So here we are, in 2017! How on earth did that happen?!?
Last time I wrote I said I was at uni. I'm now a fully fledged RN and working in anaesthetics/recovery in a major Brisbane hospital, and I LOVE it. It's great to be looking after people again. But I haven't left the whole book thing behind completely! Though I'm not actually writing anything at the moment, I have a couple of free events coming up - a talk on Saturday 18th March at Logan West then the following Saturday at Logan North. That one's already booked out, but you can join the waiting list or book in for the other talk here. Hope to meet you there!
In other news I'm pleased to say that the wonderful folks at Bolinda are going to produce the audiobook of The Darkest Hour and hopefully of Cold Justice too, which will mean that the whole series is available for your listening pleasure! I've received a number of emails from vision-impaired people about this so I'm delighted it's happening.
Aaaand ... that's about it! Life here is good, and I hope it's the same for you :)
So this is a record - a year and a month since I last posted! I never thought that would happen. Huh. Anyway, here's the news :)
By the start of last year I'd been thinking for a while that I might round the series off at ten, for a few reasons: as I mentioned in my last post, working at home was sending me a little stir-crazy; I wasn't sure I had many more good story ideas; and I didn't know how long I could make the series last. Plus, I wasn't particularly happy. I loved writing but so much of the rest of the business was taking a toll, because being successful has very little to do with how hard you the author work but is a much more intangible mix of luck, marketing, reader taste, yes hard work, and something else nobody can identify (otherwise everyone would be doing it). This meant that the only thing truly in my power was to write the best book I could, but it didn't stop me (and just about every other author I know) worrying about how to reach more readers, how to sell more, how to keep the books alive. It's bad to fret about things beyond your control and I'd fallen into the rut of doing it way too much. As I said, almost every author I know worries about the same things, so I wasn't alone in that rut, but that made it seem normal, like a thing that authors do, and that didn't help either. I disliked how I felt, and the prospect of feeling that way in the future was awful. I'd worked on changing how I felt, but in the end realised maybe time away was the answer.
Then, around this time last year, I got the heads-up from my agent that sales had been falling and the publisher was considering not taking any more books, then the publisher herself got in touch. The series was no longer financially viable, and they weren't going to offer another contract. I half-heartedly asked about going to ten (it's such a nice round number) but they said no. I felt sad that it was over but also relieved. Plus, while book eight was finished, it was still to be edited, so I could bring Ella's story to a close the way I wanted. A close that would also work as a hiatus, I decided, because feeling finished now didn't mean I'd always feel that way, and I have a big soft spot for Ella and her paramedic compadres and wanted the option to come back to them if I felt like it.
So I worked out the right ending, and book eight, TELL THE TRUTH, was released this February. Reviews have been wonderful. most along these lines:
"It is definitely one of my absolute favourite series as there isn’t a dud in the bunch and TELL THE TRUTH offers a fitting finale" Fair Dinkum Crime
which I am very happy about. Series bring the fear of jumping the shark, and it's a relief that I seem to have avoided that in the reviewers' eyes at least.
I've received lots of emails from readers who are sad that the series is over and hopeful that I'll write more/something else, and I am thankful to every one. As I said in a note at the end of the book, the connection that books and characters build between author and reader is what I miss most, and it moves me to see you feel the same. Thank you for reading my work over the past eight years.
As for my work now . . . when I was thinking about ending the series at ten, I was also realising I missed working in healthcare. I missed people! So I went back to uni. I have a year to go before I graduate as a registered nurse and I work casual shifts as a care assistant in an aged care facility. I feel good there. Right now I have no desire to write, but when assignments and exams are done with, who knows?
It's how a writer's life goes - one book comes out, you send the next in. I am a fortnight away from my deadline on the eighth book in the series, so I'm spending lots (LOTS) of time at the computer. I love working from home but sometimes it can send one a lil stir-crazy -- so recently I moved from working in my office-room at the back of the house to the lounge room at the front. Now I get to look out and see the sky! And the trees! And as you can see in the picture, the cat and the dog are enjoying the change too.
Speaking of book 8 (yet to be titled), I'm auctioning off the name of a character as part of a fundraiser for some friends. This ends on Sunday 16th March. If you win, you get to choose the name, and you'll get a big thank you in the acknowledgements of the book, and wherever you are in the world I'll send you a signed personalised copy before the book comes out in the shops in Feb 2015. You can read more about it and place your bid on my Facebook page here or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
I've had great response to Deserving Death - thanks so much to everyone who's been in touch to tell me how much they enjoyed it! Reviews have been excellent too. It's always very satisfying to know that something you worked on so hard actually works for readers. :)
I have a literary lunch and a number of library events coming up in the next couple of months in Brisbane, and all the details are on my Events page.
