Q: Where do you get ideas for your stories?
A: I’ll be the first to admit that ideas don’t come easily to me. It seems like some writers have a thousand ideas and trouble picking one, but unfortunately I’m just the opposite! If I get an idea, I usually grab it. Usually a character or a situation comes to me first. ‘What if…’ is often how I start thinking, and then I have to write the story to find the answer!
I’ve written short stories for women’s magazines for years, and so tight plotting became an essential part of that business. I’d start with ‘What if…’ and then have to come with an answer that isn’t obvious or expected and yet still believable. Often my first ‘solution’ would be discarded and I’d get my mind in overdrive thinking about other possibilities!
Q: How did you first get published?
A: I had my first story publication by The People’s Friend in 1999. I’d bought a book about freelance writing and it mentioned that The People’s Friend was particularly encouraging toward new authors so I decided to give them a try. I wrote a story and they asked for revisions—I was so excited! I rewrote it and it was accepted, which was a huge thrill. Nothing beats the excitement of your first acceptance! Since then I’ve had more than 300 stories and several serials published by magazines including The People’s Friend, Woman’s Weekly, Fiction Feast, That’s Life!, and Woman’s World US. You can read that first accepted story here. After I wrote stories and serials, I decided to try a full-length novel. I started in romance and then moved to contemporary fiction, which is what I love writing.
Q: What is your writing day like?
A: Most days follow the same pattern—family breakfast, take the children to school, walk the dogs, and then settle down to write. I try to write 2-3 hours a day in between housework and volunteering, which feels like a luxury after having been at home with small children for eighteen (yes, eighteen!) years.
Q: What is your advice for new writers?
A: Much the same as most writers would say I think—just write. Sit down and start. The first, second, or even tenth thing you write probably won’t be very good. Mine wasn’t. Over time you’ll hone your voice, your style, and you’ll learn what you love writing. I think once you learn that, it becomes a lot easier—and more enjoyable! My second piece of advice would be to finish something, whether it’s a short story, novel, or poem. Write all the way through, slogging through the boring bits and the places where you don’t know what you’re trying to say. You’ll learn a lot that way.
Have a question for Kate? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.