Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by today. I’m really happy to welcome the amazing Kitty Wilson to the blog today. I’ve admired Kitty’s writing for a long time, so it’s really nice to have her here!
Hi Kitty! Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell me a bit about you and your latest work.
Hello, I’m Kitty Wilson and I write a series called The Cornish Village School, set in the fictional village of Penmenna. Having lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years and having experience of working as a Reception teacher definitely helped me but I can hand-on-heart promise that everything within the books is wholly make-believe. My latest book, Summer Love, is the third in the series and concentrates on the teaching assistant in class one and her developing friendship with the teacher covering maternity leave. They are instantly attracted to each other but very wary of striking up a romance within the workplace. He is terrified of crossing boundaries in case it’s an abuse of authority and she doesn’t want to be in the sleeping-with-the-boss club. Friendship develops and they realise they, and their families, have far more in common than they ever thought possible. However, it takes a little bit of Penmenna community magic to make them see how well suited they are as a couple, and why taking that step may be no bad thing.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Driven, open-minded, stubborn.
What are your top 3 tips for aspiring writers?
There are so many things you can do to improve your chances of getting published but I think three of the basics are incredibly obvious and thus run the risk of being written off as not important.
!. Read, read, read. By reading widely, and not just within the genre you write in, means you are soaking all sorts of knowledge up without necessarily realising it. Don’t like the way the author has done this – that’s great, your brain is (hopefully) noting it so you won’t make the same mistake in yours. Love the way an author has achieved a certain thing, brilliant, your brain has marked out something that has been done outstandingly and you are now aware of it. Another side benefit of this is that you can get away with calling reading work. At least I do – ‘oh yes, working hard all day. Exhausted.’
2. Try and write every day. Lots of people get cross at this and say it’s not a helpful piece of advice, and yes, everything is subjective so they may be right. But I know that if you don’t put your bum on a chair and open the laptop or pick up the notepad fairly frequently, then you are never going to write the 85,000 words needed to make up a first draft. I have found that by forcing myself to write every day I have stopped making excuses not to write. Even if it’s just a fairly rubbish couple of hundred words that you are sure will be deleted later, it’s better than nothing and more importantly all part of the process that counts towards making that book exist and then work. It also serves well to become disciplined about your writing so that when you do get published and are working to crazy tight deadlines, the routine is already embedded and stops you running, screaming for the hills
3.Learn about your market and the realities of being an author. What’s being published? What may have peaked? (Although I will contradict this a little by saying write what you love, don’t be dictated to by the market but do be aware of it). The saying ‘don’t give up the day job’ isn’t a cruel indicator that you are rubbish, it is an oft-needed reminder that you need to pay bills and no, no-one else earns what JK Rowling does – despite every family member being convinced you are the next JKR. Authors earn an average of £10,500 a year according to a survey by ALCS in 2018 and as an average that includes the crazy top-earners we all aspire to be. Some authors do make a good living (and you certainly won’t if you don’t try) but lots don’t, so hold fire on that P45 until you’ve had your royalties in. And note, if you’re writing daily, even if it’s just 100 words a time you can still write your book and hold down a job. It’s not easy, but you can.
I know you said three but I really want to add a fourth! (Did I include rule-breaker in my three words about me?)
4. Make friends with other writers. In real life if you can, or on social media if not. Writers are generous and supportive and understand every step of the process which even the most loving friends and family cannot. You will need writer friends.
Are you a panster or plotter?
My first book, unpublished, was definitely pantster work. I started with an anecdote and very slowly (I hadn’t learnt the everyday thing by then) it turned into a book. I learnt so much. When people had said their characters took over their work I used to think they were bonkers, and a bit pretentious. I am now officially bonkers and pretentious – I learnt that characters really can take you down paths you didn’t think you were capable of thinking up and that by letting them you can write a book far richer than perhaps the initial idea.
