Hello everyone, event number 23 in the Virtual Book festival is an interview with author of Kathryn Freeman. Kathryn writes wonderful, heart-warming contemporary romantic fiction and she’s going to tell us a bit about her books and her writing life. So, welcome to the festival, Kathryn and thank you so much for taking part.
Can we start with why and how you became a writer?
From my early teens I’ve been an avid reader, always with a book on the go, but it was only ten years ago that I wondered if I could actually write one. Cue a New Year resolution, and to my amazement I didn’t just write the book, I loved writing it. Of course the book I thought was fabulous, wasn’t, and it was four years and three books later before I got my first publishing contract. That first book though? I never let it go, and after a total re-write, Reach for a Star will be out in September (see question 10!).
Anne: Yes, writing and getting published can require a long apprenticeship. But how lovely that your first book hasn’t gone away and we’ll get a chance to read it.
What genre do you write in and why does that hold a particular appeal for you?
I write contemporary romance because that’s what I love to read most. Books that touch my heart. Bring a smile to my face yet also a lump to my throat. I enjoy other genres, but a thriller or a crime novel holds little appeal to me unless there is a love story winding its way through.
Anne: Yes, I must admit I’m a bit like that too.
How many books have you written? Tell us a bit about your latest.
I’m shocked to find I’ve had 11 books published now. How did that happen? Crikey A Bodyguard is my most recent, published in April. It features Dr Kelly Bridge, a brilliant scientist on the verge of finding a vaccine to counteract the latest bioterrorism threat, and Ben Jacobs, the bodyguard assigned to protect her. Ben flunked spectacularly out of school, so he knows his new client Dr Kelly Bridge spells trouble for him. What he doesn’t anticipate is quite how much.
Anne: Eleven books – that’s impressive! And it’s no secret I’ve enjoyed every one of them.
Tell us about a typical writing day?
Typically I exercise in the morning to get the blood flowing into my brain (!) and then sit at my desk, in my office at the top of our house, and write. I’m also a medical writer, so some days I wear my romance hat, and others my scientific one. Or as I say in my biography, some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero J
Anne: Haha! I agree about the exercise factor. It definitely gets the imagination fired up.
Do you plot your novels in some detail before you actually start writing?
I plot the key turning points of the book out into a synopsis which runs over around 3-4 pages. Alongside that, I write biographies for the key characters. With that in mind, I crack on with the writing, which usually loosely follows the outline.
Anne: That’s very organised but also not too rigid either.
What comes first for you, characters or plot?
Usually for me it’s the characters who come first. That’s where I take my pleasure from. I don’t really mind where the book is set, what the characters do, it’s who they are and how they interact that, to me, provide the fun – and the challenge – of writing.
Anne: That way you can let the characters sort of tell their story to you.
Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas can come from anywhere – so beware if you ever talk to me! I’ve written about a formula one driver (Before You) because my husband bought me a life size Jenson Button cut out and he sits next to my desk! The idea for Oh Crumbs came from watching the Marvel TV series, the Green Arrow…no, my hero doesn’t wear green leather or wield a bow and arrow. It was the chemistry between the Green Arrow and his computer nerd side-kick that caught my imagination – he’s so quiet, she’s so chatty. He’s the face behind the operation but she’s the brains. I took the idea and ran with, but based it in a biscuit factory!
Anne: Oh, I love that cross-fertilisation from Green Arrow! And how cool to have Jensen by your side.
Have you got a favourite character out of the all the ones you’ve created? Tell us about them if you have – or is it too hard to pick just one?
In my real world I fell in love with one man, but in my book world I’ve fallen in love with every one of the men I created. If I had to name a favourite, I think it would be my formula one driver, Aiden Foster, though I suspect that’s because of the Jenson Button connection! My favourite female is Abby from Oh Crumbs – she and her sisters made me giggle when I was writing them.
Anne: Both are fab characters.
Can you share some of the feedback/reviews you’ve had from your readers?
I’m so grateful when someone is kind enough to leave a review – even if it’s not always what I might have hoped for! I’ve had reviews that have been eloquent, funny, straight to the point or impressively detailed.
