Kimberly Belle pens her eighth novel set in Atlanta
Buckhead author Kimberly Belle is one of those “never give up on your dream” success stories. “For a long time I had this secret dream of writing a book one day. I thought I maybe had a story to tell, maybe two? It turns out I’m about to start book number nine!” says Belle, who is now a USA Today and internationally bestselling author. Although Belle has always enjoyed writing, she began her career working in nonprofit fundraising. When the recession hit in 2008 and she subsequently lost her job, she decided it was a good time to get serious about her writing passion. Belle started writing that year, and her first book, “The Last Breath,” came out in 2014. All of her novels are domestic thrillers, a genre of psychological suspense that focuses on interpersonal relationships. “These are the kinds of books I love to write but also love to read,” Belle says. Her eighth novel will be published this November. Titled “The Personal Assistant,” the book explores the dark side of the digital world when a mommy-blogger’s assistant goes missing. We sat down with Belle to discuss her career and writing process.
How has your previous career helped you as a writer?
First of all, my education helped me. At Agnes Scott, I studied psychology, which is something I use every time I crawl into a character’s head. Then I worked in fundraising on staff at the Dutch office of Habitat for Humanity and for YWCA Atlanta and consulted for many others. I helped with the marketing department, writing the fundraising newsletters and scripts for promotional videos. So writing has always been a thing I really loved.
Why are many of your books set in Atlanta?
The setting makes it easy because I know all the landmarks. I know all the fun places. I know how long it takes to drive from Vinings to Midtown in rush hour. Both “My Darling Husband” and “The Personal Assistant” are set in Brookhaven, Capital City Club specifically. In “The Marriage Lie,” I talked about the BeltLine.
What’s your writing process like?
I hammer out a very detailed outline. Sometimes it can be 20-30 pages. I think through every single chapter, every single scene, all the moving parts and pieces. Once I have the outline, then I really start writing. That is an everyday thing. I try to touch my manuscript every day because I have found that if I put it down just for the weekend, then it takes me forever on Monday to get back into it. I’ve [written a book] in as quickly as four months; sometimes it’s taken me more like 10.
How do you balance the writing and business sides of your job?
If I can get 1,000-1,500 words in a day, that’s a good writing day for me. And then I tackle social media, emails, the marketing, all the other parts of being a writer. It’s definitely two jobs in one, at least.
What has been your most exciting accomplishment so far?
My sixth book, “Stranger in the Lake,” won me Georgia Author of the Year for mystery and thriller in 2021, which was super exciting.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I have a huge gypsy soul and love to travel. So that is the top of my list. My husband and I spend a lot of our time in Holland, where half my family lives. That, and working out, getting out of my writing chair.
STORY: Hailey Hudson
PHOTO: Sara Hanna
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