These days I am contracted to write two books a year so have become far more of a planner, it means less editing (hopefully) at the end, and means every day you have an idea of where you are going which can be a massive time-saver. However, as much as I love creating spreadsheets and timelines and arcs and labelling them all in different colours (and I do, stationery makes me squiffy – I have a planning boards, a chalkboard-wall, printed diary sheets on my walls and notepads full of very complicated diagrams. I have learnt to love planning.) I still like to leave a little bit of room for pantstering, somehow it keeps it fresh. So, I plan my beginning, my middle, my end and roughly how we’re going to get there, the themes and the elements I want to include and then I leave the humour for the characters to make up as they go along.
What does success look like to you?
I don’t know how to quantify it. When I got my very first message from someone I had never met and who didn’t know me, saying that they had loved my book so much they felt compelled to get in touch and tell me, that felt like success to me. Those messages mean the world.
I also quite like royalties 😉
How do you choose your character names?
My character names often change several times within a book. I start with a name that I think conjures up a picture of a person. Names can be social indicators, so I try and choose a name that fits the age, gender, personality type of my character and am thoroughly prepared to throw it out when a better name, one that suits them better as they develop, pops into my head. The trouble with writing a series is that you often have to name characters before you know them inside out. In this latest book Pippa became Polly (desperate messages were sent to my editor as we were editing the second book which also had references to Pippa in begging to change her to Polly) and then I returned to Pippa again because her character was so full of pep that Pippa was the closest I could get to sum that up.
What do you do when you get stuck with your writing?
Because I have a plan of the action before I start, I know pretty much where I’m going in each chapter, but I do get stuck on how to keep it pacy and hopefully amusing, this is when I get a bit odd. I have found that the best thing to help me develop ideas is to get into water. So, I have a long bath give myself sufficient time to think. When I was in Cornwall I’d go and drift in the sea and now I’m living in the city I go to the pool and get into a hot-tub and close my eyes. I’m amazed no-one has dragged me out yet thinking I’m catatonic, (I am six foot so that might put them off). I don’t think water has magic properties (well it does, but not in this context) but I do think being somewhere I can’t use my phone (I’m so clumsy I don’t dare) or a laptop or have a tv screen or music playing means I have no distractions so I can think. Thinking is kind of important to developing the story.
How long does it take you to write a book?
In my dream world I would have two years to develop and write a book. In the real world, in my first contract I committed to writing the second book within ten months. With my next contract I signed I agreed to give one book every five months a go. It’s tough. So, I can do it in five but I do prefer the luxury of a little bit longer. I don’t know what the future will bring but I doubt I could do it in less.
What’s your main weakness as a writer eg.SPaG, continuity etc?
Comma’s. I put them everywhere and have a tendency for very long sentences. I know I do it, I know I shouldn’t but I just keep doing so. Whilst being very thankful for copy editors.
And now for some silly questions just for fun…
Tea or coffee?
Tea these days, although ten years ago I kept a secret stash of coffee beans in my handbag just to chew in between cups, so it’s probably a good thing I’m a tea person now!
Beer or wine?
Wine. I’ve never liked the taste of beer, not even when I was a fairly naughty teen who would have probably drank petrol had it been offered. Having said that I’m not mad keen on wine either. Eek, sorry!
Chips or curly fries?
Puppies or kittens?
Puppies, every time.
Summer or winter?
Summer. Sunshine, beaches, swimming, cold long drinks, barbecues. How could it be anything else?
Pippa Parkin thinks she has it all under control…
For teaching assistant Pippa, life in her home town of Penmenna is reassuringly predictable. Between managing the Easter Egg Hunt and dealing with her annoying but well-meaning family, Pippa thinks she has it all sorted. That is until gorgeous new substitute teacher Kam Choudhry arrives at Penmenna School, and turns everything upside down.
Pippa and Kam are instantly drawn to each other, but they want very different things from their lives. Can they find a way to reconcile their differences and come together?
This heartwarming romance is perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant, Holly Martin and A. L. Michael.
Kitty Wilson lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. Recently she has moved to Bristol, but only for love and on the understanding that she and her partner will be returning to Cornwall to live very soon. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard, dreaming of the beach or bombing back down the motorway for a quick visit! She has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.
Ooooh, I can’t wait to read Kitty’s next book! Grab your copy here: https://amzn.to/2GQYOdM I know you won’t regret it!