How I lead a double life

Every seven years, so it is believed, we undergo a full molecular transformation. Short of shedding skin, we find different things funny and get up in arms over different issues, we drop our old habits (even those that once amounted to an insurmountable thirty-a-day), we swop our likes and dislikes, we lose our strengths and acquire new weakness, and we emerge on the other side as someone else. As writers, we do it with even greater frequency.

If we add to it changing personal circumstances, births and deaths, marriages and breakups, house moves, job redundancies, intrepid journeys and other cataclysmic events, God knows what multitude of personalities we carry inside us! As writers, we kill and resurrect those personalities round the clock, we store them at the back of our notebooks, we chop them, mix and match them, pick and choose, buy two for the price of one, adopt them and disinherit them at a whim…

Many of them make it into our stories. They are much more realistic if we had an opportunity to live inside their heads at some point in our constantly morphing lives. They turn up on the page with ease and we are able to switch between them, dash from one to another in dialogues in which we take sides, try to talk reason and simply cannot deal with the other character’s pig-headedness. In Life Without Me I had to feed on my assertive, professional, no-nonsense self when I stepped in Georgie’s shoes and had to starve myself of any common sense whenever Paula tottered in wearing her high heels and little else. While writing the opening chapters of Swimming with Sharks I lived in my pyjamas, hiding under the bed whenever there was a knock on the door, but when Gillian marched onto the scene, I lost the pjs, got in the car and let the road rage take me to my destination (because, let’s face it, the world is full of fools I don’t suffer gladly and someone has to let them know that).

There are times when characters get under our skin. They won’t listen and they are not particularly likeable, and you really want nothing better than to kill them off. But, like I said, they don’t listen. They won’t go away. They won’t let you write them out of the story no matter how many traps you set for them. They can be exhausting, but you have to deal with them. I like to take breaks from them, offering them the traditional excuse of ‘Look, it’s not you – it’s me.’ Today I’ve been writing about Reggie, a South African mercenary with a heart wrought into a nugget of steel. I just had to throw in his way young Bella – a delicate flower of a woman who brought back tender memories – to soften the bastard up a bit. And so it goes. Sometimes I have to switch between stories, leave one to sulk in the background and reach out to another one, make new friends and remember myself to old enemies.

I know some of my characters, some of my multiple personalities, are pain-in-the-arse, incorrigible wastrels, but God forbid, someone should say that to my face. It feels like a slap, and I have to fight the urge to slap that someone back. Because my characters are my babies. Not all of them are good, or decent, or agreeable, but they are mine.

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Paula may have made it… to Heaven

My summer writing project is at an end. The first draft of my comedy novel, Paula Goes to Heaven has been completed. Just in time, as I am about say goodbye to summer holidays and re-enter the land of the living (and go back to work to earn a living – sad face).

Dead as a dodo, Paula emerged from my debut novel, Life Without Me. She was the heroine’s wayward and rather wicked sister who inadvertently committed suicide. It was really meant to be a cry for help, but Paula got carried away, and then there was no going back.

She is now on her way to Heaven, though her route to paradise isn’t as straight and narrow as she would like it to be. For one, she is re-directed to Hell and instructed to abandon all her hope. But Paula never does as she is told. Plus, she has a child to deliver from Evil.

While I am waiting for my first draft to undergo a cooling-down period before editing, I have been playing with the cover. With my new graphic tablet (that’s me finally catching up with technology!) I have mocked up two provisional covers, jut for fun. Which cover looks better?

Interview with Wiltshire Times

I am talking to Wiltshire Times about Nothing to Lose, book #2 in the DI Marsh series.

I might have a new case for DI Marsh – the mystery of the missing ‘t’. Have a look!

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Fact and fiction in Nothing to Lose – fact 1

Of course Nothing to Lose is a work of fiction and any resemblance to actual people, living or dead (dead is more likely to be the case in crime fiction), or actual events is purely coincidental. And yet something or someone real has to feed the author’s imagination…

In Nothing to Lose my imagination gorges on my fears. Real fears, if fears can be real.

The story starts with a head-on collision resulting in four deaths. That head-on collision, on that particular stretch of that particular country road had happened in my mind many a time before the book was written. Every day, travelling to work in the morning I saw that accident happen over and over again.

It is a treacherous road: after a limited length of dual carriageway where every lunatic frantically overtakes everything that moves (slower than himself), the road narrows abruptly and climbs up a steep hill, facing the morning sun which on a bright day can be blinding. Bear in mind that on the other side of the hill there are equally impatient lunatics keen to get to the top ahead of the pack, hoping that luck is on their side. I could easily be one of them (I don’t suffer Sunday-drivers on a Monday morning gladly), but then I see it happen – the head-on – and I slow down, and stay in line behind the slow coach with a belching exhaust. Call it a premonition.

After Nothing to Lose was written, a head-on collision did indeed occur in that very spot, in the dazzling midday sun. A man, having probably pushed his luck too far, ploughed into the oncoming traffic. He got away with his life. My characters did not. But that is where fiction begins.

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Nothing to Lose is now OUT and can be purchased in all major bookshops, and online on Amazon.

