What: “From Character to Story” workshop with author Kim Fu

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Downtown Bend Public Library, 601 NW Wall St., Bend

Cost: free, registration required

Contact: deschuteslibrary.org, 541-312-1063 or paigef@deschuteslibrary.org

What: “The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore” reading and Q&A with author Kim Fu

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Downtown Bend Public Library, 601 NW Wall St., Bend

Cost: free

Contact: deschuteslibrary.org, 541-312-1063 or paigef@deschuteslibrary.org

For Seattle-based author Kim Fu, everything starts with character.

“Character is the richest thing,” she said recently from her home in Seattle. “You always come back to the people ultimately. People are what makes fiction ultimately really compelling and memorable, and it gives you that feeling in your gut that you have connected to it.”

That comes across in her two novels, including her most recent, last year’s “The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore.” The story, which focuses on five girls who experience a traumatic incident on a kayaking trip at the titular summer camp, came to Fu after she created the characters of the five girls.

Fu will host a writing workshop on this character-first fiction model in the Brooks Room of the Downtown Bend Public Library at 11 a.m. Saturday. She will also host a reading of “The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore” and a Q&A at 2 p.m. at the same location.

She said many exercises tell writers to think about character as “a cluster of traits … as though character were independent from every other story element.”

“I want to encourage people to think of character more as integrated with other story elements,” she said.

This turned out to be easier with “For Today I am a Boy,” which tells the story of a transgender girl’s struggles and transformation growing up as the daughter of Chinese immigrants in Montreal.

“With my first novel, it was a family, so it was relatively simple to proceed from there,” she said. “If you have an understanding of how a family interacts, they’re already trapped together in a particular context, and you can follow those interactions and dynamics as they change them, as they grow, as they go forward from there. And then with my second novel, having the characters wasn’t enough. It took me a long time to figure out what their context was and how they knew each other, and so I just wrote lots of scraps of them bouncing off each other.”

Fu eventually settled on the novel’s framing device, and discarded most of the scraps she wrote as the inciting incident at the summer camp took shape.

“I wrote the camp narrative first, but that ended up needing to change completely several times with each of the girls’ narratives that I wrote,” she said. “I’m not sure if their first draft(s) were written in that order. … This is also something that I always do, is that in my first draft I’m kind of all over the place. I write very nonlinearly in bits and pieces that all fit together later. But once I have a full first draft, I do tend to rewrite more linearly. So the next nine drafts or whatever were all written in that order.”

Fu, the daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong, grew up in Canada and studied creative writing at the University of British Columbia. She said she can’t remember when she started writing.

“I have a notebook from when I was 6 that’s labeled ‘Book 2,’ so there was a notebook before that, apparently,” she said.

She does remember discovering Marjorie Kellogg’s 1968 novel “Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon,” when she was in the fourth or fifth grade.

The book, which follows the title character and two others who are discharged from a hospital at the same time and end up living together, inspired Fu with its multiple character viewpoints.

“The novel dips into the heads, at least briefly, of everyone they encounter, even their racist neighbor staring at them over the fence, and a dog on the roadside,” Fu said. “Everybody is given a moment of subjectivity and understanding, and I feel like that idea and that way of thinking about the world and about writing — not that I probably could have articulated it in fourth grade — was really, really compelling to me.”

Fu also released a poetry collection, “How Festive the Ambulance,” in 2016, and has talked in past interviews about how poetry comes easier to her than narrative fiction. However, she is working on a short-story collection after receiving a couple of commissions for short stories last year, and teased a more fantastical direction to the work than her two novels.

“I’m working on a book of short stories right now, and I’ve never really written short fiction before,” Fu said. “And I’m not writing any nonfiction or any poetry. And somebody asked me recently, ‘Do you think you’d ever write a biography?’ And I said, ‘No,’ and then I was like, ‘But you know what, I don’t know anymore.’ Maybe you’ll talk to me in two years and I’ll be like, ‘This is all I want to do, is I just want to write biographies now.’ So I do feel like my creative interests keep shifting and that’s what keeps me going.”

24151702