Author Q&A

Kelly Rimmer is the brilliant novelist behind Before I Let You Go; and she’s taking the contemporary women’s fiction world by storm.

Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today bestselling women’s fiction author and has sold more than 600,000 digital copies of her previous four novels: her novels have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Tell us a little about your book. What inspired you to write it? What was your most joyous moment and your most difficult challenge?

Before I Let You Go is the story of two very different sisters, dealing with the impact of addiction together. I was originally inspired to write about addiction by my late uncle’s struggles with substance abuse—however, as soon as I started researching, I discovered that some US states have laws which criminalize the use of drugs during pregnancy. I became fixated on that issue and the story took on a slightly different focus than I’d initially intended!

My most difficult challenge was writing the character of Annie, the sister who struggles with addiction. I wanted to write Annie without judgement – to write her as if I was in her shoes because I really could be… any one of us could be. But at the same time, I wanted to portray a realistically ugly picture of drug dependency, so I had to take her to some very dark places. Balancing all of that was immensely challenging.

And my most joyous moment was actually when my dad read the manuscript just after I finished it. I wanted to give him the opportunity to read it first because I knew I’d dedicate the book to his brother, my uncle – but Dad doesn’t generally read my books and I wasn’t sure if he’d finish it, let alone enjoy it. He was texting me as he was reading it, and getting his feedback was one of the pinnacles of my writing career.

Are you working on anything new? Tell us about it.

I’m currently editing my as-yet-untitled 2019 book. It’s the story of a young couple in occupied Poland during WW2—and the story of a modern-day woman who seeks to solve a mystery from her grandmother’s past.

We cooked Alabama Slow Cooked BBQ ribs for your lunch with us – can you tell us why you love this recipe?

Slow-cooker BBQ pork ribs are a favourite in my family, served with decadently buttery mashed potatoes – and steamed broccoli and corn so we can pretend we’re being a tiny bit healthy! This recipe is doesn’t appear in the book, but the region fits, given most of the story is set in Alabama. It’s simple, but tasty …

Do you love cooking? What are your favourite family recipes?

I do love cooking, although I am notorious for writing all day, and losing track of time until about 5pm when I realise the kids are about to start eating the furniture and I need to very quickly whip up dinner. For this reason, I rely on some simple healthy recipes that can be prepared very quickly. These are in high rotation most of the time in my household!

But as for favourite family meals – just before Christmas every year, my mother’s family descends on my uncle’s home in Sydney for a party. We call it ‘Polish Christmas’. The meal is a fusion of Australian Christmas food and traditional Polish dishes – your standard roast meats, but also things like sauerkraut and cabbage rolls, and generally a few different takes on sledzi (pickled herrings). My favourite dishes from this legendary dinner would have to be pierogi, and my cousin’s ‘pink sledzi salad’ – which is pickled herrings in cream with onion, beetroot and apple. It’s an acquired taste …!

Tell us a story about yourself that revolves around food. For example, what was your favourite food as a child? What’s been your biggest cooking disaster/triumph? Who taught you to cook?

As a child, I hated onions with a passion. I would have a meltdown if there was even a sliver of onion visible in a dish, probably because one of my earliest memories is of my grandmother convincing me to try her “potato and salad sandwich”. There were thick slices of what she assured me was cooked potato on there…but then I took a bite and – gasp! It was raw brown onion!!

When I was 9 or 10, my mother made for the first time her now-famous braised steak – which comprises masses of sliced onions, slow cooked in a rich gravy, with thick, juicy steaks. It’s delicious – but the first time Mum made it, I saw the onions and rather vocally refused to eat it (one might accurately describe my reaction as an “epic tantrum”). Inevitably, was sent to my room.

I read a book for a while until I got hungry, at which point I quietly snuck out and actually tried the meal. My mother has never let me forget this story, because braised steak is now my favourite dish for her to cook for me, and these days, she gives me extra onions because I love them so much!

What is your favourite cookbook? Why?

For Christmas last year, my eight-year-old son received a copy of the Jolly Good Food – a book of recipes inspired by the stories of Enid Blyton. It’s currently my favourite cook book because we use it to cook together.

Favourite word?


Favourite delicious treat or dessert?

Anything chocolate, in fact, the more chocolate the better.

Death-bed meal?

Mum’s braised steak … yes, with extra onions.