recounting, and revealing, I was drenched in sweat, sitting on a pile of memories." - Kim Michele Richardson, 2010
To purchase from Amazon