Today we travel to Enschede, a small city in the Netherlands, to chat with Kim ten Tusscher about how traveling, nature, the Northern Lights, the Narrows in Zion National Park, dog sledding, a costume designer, being a go-getter, and trusting her inner voice fit into the plot of Kim’s current and past life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, my name is Kim ten Tusscher. I’m a writer from the Netherlands. I
live in Enschede, a small city near the German border. I’m going to tell
you more about my stories in the following questions, but before that,
let me tell you some other interesting things about myself.
I love to travel and explore. I’m most happy when I’m camping surrounded by beautiful nature. I have slept near a thunderous waterfall, my tent was almost taken down by deer and I’ve camped in places where you can only see a faint light in the distance. I have been husky sledding and seen the Northern Lights. I’m so fortunate that I’m able to do that. And the best part is, I can use all these things in my stories. Lilith goes dog sledding, other characters hike like I did the Narrows in Zion National Park and sometimes I just smell the Icelandic sulfur when I write. Am I weird that I like that smell?
I grew up in a family with two elder brothers. I remember us all sitting
around the dinner table when we were younger. Doing all kinds of things: drawing, making puppets out of clay, painting. I still do those things when I find the time.
Also nice to mention: I have been involved in several movies and series as a prop and costume maker. I made flags for Born of Hope, costumes for Ren – The Girl with the Mark and for A Royal Love. I love the movie world, but not as much as I love writing. That’s why I never went on building a career as a costume designer.
This love for costumes, movies, and stories came together when a friend and I started Hunter’s Prey. She is the singer of a band and wrote a song for a story of mine. We started a crowdfunding campaign and made an epic video clip. You can watch the end result here:
In which genre do you write?
I write epic fantasy. I like my stories to be a bit dark. You might have
a clue who is the hero and who is the villain when you start the story,
but I assure you that will change when you learn more about my
characters. The line between good and evil gets very blurry.
How many published books do you have? What are you currently working on?
I have published nine books so far. Four of them have been translated
into English: City of Illusions (a stand-alone) and the Lilith trilogy.
My translator is currently working on book number five: Blood. That is
the first part of The Tales of the Downfall. It will be released later
At the same time, I’m working very hard to meet the deadline for my
tenth book. It’s called Storm, which means exactly the same in Dutch as it does in English. It is the final part of the Tales of the Downfall.
Where did the idea for The Tales of the Downfall come from?
Soon after I finished the Lilith trilogy back in 2012 the fans asked me
if I was going to write another story about Lilith. At first, I said I
would never do that. I liked the fact that the readers could have their
own ideas about how her future would be. And I was already invested in another story at that time.
But the fans kept asking me that same question again and again for
years. I finished the series I was working on and started to think: What
would have happened to Lilith? How can I continue her story? And so the ideas came and I started writing this new series with her as the main character.
It was an awesome decision. This story has so much depth and has learned me so much more about the world I created. It’s a tale about war and deceit and despair, but also about hope and working together and looking past prejudice. I’m writing the final chapters at the moment and I’m having so much fun with it.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
You might have heard about plotters or pantsers? Plotters think through the whole story before they start writing, pantsers make up the story as they go along.
I’m somewhere in the middle. I called myself a traveler once. When I go
on vacation, I always prepare. I look up things worth visiting, make a
travel plan, pack cloths fit for what I think I will encounter. But my
trips never go as planned. I will see the highlights and will arrive at
the final destination in time. But between start and finish, I get
distracted. The weather is different than I imagined so I have to change the plans, I find a path that looks very promising and I want to follow. And some attractions may be closed.
This is how I write. I start with a plan, but some things just don’t
work out the way I thought they would. Other paths are way more
interesting and the local people (my characters) are not who I thought
they would be. I explore the story the same way I would explore a new
place. With expectations, but open-minded to better opportunities.
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
I have always been keen to prove to myself and the world that I can
achieve things. I am a go-getter, I think it’s called in English. I know
what I want and I won’t stop until I reach that goal.
It’s a trait that is very useful for a writer. Writing is lonely and it
takes a long time to finish a story. Especially before your work is
published you have to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve.
If not, it’s easy to get distracted and not finish.
