Balancing act: Q&A with novelist and attorney Kim Church

STORYTIME: Kim Church, author of Byrd, joins other regional writers for a free, open-to-the-public event as part of the otherwise sold-out Booktopia. Photo by Anthony Ulinski

by Fred Wasser

This weekend Asheville hosts Booktopia, an author-reader retreat organized by Random House sales reps Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness. The event is an offshoot of their weekly audio podcast, Books on the Nightstand (not affiliated with the publishing company), which they describe as a “behind-the-scenes look at the world of books, bookstores and publishing.”

Like Booktopia events earlier this year in Colorado and Vermont, the local iteration — organized in partnership with Malaprop’s — is sold out except for a free and open-to-the-public Saturday night gathering.

One of the authors at that Malaprop’s event will be Raleigh-based novelist Kim Church, who started writing fiction a couple of decades ago, partly in response to the death of her father. Church was in her 30s and a partner at a prestigious Raleigh law firm whose stock-in-trade was civil litigation. “I was working on a wrongful death case involving a woman my age who had left behind four children under the age of 7,” she says. “It was one of those moments that you think, ‘What am I not doing that I should be doing?’”

Long interested in writing, she returned to that. Byrd, Church’s first published novel, begins in the 1960s in the fictional Carswell, North Carolina, and tells the story of Addie Lockwood.

BYRD cover
Mountain Xpress: Who is Addie?
Kim Church: Addie is a woman who comes of age at a time when a lot of choices are available to a woman her age. The book is about how a woman in her circumstances would come to make decisions about issues like motherhood.

When did this character first come to you?
Many years ago, a friend told me that his girlfriend had become pregnant and had difficulty making decisions over what to do. This woman was in her 30s. She was independent and capable, so these were decisions she was making on her own. I tried to imagine how she went about making those decisions and how she would have lived with them afterwards.

How does Addie make decisions?
Addie is very intuitive, very sensitive. She’s also practical. But the thing about Addie is, I don’t think it’s always clear to her how she’s making decisions. She’s a wishful thinker. I have described her as being as clear-eyed as she is romantic. And you can say that in reverse as well. There are some consequences to her decisions that she doesn’t appreciate when she makes them.

I’m interested in some of the decisions you’ve made. You haven’t left the law entirely. You’re doing a combination of the law and writing.
Yes, I try to balance my writing and law practice now and have done for some years. As I began to get more serious about my writing, I realized that it was going to take much more of a commitment than I could make with the schedule I had. … I didn’t completely give up my day job. But I did arrange it so that I had more hours in the day for my writing. And I’ve done that with varying levels of success in terms of managing my schedule over the years, but it has worked. I have a book. I’ve started another book. I’ve published a bunch of stories. I’ve also gotten to work on some really interesting cases. It’s been an interesting ride.

WHAT: Booktopia Celebration of Authors
with Krista Bremer, Wiley Cash, Kim Church, Denise Keirnan, Ariel Lawhon, E. Lockhart and Anthony Marra
WHERE: Malaprop’s,
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 23, at 6:30 p.m. Free.


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