It’s a Small World After All: Kim and Karole’s Disney World Meet-Cute

kim and karole disney

The Set-up

Kim Karalius (author of Love Fortunes and Other Disasters): My dad always jokes that we never see anyone famous when we’re at Disney — and we go so often, that you’d think the odds would be in our favor. So when Karole mentioned that she and her family were taking a trip to Disney World, I saw the irony in the situation and hoped for the best when I asked if she’d be game for meeting up (“asked” is a weak word. I’m pretty sure I did that over Twitter, with at least one word in all caps). When she said yes, I was beyond thrilled. Not only would I be meeting a fellow Swoon Reads author for the first time, but I’d also be meeting a friend. What better place to meet than Disney? (Of course, the fact that Karole is, in fact, a huge Disney fan, made this experience even better).

Karole Cozzo (author of How to Say I Love You Out Loud): As soon as Kim heard that my family was going to be in Disney, she said, ‘Okay, we haaave to meet up!” I was thrilled. There’s a special camaraderie among the Swoon authors — perhaps because it feels like a true community on the site, perhaps because we’re all first time authors going through the experience together, perhaps just because it happens to be a really awesome group!— and I jumped at the opportunity to meet face-to-face. Even better that our meeting could take place somewhere as awesome as Disney.

kim signing

karole signing

The Meeting

Karole: The Magic Kingdom is a wonderfully overwhelming place! And definitely, you feel surrounded by magic, like you’re inside an enchanted world. This was all the more clear when the crowds parted at the exact scheduled time… and there was Kim! The place became smaller at once. It really took the stars and moons aligning for us to find a time to meet that worked at both ends, and I didn’t take the opportunity for granted. It was a blast talking to her, as a fellow writer and resident Disney expert. And her Mom! She showed up in dangly Tinkerbell earrings, for crying out loud — what’s not to love? I’m pretty bummed I’m unable to participate in the Summer of Swoon tour, and it was an incredibly special moment to hold our books up and celebrate both our successes, together. Kim became a fast friend over the internet, and I’m so excited for her release next month!

Kim: Even though I like to pretend that Disney’s my backyard, the truth is that it’s an hour’s drive from my house. If the traffic is okay. Sunday’s traffic was not okay. By the time my mom (who graciously agreed to go with me) and I arrived at the Magic Kingdom, the Spring Break crowds were in full swing and the park was packed to the brim. Magic Kingdom will always be the most crowded of the parks, but never more so than on the big holidays, and I’ve lived in Florida long enough to know that Spring Break is a holiday to be reckoned with. We half-ran, half-weaved our way to our meeting place at It’s a Small World.

As we looked for Karole, my mom asked, “Do you know what she looks like?” Of course I did. And while a little voice in the back of my head had been worried that I wouldn’t recognize her, it was a silly voice. Because the crowd parted for me too. And there was Karole, standing with her family right outside of the FastPass entrance for It’s a Small World.

Funny story: When we were emailing up to the trip, Karole warned me that she might be frazzled and less-than-her-Karoley-self when we met for obvious, vacation-related reasons. But my first thought when I saw her was that she looked so calm. So unlike many of the anxious tourists brandishing maps and stepping on toes. Karole wore a mega-watt smile on her face when we shouted hello at each other. We met pretty early in the morning, and yet her perfect planning had gotten her family on at least four rides already. I was in awe. I know how hard that is, especially in the Magic Kingdom.

Fun fact: Karole is short like me. I was not expecting that! *laughs*

The Take-Away

Kim: I have a signed ARC of How to Say I Love You Out Loud. Literally. Which is pretty awesome, because I know I’ll be rereading Karole’s book over and over, and feeling a second wave of excitement for her when her book comes out in August (get ready to meet Alex, ladies and gents. You will swoon).

Out of any place we could have chosen to meet, It’s a Small World is most fitting. Karole and I might have never met if we both didn’t share a love for writing, a tenacious streak, and being lucky enough to have been chosen both by readers and Swoon Reads for publication. It still feels like an amazing dream. Even more so that Karole and I were sitting next to each other on the boat, bobbing our heads to the music and watching the creepy-cute animatronics do their thing. People poke fun at that ride, but you know? I never felt the truth of it until meeting Karole. It really can be a small world. I can’t wait to meet the Swoon Authors, and see Karole again. Maybe next time we travel the world again at Epcot!

kim karole kastle

Karole: Living the writing life, it’s quick and easy to connect with people online. After all, we love to write! It’s no surprise that emails fly fast and frequent. But… on the flip side… there’s something lost in that this “job” can be done from anywhere, that most communication can take place online or over the phone. At times, the actual human interaction and face-to-face writing community activity is incredibly low. That’s why it was so meaningful to give Kim a hug, right under the It’s a Small World sign, to hear her voice and have actual conversation. It wasn’t just our pictures posted besides our titles under the “Second List,” we stood next to each other and got to hold up our books. Indeed, meeting Kim was an important and special reminder that it’s a small world after all, and we may not have the opportunity to hang out in person often, but the possibility’s always out there.

