It's not every day that a mom and daughter put their heads together to collaborate on a writing project—and it's even less common when the pair resides in Central Oregon. Kim Cooper Findling is the author of "Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Families," among other guidebooks and a memoir. Now, she's teamed up with her teen daughter, Libby Findling, to release "The Sixth Storm," a novel set on the Oregon coast.
- Libby Findling and Kim Cooper Findling say an offhand comment about storms and feelings was the spark for "The Sixth Storm."
I reached out to the mother-daughter writing team to find out more about their collaborative process.
Source Weekly: Can you describe the book for our readers?
Kim Cooper Findling/Libby Findling: A girl on the eve of her 14th birthday encounters crazy weather in her small Oregon Coast hometown. She realizes that the weather is affecting her family alone, and has been for decades, and that she must solve a mystery and reverse a curse. "The Sixth Storm" is a fast-paced read about strong girls, family secrets and spectacularly bad weather.
SW: How did this collaboration come about?
KCF: One stormy night when Libby was 10, Libby said, "What if weather patterns represented people changing?" It blew my mind and I wrote it down immediately. I knew we had to do something with it.
SW: How did you share the load of work? Did one person largely take the reins in terms of the actual writing, versus shaping the narrative, for example?
KCF: We did all the concepting and character development together in verbal brainstorming sessions. Then I'd write a chapter, bring it back to Libby, and she'd "fix it," as she says.
SW: Libby, what's it been like growing up in a home where your mom is a writer? Do you think that influenced your creativity—or in other words, how did having a creative parent shape you?
LF: When a parent is creative, it's natural for the kids to be creative, too. I was always surrounded by creativity in different forms, and my mom always encouraged me to write and tell stories. She's always sparking my creativity.
SW: Libby, what types of other creative outlets do you have?
LF: I've been acting since the 2nd grade and I've been in 18 plays. I like drawing and all kinds of art. I love music, too. I'm in band class, and I'm trying to write songs and want to learn to play the guitar.
SW: Is the main character based on someone in your lives?
KCF: Skye isn't based on one single person, but making her a Capricorn was a purposeful decision. The entire book takes place in the week leading up to her birthday, during a stormy season, so a January birthday made sense. But beyond that, I've been close to a lot of Capricorns in my life, and am very familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. In other words, I knew how to mess with Skye, which is what you always want to do to your protagonist!
SW: Kim, how did this process differ from writing the other books you've written?
KCF: I'd never written fiction. I never thought I would write fiction! Libby was my inspiration and my muse. The story consumed me, and writing it was a blast, but whipping it into a final product was much more difficult than I expected. Overall, experientially, compared to my past books, writing fiction was much more like memoir and essay than travel writing. It was sinking deep into self and story.
SW: Kim, much of the work you've done in the past has been guidebooks and travel writing based on Oregon. How did writing a fictional tale based in Oregon differ creatively, or in how you depict the state?
KCF: Well, writing the setting was the easy part! That came very naturally to me. And as a non-fiction writer you're always striving for the truth, and suddenly I was allowed to make things up. But I think this story is still a very accurate portrayal of Oregon. All of my books have been love letters to Oregon in some form. I grew up on the Oregon Coast, and writing a book about teenagers in a stormy rural beach town was a homecoming.
SW: Where can readers pick up a copy?