The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Perfect Summer: An Interview with Karen King

Today I’m delighted to welcome Karen King over for a coffee and a chat. Not only has Karen got a brand new YA novel out – but it is published TODAY!!

I thought I’d ask Karen a few questions about her book and her writing in general. Let’s grab a cuppa, and get talking…

What’s your writing process?

Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog, Jenny, to talk about my YA Perfect Summer. As I write romance novels and children’s books too, people often ask me if I find it difficult to write for different genres, and how I go about writing so I thought that might be a good thing to talk about today.

 

Whatever I am writing I always abide by two rules: know your market, know your reader. It’s something I’ve adhered to over thirty plus years of being published, because I’ve often written commissioned work, so have followed someone else spec, and sometimes in a genre I’ve never written for before. For example, in my years of writing for children I’ve worked on many children’s magazines and written picture books, fiction, educational readers, activity books, joke books and plays. Long ago I decided that the best way to tackle these projects was to ‘know my market and know my reader’. My writing students call this my mantra!

I think it’s really important to have a knowledge of the market I’m writing for. If you’ve never read a YA novel then I would think it’s difficult to write one, especially if you’re not a teenager yourself. Similarly, with a contemporary romance, or a picture book. I think this research is vital. It’s no good writing a 2,000 word story for the picture book market, for example, as it’s far too long. So whatever I’m writing, whether it’s a YA, a romance or a picture book I always read several modern books in the same genre, so that I get the feel of the characters, how the plots are executed, the vocabulary used, etc.

I like to have a picture of the reader I’m writing for in my mind. For a YA novel the reader will be a teenager – I know a lot of adults read YA too but the intended audience is a teenager. So I make sure I familiarise myself with the teenage world, their emotions, the vocabulary they use. If I’m writing a chick lit then the target audience will probably be a young woman under 40 (although yes, lots of women over 40 read them), picture book readers will usually be six or under.

What about the characters and plot?

Before I actually start writing, I make sure I know my character really well. I complete a character profile for all my main characters, detailing not only their age and appearance but their personalities, family background, likes and dislikes. I do mood boards on Pinterest too, which helps me really get a feel for the story. You can see some of my WIP boards here https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/

I need to know my characters before I write, so that I can write from ‘inside their head’ and know how they will react to any situation. Then I do a brief plot outline – this is flexible and bits will often be changed as I write – and off I go!

Do you revise as you go or afterwards?

The most important thing for me is to get the story out of my head and down onto paper/the screen so I always get my first draft down, then go over it and revise and rewrite. I read it over once it’s finished and make notes on what needs revising. I probably revise at least four times because I look for different things each time, how the story pans out, characterisation, dialogue, continuity etc before a final check for typos and grammar mistakes.

Did you have to do much research for Perfect Summer?

As the plot involves organ transplants I had to do a bit of research on that. The most difficult thing I found about writing this story is that it’s set about thirty years in the future so I had to try and guess what technology would be available then, and then found that technology moved faster than I imagined! The first edition of Perfect Summer was published a few years ago so I’ve now updated it for this new edition.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I use both, it depends what I’m writing, Most of my younger children’s books are written in third person as are my romances, whereas Perfect Summer is written in the first person viewpoint. I started it in third person but it just didn’t flow right, Morgan’s voice didn’t come out strong enough. So I changed to first person and I was away. I think first person viewpoint can be more immediate and give a pacier read, which is ideal for my YA stories.

Thanks for interviewing me, Jenny.

***

Blurb

Set in a society obsessed with perfection, 15 year old Morgan is best friends with the seemingly perfect Summer. But when Morgan’s brother, Josh, who has Down’s syndrome, is kidnapped, they uncover a sinister plot and find themselves in terrible danger.

Can they find Josh before it’s too late? And is Summer’s life as perfect as it seems?

 

What people are saying about Perfect Summer

‘This book was amazing, as it was easy to relate to the characters, and it put a perfect twist on society’s obsession with perfection.’ Shehayamsani – Litpick reviewer.