In the meantime though, it's back to work!
February is here again, which means it's publication time! My brand new book, Deserving Death, is out in shops everywhere, and online too, in print, e book, and audio form. Reviews have started coming in and readers have been in touch telling me how much they enjoyed it going on the new adventure with Ella and paramedics Carly and Tessa.
One great review comes from Fiona Hardy on the Readings Bookshop website:
"On a springtime morning in Sydney, two paramedics get a call: to attend to a collapsed woman in Sydenham. The paramedics recognise the address, and when they arrive their worst fears are confirmed: their co-worker and friend, Alicia Bayliss, is found bloody and beaten to death. Just weeks earlier, another paramedic suffered the same grisly fate.
In Katherine Howell’s latest Detective Ella Marconi novel, there is as much emotional involvement as there is procedural detail. Marconi is unnerved, sensing unexpected tensions among the paramedics she interviews, while attempting to sustain her relationship with Dr Callum McLennan as the anniversary of his cousin’s death approaches. Marconi is the one who helped find the killer – the doctor’s own perverse father – and McLennan’s mother cannot forgive her for it. Meanwhile, paramedic Carly Martens is troubled, determined to find justice for her dead friend, while waiting to see if her girlfriend will be able to brave her family’s bigotry and disclose their relationship. The emergency services – both police and ambulance – require trust on the field, but in this case, suspicion spreads far and wide.
Deserving Death was a revealing and tense read, and the cause of a Very Late Night Staying Up Just To Finish One cough Twelve More Chapters. This is a book full of smart and powerful women, and the men who feel inadequate when confronted by them. Exactly the right kind of crime novel to throw us screaming into 2014."
Readers often ask where book ideas come from, and usually I have no good answer because mine develop over time and in foggy circumstances and vague daydreams. Deserving Death was different however: it popped into my head when my partner and I were flying from Los Angeles to New York in 2012. It was the first Saturday after the 4th July, so lots of towns and cities were celebrating, which meant that as we flew through the darkness we looked down on countless fireworks displays, one after another, right across the country. I sat spellbound with my face pressed against the cold window while at the same time my mind wandered through blood and guts and bad bad deeds. Suddenly the idea was there. What if it was paramedics who were getting killed? I pulled out my notebook (never go anywhere without it) and started scribbling. Who died, who did it, and why? It always starts at that point, then expands outwards in all directions. I kept thinking as we got off the flight and caught a cab into the city (and that first view is something I'll never forget), and by the time we were standing on East 42nd Street to eat a 2 am hot dog in a shower of rain, I had the basis worked out.
I've not been so fortunate with the eighth book, which I'm writing now--I've been back in the fog, stumbling about, having a sense of the story rather than a clean crisp idea. But I'm used to that :) and it's coming along really well. Is it wrong that I'm already looking forward to its release in February next year??
Meanwhile the year rolls on! I have a few workshops in the early stages of scheduling - one will be a day-long crime writing workshop at the NSW Writers Centre in Sydney, another will be on plotting at the Northern Rivers Writers Centre in Byron Bay. Both of these are late in the year so details aren't on their sites yet. When it's all confirmed, I'll post them on my Learn with Katherine page. There are also a number of library talks coming up, the first at Garden City Shopping Centre in Brisbane on March 22nd, and the details for that are up now on my Events page. (The rest will be listed when confirmed.)
But right now, I'm leaping back into writing book 8. If you've got your hands on a copy of Deserving Death, I hope you're enjoying it! And thanks for reading :)
The release date approaches!
We're putting the finishing touches on the book (ie - hunting down those [ideally] last typos) and then it's off to the printer. The cover is ready - and awesome!! don't you agree? - and here's a lil info about the story:
Two female paramedics murdered in a month. Is it coincidence, or are they victims of a serial killer? Detective Ella Marconi isn't sure, but goes hard after her key suspects, including police officer John Morris. But each turn of the case throws up more questions and entanglements, and Ella and her partner, Detective Murray Shakespeare, struggle to find the truth among the lies. Ella also attempts to balance work and her relationship with Dr Callum McLennan, which is both growing both stronger and more difficult as they face Callum's mother's disapproval and the anniversary of his cousin's murder. Meanwhile, Carly Martens - paramedic and close friend of the second victim - conducts her own investigation. She's certain that her fellow paramedic Tessa Kimball is hiding something, and her refusal to let it go puts her, Tessa, and even Ella into more danger than Carly could ever imagine.
