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 :)
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!
It's certainly taken a while, but I finished that next round of edits on Web Of Deceit, sent it back, and heard last week that it all works! I'm so pleased :) Authors get so close to their stories, it can be hard to know if it's coming together as it should, so I'm always thrilled to hear from the editors that it is.
Last week I went to Port Macquarie Library for a workshop and talk. I had a marvellous time with Karen, the president of the Friends of the Library group who organised the day, and as we had some time to kill she took me on a quick tour of the town. One stop we made was at the Koala Hospital, the only one of its kind in the world, where injured and sick wild koalas are nursed back to health then released. Some are too badly hurt to survive in the wild so they become permanent additions to the Hospital family. One koala in particular caught my eye and I'm pleased to say I've 'adopted' her :) Readers, meet Oxley Kaylee!
She was a repeat visitor at the Hospital before injuries meant the staff had to amputate one of her hind legs, but now is thriving. You can read more about her and the other koalas on the Hospital's website here.
The workshop and talk went wonderfully - what wonderful groups of aspiring writers, and readers! Thank you to all the library staff, to the Friends of the Library, to Roz and Belinda of the Book Warehouse, and to everyone who came along.
Going back in time now, we had a fantastic time in the States in July. A few highlights were a day trip to the Hamptons, an amazing food and culture tour in Nolita and Noho, and of course Thrillerfest. I attended a number of panels as an audience member, then took part in one with the lovely Meg Gardiner, the charming and funny Catherine Coulter, the very suave Phillip Margolin, the delightful Andrea Kane and the equally delightful Sandra Brannan, and cool ex-Navy dude Grant Blackwood. All these authors are very highly regarded in the US and between them have about a thousand NYT bestsellers, so I felt quite the strangely-accented odd person for a while! but they were all very welcoming. The room was jam-packed for our panel and we talked up a storm about creating and building suspense, and it was lovely that for the rest of the day people came up to tell me how much they'd enjoyed it.
While at Thrillerfest I taped an interview with Claire Lamb, the editor of Books To Die For, the anthology of essays by crime writers about their favourite crime novels. Have a look:
You can tell how much I love the work of James Lee Burke, so it won't be hard to imagine my delight when I received an email from the man himself. He'd read my piece and wrote to tell me how much he appreciated it. It brought tears to my eyes, and I printed the email and stuck it on the wall above my desk.
You can see some of the other authors from the anthology talking about their chosen books here.
All in all, we had a terrific trip, and New York is certainly a place I'd love to visit again.
Back here at home, the start of the Year of the Edit class has been delayed until September, so there's still time to sign up! Click here to find out more.
And the Brisbane Writers Festival is on next week, from 5-9th September. What a feast of a line-up they have this year! I'll be speaking in the free Writer's Lounge on Saturday, 8 September, from 2:30pm - 3:30pm, in the Level 2 Reference Library - come along and have a chat! - and am keenly eyeing the programme to decide what I'll do on the other days. More info is here.
And now that Web of Deceit is almost done, it's time to get going on book 7. I came up with the idea for the story while flying from LA to NY on the night of Saturday 7th July. As it grew dark we could see the lights of the towns and cities down below, and the countless fireworks being set off for Fourth of July celebrations. It has nothing to do with the plot, but it was wonderful to watch those displays from so high up, one after another, right across the country.
Until next time, happy reading!
I'm thrilled to be able to tell you that I'm going to be in this anthology alongside some of the biggest names in the business: Lee Child, Michael Robotham, Meg Gardiner, Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard, and Karin Slaughter, just to name a few. The book is edited by two other great crime authors, John Connolly and Declan Burke. So what's it about? Here's the blurb from the book's website:
"BOOKS TO DIE FOR is a unique, must-have anthology for any fan of the mystery genre, featuring personal essays from 120 of the world’s most beloved and renowned crime writers on the mysteries and thrillers that they most admire, edited by two of their own—John Connolly and Declan Burke.
Tana French on The Secret History by Donna Tartt; Jo Nesbø on Jim Thompson’s Pop. 1280; Kathy Reichs on The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris; Michael Connelly on Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister, and Charlaine Harris on Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male: these are just a few of the 120 internationally bestselling mystery writers showcased in this collection—a book every reader of crime fiction should own.
