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.
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
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.
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.
Many thanks for coming along today Karen- especially as it’s release day for Perfect Summer today!
Good luck with your new novel,