In the Spotlight: Kim Hornsby
Screenwriting is about community. Learning from your peers and giving back is essential to our own development on this path. It's easy to forget that, especially when you make successful strides toward breaking in. But, Kim doesn't let her success and achievements get in the way. She stays grounded, humble, and in touch with the community because she understands the struggle. This is why I am so honored to introduce you to her.
This is Kim Hornsby...
I’m a sold and optioned screenwriter as well as a USA TODAY Bestselling Author with sixteen published novels and as many screenplays and scripts. Formerly a Maui scuba instructor by day and a lounge singer by night, I hung up my scuba regulator and microphone soon after marriage and a move to Whistler Ski Resort and began writing. While adopting my daughter in Taiwan in 2002, I started writing a novel to pass the five-month wait on paperwork.
My supernatural suspense, 3-book series, Dream Jumper, has been optioned twice and has placed and won many screenwriting contests. I’m a fan of contests because I liken myself to a border collie -- loving tasks and praise for doing them well. Austin Film Festival was a nice pat on my furry head last year. Two Christmas Romance features are currently optioned and in development and my fingers are crossed so hard it hurts.
I live with my husband, a 3x cancer survivor, and two almost adult kids in the Seattle area where I write full-time overlooking a tree-lined lake. Under my desk are two foot-warming muses in the form of large, hairy rescue dogs. I couldn’t do any of this without my tribe.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
Stumble is the perfect word for my experience. I sent a query to a Literary Manager about my 3-book series thinking she was a Literary Agent because I wanted representation for my novels. She read the books, loved the series, offered to represent me, and told me to write a screenplay for the project. It was then I realized she represented screenwriters and although I was disappointed initially, I now realize how lucky I was. Within a month, she had a producer interested in making the feature, so I got to work adapting a screenplay.
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
When my manager encouraged me to write my first screenplay with such flippant confidence, I believed it would be an easy crossover from novels to screenplay. Which it kind of was. Adapting is the bomb if you can edit out most of your words and get to the heart of the story to present it for a visual audience. I teach the adaptation here in the Seattle area and am a big fan of the process.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
As for writing, I grew up knowing a distant relative had published a book in the 1940s and was the hero of the family. I trace my obsessive desire to succeed in this industry to that. Once I finished having an adventurous life, I wanted to write. I was encouraged by girlfriends when I lived in Taiwan while waiting on my daughter’s adoption. Fourteen novels later, I wrote my first screenplay in 2018 and haven’t looked back!
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Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
After adapting my book to a screenplay, I realized this was a medium that was faster and somewhat more fun than novel writing. As someone with borderline ADD, this quick process and the idea of stacking projects appealed to me greatly. I could finish a project in a month, come back to it later, and feel ready to have it read within two months instead of writing one book a year.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
In screenwriting, the ultimate dream I’m chasing is having something get out of development hell, into production, and aired somewhere. I want to sit in front of my big screen TV and see my name on the screen as the writer, watching the credits roll. Only then do all those people who hear I’m a screenwriter at family reunions or cocktail parties and ask, “have I seen anything you’ve written?” I’ll be able to say, “perhaps you have.”
Q: Give us a typical day in your life.
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl:
Early Bird for me! I have dogs who like to get up and at ‘em. Also, the early morning hours are my favorite golden hours as the sun comes up and coffee is brewing. That’s a time in my house when the family is sleeping, (and dogs have gone back to sleep) so it’s all mine.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual?
Pets need to eat so after that, I feed the beasts, start coffee, tidy the kitchen from late-night eaters (I have a 19 and 24-year-old living at home), feed birds, get coffee, and go to my desk to check Twitter, my favorite social media for screenwriters! After Twitter and emails, I start my job for the day.
What do you do during the day?
I have an office where I write, market my writing, take classes in writing, listen to webinars etc., standing up every 60 minutes to do housework, cook, or treadmill. In the summer my desk is outside on the patio. I sit at my desk for about 5 hours on a 10-hour day. At least one of those hours is staring at the ceiling, an important writing process but some are also spent on Zillow daydreaming of moving to a fabulous house on the ocean. I volunteer with special needs kids several times a week during the school year. I try to be the best version of me I can like I’m competing with alternate realities and other versions of me!
Do you have a pre-bed ritual?
I have never been asked this before! OK, well… I go to bed earlier than most adults-- at 9 pm. I get the coffee ready for the morning, so I just have to press a button, give my dogs a snack, let them outside, say goodnight to my kids, hubby then upstairs to read on my Kindle for an hour. Is this even interesting? I try to remember to thank the Universe for my day at this point and say I’m assuming my movies will be made.
How do you define a successful day?
I write every day, even just a little, do marketing and promo every day, either promoting my books or sending out queries to producers, and engage with other writers every day to exchange ideas and network on Twitter and email. If I do all this along with eating healthy, exercising at least 20 minutes and my family is healthy and happy, it’s been a successful day. Anything beyond this is a bonus, like hearing that a project is over at Hulu, or I advanced in a contest, or a producer wants to read a script. I feel lucky to have this life. Oh, and hubby is a miracle healer and doing GREAT!
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
Understanding how this business works. I set my accomplishment bar low and if I achieve any level above that, it’s icing on the non-carb cake. It’s important to enjoy telling stories because the norm is to never see your work produced. It’s such a crapshoot to succeed so you better enjoy the act of crafting stories, or it might feel like a failure if you aren’t nominated for an Oscar. Having worked with producers, I think an important skill is to remain open to changing your story for them. I liken producer notes to when I changed my adopted daughter’s name. I made her ours with a name we’d chosen. Producers need to make your project theirs and feel that investment in the process.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
Possibly getting out of development, something I have no control over. If a producer can’t find financing or can’t get a network’s okey-dokey, I can’t help with that and feel frustrated with that end of the business. I develop ideas with producers with no script written until the producer has interest from talent.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
I chose to concentrate on screenwriting these last few years and drift away from writing novels, something that once gave me great joy. One of the rewards of screenplay and script writing happened recently. My feature The Dream Jumper’s Promise looks very close to a go. It’s been optioned twice but never have the producers approached talent or offered notes. If this movie gets made next year, it will mean I’ll finally breakthrough with the feature I love the most and that will be a beautiful bonus. Not that I don’t love my Christmas Romances, mind you!