‘King does an amazing job of writing about the discrimination children with disabilities face’  http://strollinginstoryland.blogspot.co.uk/

I was really taken away by this book – it is full of excitement, danger, shocks, gripping scenes and a thick plot. It is a truly brilliant story, with some fun – but SO realistic – characters. It makes the reader think – could the future turn out to be something like this?? Bookworm1, Amazon UK review

‘The story line was fascinating and kept my attention. Could also be a good book club discussion book.’ Donna – More Than A Review

***

Extract

Later that evening, totally beautified, flawlessly made up and dressed in our finery, we got into a hire car with Leo and Tamara and set off for Roxy’s. As we drove along the riverbank towards the exclusive nightclub, I noticed the trail of glamorous people winding along the pavement like a colourful, exotic snake. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. When we got nearer, and I saw how stunning the girls in the waiting queue were, the butterflies took flight and my stomach went with them.

“Look at all those people waiting to get in,” I stammered. “What if we’re turned away?”

Leo smiled at me. “How could they turn away two gorgeous girls like you?”

I hoped he was right. I didn’t think I’d get over the humiliation if I was. Not only would it be cringingly embarrassing, it would also ruin the evening for everyone as Summer and her family would probably leave with me.

The hire car dropped us outside the building, then Leo and Tamara led us right to the front of the queue, the stares and whispers from people as we walked past made me feel like a celebrity. Two bouncers barred the doorway, legs wide, arms crossed. One was an exotic flame-haired woman dressed in a slinky black dress with slits right up to the thighs. The other, a drop-dead gorgeous blond hunk, wore tight black trousers and a white shirt open to the waist to reveal a tanned, toned torso. I was so nervous I thought I was going to be sick. But I needn’t have worried. The bouncers both gave us wide smiles.  The man said, “Good to see you again, Mr Maddison, Ms Price.” Then they stepped aside to let us through, without a second glance. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually going into a nightclub, and not just any old nightclub, the nightclub. I felt like I was floating on air.

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mMXTzI 

Author Bio

Karen King is the author of over 120 children’s books and has had two YA’s published, Perfect Summer and Sapphire Blue. Perfect Summer was runner up in the Red Telephone Books YA novel competition in 2011 and has just been republished by Accent Press.

Karen is also the author of two romance novels, and has been contracted for three chick lit novels by Accent Press. The first, I do?… or do I? was published in 2016 and the second, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, is due out in the Summer. In addition, Karen has written several short stories for women’s magazine and worked for many years on children’s magazines such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh as well as the iconic Jackie magazine.

When she isn’t 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 Young Adult Books

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenkingauthor/?hl=en

***

Many thanks for coming along today Karen- especially as it’s release day for Perfect Summer today!

Good luck with your new novel,

Jenny x


Abi’s Neighbour Blog Tour: 8th-13th May 2017

My new novel is on tour!!

I’m delighted to be able to announce that from the 8th-13th May I will be at the following blog sites with a different blog about Abi’s Neighbour. I’ll be talking about my inspiration, the characters, and Cornwall. I’ll also be letting you in on a few snippets from my own ‘real’ life.

I’d be delighted if you could join me on me as I pop from blog to blog!

Jenny xx


OUT NOW! Abi’s Neighbour

My second Cornish novel of friendship, romance, fun, and cream teas, is OUT TODAY!

Abi’s Neighbour– the follow up to Abi’s House, continues the story of Abi Carter, and her new friends Max, Beth, Jacob, Stan and Sadie the Golden Retriever.

Set in the Penwith area of Cornwall, the sun is shining and the fish and chips have been ordered, ready for Abi’s next big adventure.

BLURB

Abi Carter has finally found happiness. Living in her perfect tin miner’s cottage, she has good friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, Max. Life is good. But all that’s about to change when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Cassandra Henley-Pinkerton represents everything Abi thought she’d escaped when she left London. Obnoxious and stuck-up, Cassandra hates living in Cornwall. Worst of all, it looks like she has her sights set on Max.

But Cassandra has problems of her own. Not only is her wealthy married lawyer putting off joining her in their Cornish love nest, but now someone seems intent on sabotaging her business.

Will Cassandra mellow enough to turn to Abi for help – or are they destined never to get along?

***

So how am I celebrating today?

