As we continue to celebrate the release of Every Stolen Breath, we are featuring part two of our “Author Spotlight” with Kimberly Gabriel!
Get your copy of Every Stolen Breath HERE.
What makes this book special/unique, and why should readers be sure to place it on their TBR (To Be Read) list?
I set out to write a twisty, page-turning thriller. But to me, Lia and her portrayal of strength is why I would recommend this book. Throughout the book, Lia is determined and even obsessed at times to seek justice for her father’s murder, but she’s also a sixteen-year-old girl with asthma, anxiety, and PTSD. She perceives these traits as weaknesses that hold her back, but instead she demonstrates a fierce drive and resilience by pushing through each setback. Some of the strongest, most determined students I’ve ever had in my classroom have become that way by battling adversity, and as a result, building their anti-fragility. I wanted Lia to reflect that because to me that’s what real strength is. While the Swarm relies on physical strength to control and intimidate people, Lia fights back with her mental strength.
What kind of impact did writing Every Stolen Breath have on you personally?
I put Lia, an anxious character, into several tense situations in this book. The deeper I got in the revision process and fleshing those scenes out, the more of a visceral reaction I had while writing them. There were times where I grew short of breath as I was describing Lia’s struggle to breath, and I never expected writing these scenes to manifest themselves in such a physical way.
But this was also an emotional journey for me. I almost lost my oldest son when he was born prematurely. As an infant, he had debilitating asthma, and as he grew older, his chronic illnesses led to his struggle with anxiety. Throughout all of those setbacks, which he eventually outgrew, he remained determined, headstrong, and optimistic in ways that continue to impress me every day. My son was very young when he went through all of that, and Lia carries those parts of him in her. Because that part is so personal, this book helped me emotionally confront some of my own lingering feelings that I had towards the trauma I experienced almost losing him and watching him fight to live those early months and years. There is a scene in the book in which Lia’s mom talks about Lia as a preemie in the NICU. I can’t read that scene without crying because it’s very much a love letter to my own child.
What do you hope readers take away from Every Stolen Breath?
Reading for me is an escape. Because of it, I hope readers are able to escape in a story they enjoy while reading my book, but I also hope they realize while reading that Lia’s journey shows that mental strength is often more powerful than physical strength, and that even people who are perceived as weak can be incredibly strong when they need to be.
How are you reflected in Every Stolen Breath (or, how much of you is reflected in the book)?
I think parts of me are reflected throughout the book in the setting and the characters. I share my love for Chicago through the different locations, most of which are my favorite parts of the city. Each character has a piece of me in them. For Lia, I gave her one of my negative traits, which is my tendency to bury my emotions and stress (which is not healthy and I don’t recommend it). Her best friend Katie has my introverted side despite the fact that I too like to envision myself as a secret agent. Adam says all the comebacks I wish I could say on the spot.
What does being in the BLINK family mean to you?
I have been blown away by how welcoming and supportive the BLINK community has been. Every person I work with at BLINK, including BLINK’s authors, has been bright, committed, and kind. BLINK has not only championed my book in the best way, but all of the people at BLINK I’ve had the pleasure to work with are “good people.” Because of it, I’m so appreciative and grateful that Every Stolen Breath found its home here.
What is your favorite thing to do to promote your book?
I have loved meeting with readers, especially teens. I work with teens, and I wrote this book for teens. Any chance I get to meet or speak with teens at events is extra special.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned while being a writer?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Writing is about taking risks for your characters and yourself. It’s only by taking risks and allowing yourself and your characters to be vulnerable, that you can really achieve the reward at the end.
Any additional thoughts?
Thank you for this interview. I’m so excited to finally share Lia and her journey with readers.