Writing Work and Wine With … Catherine King

Q. Hi Catherine, thanks for popping in for a visit. So, tell us about you and your writing.

A. Hello, I am a published author of historical novels, often described as ‘gritty sagas’. They are 100,000 -120,000 words and aimed squarely at the commercial women’s fiction market. My publishers are Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown and they have, so far, taken seven of my books and contracted for an eighth. They publish in hardback, paperback, audio and e-book formats.

Before I became a novelist I trained as a scientist, taught for many years and ended up working as a lecturer and academic teaching the postgraduate certificate in teaching skills to university lecturers.

Q. Sounds interesting. How did you get published, are you agented? Tell us about your writing successes and rejections.

I would never have placed my first saga without my agent Judith Murdoch whom I met through a friend from the Romantic Novelists Association. She helped me knock my first manuscript into a good enough shape to be submitted. It still needed a lot of work but I didn’t realise that at the time! I signed a two book deal and the second one, SILK AND STEEL, was shortlisted for The Romantic Novel of the Year award in 2008. This is my most memorable writing success and it gave me the confidence to keep going.

However, I have had my share of rejections and had, at one time, given up writing romance in favour of concentrating on a ‘proper’ job. I eventually sold five contemporary romances after I had stopped writing them! I worked at my academic day job for several years before giving it up and returning to my first love of writing fiction. It was then that I opted to tackle a longer grittier historical novel. I now think of myself as a ‘career novelist’, writing a book a year for as long as I am able.

My latest paperback release is THE LOST AND FOUND GIRL (March 2012) and my next will be THE SECRET DAUGHTER, out in time for Christmas 2012. I also have a l-o-n-g short story (48 pages) called STOLEN PASSION coming out as a 99p ebook on 27 September 2012. You can read an extract at the link given below.

Q. Great. And what about your work? Do you still have the day job or do you write full-time?

Being an author is now my day job and I spend about three months of each year on research. I have a doctorate, which means I am a trained researcher, but I have to restrict myself to the research necessary for the book I am writing. This is sometimes difficult! I begin by general reading around a chosen time and place to find ideas and stimulate my imagination. I may write a few scenes as a result to help me develop my characters. I do not consciously plot. Instead I allow my characters to direct the story. It is, after all, their story but it means I have to do more specific research to verify (or otherwise!) the scenes that emerge. It is a high risk strategy because I never know what is going to happen. As I have a deadline to meet, it is also scary!

When I am actually writing the book I work on it every morning, usually until lunch time. I look forward to sitting down with my characters and telling their stories. This is the best part of being a writer as many of them feel like friends. Conversely I hate having to finish a novel. It is such a wrench to let my characters go! In the afternoon I catch up with the rest of my life. Sometimes this is writing related but if the weather is good I like to be outdoors in my garden.

I enjoy mixing with other writers and my calendar is punctuated by writing-related meetings and lunches, often (but not always!) with glass of wine.

Q. Well the RNA certainly know how to throw a good party, don’t they! Lastly can you tell us about your favourite wine?

Without doubt my favourite wine is champagne but I must be with other people who are drinking it. For me, it’s the perfect wine for celebrating. It hits the spot and doesn’t leave me with a hangover.

Thanks for sharing your journey with us Catherine, very interesting and all the best for many more books.

Read an extract from saga writer Catherine King’s exclusive 99p eBook short story at http://www.littlebrownbooks.net/read-an-extract-from-saga-writer-catherine-kings-ebook-exclusive-short-story/. You can buy Catherine’s books at http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=catherine+king on www.whsmith.co.uk and in most good book shops.

To find out more about Catherine go to her website at  http://www.catherineking.info.

I’m going off to find a sunbed next to the pool after breakfast, a cup of beer may feature around lunchtime and I’m sure I’ll manage some wine around dinner time. Take care all and happy writing, Nikki.

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