Kimberly Stuart loves a good story. She and her family live in Des Moines and she is the author of 8 novels. Heart Land, her latest book, is about a fashion designer who returns to small-town Iowa after living in New York City.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I make my home with my husband, Marc, and our three wily children. Ana is fifteen, Mitch is twelve, and Thea is ten. They are beautiful people and I am ever grateful to be their mom, except for when we are passing around a stomach virus. Then I’m really not that grateful at all.
We also have a dog I love but that also drives me insane. His name is Scout, after the heroine of To Kill a Mockingbird, and some days that’s his only redeeming quality.
The biggest challenge is staying right smack-dab in the moment and doing frequent clear-outs of the calendar so we can just hang out together. The biggest joy is watching my children become the people God wired them to be. On the days when I see it up close, it’s breath-taking.
When did you start writing? Did you always want to be an author?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but for many years (and maybe still today) my favorite interaction with words has been reading. I was the nerd who just wanted to read books all summer long, and every year I would make the (unreached) goal to work my way through all the stacks in the library. Until I was an adult with one little one at home, it never occurred to me that I could be an author. The entire idea was ludicrous. I didn’t know anyone who was doing that kind of thing, so to me, being an author sounded as attainable as tap-dancing on Broadway: hypothetically possible, but who does that in real life?!
What’s the best part about being a published author?
I love meeting with and interacting with readers and hearing how my stories intersect with their lives. I love the first time I hold a new release in my hands and marvel that it exists in that form. I love the promise of a new idea and the indulgence of sitting with it and looking at it and watching it become something real. And I love, love, love when a reader tells me she laughed or cried or stayed up too late to read my book. That’s the highest compliment.
What’s the hardest part about being a writer?
I’ve made my peace with the requirement to be promoting my books but it’s definitely not my favorite part. Sometimes I feel like I’m forcing people to watch a slideshow of my family vacation. I mean, I really loved Mount Rushmore, but I don’t need to bring it up every three minutes.
What advice do you have for moms?
Oh, moms. I am right where you are. I have so little advice because I have no idea what I’m doing. To the mamas with little ones at home and following her around like kittens twenty-four-seven, I say take deep breaths, get a babysitter often and with not a shred of guilt, and make sure you’re walking alone sometimes, not just behind a stroller. Also, kiss those kiddos with their full cheeks and chunky thighs and cankles because those things disappear without warning. To the mamas of older kids, I’m finding such joy and depth in building relationships with moms just a bit further down the road than I. Go find the mom who has kids just a little older and pepper her with questions over coffee at Smokey Row or lunch at La Mie. We need each other.
What is something you wish you had known when you started writing?
I wish I had taken more time on the front end and really mapped out where I was going with individual projects. I was knee-deep in diapers and Goldfish, so any time I had to write was in a flurry and a total, nearly-blind reaction to the previous day’s work. It took awhile for me to realize I needed to give myself the time and space to just think and dream and wonder and plan. All of those things pay off dividends when I finally tackle the story.
What’s the last show you watched, thing you listened to, or book you read?
Watched: World of Dance on NBC with my kids. We are in awe of (a) J Lo’s hair and (b) that people can make their limbs do that stuff.
Listened to: The All-State choir selections for this year. My daughter is auditioning, and we listened to the pieces in the car during a road trip. One of the selections is a Scandinavian weirdsmobile piece with text that is all nonsense syllables. My favorite is “bork-bork.” Say that out loud right now and then ask yourself why your choir director made you sing “Greensleeves” instead. Also, I will hate this piece by the time she auditions in October.
Read: Just finished a trio of fantastic books: I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos (everything she writes is total gold); Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (brilliant, charming, poignant and funny, all in one book); and Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore (true story and I dare you not to weep).
If your life had a hashtag, what would it be?
Des Moines Favorites: I LOVE DES MOINES so this one is tough to narrow down. Des Moines Performing Arts, bike paths, the people, St Kilda, Eatery A, Crème, The Hall, and Beaverdale Books.
Favorite spot for a date night: Dinner out at Lucca and jazz at Noce
Best place to take kids: Snookie’s, any one of our phenomenal local libraries, and Pappajohn sculpture park
Favorite summer activity: Family bike rides that end with ice cream
If you could live anywhere, where would it be? I’ve tried out five states and two countries and Des Moines, Iowa, wins, hands down.
Head over to our Facebook page for a chance to win a copy of Kimberly’s latest book, Heart Land. Giveaway begins Monday August 13 and ends August 16 at midnight. Winner must live in the U.S.
Check out other Des Moines Moms Movers & Shakers:
See our Des Moines Moms Movers & Shakers series from last summer.
Know a Des Moines mom we should feature? Let us know! Email [email protected] with details and we will be in touch.