CHAT WITH KATHLEEN HARRYMAN

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Kathleen Harryman lives in York, England with her husband, two daughters and family dog and cat. Kathleen has always enjoyed reading, and grew up reading Enid Blyton, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven. Such stories have fueled Kathleen’s imagination, allowing her now to write her own stories.

What is your latest book?

My latest book is called The Other Side Of The Looking Glass This is my first novel, and has been published by Austin Macauley Publisher in London.

The book is a thriller based in the City of York in England, it is a story about mistaken identity, mystery and true love.

LookingGlassHow did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

The book definitely dictated the genre. And I have to say I had great fun writing it.

One of my favorite characters is Liam Thornton, who hires a hit-man to kill anyone who gets in his way. He really isn’t a nice person, which was really fun, because he would say and do things which are completely alien to me.

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

Yes, definitely! I am so excited to confirm that I have just signed a contract with Austin Macauley Publishers for a second book.

The book is called When Darkness Falls and is thriller.

This book is very different from my first book as it is about a woman serial killer.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Lots of times. That’s beauty of writing. I always have an idea of what I want the characters to be like, and then all of a sudden they will do something completely out of character that will take me by surprise. I think this keeps the characters real. I know I can relate to this.

It also makes the story more interesting for the writer, as you have to look for ways out of the situation that your characters have gone themselves and you into.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I definitely write my scenes in order, as this keeps the story flowing for me. I also feel that it also allows the characters to develop more. I think I would find it hard writing out of order and then bringing it back together.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I like to have some understanding of how the book is going to end. The setting has more flexibility, but the ending for me is very important, as I tend to work up to this; bringing everything together.

The title I’m not always so stringent with. I changed the title of The Other Side Of The Looking Glass, a few times before I felt that it was right for the book.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes. It sounds strange doesn’t it. But I find that these characters add a lot of depth to the story and give it meaning. We don’t like everyone we meet in life, for one reason or another, and for a book to connect there always has to be a character or two that you’re not going to like. To me it keeps the story real, and that’s important.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I have to say that I feel very privileged and amazingly lucky as I only ever sent my manuscript to one publisher and they were happy to publish it.

Like everyone else when I sent in my first three chapters and a synopsis off to the publishers, I was preparing myself for a rejection. I had read so many stories about how very successful authors had received a number of rejection letters before being published; that it almost felt inevitable, that I would receive one as well. In some respects, I think I was building up my defenses in readiness for a rejection.

This is why I say I was incredibly lucky to find the right publisher for my book on the first attempt.

For Austin Macauley Publishers to agree to publish my work in the first instance, it was just so wonderful. There are still times when I just can’t believe how lucky I am.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 6.10.17 PMAt BBC Radio York with Ross Dickinson

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

Feedback is so important to an author. It’s is also a very frightening thing as well.

A lady came up me to recently and said how much she had enjoyed reading my book. It was great to hear her talk about the characters as if they were real, and that she had loved the style the book had been written in.

I was so pleased, that she had connected with the story and the characters. It was a huge compliment.

KathleenReaderSigning Books at WHSmith

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I have always loved to make up stories. When I was very young I would pretend that I was an author, and that I had written lots of books.

I absolutely love writing and creating a story. Seeing the story come to life is a wonderful experience. It’s like being transported into another world, and watching the scenes unravel.

The hard part for me was finding out if I was capable of projecting my story enough to make other people love it as much as I do.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

Synopses are so hard. In a few short lines you have to sum up hundreds of pages of writing. That’s really hard to do.

Evil? Yes, its definitely like taking a trip to the dark side.

The hardest part of writing is the synopsis. You have to consider what can be left out, and what needs to be left in. A lot happens in a book, and all of a sudden you have to make someone want to consider your full manuscript in a few words. How do you do that?

It sounds impossible doesn’t it? And in some respects that is exactly what it feels like.

A manuscript could be rejected, not because it isn’t any good, but because the synopsis isn’t selling the manuscript. A synopsis is a very important selling tool.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

A cover design is what makes a book stand out, and is as important as the story within.

The book cover is what everyone is going to see first. It is what is going to make someone pick it up. This is the hard part. A story can’t sell itself it needs a cover to say ‘look at me’ and ‘come on, you know you’re interested’. Then comes the blurb at the back of the book to entice the reader even more.

I had a lot of input regarding my book cover for The Other Side Of The Looking Glass, and am completely blown away with how it turned out. I love it.

Care to brag about your family?

I have an absolutely wonderful family. I have two sisters, one of which is my identical twin, and I tell my two daughters that a sister is the best friend that they will ever have.

I had so much fun growing up, and it’s always great knowing that I have two sisters to share those times, and reminisce over.

To me family is one of the most important things in life. With family you are never truly alone, even if they don’t always get you, I know that they love me. Pretty special eh!

If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?

My dad was recently diagnosed with cancer; thankfully they caught it early and were able to operate and remove it. He is still undergoing treatment, but things are looking really good, and the doctors and everyone are really please with how he is doing. Until then didn’t really appreciate what a wonderful job the cancer charities do. So I would probably split the money between the different cancer charities and those for animal welfare.

I love animals, and I’m a real softie when it comes to their welfare. It makes me really sad to see them being mistreated, or near to extinction, or removed from their natural habitat, which is why I would split the other half of the million to give to animal welfare.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I would really love to be able to speak another language, and admire anyone that is multilingual. This is definitely a skill I would love to poses.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

I have family dog, and my biggest peeve are dog owners that don’t clean up after their dog.

