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Kimberly Nixon Explains Why There is More to the Story
Episode 656th March 2024 • Author Express • Shawna Rodrigues, Kathleen Basi, Kristi Leonard
00:00:00 00:12:19

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On today’s episode, we’ll talk with Kimberly Nixon who made quite a discovery a few years back. She found her grandmother’s felony conviction papers. She had always heard that her grandmother robbed a train in 1920s in Appalachia and her research persistence paid off. The 125-page record gave Kimberly the details about her grandmother that she had only met twice.

Kimberly considers herself the family storyteller and has made a career of exploring family stories for herself and others. She had closed her small business which archived generations of family memories for extended families. For a short period of time, Kimberly considered going back to a “real job” but her grandmother’s story pulled her to a writing desk. First, she wrote the true story of the family tale, detailing everything she knew to be fact about her mother and grandmother for her family. Before she wrote the fictionalized version, she wanted her children and siblings to know what was true. Then, she enrolled in writing courses and started a writer’s critique group. Five years later, Kimberly finished her first draft of Rock Bottom, Tennessee.

Not wanting to do the arduous task of querying, Kimberly started her own publishing company. She knew how to market products and run a business from previous experience. Rock Bottom, Tennessee launched April of 2022. Her readers asked for a sequel and Kimberly delivered. Rock Bottom Rising will release February 2024 and will take the readers from Ruby’s conviction on a journey to find redemption and reconnection with her children, abandoned after her arrest.

Kimberly’s next project will be a memoir based on retracing her father’s WWII steps throughout Europe. Her father never talked about the war and his records were destroyed by a fire at the National Archive. She has recreated his daily journey from Africa to Berlin and has visited the site of many of her father’s historic battles and has stood where her father was wounded for the first and second time of his service.

You can read about Kimberly’s passion for the family story and news of her upcoming release at her website https://www.kimberlynixon.com. Follow Kimberly’s writing journey on her Instagram page @kimberlynixon.author.

Get a signed copy of Rock Bottom, Tennessee at Kimberly’s website or see where to find it at this universal link https://books2read.com/u/3nGVMo

or

support your local bookstore & this podcast by getting your copy of Rock Bottom Rising at https://bookshop.org/a/90599/9781957513119

A little about today's host-

Author and musical composer Kathleen Basi is mother to three boys and one chromosomally-gifted daughter. Her debut novel, A SONG FOR THE ROAD, follows a musician on an unconventional road trip. Bestselling author Kerry Anne King writes, “In a novel filled with music, heartbreak, and surprising laughter, Basi takes us on a journey that encompasses both unimaginable loss and the powerful resilience of the human heart.”

Meaty, earnest, occasionally humorous, and ultimately uplifting, Kathleen’s fiction highlights the best within ourselves and each other. She writes monthly reflections on life, writing and beauty on her newsletter. Subscribe at https://kathleenbasi.substack.com/

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Learn more about our hosts, the guests we've had, and their books -

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Transcripts

We feel it is important to make our podcast transcripts available for accessibility. We use quality artificial intelligence tools to make it possible for us to provide this resource to our audience. We do have human eyes reviewing this, but they will rarely be 100% accurate. We appreciate your patience with the occasional errors you will find in our transcriptions. If you find an error in our transcription, or if you would like to use a quote, or verify what was said, please feel free to reach out to us at connect@37by27.com.

Kathleen Basi [:

Welcome to Author Express. Thanks for checking us out. This is the podcast where you give us 15 minutes of your time, and we give you a chance to hear the voice behind the pages and get to know some of your favorite writers in a new light. I'm one of your hosts, Kathleen Basi. I'm an award-winning musical composer, a feature writer, essayist, and, of course, storyteller. Let me tell you a little bit about today's guest.

Kathleen Basi [:

Kimberly Nixon writes about family stories featuring strong, determined, and sometimes wild characters. She wrestles these personalities based on true stories into main characters in her works of fiction. She's a member of the Women's Fiction Writers Association, the Alliance of Independent Authors, and the Writers League of Texas. Kimberly lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Paul, her high school prom date, and is committed to live a great story of her own.

Kathleen Basi [:

Welcome, Kimberly, to Author Express.

Kimberly Nixon [:

Thank you for having me.

Kathleen Basi [:

First thing I have to ask is high school prom date. Tell me about this.

Kimberly Nixon [:

We were friends in high school for about 2 years. And then it threw me when he asked me to prom, you know, something kind of clicked, they thought of them differently. And that was a long, long time ago, and we're still together.

