When she's not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive her two children: Ellie, who believes everything in life should be done as a musical number from a West End show; and Sam, who is basically a monkey with a boy's face. And there's also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes, he is named after the crisps!).
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey?
Firstly, hi everyone! (*waves like a loon*) and thank you to Sharon for having me here on her fabulous blog!
A little bit about me? Well, I've always loved writing since I was very little. I remember writing a story at primary school that had a mermaid in it and ran to four whole pages! I was very impressed with myself! But as I grew up and went to uni, then did my master's, I dabbled in creative writing but thought I was rubbish, so didn't do anything with it. It wasn't until I got made redundant from my job in the Heritage industry in 2014, the summer before my daughter started school, that I decided to try again.
I've always read books by fabulous authors like Jenny Colgan and Wendy Holden and wished it was my words on the page and my name on the cover. So when I finished work I decided that I'd use some of my redundancy pay to take a creative writing course. As soon as I started I fell back in love with writing!
I wrote some cosy mystery short stories that I was lucky enough to get published and then I had the idea for The Little Theatre and started writing that, but weirdly, it wasn't the book that got me my book deal. I wrote a second one set at Christmas and in the summer of 2017 I saw that HQ DigitalUK were running a Twitter pitch event. I decided to give it a go, pitching the Christmas novel and was lucky enough to be asked to submit when the manuscript was ready. I worked my tail off to get it finished and polished and thankfully they liked it!
In January this year I was offered a two-book deal and The Little Theatre on the Seafront is the first book, with the second, my Christmas story, coming out in 2019!
If you had to give an elevator pitch for The Little Theatre on the Seafront, what would it be?
When Lottie's gran dies she leaves one last request; save Greenley theatre. But can Lottie do it and still follow her heart?
Where did the inspiration come from to write about saving a small town theatre?
There's a neglected building on the seafront of the little town I grew up in. It's not a theatre, but it's a beautiful building and one I've always found intriguing. One day I started wondering what it would be like if it was a theatre and who could save it. That's when Lottie was born and the rest of the cast followed as I plotted the story.
I was also able to draw on my experience in the heritage industry because the council I worked for ran a theatre, The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. It was amazing to see the dedication of the staff working during all the big budget cuts when things were really hard and it's now one of the best regional theatres in the country. In my opinion anyway!
If you had to describe Lottie in three words, what would they be?
Quiet, determined, funny
What lessons have you learnt during the whole writing/editing/publication process?
Gosh, so many lessons! I've learned to take criticism (a bit!); I've learned that I'm definitely a plotter rather than a panster; and that, no matter how finished you think your novel is, your editor or agent will know ways you can make it even better! I was lucky in that my publisher is amazing and really supported me through the process or revisions and edits, guiding me gently. It made all the difference, especially as I was new to the process!
I've also learned to celebrate every little achievement. So often we're racing through life trying to tick everything off our to-do lists that we forget to take a moment and say thank you for all the good things. Now, if I have a good writing day I take a moment to savor it, if the kids go to bed nicely, I sit and enjoy it. I'm really trying to enjoy every single day – good or bad!
What advice would you give to other aspiring authors who are thinking about writing a novel?
I think one of the things that stops people trying to write is the idea of opening yourself up to criticism. It is a really hard thing to do, but so worth it to help you grow and learn the craft. Joining a writing group (there are lots of online ones if you can't get out to a meeting) is a really good way to learn.
I've always believed writing is a process of learning what works for you, so don't be afraid to be bad at it! Every single sentence you write will help you learn a little more. You just have to try!
Did you treat yourself to something special to celebrate your publishing deal?
I drank an entire bottle of champagne to myself and had a raging hangover the next day! The school run was not fun but it was so worth it!
Finally what can we expect from you next?
My second novel, the Christmas one, comes out next year and I'm starting to write a new book too. I've also been going back to cosy mysteries and working on a cosy mystery novel but we'll have to wait and see what happens with that!
When Lottie’s Gran dies she leaves one last request; save Greenley Theatre.
Faced with a decaying building, a mayor who most definitely isn’t on board with the project and a group of actors who just can’t get along, Lottie has her hands full, but with best friend Sid by her side she knows she can do it somehow.
But the arrival of Jeremy, a hotshot London developer who sweeps Lottie off her feet, complicates things. Suddenly Sid gets a new girlfriend, the Greenley Players fall apart, and that crumbling building? Well it crumbles a whole lot more. With no one to turn to, Lottie has to find the courage to save the day.
Will Lottie be able to save the theatre and also follow her heart?