Fran Kimmel, a Lacombe author who has published numerous short stories and two novels, recently released her newest book No Good Asking and she held a book launch Oct. 4th at the Mary C. Moore Public Library in Lacombe to mark the occasion.
“It is about what happens when a young girl is taken in by a family over Christmas,” Kimmel said. “It is a rural family story and it starts out with a girl walking outside alone in the bitter cold. The family finds her and even though the family is struggling mightily, they take her in until just after Christmas when social services can swoop in and find a better arrangement for her.
“It is about what happens under that little girl’s influence.”
The novel is an extension of Kimmel’s travels through the backroads of Central Alberta.
“I have often thought a lot about these homes out seemingly in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by big open fields,” she said. “I have often wondered how do people get to this part of the land, what do they do and what are their lives like? It is very much a book based on where I live and the surroundings here in Central Alberta.
“It is a fictional place, a fictional town and an imagined family but certainly what I’m seeing is Central Alberta in the bitter, bitter cold.”
Kimmel throughout the book splices in her experiences and weaves in fiction to create a realistic view of Christmastime.
“I have stolen bits and pieces from my life,” she said. “They have found their way into the book. I came from a very happy middle-class family, but I have seen a lot of troubled kids in the kind of work I have done in the past. I am terribly interested in families and what makes them work and not work.
“From my own life, I have stolen scenes from Christmases in the past — the entire takes place in seven days over Christmastime.”
The novel is a continuation of a lifetime of writing that began with technical writing and eventually turned into Kimmel being able to write her own ideas.
“When my girls were very little, I used to freelance for magazines and newspapers back then,” she said. “Then during my working career in corporations, writing was the biggest theme in my work. I was a senior proposal writer and I wrote for websites.
“Then I wanted to write my own stories. I started fiction writing awhile back. I have written a lot of short stories and a few plays. This is my second novel.”
Reading and writing has been a lifelong passion for Kimmel.
“In terms of transitioning, it is a different craft writing fiction compared to writing for corporations,” she said. “I studied hard and took some classes. I read a lot of books and the biggest teacher was reading good fiction and then trying to break it all apart and seeing what they are doing.
“There is a tremendous amount of gratification in writing my own stories and I have really enjoyed this part of my career.”
Ultimately, Kimmel said No Good Asking is a story about hope.
“It is a story that really shows how very small acts of kindness can make new beginnings for people,” she said.
The novel is currently available online, at Chapters and at Sunworks in Red Deer.
“I am also having an event on Oct. 26th at the downtown Red Deer Public Library. All are welcome but you have to register through the library,” she said.
She added she is currently working on her next novel, but isn’t putting a timeline on when it will be available.