The Interview

What Disney couple makes you swoon the most?

Kim: Jessica and Roger Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I’m not usually a fan of “opposites attract,” but there’s something about this couple’s odd dynamic that made me love them from the first time I saw this movie as a kid. Roger’s not swoonworthy in the typical sense — he’s a clumsy goof who attracts trouble — and yet Jessica fell in love and married him. As she tells Detective Valiant, he makes her laugh.

While Roger’s love for Jessica is obvious, Jessica is more reserved, and with good reason. At the risk of her own reputation, Jessica takes matters into her own hands to protect Roger. These two would do anything for each other. Plus, they’re so cute together. I mean, carrot cake. Come on.

Karole: Honestly? After seeing the new Cinderella movie, Ella and Kit totally stole the “Most Swoonworthy” title in my opinion. However, if we’re sticking to the classics, I have to go with Ariel and Eric.

There is a part in the movie (starting around 1:15 in this clip) when Ariel lays eyes on him for the first time. The music changes slightly. And so does her face. If that expression doesn’t capture “love at first sight,” I don’t know what does. The fact that they were able to accomplish this with animation is swoonworthy in and of itself! Anyway, I love how passionately they fight for one another, refusing to give up on their search for one another and fighting to be together against all odds. I also think there’s something really special and honest about Ariel’s relationship with Triton, and a particular kind of father/daughter love is also captured in this one — it’s incredibly bittersweet for a father to realize his daughter’s heart is now being held by another man, and Triton coming to trust Eric and sacrifice for his daughter makes this relationship all the more beautiful.

little mermaid

Disney’s Voyage of the Little Mermaid ride


Kim: In honor of the new Cinderella movie: As debut authors involved in the unique Swoon Reads experience, I think we can relate with Cinderella’s journey. How do you compare your story to hers?

Karole: This question is so perfect, Kim — you have no idea!

The day after I got “the call” from Jean and Holly, I sent them an email thanking them for restoring my belief in the beauty of dreams.

I told them how my daughter was forever dancing around in her Cinderella dress, singing “have faith in your dreams and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through.” Sometimes, as an aspiring author, that concept is really frustrating and heartbreaking. Some days it feels like that faith is never going to produce. I compare rejection letters to that moment when Cinderella is crying at the well — she’s started to lose faith, started to see dreams as frivolous and useless. Most of us have had that moment, that crisis of faith. It actually hurts to keep believing, because you start wondering if you’re a fool for dreaming. I’ve definitely been there.

But if you keep plugging, and refuse to give up, your dreams can come true, and they can come true through an avenue you might never have anticipated, just like Cinderella. And when that day comes, it’s not only the success that feels wonderful, it’s exactly what I said above, that the concept of dreaming becomes beautiful and powerful again.

So yes. I definitely can feel Cinderella’s experiences.

Karole: In Love Fortunes, Sebastian has a knack for discovering peaceful secret spots around Grimbaud — what’s an undiscovered, or underrated gem at Disney?

Kim: There are definitely many secret spots around Disney World. They won’t be tourist-free, but sometimes you’ll pass between buildings or discover an interesting detail in the shop decorations that make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a story. But since we’re in the Magic Kingdom, I’ll limit my answer to something practical and fun: the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover ride. It’s a moving tram that runs over the tops of the Tomorrowland buildings, and takes you behind the scenes of some of the rides. Sebastian would approve of this ride being a secret spot since it’s up and away from all the noise and crowds. When the tram goes inside the buildings, you’ll see some funny and interesting depictions of the future, and each one has stayed the same from when I was little.

Kim: In How To Say I Love You Out Loud, how fun was it to write Jordyn’s rival in love, Leighton? I loved her character (as much as I could, considering how hard I was rooting for Jordyn).

Karole: Oh my gosh, I loved writing Leighton. I didn’t want her to be this one-dimensional “mean girl,” and I hoped I accomplished giving her a distinct personality beyond that. There are those uber-confident girls in high school, those girls who are very direct and sure at an age when many are not, and yeah, they’re scary! But I wanted Leighton’s character to illustrate something Jordyn needed to learn, and it’s something that Alex comments on in their big confrontation scene — Leighton may not be perfect, but at least she speaks her mind. At least she is honest about her feelings. It doesn’t necessarily make her the best person in the world, but you can’t argue that she’s not real. I had so much fun coming up with what was going to come out of her mouth next — she can be so caustic and intimidating!

Karole: You’ve created so many cool female characters in Love Fortunes — is there a character who has a lot of “Kim” in her?  If so, who, and in what ways?