Kathleen Basi [:

So, that was the beginning of it? You're like one of those magical moments that everybody dreams of but never actually happens. Is that what I'm hearing here?

Kimberly Nixon [:

That's kind of how it worked. We've always been good friends, so that's a basis of a good relationship. Yeah. But to think of him differently in that moment, it was magical. I will say that.

Kathleen Basi [:

Alright, ladies out there. Fairy tales do happen. That's all I have to say. So, tell me what's the most interesting thing about where you're from?

Kimberly Nixon [:

I live in Austin, Texas, and what I think is very cool about this city is its wonderful sense of play. People are outdoors all the time. There's live music, hiking and biking. Meetings happen around the bike trail. The bridge over Lady Bird Lake, people just go and they juggle. They just go talk with people. So, it's kind of a fun place to be. It's a fun community.

Kathleen Basi [:

That's very cool. I've heard people talk about the food scene in Austin before, and I knew that there's a lot of music there, but I really love this idea of living outdoors. I'm a big hiker. Texas is not a place I've been. Do you have a lot of up and down places to go there?

Kimberly Nixon [:

We do. So, just outside the city is the Texas Hill Country. And so, it's pretty easy to get a very good workout. You can choose your flat side of the city or you can go hit the hills. So, there's quite a choice.

Kathleen Basi [:

Very good. Alright. Let's take another question to know you a little better. I don't ask this one very often. Brace yourself. If you could have dinner with any 4 people, living or dead, who would they be, what would you talk about, and what would you have for dessert?

Kimberly Nixon [:

Well, this might be not interesting for some people, but I have no qualms about answering it with these 4 people. It would be my grandparents, and I'm not sure they'd all get along. So, if we're all at one table, that would be something to behold. My mother always told the family story and there's a plethora of interesting tales in my background. I didn't know my grandparents. I knew one grandmother. She had 50 grandchildren, so I kind of had to wiggle my way in there to be able to talk to her very much, but that is exactly who I would have dinner with.

Kathleen Basi [:

Okay. So, hang on. I got a follow-up question there. Because there are 30 grandchildren in one side of my family, and I thought that I was about the biggest one out there. So, how many kids did your grandmother have?

Kimberly Nixon [:

She had 14 children.

Kathleen Basi [:

Wow.

Kimberly Nixon [:

Yes.

Kathleen Basi [:

That's hard to imagine in this day and age. Very cool. Well, that actually opens up really well the next topic of your book because your books are based on family stories. Can you tell us the name of your book and what it's about in one sentence?

Kimberly Nixon [:

Rock Bottom Rising is the name of my book and it lets the reader feel Ruby struggle after she starts over from a probation sentence from a federal crime so she can reconnect with her children, amend for her past deeds, and redefine motherhood.

Kathleen Basi [:

And this is based on a real story in your family?

Kimberly Nixon [:

It is.

Kathleen Basi [:

One of your grandparents?

Kimberly Nixon [:

Yes. I always heard growing up that my grandmother robbed a train.

Kathleen Basi [:

Woah.

Kimberly Nixon [:

And I found her conviction papers about 10 years ago. So, Rock Bottom Rising is actually a sequel to Rock Bottom Tennessee. It is historical fiction, but it's based on the story of my maternal grandmother.

Kathleen Basi [:

That is so interesting. So, what I kind of like to know about this, first of all, everyone who's listening just thought that you have taken the award for the most interesting family stories. So, right there. And, actually, if you had a grandmother who robbed a train, then that sort of explains why the other grandparents might not have gotten along with them. I can see the conflict there.

Kimberly Nixon [:

Exactly.

Kathleen Basi [:

So, do you think your book would have been exactly the same if you'd written it 10 years ago or if you wrote it 10 years from now? And I want you to kind of tie that question into your growth as a person and how you came across these stories and how they influence you as a person.

Kimberly Nixon [:

So, for me to write these stories was to figure out how in the world my grandmother could have done this. So, even though it's fiction, I tried to write a scenario where something happened in her life, probably trauma, that she didn't recover from to be able to make these decisions and hurt her family like she did. So, actually, it's a much different book than when I started it. Right. There was kind of an evolution during the process of writing. If I were to write it 10 years from now, that's an interesting concept because I think I'm more forgiving. I think in 10 years I would probably have even more of that feeling towards her.

Kimberly Nixon [:

Yeah. Now you're going to have me thinking all day long about that question.