Detective Ella Marconi returns in this thrilling case, set against the dangerous background of drug deals, police corruption and deadly consequences.
When it gets closer to publication date I'll upload the first few pages, but for now that's allI can share. And meantime it's back into book 8!
Well, here we are again. I think I should just issue a blanket apology for the lateness of all my posts forever. Last time I wrote here it was May and I said sorry for not having posted since January. The time before that I was doing the same. Each month I have great intentions and then . . . nothing.
Anyway! Things have been busy here. I'm currently wrapping up the copy edits on book 7, and am delighted to be able to tell you that the title is DESERVING DEATH. Release date in Australia is 1st Feb next year, and the finishing touches are going on the cover and promo material. Woohoo! The writing of book 8 is coming along too, slow and steady.
I've done more travel writing recently too, with a trip to gorgeous Queenstown, NZ, to try my hand (or foot) at skiing, and a few other thrilling adventure experiences. All the articles are now listed on the Other writing page.
I've been doing lots of talks and workshops, and have more coming up, including in Helensvale, Casino, and Indooroopilly. Two of those events were actually 'in conversations' with the one and only Kathy Reichs. I'm a big fan of her work and it was a great thrill to interview her in front of two big audiences, the first at Chermside Library and the second at the Brisbane City Hall. Here we are mid-chat at Chermside.
I've also been to the Brisbane and Byron Bay Writers Festivals. At Byron I taught a booked-out workshop on developing suspense in your writing, and at Brisbane was involved with a couple of great events with Sisters In Crime and also took part in the debate that was part of the Ned Kelly Awards presentation evening. The Neds are the annual awards of the Australian Crime Writers Association, and the debate topic was 'You can't make this stuff up'. On the affirmative side stood writer Matt Condon, lawyer Jacqui Payne, and Queensland Writers Centre head honcho Meg Vann. Facing them across the stage was the negative team: crime write-ist and all-round Scottish dude Stuart Macbride, screen-writer (Mad Max) turned bestselling crime writer (I Am Pilgrim) Terry Hayes, and me. You can see our style in the action shots below and on the ACWA website, and understand why we won in a landslide, arguing that in fact you can make this stuff up.
I was thrilled that this year I was shortlisted in both the Ned Kelly best fiction category (for Web Of Deceit) and the Sisters In Crime's Davitt best fiction category (for Silent Fear). (The eligibility conditions cover different time periods, hence the different books.) Sadly neither book got up on the respective nights, but to be listed in the top five books out of 60 odd contenders is an honour.
And that's where I'm going to finish this post! I'd like to say I'll be back sooner than three (or four, or five) months, and who knows, maybe I'll manage to surprise us all. Meantime, happy reading!
Last time I posted here it was the end of January. Where did those months go?? Actually, I know where they went -- in a combination of promo for Web Of Deceit and in finishing book 7. And on a trip to WA to write travel articles! The first one was about swimming with whale sharks, and was published a couple of weeks ago - you can read all about my adventure here.
The finishing of book 7 took up most of the time. It still has no title, but when we do work out what it is I'll post it here :) People often ask me if writing gets easier after a number of books - the answer is yes and no. No because each book is a whole new story, with its own challenges, including your desire to make it bigger/better/different to what you've written before (and for me that means trying to go deeper into the characters and their emotions, trying to write stronger and clearer prose, and that unattainable thing I think all writers strive for: to write the perfect book, which none of us will ever do, and so we keep writing). But yes because I feel somehow more settled into it now. I noticed that started happening a little with the fifth book, and then a gradually more since. I think it's a combination of feeling more relaxed about the whole process and slightly more confident about pulling together the story. It still involves a great deal of teeth-gnashing and whining though, and the words 'just keep swimming' are highly applicable: you just have to keep going. I finished it in early April, and my publisher and agent have read it and LOVE it, and so now I'm looking forward to getting the structural edit report and seeing how I can make it better. Meantime I'm leaping into the abyss that is currently book 8, and also teaching a few workshops as well, on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane - please do come along! Details are on the Learn with Katherine page.