Kim: I’m probably most like Hijiri. She’s quiet and dependable when it matters, though she keeps to herself and her charm-making more than she should at times. I hope I’ve grown out of the worst of my hermit-like habits, but writing is not the profession to help with that!

Kim: On your blog, you say that your husband proposed to you dressed up as Peter Pan. I NEED to know this story. How did it happen?

peter pan

*Disclaimer: Disney Peter Pan: not my husband.

Karole: I do have a personal picture for this one, but many years ago I promised I wouldn’t share it, and I think posting it on a blog would definitely violate that promise. (It’s wonderful blackmail material though, so obviously I still have it.)

So the story. My husband has a very playful side and is incredibly easily amused by childish things. When we were dating, I often diagnosed his “Peter Pan complex,” stating my belief that he’d never grow up. When he proposed, he decided to prove to me that even Peter Pans do grow up, so when he emerged with the ring, he did so in brown leggings, green tunic, and feathered cap. It was so thoughtful and original — definitely swoonworthy!

Since then, he has proven that Peter Pans can grow up, in some regards anyway. Now that we have kids, it’s great to be married to someone with Peter Pan genes. He’s the go-to one for being silly, for getting into trouble behind Mom’s back, for doing something fun and spontaneous when I’m being the heavy. Peter Pans make really good daddies!

Karole: You’re a romance writer, and you dedicated your book to those who are looking for love. What’s the one thing a real-world guy could do to sweep you off your feet or make you swoon?

Kim: A real-world guy would have to have a healthy dose of nerdy curiosity to make me swoon. I can’t expect any cute guy I meet to share the same fandoms as me, but if he’s open, and even excited, to try watching a few episodes of Gotham or stay up late debating over favorite childhood books, then that’s an instant swoon for me.

Kim: What would be your advice to a writer juggling work and writing?

Karole: Four words: Don’t lose the love. It can definitely get stressful, trying to balance, trying to find the time, especially when you’re in what I call “mad artist mode,” where, if you had the time, you could sit down and go to town on a story for days on end. Not being able to do so can bring about a particular kind of frustration. But if you let the negative feelings overtake the love that inspires you to write in the first place, all joy is lost from the process. So accept reality. You might not get to write as much or often as you want to. You might not finish a draft as quickly as you’d hoped. This is real life, and many of us have, and need, day jobs. But by accepting your limitations and finding the time where you can, you do stand a hope of remaining passionate about your writing rather than obligated to it.

Karole: You have a full-time job, and like me, have to find time to pursue your passion in your little free time. Sometimes, writing is sacrifice. Is there anything you’ve had to give up in the name of pursuing your dream?

Kim: Many things. The first to come to mind is video games. I used to play them almost every day in high school. But with a fulltime job and writing, my poor RPGs are collecting dust in their cases.

There are also the small things — not being able to meet up with friends except on weekends, having to schedule and prioritize errands because I don’t have time to get them all done, etc. The tough part about fulltime jobs is literally the time. Eight hours sitting in front of a computer. Not writing.

But boy does it ever feel like magic when I do write! I try to make the most of every minute I get.

Kim: Since we didn’t spend the whole day together, you must tell me this — share the best story you had meeting a Disney princess during your vacation.

Karole: My favorite up close and personal princess story involves our meeting of Belle, during Belle’s Enchanted Tales. The experience was a blast because it provides for so much audience interaction and you get a lot of face time with Belle. In short, audience members are selected to fulfill the roles of the various cast members from Beauty and the Beast to “act out” for Belle the story of how she met and fell in love with the Beast. My mom got selected to portray Madame La Grande Bouche, which is rather perfect for her, haha. My daughter was picked to be the Beast. At first she looked crestfallen, because I don’t think she realized this would afford her the opportunity to “co-star” in the experience with Belle. At the end of the re-enactment, they dimmed the lights and my daughter got to walk down the center aisle, bow before Belle, and share the spotlight dance to the Beauty and the Beast theme song with Belle. It was the best, such a highlight! Afterward, when we all got to meet Belle, she was as gracious and kind as you’d expect from her, a true princess. This was the most personal experience for all of us, and definitely the best! (Although I do wish I’d been able to hand off a copy of How To Say to Disney’s resident bookworm!)


Disney’s Enchanted Tales with Belle


Karole: Your release date is right around the corner. What will this day mean to you and how will you celebrate?

Kim: May 12th is when Love Fortunes and Other Disasters is hitting stores! I think this day will mean earaches, sitting next to strangers on the airplane, and surprises from Swoon Reads on the first day of the Summer of Swoon book tour. It’s surreal to know that I won’t be in Florida for the release of my book. Celebrating with my family and friends will have to wait until I return! Eating somewhere special would be nice, like a tea room or something. And there’s always Disney!


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