Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Katie M. John, Beautiful Freaks, plus #giveaway

SMASHWORDS for all e-Readers
GIVEAWAY?:  2 ebooks + 2 swag packs which include signed postcards, magnets and book charms.
REMEMBER to include contact information to be considered for the drawing for the giveaway!

Tell me a little about your book. Beautiful Freaks is a Young Adult / New Adult Gothic, decadent romp around the darker underworld of Victorian  London. Essentially it is a tragic and twisted love story between Kaspian Blackthorne and Evangeline Valentine. Their very natures are the things that make their love impossible and yet they find themselves drawn to each other with a destructive passion. Their love story unfolds against a backdrop of violent paranormal murders sweeping through the city and which are being investigated by the noble but slightly innocent Inspector Steptree. What he discovers through his investigation leads him to question all that he understands by the idea of reality as he finds himself drawn into the dark world of fairytales. 

What gave you the idea for this particular story? It is a cliché I know, but the characters came to me in a dream. Not when I was asleep but in daydreams. They started ‘visiting’ much the same way that people talk about ghost visitations. I’d be walking in the park and I’d suddenly see one of them leaning against a tree or reading a book. It was weird. I sound weird lol! Then the story just wrote itself. It was written in six months. Normally I am a plotter and researcher, taking around a year to fully write and edit a novel. This didn’t need any of that kind of ‘work’. Mind, it’s from a period of history that I know inside out and the influences of Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle are really evident, as are the feminist writers of the fin de siècle. 

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? I am a part time writer, fitting it around being a teacher of English at secondary school (11-16 yr old) and being mummy to two young daughters, Rossetti who is five and Beatrix who is 8 months.
It used to be a massive conflict between all these demands, but as I have grown more experienced, I find that I am able to structure my time more effectively. I gave up life’s time-wasters, like PC games, the television, housework lol!  I tend to write in the mornings from 6-8 when the household is least demanding and then when Beatrix is having her afternoon nap. When I’m at work it is after our dinner and on a Sunday morning when the hubby takes the girls swimming. I’ve become a very fast typer!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?  I’ve always been a writer. I am an only child and so I spent a lot of time reading and making my own books. I took up poetry quite seriously in my teens and then at university did a lot of creative writing. It all went on hold whilst I built my career in my twenties but then I had a life change and realized that striving after a career in that particular way was making me miserable.  I vowed to write my first novel before my thirtieth birthday and I did. After that, I never looked back.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing? Pleasure and knowledge. For me the two are entwined. I use a lot of symbolism and secret history codes in my writing. It allows readers to either sit back and enjoy the ride or they can try and crack the puzzles I’ve embedded within them. They’re all very carefully structured and thought out in  a way that offers the reader a kind of treasure hunt. 

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why? I write fairy tales of the Dark kind, which includes horror stories.  I’ve always loved the darker side of literature, the stories that explore the hidden and disallowed desires of man.  I love the idea of the oral tradition of story telling and these genres are a continuation of that ancient tradition. It makes me feel connected to a past.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it? Self doubt, it’s the biggest enemy I face.  Time, experience and having an army of dedicated, kind, reassuring fans who boost my ego on a regular basis and seem to know instinctively when to say something motivating LOL.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.  When I write about love in my stories, it is an insight into how I have loved and how I now love.  It’s always a very personal expression of specific times and relationships in my past.

How much is your protagonist like you? How different? Evangeline is a really complex character and she really tears the reader in two. She is incredibly flawed, damaged and yet terrifyingly powerful and strong. There is very little of my in her, unless of course she is my deep subconscious. She is a highly romantic figure and I suppose we share this rather whimsical, poetical outlook. She loves her technology and is a social rebel, so those are traits that we share…. Oh, actually now that I’m writing this I’m beginning to see more and more similarities, which is a bit of worry LOL!

What kind of research did you do for this type of story? I didn’t do a lot of specific research although I did read a couple of books on the Victorian underworld. I studied a lot of Victorian literature at University and it has always been a period of time that has fascinated me. I wrote what I knew.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not? This is a really complicated area. As an individual, no these scenes do not bother me in the slightest. I have always read ‘transgressive’ literature and my Masters Degree was all about psychosexual violence in modern American Horror, so I am pretty much unfazed (if not quite desensitized to it)  However, I have a great moral obligation to both my students who I still teach and to my Young Adult audience, which means I have to keep it within certain boundaries.

 Having worked with Young Adults for over ten years (since being one myself) I am a realist; The majority of  young people swear (a lot in my experience) They have sex, or if they are not actually doing it, then they watch it and read about it (often soft and hard-core porn;  even more so now that the whole fifty shades thing has occurred but to be honest most teenage girls I’ve known have had dog eared copies of Jilly Cooper novels and had discovered their parents 1970’s copies of The Joy Of Sex)  and many take soft drugs, smoking tobacco or weed (something I lament) and they certainly drink  a lot. The age of drinking legally is eighteen in the U.K but the majority of teens start drinking from 15+ (or certainly all of my social group did when we were growing up) It is interesting having a wide American audience, where it seems  (from some reviews) that what I’d consider mild swearing and ‘normal’ teenage behavior and experience is seen as quite wild. There seems to be a more endemic conservatism and desire to see Young Adults in a more idyllic way in the States –maybe the different attitude to alcohol and the more Christian way of life influences this. 

There are sex scenes in my novels but I do a lot of fade-outs, there are a lot of heaving and sighing bosoms but primary genitals are a no-no.  You have to be quite inventive to communicate passion without smut – I like this challenge.  I think that suggestion of passion or violence is often much more powerful than graphic description

What about your book makes it special? That’s really not for me to answer.

What is your marketing plan? Pleasuring and entertaining enough readers that they spread the word and recommend it; blog tours and connecting directly with readers is the way I do this. I don’t look for over night success by heavily financed marketing  (unless you’ve got tens of thousands to spare, it doesn’t have much impact)

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Twitter handle @KnightTrilogy

Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book? Read a lot and always keep reading. Learn from the best in your genre. Get to know your myths, fairy tales and symbols.

What’s in the future for you? A seven book series called ‘The Meadowsweet Chronicles’ which is about modern day witches in  a sleepy English Village and an American witch hunter called Jeremiah Chase.  I’ve almost finished book one and it’s great fun; creepy, dark, funny and witchy J

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a real pleasure.

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