Kim Young writes a debut novel — and it’s full of familiar places

by Linda Hubbard on February 9, 2023

There’s nothing like a good story. And talking with newly-minted author Kim Young and reading her debut novel, In the Event of Death, you get two — one from Kim and the other from the book.

Kim, a graduate of Encinal School and Menlo-Atherton High School who lives in Atherton, set out to do what few try — write a novel — and even fewer are successful at — getting it published.

She writes about what she knows well, Menlo Park and its environs. Readers are flies on the wall as protagonist Liz Becker and business partner Gabbi Rossi transition from planning weddings/parties to memorials as a way to stay in business during the 2008 recession. They often meet at Cafe Borrone to chart their way. Beltramos (oh, how we miss it!), Trinity Church and the duck pond near the Civic Center also come into play.

Following a health scare, Kim said she realized no one is immortal — and “it’s important to do what you want to.”

With her three children launched, she made a New Year’s resolution “to write more”.  Enrolling in the Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing at Stanford was the conduit that made it happen.

“A lot of the chapters grew out of talks at class,” she says. “I got good instruction about creating dialogue and characters.”

And while the book centers on the business of death, it reverberates with life’s lessons. Kim explains:

“Ten years ago I lost my mother. The woman who was hiking the Dish goes in for a physical and is diagnosed stage four lung cancer. What really struck me — in addition to a tidal wave of grief — was all the work that accompanies death. Where to inter the ashes. What to include in an obituary. Where to have the memorial.

“I wanted to bring a certain amount of levity to the situation. The protagonist is 45 and understands event planning. She gets a call: ‘My wife has died. Will you plan her memorial?’

“It’s about what are you willing to do to keep a roof over your family’s head —  a study of survival tactics when life throws curveballs.”

You can hear Kim’s story in person at Books Inc at Town and Country Village in Palo Alto on Thursday, February 16 at 7:00 pm.

As for what’s next, she’s at work on another book, this one about a pharmacist.

Photo by Annie Barnett (c) 2023

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