To celebrate the release of Every Stolen Breath, we have a special Q&A with Kimberly Gabriel! Stay tuned for Part II later this week…
Get your copy of Every Stolen Breath HERE.
Congratulations on the publication of your first book! What does it feel like to have this in the world?
I’ve wanted to publish a book since I was in fourth grade. For so many of those years since then, I thought publishing was an unobtainable pipedream. Now to have my book on shelves and in stores feels completely surreal. My oldest son is currently in fourth grade. I keep looking at him and thinking about myself at his age when I wrote poems and sold them to my neighbors for ten cents each. For the holidays, I bound my poems with plastic report covers and gave them to my family and teachers as gifts. In so many ways, my journey towards publication started then, and I feel so grateful to see that journey come full circle. Right now, he’s very into reading, writing, and illustrating graphic novels, and I can’t help but wonder if I’m seeing a glimpse of what he might pursue one day.
Every Stolen Breath is a suspense-thriller. What was your inspiration for Every Stolen Breath?
In 2011, a series of “flash-mob” attacks broke out around Chicago near where I lived. I remember reading stories where dozens of teenagers would suddenly emerge from the crowd and descend on one tourist to mug and attack. The stories terrified me so much that I eventually took that concept, made it worse, added elements of mystery and romance to it, and turned it into the basis of Every Stolen Breath.
What is it about suspense/thrillers that makes you want to write in this genre?
I love reading and writing tension. I’m very drawn to stories that keep me turning the pages. As a seventh grade literacy teacher, I’ve also seen my students in my classroom drawn to those stories. For the longest time, I didn’t have enough YA thrillers to give them, so I wrote Every Stolen Breath with them in mind.
Every Stolen Breath is more than just suspense. It touches on some pretty deep topics. Why did you want to include these in the book?
I included deeper topics in my book because I think it’s more reflective of real life. If I’m writing a story about violence in Chicago, I can’t ignore the racial tension and injustice that underlie too many real-life news stories involving city violence. If my protagonist has experienced personal loss and trauma, I can’t ignore the anxiety and PTSD that is likely to be a result of that. When writing a book that includes loss, trauma, violence, and corruption, I have to consider the impact and implications that those themes have on the characters and society in my book. In order to portray them realistically, I was forced to include those deeper topics, and honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.