This, for Too Charming, my first published book, was an example of straight to the point, and thankfully in the minority:
This, for Crikey a Bodyguard, was one that put a big fat smile on my face:
Ooooh, this is so good!! I mean seriously this is way beyond just being good, this is in a league of its own for greatness.
Anne: So, not just boring but too boring – you excelled yourself there! But I know you have many more great reviews like the one above that made you smile – all well deserved.
You have a new novel coming soon and we have an extract from it below. But first – what’s it called and please, tell us a bit about it.
My new book, Reach for a Star, comes out on 24th September though it can be pre-ordered now. It features Jessie, a divorced mum to two boys, who finds herself signed up to take part in a singing competition alongside her huge celebrity crush, professional singer Michael Tennant – he of the melting chocolate voice and film star good looks. Will he live up to her dreams? Well Michael isn’t quite the confident man he appears on stage. In fact the competition is so far out of his comfort zone he figures he might as well enter The X Factor, too, and totally blow his career.
Reach for a Star
From the back cover:
What if your dreams were so close you could reach out and touch them?
How could anyone resist Michael Tennant, with his hypnotic blue eyes and voice like molten chocolate? Jessie Simmons certainly can’t. But Jessie’s a single mum who can’t sing to save her life – there’s no way she’ll ever cross paths with the star tenor.
At least that’s what she thinks until she’s unexpectedly invited to take part in a new reality TV show. The premise? Professional singers teach hopeless amateurs how to sing. The surprise? Jessie’s partner is none other than Michael Tennant!
As she becomes better acquainted with the man behind the voice, will Jessie find out the hard way that you should never meet your idols? Or will she get more than she bargained for?
Extract – from the first day they meet. Michael asks her to sing something to him…
She swallowed, twisting the cup around the saucer, glancing nervously at the camera crew. ‘Now? I mean you want me to sing to you right, umm, now?’
‘Sure. You’re going to have to sing sooner or later. This is a singing competition.’
Her sharp reply told him he’d upset her again. Bloody hell, was he being obtuse or was she far too sensitive? ‘Okay then, give it a go. I promise not to run away screaming.’
Once again, his joke – if he could call the lame attempt that – failed to raise a smile. Instead she stood and carried her cup over to the table, clattering it down with hands he was shocked to see were trembling.
Then she swallowed, took in a breath and started to sing.
‘At first I was afraid, I was petrified.’
The more she sang, the more his eardrums complained bitterly at the onslaught. With every cell in his body wincing, Michael’s fears came crashing back to the surface. They were going to be a ruddy laughing stock.
Midway through the chorus, just as she was starting to screech out ‘I will survive’, he motioned for her to stop. ‘You might survive, though I’m not sure how long the audience will.’
She clearly didn’t appreciate his brand of humour at all, because now two splashes of red blotted her cheeks.
‘It’s my understanding the purpose of the competition is to see how much I improve, rather than how well I can sing right now. By rights you should be rubbing your hands with glee. There’s clearly lots for you to work on.’
Was she challenging him? Because he might know how to sing, but he had no bloody clue how to teach it. ‘You’re not wrong there,’ he murmured, feeling the beginnings of a cold sweat. The conversation was unravelling again. And this time in front of the sodding film crew.
‘We’re supposed to be on the same side, working together.’ She looked straight at him, her anger, her bitter disappointment, vividly clear in the glare of her hazel eyes. ‘For some crazy reason, I thought this would be exciting and fun. But if all you want to do is mock, I’m afraid you need to find yourself another partner.’
Michael looked on in horror as she reached for her bag and walked towards the door, head high, shoulders straight, her body rigid with anger. Ken following her all the way with his blasted camera.
The conversation he’d had with Robert earlier came crashing back. Damn it, the man had been wrong. He wasn’t the right person to do this show. He didn’t do warm, natural or easy. He did gruff, blundering. Defensive. And that was on a good day. ‘Jessie.’ Thank Christ he’d finally got her name right. ‘Please, wait.’
If you want to read more the purchase links for Reach for a Star (ebook) are below:
A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.
With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.
You can connect with Kathryn online at the links below: