KATHY SHUKER: MY HUSBAND ENCOURAGES ME, HE DESERVES A MEDAL
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Kathy Shuker’s debut book Deep Water, Thin Ice was published earlier this year. The novel received very high feedback with average 4.5 stars reviews in Amazon. Our next guest is a promising indie author. Let’s hear from her more about the book.
– What is your debut book Deep Water, Thin Ice about?
– It’s about Alex, a thirty-eight year old classical soprano, whose husband, Simon – a well-known conductor, throws himself under an underground train in London. She’s shocked, confused and grief-stricken, unable to work. Remembering an old house in southwest England which her husband had inherited, she escapes there to lick her wounds. Her new home, once a fine manor house, is crumbling from neglect and Alex sets out to restore it. Then Theo turns up at her door, offering to help, saying he’s Simon’s cousin; Alex didn’t know Simon had a cousin. But there’s a lot she doesn’t know: about the family, about the house, and about Theo. Theo is remarkably like Simon and Alex welcomes him into her life. How long will it be before she realises she’s making a fatal mistake?
– How did you decide to write the story?
– I’ve always been fascinated by families, by the stories that get passed from one generation to the next, by how often they aren’t quite the truth; events, professions and people are altered or even carefully ‘forgotten’ in an effort to hide an uncomfortable truth. It’s a theme that runs in my next novel too. It is surprising sometimes how little we know about our families beyond our immediate circle, and how reluctant families can be to talk about themselves.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write-up process?
– As well as the main plot line there are several sub plots and a complex web of relationships. The challenge was to make sure that they all interweave seamlessly, informing each other, but not dominating. It was a finely-balanced juggling act!
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– My characters are always creations of my imagination. The inspiration for them may be sparked by a friend or acquaintance, or from someone seen in a coffee shop or on the television news. Once I start to draw up the story, the character takes on a life of their own: bits of all sorts of people are part of the process, including me probably, and quite a bit that is theirs alone. Alex is like that. She’s ambitious, warm, impulsive, generous but short-tempered, and, like most people, insecure. The more we get to know her, the more we find out why.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– It took me a couple of years to write, then I sent it off to a number of agents. Despite a lot of interest and praise, it wasn’t picked up so it was set aside for a while. It is so difficult to get into mainstream publishing these days. I decided to publish it myself earlier this year.
– Who are you?
– As a kid I was always reading, drawing or making things, compulsively creative. Then I trained as a physiotherapist but that career came to a halt when I damaged my back. I returned to my creative roots, worked as a freelance artist for a while and then started writing, found I loved it and never stopped. I love a wide range of music, reading (of course) and I still paint when I get the time. I’m fascinated by languages and speak French and some Italian and am keenly interested in the natural world.
– What are your writing habits?
– I try to keep to a routine and I write best in the morning. I start earlyish and give myself goals eg: no coffee till I reach 500 words, and so on till I hopefully hit 2000 words. I love writing but some days it comes more easily than others.
– Are you satisfied with the sales of the book?
– When I first published I had no idea what to expect in the way of sales: I was pleased to get it out there and have it read. When I received my first email from a stranger telling me how much he enjoyed it I was thrilled. Sales have followed and the feedback has been incredibly encouraging. Inevitably I now want more and more people to read it. But getting noticed is the challenge for everyone: it doesn’t matter how good a book is, no-one will buy it if they don’t know it exists.
– When will we see your next novel Silent Faces, Painted Ghosts?
– I’m hoping to publish it before the end of November.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I have used traditional methods such as an advert in the local press, have produced fliers and posters and have had bookmarks printed (which are very popular). The paperback version is available in local independent bookshops; the striking cover was designed by Andrew Brown at Design for Writers and definitely attracts attention. I also use social media which is also a nice way to connect with readers. Writing is a pretty solitary profession so it’s good to do that.
– You are an amateur musician. Did you ever receive kind of inspiration for your writings during a play set with your guitar, mandola or fiddle?
– I think I’m always having to concentrate too hard on playing the right notes to allow my brain to wander in that way! But I have also done a lot of singing – serious choir stuff, folk music and amateur dramatic ‘shows’. Though I’ve never been in Alex’s league, my experience of having singing lessons and the nerves of having to perform definitely informed my writing of her character.
– Is it tough to be a full-time writer in order to secure your living with it?
– I am very lucky to be able to indulge my passion for writing in this way. There are so many books out there vying for attention; earning money out of it is a challenge.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what will it be?
– Could you have got this far with your writing without any help? The answer would definitely be: No! Without the support of family and friends, I think I would have given up long ago. My husband deserves especial thanks: when my faith in my writing wavers (as it regularly does) he always encourages me on my way. He deserves a medal…
Take a look at her book
Deep Water, Thin Ice