Well, obviously I’m starting with a generously sized cup of black coffee…and I was thinking that later I might treat myself to a cream tea. As I’m in Devon however, I’ll have to be a good girl and have it the local way and not the Cornish way – I don’t want to be thrown out of the café after all!

My real celebration will happen tomorrow, when I meet up with my lovely friends from University for a reunion. These are the very special people who influenced (and all appear in) my Another Cup of… series. I can’t think of better folk to help me raise a glass of bubbly to my latest novel.

Next week there will be a blog tour- I will post details in a few days time.

There will be some book events soon as well. I’ll be selling copies of Abi’s Neighbour in Tiverton, Devon on 23rd June as part of the literary festival (time to be confirmed), and I’ll be in Chippenham, Wiltshire, at the library on June 30th. I’ll shout out about both these events very soon!

In the meantime- thank you all for your support! If you lovely folk didn’t buy my books, then I wouldn’t be asked to write any more!

If you’d like to buy Abi’s Neighbour (which can be read as a standalone novel, or after reading Abi’s House), then it is available from all good book shops and online retailers.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-Neighbour-Jenny-Kane/dp/178615028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487006698&sr=1-1&keywords=abi%27s+neighbour

https://www.amazon.com/Abis-Neighbour-Jenny-Kane/dp/178615028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487006868&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+Neighbour+by+Jenny+Kane

***

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 


OUT TOMORROW: Abi’s Neighbour

It’s always exciting when a new book comes out. All that work; all the hours spent writing, editing, planning, worrying, and perfecting your story, can finally be seen to have come together in one gorgeous finished product.

This is one of the reasons it is so exciting for an author to have a paperback publication. It’s great to have a new Kindle book out- but you do miss out to an extent when you can’t actually weigh the finished object in your hands. I’m pleased to report that Abi’s Neighbour not only looks great, but it feels good and has that wonderful ‘new book’ aroma.

Just look at these beauties – I’m over the moon. I also am very aware of how lucky I am to have them!

Not only will Abi’s Neighbour be going into book shops as well as being available online, but I’m privileged to have an endorsement by the brilliant romance writer, Katie Fforde, on the front cover. It’s like all my Christmas’s have come at once!

Blurb

Abi Carter has finally found happiness. Living in her perfect tin miner’s cottage, she has good friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, Max. Life is good. But all that’s about to change when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Cassandra Henley-Pinkerton represents everything Abi thought she’d escaped when she left London. Obnoxious and stuck-up, Cassandra hates living in Cornwall. Worst of all, it looks like she has her sights set on Max.

But Cassandra has problems of her own. Not only is her wealthy married lawyer putting off joining her in their Cornish love nest, but now someone seems intent on sabotaging her business.

Will Cassandra mellow enough to turn to Abi for help – or are they destined never to get along?

***

Buy links can be found here

I’ll pop off now to try and calm down – or by launch day tomorrow I’ll be too over-excited to celebrate!!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


End of the Month Blog from Nell Peters: Amazing April

It’s that time again! Nell Peters is here, and she has produced another corking end of the month round up for us.

So, pop the kettle on, settle down, and have a read!

Over to you Nell…

Hello, possums!

That cringe-worthy Dame Edna intrusion was unsubtly included so I could link to something that caught my eye, while I was researching 30th April events – ergo, a New Zealand racing driver called Possum Bourne died on this day in 2003, while driving non-competitively.

Possum! My imagination soared into flights of fancy about the possible monikers of other family members – maybe dad Giraffe, brothers Weasel and Aardvark, sister Panther (better than Cougar!), and Granny Meerkat, to name but a few – before I Googled him and found to my great disappointment that Possum was in fact a nickname for the rather more prosaically named, Peter Raymond George Bourne. Drat. Peter became Possum after he crashed his mum’s car, while trying to avoid a possum in the road. How deflating – hopefully not literally for the daredevil possum. Incidentally, there were three children from Possum’s marriage to Peggy (boring!) – Taylor (meh), Spencer (meh) and Jazlin (much better!)