When my eldest daughter was four she fell over and got covered in dog pooh, simply because an irresponsible owner hadn’t cleaned up after their dog.

Things like this shouldn’t be happening. We now even have dog bins to throw our dog pooh in, so there is no excuse.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

I love the stars, and the early morning before everyone wakes up.

I get up super early in a morning 3:30am, and it is just a lovely time of the day, the birds are chirping, and I’ve seen the odd fox and deer. It’s a pleasure worth smiling over.

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CHAT WITH JENNIFER JAYNES

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Jennifer Jaynes is the USA Today bestselling author of Never Smile at Strangers and Ugly Young Thing.

What is your latest book?

Ugly Young Thing. It’s about Allie, a disturbed sixteen-year-old orphan, who was raised by her serial killer brother. After he commits suicide, a very kind older woman named Miss Bitty takes her in and promises to give her a brighter future.

It takes Allie a while to open up and trust Miss Bitty, to even believe that it’s possible she could ever be happy since death and unhappiness have always been such a big a part of her life.

Eventually Allie learns to trust the old woman—she even learns to love her—but with women in the area turning up dead and Miss Bitty suddenly growing cold and distant, Allie begins to wonder if death has found her yet again…or if it ever really left her at all.

Ugly_Young_Thing

Is your recent book part of a series?

Ugly Young Thing includes some important crossover characters from my first book, Never Smile at Strangers, and picks up where it ends, so it will be familiar to those who have read the first book, but it can definitely be read as a standalone.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I’d say it chose me. Mysteries, particularly thrillers, are the genres that grabbed me most as a young reader.

What else have you written?

Never Smile at Strangers. It’s a serial killer thriller that begins with the disappearance of a nineteen-year-old girl in a rural Louisiana town. What I really love about this book is that we’re able to really get into the killer’s head to see his thought process and understand why he kills.

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What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

That they aren’t as talented as traditionally published authors. Some may not have had the opportunity—or perhaps have rejected the opportunity—to traditionally publish. Today, many indies are rejecting contracts. I interviewed Barry Eisler a few years back. He turned down a $500,000 contract from a Big 5 publisher in order to publish independently and has never looked back.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I like when my mind suddenly works out a story problem… or comes up with a great idea for a plot line. Those times are the best.

The least: Getting started and working through the first couple of drafts. That’s when I really have to make myself stay on task.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I’ve never written scenes in order. I generally start with the first and last scenes. I also spend weeks on the outline, filling in information as it comes to me, or transcribing notes that I’ve previously made.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

Yes, I always know the ending before I actually start. I like to know the beginning as well. The title is unimportant.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I try not to edit as I go. I want to keep the thoughts coming fast and fluid, and to keep using the left side of my brain.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes, I really despised a couple of characters.  One was Tom Anderson in Never Smile at Strangers. He was the philandering husband of a college professor I was really pulling for. There’s also a character in Ugly Young Thing, but I can’t mention the person’s name here. 😉

Authors, especially indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell very well, while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it all?

I think a lot of authors go wrong in their packaging. Their stories may be well written, intriguing, and meticulously edited, but then they choose to create their own book covers, or settle for covers that aren’t attention grabbers.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Learn how to market yourself.

Write every day.

Never rely on memory.

I can kick myself for all the times I didn’t write down an idea, a plot twist, some fantastic imagery, or some other important note about a character or his world when it came to me. Thoughts often fly into my mind, then dissolve—and are later completely irretrievable. Don’t make the same mistake. Carry a notepad, use an app on your phone; do whatever it takes to preserve your ideas. You never know what might turn into gold.

Don’t be afraid to self publish. It took many years for me to finally make the jump, but I am so incredibly glad that I finally did.

Do you have any secrets for effective time management?

I work from a To Do List and break tasks down to 30-minute chunks (or sub-tasks). My timer goes off all day long, and I’m sure my husband (who also works from home) hates it, but the timer helps me stay focused and productive. By doing this, I’m able to produce much more in three hours than most people generally produce in an entire day.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I don’t keep it a secret, but I certainly don’t let people read my first or second drafts. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. 😉

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

My twin sons. Hands down.

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Loyalty, a good heart, honesty, and passion.

Care to brag about your family?

I have a supportive husband and the most wonderful four-year-old twins in the world. My sons are completely different, but both are extremely loving. They amaze me and fill me with wonder every day.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I’d love to be able to sing well. I find that to be such a beautiful expression of the soul.

What makes you angry?

Mean-spirited people. Hatred. There is too much of that in the world today.

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

A comfy couch with fluffy pillows, candles, a bottle of wine, and my iPad (with my Kindle app open).

What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?

The Shawshank Redemption (Movie)

Silence of the Lambs (Book)

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People talking with their mouths full, smacking while eating, chewing gum with their mouths open, popping gum. (Eewww.) Whatever happened to good manners?

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Be more kind and less judgmental.

What simple pleasure(s) makes you smile?

My sons telling me they love me, making someone else smile, writing a really good scene, completing the final draft of a novel, reading a good book, discovering a new favorite author, fluffy slippers, sleeping in, sushi, coffee, wine, martinis, vanilla bean candles.

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