Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Magical (Serialized) Imagination of Kimberly Karalius

I took a Creative Non-Fiction workshop this past semester, and one of our assignments was to interview a writer over spring break. I pretty much turned to Kim immediately. And because I suck if I don’t have a deadline, it’s taken me this long to work up the interview. So without further ado, here it is!

Interview with Kimberly Karalius

When Figment opened to the public last November, it was pretty much immediately flooded with new users uploading their writing. It was pure chance that I found Kimberly Karalius—though I don’t doubt that I would have eventually come across her work. She had made her way onto Figment, and she had uploaded a lone story, a cell phone novel called Birdcage Girl, centered around 18-year-old Ashlyn, a girl who spends most of her days in a wire birdcage, wheeling herself around the house and secretly planning her escape. She now has over 300 readers following her novel, anticipating her updates, and begging for more.

On the surface, her stories seem quiet and regular. They take place in small towns, by the sea, in a bakery. But then we get these magical flourishes. A carousel spins to life. A girl has the ability to tell stories in flour, making her drawings come to life within the confines of a flour-dusted cutting board. There’s a boy, a real live boy, living in a dollhouse. A young mermaid, taking her turn in the age-old tradition of visiting the dry world, sends postcards back to the sea.

These stories seem wholly fantastical, but they’re also grounded in the reality of human relationships, an overprotective mother, lovers’ quarrels, homesickness. The mixture of the magical and the mundane is compelling, to me, because of everything seems to be within the realms of possibility. When I read something by Kim, I get the feeling that this world is within reach, if I just tilted my head and looked at it this way. The worlds she creates are places and pockets of life that I wander through and then settle down in—with some wariness, because there are disquieting suggestions of things gone awry.

Kimberly is a first year MFA fiction student at the University of South Florida. She lives and writes by Disney World, where she has an annual pass.