Kathleen Basi [:

Well, you don't necessarily have to spend too much time on that. I wonder, is this a process you've been open with in your family? Was everybody supportive of you writing the stories in this way?

Kimberly Nixon [:

There were a couple that were a little leery about what I was going to write, but what's been really interesting is I have the extended family has kind of come together because of this book. So, the cousins that were from Tennessee that I didn't really know very well, we just had a reunion last year when I was on a book tour. And to get together and to talk about how my grandmother's life impacted not only our parents, but also, you know, our lives was quite an interesting gathering. So, they're very supportive. I think everyone kind of likes to, you know, throw the thing out there. My grandmother robbed a train, but to come together and kind of talk about how that impacted our family was very interesting. They kind of slowly got on board with it. After they read it, I think they were pretty okay with it.

Kathleen Basi [:

Who are you thinking of when you wrote this book? Like, it's a family history, and so you're trying to grapple with your own family history and what your grandmother did and but then it's not really just did you ever think it was really just for your family, or was it always bigger than that? And what was it that made you want to take this personal story and try to put it out there for everybody?

Kimberly Nixon [:

So, I am a CASA volunteer. And if you don't know what that is, I'm a court advocate for foster children. Even right now, I mean, trauma is a nasty little thing, right? A lot of people deal with it. So, it's not, even though the story takes place in the 1920s really through the 1940s with the sequel, it still happens. And so, to how to take the things that happened to you and kind of transform them, I think is really an important thing that needs to happen. So, in writing this book, it was to figure out how she made the decisions that she did. But also, I think that's something that, you know, a lot of people go through, you know, what is it in my past that's causing me to act this way? So, I think it's not specific to my grandmother whatsoever. I think it's something we all have to answer at some point in our lives.

Kathleen Basi [:

I love that. I love that so much. It's fantastic. So, let's expand the lens a little bit and talk about, you know, writing in general, how you came to this. Have you always known you were going to be a writer? Or was this something that came out about specifically in response to knowing these family stories?

Kimberly Nixon [:

I've always enjoyed writing. In 1st grade, I won a countywide contest from the library in writing. My first major in college was going to be an English teacher only because I thought if the teaching part was attached to it, I would be able to, you know, make a living while I was trying to get my writing career together. It wasn't until I retired, that I actually and it was shortly after I found the conviction papers, but I sat down at a desk and started writing these stories. So, I did enjoy it. There was also a purpose. I felt like, you know, when you're handed the story like this, I needed to do something with it. And so, it took, I would say, 8 years to write the first book.

Kimberly Nixon [:

There was quite a bit of learning how to write and that process taking quite a few classes. Austin has a very supportive writing community. And so, it evolved over many, many years, the first book that I wrote.

Kathleen Basi [:

Oh, that's very cool. And what piece of advice was the most helpful to you in your writing journey?

Kimberly Nixon [:

I used to think of writing as a solitary activity and the writing community is so supportive. It's amazing how many people are out there who will take a look at what you've read and then say, yeah, that's really good. Or it doesn't resonate with me. Or they will connect you with the people if you're researching for something for historical fiction. So, that's been the biggest surprise. And also, the biggest help is just how supportive the writing community is online and in Austin. Yeah.

Kathleen Basi [:

Yeah. That's fantastic. Alright. So, let's start coming to a close here. Tell us the one place that everybody should go if they want to learn more about you or about your book.

Kimberly Nixon [:

Kimberlynixon.com. Everything is there. You can find my social media handles there and how to buy my books.

Kathleen Basi [:

Very good. All right. And finally, tell us today, what book or story is inspiring you the most these days?

Kimberly Nixon [:

You know, I kind of went back a long way to answer this question. Almost every year I read Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, which was a 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner. Just the way that she writes her characters and to elaborate the family story, the very simplicity of the beauty that you can live in in a small community. And also, kind of the importance of becoming who we were meant to be, I think, kind of filters through all of her books, but that's definitely the one that inspired me the most.

Kathleen Basi [:

Alright. Very good. Well, thank you so much for being on Author Express with us today. Everybody, check out the book, Rock Bottom Rising.

Kimberly Nixon [:

Thank you, Kathleen.

Kathleen Basi [:

Thanks for joining us today. We hope you'll take a second to give us some stars or a review on your favorite podcasting platform. We'll be back next Wednesday. And in the meantime, follow us on Instagram at Author Express Podcast to see who's coming up next. Don't forget, keep it express, but keep it interesting.

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