Winging back to Barry Humphries’ alter ego, my late father-in-law was Australian and when he married and settled in London (for about a decade, before the family upped sticks for Johannesburg) his mother, Marjorie, decided to follow (possibly the reason the rest of the family fled the UK for SA) – leaving her second husband to contemplate his navel in Sydney. Marjorie was Dame Edna personified – complete with the glasses – and her accent could grate cheese (not to mention nerves) from a distance of several thousand yards. She was a strapping Sheila and mega pretentious – slightly incongruous in someone whose dress ‘style’ was not so much shabby chic, as thrift store reject. The abandoned husband was called Horsfield (the first spouse having expired at an early age, possibly from embarrassment and/or burst eardrums) and predictably the OH and his siblings called their grandmother Gee-Gee, which Marjorie romanticised to Gigi. Most ridiculous of all, ‘Gigi’ used to colour her hair (or mane) the darkest shade of unnatural brown, because she was ludicrously vain and lied outrageously about her age. Actually, she lied outrageously about everything – quite an interesting psych study, if you like that sort of thing. I think I’ll stick with serial killers. Gigi was in her seventies when I first knew her and her face was deeply lined and wrinkled, presumably from the Australian sun, so that she looked every minute of that – and beyond. Not even the most gullible myopic would have been fooled by that OTT home dye job, but her egocentric nature would never let her contemplate as much.

Ray Polhill – My brother in law

Enough of the loony in-laws – though I do have enough material for several books, so watch this space. To be fair, however (and to the best of my knowledge) none of them have ever been banged up for murder – unlike actor Leslie Grantham, of Dirty Den/EastEnders fame, who celebrates his seventieth birthday today. It was while he was serving a ten stretch in Leyhill Prison, that Grantham became interested in acting as a career, after appearing in several inmate plays. On release, he studied at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art – my ex brother-in-law went there too, but not at the same time. (The ex-b also appeared in EastEnders briefly – as a barman, plus he was footballer Wayne Farrell in Corrie. I’ve played footie with him in the garden and he’s rubbish! He’s perhaps best known as the biker in 2.4 Children.) I’ve only ever seen EE twice – Christmas specials when one of the daughters-in-law was staying and insisted that everything stopped so that she could watch the box. Cheeky! As I remember, it was guaranteed that a character or two met a grisly end, which doesn’t truly embrace the Christmas spirit.

Sharing the birthday are Merrill Osmond (1953) – yes, one of those Osmonds, New Zealand film director Jane Campion (1954) and Canadian actor, Paul Gross (1959), who played RCMP Benton Fraser in Due South. On the very same day, Stephen Harper was born in Toronto – he grew up to be the twenty-second Canadian Prime Minister from 2006-15. When I lived in Montreal, Pierre Trudeau was PM – now it’s his son, Justin. Good grief, I’m ancient!

Talking of leaders – OK, dictator in this case – Adolf Hitler picked this day to commit suicide by gunshot in 1945, ten days after his fifty-sixth birthday and shortly before Germany’s unconditional surrender in WWII.

His new wife, Eva Braun also committed hara-kiri by munching a cyanide capsule – I wonder if she had a choice? Quotes from the megalomaniac include, ‘Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.’ Plus, ‘If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.’ And finally, ‘He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.’ All of which are horribly prophetic.

Poignantly, Anne Frank’s diary was published in English on 30th April, 1952, initially entitled The Diary of a Young Girl – an account of a Jewish teenager living in hiding with seven others, all fearing for their lives in occupied Holland. The book first came out in Dutch in 1947, under the title Het Achterhuis (The Secret House) courtesy her father Otto, who survived the concentration camps – but as we know, Anne died before her 16th birthday in 1945, in Bergen-Belsen.

1492 is a year that should ring bells with anyone who has ever opened a history book, and on this particular day, Italian maritime explorer, Christopher Columbus was given permission to equip his fleet of three ships – the Santa Maria, Pinta and Nina – after signing a contract with the Spanish to set sail for the ‘Indies’, in an attempt to find a western route to Asia. Born a Scorpio, (30th October, 1451) and if you believe astrological profiles, CC was a good choice for the voyage of discovery, being passionate, decisive, assertive and determined. If typical of the sign, he should also have been a good leader, who researched until he found the truth. Scorpio is a water sign – just as well, for someone who navigated the oceans blue.