Out now

The importance of being idle

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I am not a natural early riser. My alarm clock and I aren’t the best of friends; more like cats and dogs. Every morning the bloody thing growls at me, digs its teeth into the delicate fabric of my dreams and shakes me awake, my dreams shattered in an instant. I fight back, best as I can. I kick and scratch, I hiss, but I stand no chance. In the end the damned yapping ankle-biter wins. I hate the bastard.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are my Fridays: late-rising days. The yapping ankle-biter is where it belongs – in a dog-house. I sleep. Dreams seep into my slowly unfolding reality. Ideas form in my well-rested brain, come and go, sometimes vanishing without a trace, leaving only a hint of themselves, a niggling something that follows me around like a scent of something I once knew, a long time ago, in my childhood. Books and stories write themselves before my closed eyes, and they are out of this world – unique, one-and-only, unimaginable. If only I could remember them…

I love my late-rising days. Idleness breeds creativity. A well-rested brain busies itself with its own occupations, because let’s face, one is never quite perfectly idle. There is always some activity. Only when we go about our daily routines, imposed on us by the circumstances of our everyday obligations, we lose that subtler, more refine side of us, that side that is so ethereal and so elusive that it evaporates on contact with the hard-biting reality (in my case, my hard-biting alarm clock), like camphor. I so love capturing it on those blessed Friday mornings. It feels like stealing, like catching beautiful butterflies in a net. It is bad and frowned up by our labour-intensive reality, but God, it feels amazing!

I can understand now why great writers need to take the risk of abandoning their day-jobs to be able to write. Writing is a take-it-all occupation, which requires late rising and altogether a form of firm detachment from time and place. It is a risky affair, an affair with impropriety, a costly affair at that! But that is the choice one has to made: forsake one’s financial security to capture those elusive snippets of dreams and stitch them into a grand new story. I bet Jane Austin never had to use an alarm clock. I don’t believe Stephen King does, either.

KAREN KING – you are what you read

A big welcome to Karen King, a romantic novelist, writing guru and, naturally, a ferocious reader. Let’s find out what lurks on the shelves of her bookshelf…

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I’ve always loved reading. I was lucky enough to live around the corner from a library when I was young and would take out four books a day in the summer holidays (the maximum limit then). I read every book in the children’s section and had to start reading them all over again. I’d read anything (apart from horror) but my favourites were funny books and adventure stories. I loved the Just William books by Richmal Crompton. I used to laugh out loud when I was reading them. I’d love to be able to write humour like that myself but it’s not my forte although I do write joke books, and there is some humour in my new chick lit ‘I Do? – or Do I?’ recently published by Accent Press.

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I loved Enid Blyton’s books too, especially the adventures of The Secret Seven and The Famous Five. These inspired me to set up my own detective agency with my two brothers when I was about ten or eleven. We called ourselves The Blue Lamp Detectives and made ourselves badges and membership cards. We toured the local area with our notebook and pencils looking for criminals and crimes to solve. Then one day we spotted a man that looked just like the photo we’d seen in the newspaper of a murderer who’d escaped from prison. Terrified, we legged it home. We lost our enthusiasm for being detectives after that.

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As I got older I read the Saint books by Leslie Charteris and Agatha Christie’s books, so my love of detective stories continued. It was this love of detective stories that inspired me to write a podcast detective series called The Amy Carter Mysteries for Top That publishing.

 

As I grew older I enjoyed reading books with feisty heroines such as Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With The Wind. I like to read about flawed characters who are basically good at heart – to me these are more credible and easier to relate too. People who mess up without meaning to. Like Cassie in my chick lit ‘I Do? – or Do I?’ and Sapphire in my YA Sapphire Blue.

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I don’t have so much time to read now, I wish I did, but when I get chance I’m quite an eclectic reader and will happily immerse myself in a variety of genres providing they’re not too wordy. I don’t want to be reading a book with a dictionary by my side. Some of my favourite authors are Sophie Kinsella, Maeve Haran, Marian Keyes, Sue Moorcroft, Mandy Baggot and Sharon Shinn – I loved her Samaria series.

My latest book

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I was over the moon when Accent Press wanted to publish my chick lit ‘I Do? – or Do I?’ and contracted me to write two more, as well as publishing my back list. Basically, ‘I Do? – or Do I?’ is – to quote Accent Press – ‘a hilarious take on Monster-In-Laws, disastrous weddings, and love triangles.’

Here’s the blurb

Local journalist Cassie is getting married to hot-shot lawyer, reliable Timothy, and his mother, Sylvia, who Cassie has nicknamed ‘Monster-in-Law’, wants to plan the entire wedding. When Sylvia books the exclusive ID Images to take photographs of the extravagant do, Cassie has no idea what she’s walking into.  The elusive JM, ID Images’ newest photographer, just so happens to be Jared, Cassie’s first love and ex-fiancé, who broke off their engagement to travel and take photos of far-reaching wonders. He’s back to pay for his next wild adventure.  Cassie decides it’s best to pretend not to know him, but when she’s asked to write an article for her newspaper, she’s tasked with a column surrounding all things wedding related. When Cassie jokingly writes a column meant for herself depicting her situation, a co-worker submits it in place of the real article and it’s soon making headlines, with readers asking the age old question – Who Will She Choose?

Buy Links

Amazon – http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01CGKLOKQ

Waterstones – https://www.waterstones.com/book/i-do-or-do-i/karen-king/9781910939345

Book Depository – http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781910939352

A bit about Karen

Karen King is member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. ‘I DO – or Do I?’ is her first chick lit for Accent Press. She’s been contracted to write two more for them.

Karen has had two other romance novels, several short stories for women’s magazine and 120 children’s books published.

Karen loves to inspire both children and adults to read and write. She is a writing tutor and a Patron of Reading for Blessed Edward Catholic College, Worcester.

When she’s not writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Karen King Children’s Books Facebook Page

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/