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Swoon Author Kimberly Karalius: My Secret Identity

By day, I’m a mild-mannered cubicle dweller working in risk management, drinking out of a mug tattooed with the company logo and using the cafeteria microwaves to heat my lunch like everyone else. But by night, I’m an Author.

It’s like carrying a little secret in my pocket as I go about my days. Social media may know me as an author who writes quirky, whimsical stories, but by all appearances, I’m perfectly normal. Maybe it’s my glasses… but unlike Clark Kent, I keep them on when I become my Authorly self.

I always wondered how Superman and Wonder Woman managed to keep their identities a secret when they basically looked like themselves sans glasses. Did those glasses make a difference? At least Batman had the mask.

When I was getting ready for my first solo local event at the Wesley Chapel Barnes & Noble, I was so excited to see the event posters on display early. My family and friends took pictures with the posters. I mean, so did I! And the funny thing is, even standing right next to a photo of myself, no one browsing the bookstore made the connection.


Secret identity? Safe and sound.

But when people do find out I’m an author, I have to be prepared for questions. These questions are usually different from the kinds I’m asked during interviews or on panels by book lovers. I’m usually prepared for those, having lived in academia for so many years, as well as reading a handy-dandy packet Swoon Reads sent us touring authors!

But more often than not, you will run into people who aren’t quite as devoted to books. And their questions can sometimes be the most puzzling ones to answer. If you can.

Here are the comments and questions I’ve gotten since embarking on my Swoon Reads experience:

“How is your book doing?” (Or, asked differently, “how many books have you sold?”) 

This is probably the most awkward question I’ve been asked. Multiples times. By the same people. It’s like a greeting.

I usually answer with a noncommittal “I don’t know” or “I’ll find out eventually.” I’m not privy to that information very often, but I don’t need to be. My job is to keep writing. Even if I did have the exact number of copies sold in my head, I would probably still hesitate to share. Because it’s kind of like asking someone what their annual salary is after shaking hands. 

“Your book’s a little too girly. My sons would never read it.”

I can’t remember how I answered this one.

“Writing… seems like a lot of work.  How do you do it?” 

Believe me, there have been many times I succumbed to the siren song of my couch after work. The pillows are soft. The television gently glows. Then I fall asleep before 8pm. Usually Misty steps on me to wake me up so I can properly go to bed.

Still, I want to write. I can’t not write. So I make time. I brainstorm every chance I get. When I have a deadline approaching, I cloister myself at home on the weekends and only take breaks for food. It’s awesome. 

“You don’t write fulltime?”

At least, not at this time. It would be fantastic to support myself with just my writing, but that dream may take a while to achieve. So in the meantime, I must pay the bills with a day job.

Also, people have told me that when they type my name into Google, Kim Kardashian’s name comes up first. Of course. Thanks for letting me know that.

“Hey! I read your reviews. Some of them weren’t so great. How are handling that?”

I think it’s cool when my friends and workmates are interested enough to search my book on the internet. But inevitably, they ask me this. To which I usually say, “I don’t let them get to me. Gotta keep working on my next project!”

But other times, when I’m feeling more human and less superhero, I can kind of relate to this:

“When are you flying us to your private island?”

This comment made me laugh; my coworkers were excited to hear about my upcoming book release, and naturally assumed that this would be a perk.

However, I’ve watched enough Island Hunters on HGTV to know that owning an island is not all it’s cracked up to be. 

How do you handle your secret writer identity? What kinds of questions have you been asked about your writing? Feel free to share in the comments!

Author spotlight

Kimberly Karalius

KIMBERLY KARALIUS holds an MFA in fiction from the University of South Florida, and has been sharing stories on Figment.com …

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