You have to give up many things to meet your deadlines. When I’m finishing a story, I’m not very social for the people in my surroundings. At those times there is only one thing I’m doing: writing. And I even gave up a steady income to improve my skills to succeed as a writer. I do believe I have it in me to do this.
This may sound like I am overconfident, but I am not. There are many times I doubt all my decisions. I suffer from imposter syndrome like most people who create things. But my go-get attitude prevents me from giving up.
What advice would your more mature self give to your young self?
Trust your inner voice. I have been paying too much attention to people who I thought would know how to do things. People who said I should be using a pen name. That you have to plot a story because that’s how to write a cohesive one. That you have to write short stories first to learn the craft. I could come up with more examples.
But I can’t plot, I can’t write short stories and I wanted to publish under my own name. And all these so-called good bits of advice put doubt in my heart. Was I really doing it right?
Well, with ten books written and published and many fans I know I am doing something right. In hindsight, all these doubts did cost me a lot of energy. Energy that I should have directed towards something more constructive.
I would want to say to me (and to you): believe that you know how things work for you and what is the right path for you. This is your path to walk and not somebody else’s. It’s a good thing to have mentors, but be picky.
If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would invite Robin Hobb to a tea date. I really admire her writing skills and love the characters she created. I read her books when I’m in the final stages of my own stories and during editing. Her stories are packed with details without becoming boring. I sometimes skip too much. So reading her work while editing my own, gives my stories the right balance of what to describe and what to leave out.
What would I ask? I’m not sure I would be able to ask anything. Big chance I would be star struck and I even might run.
Actually, I met Robin Hobb once. It was on a fantasy festival in the Netherlands and if it wasn’t for a colleague writer, I wouldn’t have been brave enough to go to her. But my colleague knew I wanted to thank her for the inspiration she gave me and the lessons I learned while reading her books, so he dragged me to her table. I gave her one of my own books as a present and we exchanged a few words. She is such a lovely person, so if I can get my nerves under control, it will be an awesome tea date.
Tell us about your most recent book you’ve published.
My most recent story in English is the Lilith trilogy (Bound in Darkness, Broken in Twilight and Born in Light). It is the story of Lilith, a Dragon shape shifter. She was kidnapped when she was a baby and given to a sorcerer to use in the war he is fighting. I think you can understand what damage a fire breathing dragon can cause. Lilith has burned down cities and villages for years and killed thousands of people. The story starts when she decides to run away. She dreams of a peaceful future. To achieve that, she has to defeat her master. But if she does, she may end the world…
When I started to write about Lilith I wanted to create a story without the typical good versus evil plot I see in many fantasy books. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read a good hero story from time to time, but as a writer, I’m not interested in flawless protagonists and evil villains. I love to explore the greyness that everybody has inside them. In the right – or should I say wrong? – circumstances everybody is able to do horrible things and even the villain tries to save his world. The conflict is where their personal goals clash.
Lilith’s story is one of trust and finding your own path in life. Of still seeing the good, when everything goes dark. Standing up for yourself is often the bravest thing you can do. So will Lilith succeed and at what costs?
Did I make you curious?
It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA! I absolutely adored our interview, Kim. I’m also a go-getter who lets the imposter syndrome sneak into my thoughts a bit too often. I’ve befriended it though, not letting it slow me down. I have two friends who live in the Netherlands and it’s on my bucket list to visit some day. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla
Being trained as a lethal weapon isn’t enough to stay safe… Lilith needs to be stronger than a dragon to escape.
In a world torn apart by battle, being the only dragon shape shifter known to mankind should be an advantage. But in the hands of a cruel sorcerer, Lilith lives her life in terror. She is scarred by the war she is forced to fight and haunted by the thousands she has burned to death.
But even her deepest fears aren’t enough to keep Lilith in her cage.
Being hunt down by the uncompromising Kasimirh and his followers, Lilith tries to build a new life in hiding. If she fails to stay out of their hands, they’ll return her to a life of terror.
But if she defeats them, the consequences could be even worse… The whole world might come to an end.
Kim ten Tusscher’s books are renowned for the rich characters and the twisted plot. You’ll love this epic fantasy series by one of the best dark fantasy authors of the Netherlands. Click the BUY button and get your copy of this exciting, fast-paced story now!
Where to find the books:
You can find the books on Amazon and in Kindle
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