En route for the New World, the fleet docked in the Canary Islands before sailing on to island-hop around the Caribbean, discovering all sorts of places that are now exotic holiday destinations, having failed to spot Florida when they changed course. Well, no one is perfect – perhaps the Sat Nav was playing up. On Christmas Day 1492, the flagship Santa Maria ran aground and sank on Hispaniola – perhaps not the gift from Santa they were hoping for – and on Boxing Day (though it didn’t yet exist and was merely 26th December) Columbus founded the first Spanish settlement in the New World, La Navidad (now Möle-Saint-Nicholas.) This was the first of his four expeditions to the New World; the last cast off in 1502, four years before he died in Spain, on terra firma.

The Watergate Affair (see what I did there?) began in June 1972, when five men were arrested in the early hours, breaking into the Democratic Party’s Watergate headquarters in Washington. They were caught with photographic equipment and bugging devices, and during the following months connections between several of the suspects were made to parts of the Republican power structure. This day in 1973, Richard Milhous Nixon (President, Republican, and aka Tricky Dicky) took full responsibility for the operation but denied any personal involvement. Well he would, wouldn’t he, to slightly paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies of Profumo Affair notoriety. In a speech broadcast to Americans he vowed to get to the bottom of the matter, famously saying: ‘There will be no whitewash at the Whitehouse.’ Nice one, Tricky!

There were resignations and sackings galore, culminating in Nixon’s own resignation in August 1974 – which saved him the embarrassment of being impeached. God bless America … Oh, thought I’d just mention here that the Vietnam War ended on 30th April 1975.

Staying across the pond, while Nixon was the 37th President of the US, on this day in 1789 George I-Cannot-Tell-A-Lie Washington was inaugurated as the first, at Federal Hall in New York City – which was at that time the capital. Descended from English gentry, George was born in colonial Virginia to Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary, who were wealthy owners of tobacco plantations and slaves. He followed a glittering military career before turning to politics, and was unanimously selected for the presidency by the Electoral College. He swore the oath ‘I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,’ and then ad-libbed the words ‘so help me God.’

Washington was privately opposed to slavery and introduced The Slave Trade Act of 1794, which restricted American involvement in the Atlantic slave trade – upon his death (Dec 1799), his will made provision for the manumission (freeing) of all his slaves. Of countless tributes paid to him, his likeness is one of only four carved in stone at the Mount Rushmore Memorial, and the 554’ iconic Washington Monument obelisk stands in the now-capital, Washington DC near the White House – plus, he remains the only president to have a whole state named after him. I think Donald Trump might struggle to emulate the honour, failing to score even an eponymous hillbilly town, let alone state. Apart from any other consideration, who wants to live somewhere that pays homage to the bodily expulsion of gaseous waste? 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd) gave an official address on 30th April 1939 – just four months before WWII began – when two hundred thousand visitors attended the opening of the New York World’s Fair. The speech was not only heard over radio networks, but was also shown as the first ever television broadcast. I hope FDR was wearing his best suit. The theme of exhibits was ironically ‘The World of Tomorrow’ – General Motors went for ‘Futurama’, Philo T. Farnsworth displayed TV sets, AT&T debuted its picture phone, and the IBM pavilion featured electric typewriters, plus a new-fangled machine called the electric calculator, that used punched cards to enter information for a computer to calculate results.

Never the shrinking violet, Salvador Dalí designed a pavilion called Dream of Venus, built by architect Ian Woodner. It had a facade full of protuberances – including crutches, cacti and hedgehogs – very vaguely echoing the Pedrera building by Antoni Gaudí, and the main door was flanked by two pillars representing female legs in stockings, wearing stilettos. Perhaps Damien Hurst isn’t so bizarre … Through openings, visitors could see reproductions of Saint John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci and The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, while once inside, they could watch aquatic dance shows in two pools, with sirens and other items designed by Dalí. Believe it or not, organisers had insisted on major modifications to the artist’s original blueprint – the mind boggles.

OK, I’ve made quite enough of an exhibition of myself, so with thanks to Jen for having me and readers for dropping by, it’s ‘G’day’ from Gigi and ‘Adios’ from Salvador!

Toodles.

NP

Author.to/NellPeters 

***

Another blogging triumph! Thanks Nell!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx 

 


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