Until next time, happy reading!
It's a little hard to believe -- my sixth book is now out. It feels strange to know that, to get emails from readers about it, to talk in interviews about it. The process of writing and editing a book can sometimes feel never-ending, and then it's over and you move onto the next, then the first is published and living its own life in the world. Along with the previous five, too! It feels incredible, when I can remember so clearly getting the news that Pan Macmillan wanted to buy the first, and I also remember all the years of work to reach even that point. Nothing good happens overnight and that can certainly be said of writing - I worked seriously on novels for sixteen years before I got that first contract. I call that time my apprenticeship, because it was then that I learned how to write, how to build a story, how to develop characters. Not that I've stopped learning any of those things. Every book I read I think about the characterisation, plot, the placement of clues, the writing. Lucky me that I get to do one of my favourite things as part of work :)
So the book is out in paperback in shops, as an ebook online, and as an audiobook too. (Links are on the book page.) Reviews have started appearing on Goodreads (thank you, reviewers!), and I have interviews lined up all over the place. Not so many events this time, but check the events page to see where I'm going - including a couple of free crime writing workshops for those of you in Brisbane.
And in between all these things, I'm writing book 7. It has no title at the moment, but that will come. I'm really enjoying the story, but have to say once again, poor Ella. :)
I've been doing some different writing too, including my first travel article, published nationally at the end of December, and which you can read here. I have an exciting trip coming up to write more articles about somewhere in Australia that I've been dying to revisit for years, which I'll be able to tell you about at a later date.
That's enough for now I think! Happy reading until next time,
It seems like every time I post here I begin with an apology! Once again it's taken me what feels like forever to get back here - sorry about that. I've been busy writing, mostly. The CrimeScene conference I mentioned in my last post was excellent - if you live in WA, or even if you live here on the east coast, do look into going along to it next year. The talks by the forensic experts were incredible. I was also delighted to meet a few crime authors I hadn't met before: Felicity Young, David Whish-Wilson, and Alan Carter. I never get tired of listening to other authors talk about their work, their characters and stories. It was a great couple of days.
The trip to Hervey Bay was great too. Thanks to everyone who came along for that, and thanks to the Hervey Bay library staff for inviting me.
And now we're approaching the end of the year! But things are starting to hot up for the release of Web Of Deceit, with some interviews happening already, though they won't appear until the book's out at the start of February. I'm once again working with a tremendous publicist at my publishers, Pan Macmillan - bless them for their wonderful staff! It's an exciting time, though something of a nerve-wracking one too, as you wait for the first reviews to come in. And meantime of course work continues on book 7. I still don't have a title, but I'm really pleased with how the story's unfolding. Boy oh boy, wait till you see what Ella's faced with this time!
With just three weeks until the end of the year, I can pretty confidently say that my next apologetic post will be in 2013. But by then I'll have details of appearance dates and locations, and some info on upcoming free workshops that will be held in Brisbane, thanks to the Brisbane Council Libraries.
Meantime, I wish all you lovely readers a great Christmas and new year, whatever you may be doing, and thank you so much for your support.
A highly accurate depiction of me at work.
Hello readers! Apologies for my recent silence. Since I last wrote I had a marvellous time at the Brisbane Writers festival, the Year of The Edit class was sadly cancelled (numbers dropped below the minimum, but things are looking good for next year), and I received the copy-edit of Web Of Deceit. A few more weeks' hard work and then I sent it back, and heard just yesterday that it works! I know I say this every time but it really is always a relief to learn that. And the next book is underway -- no title yet, but that will come. I love the excitement that comes at the start of each new book: so much promise, so much anticipation! It doesn't stay that way, of course, because the perfect book in my head appears on paper as far-from-perfect. But the struggle to make each book as good as it can be never ends. I remembered something that the great Val McDermid once told me about improving: she said she aims in each book to make one thing better than in the previous. Which sounds much more achievable than perfection :)
In two days I'm off to Perth for the first ever crimeScene conference. This is a brilliant mix of sessions on fiction and fact about crime, so there're crime authors like me, forensic experts, prison guides, police and lawyers, just to name a few. It runs over Saturday and Sunday, and all the info is on their website. Hope to see you there!
At the end of October I'll be in Hervey Bay for a talk and free workshop. Check out my events page for details.
Well, that's it from me for now. I've a shiny new book to write!
The latest in Katherine's news, plus what she's been reading.