In the most ambitious anthology of its kind ever compiled, each author pays a deeply personal tribute to one mystery that means the most to them, explaining why that book affects them and how it has influenced their own work. This collection presents a treasure trove of works in the mystery genre by the people who know it best, and is an essential guide for all readers and writers."
I was delighted to be able to write about one of my favourite crime author's books--but I'm not going to tell you yet who or what that is! The anthology will be released worldwide in August, and until then Connolly and Burke will be posting updates on the website so you can find out more about who's involved and what books they've written about.
I'm also working on a piece for an Australian anthology ... but more about that later in the year.
On the novel front, I sent 'Web of Deceit' back to the editor earlier this month and am pleased to say it got big ticks all round. It's now gone to the copy editor, the delightful Nicola O'Shea, with whom I've had the pleasure of working many times before (I think for every one of my books), and I look forward to getting the manuscript back again in August. Meantime I'm head down on my uni work, musing on ideas for book 7, and looking forward LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE - actually, you probably would - to going to the USA in two weeks. LA, New York, San Francisco, here we come! And while in New York I'll be speaking at Thrillerfest - the panel I'm on is called 'HOW DO YOU CREATE SUSPENSE ON EVERY PAGE?' and is headed by Meg Gardiner. It's on Saturday July 14 from 10:30-11:20 am with a signing from 11:30-12:00 pm. If you're around, come up and say hi!
This Saturday is the final workshop with the current Year of the Edit group. Just like the group I taught last year, this was a great bunch of people! I've thoroughly enjoyed the time we've spent together and from the sound of things they've found the course inspiring and helpful. I'm pleased to be teaching the course again later this year, so if you are in or around Brisbane and have a manuscript you want to fix but aren't sure how, click on through to the Queensland Writers Centre website and sign yourself up!
There are a couple of other events coming up - I'll be visiting Port Macquarie in August, and at the Brisbane Writers Festival in September, but will post more info on those later. For now, happy reading, and I look forward to reporting back after my encounter with The Big Apple!
What an incredible month! I spent most of it away from home promoting Silent Fear -- first in Sydney and Melbourne, then in various parts of WA and SA. I was frightened half to death about the TV interview I talked about in my last post, but it went fine! The hosts were lovely and made me feel relaxed and welcome. I had a fantastic time getting about with different publicists (hello Caitlin, Ali, and Bethany!) but best of all I got to meet some amazing people in the audiences who came to hear me talk about the books and my time as a paramedic. Whether they told me about the effect the books had on them ("I read books to go to sleep at night and with your books I haven't been getting much sleep because I can't put them down!" and "I know I'm reading a good book when I miss my bus stop" were just a couple of the comments) or about the books they're writing themselves, or about other authors whose work they love (I'm always looking for recommendations so I can add to my TBR pile) or whether we just said hi and shook hands, I enjoyed every second. My most heartfelt thanks to my publishers Pan Macmillan, to the federal Get Reading! programme, and to all the wonderful booksellers who came along to the events to provide the books.
And now I'm home, with just a couple of events to go. On Wednesday the 7th I'm heading up to the Sunshine Coast to speak at Annie's Books on Peregian and stay with a dear friend from my ambulance days, on Thursday the 8th I'll be at Black Cat Books in Paddington in Brisbane, then on Tuesday the 20th I'll be at Victoria Point Library. Click through to the Events page for details and how to book in.
I was going to say that once all these things are done I'll be diving back into the books! but I'm actually doing that already. I talked to my publisher while in Sydney and she LOVES the new manuscript I sent in (book 6, as yet untitled) and I'm looking forward to getting the edits back on that, and I've started playing with ideas and notes for book 7. I also have work to do for my PhD, where I'm writing a novel and a thesis (looking at women doctors in crime fiction) and loving every minute of it. Sometimes a break like the tour can refresh and inspire, and talking to people about the wonder of books and reading always makes me feel enthusiastic!
To wrap up with, here are a few links to great articles about writing, whether you're published yet or not, and a beautiful clip that I found on my friend Amber's blog about storytelling. Enjoy!
The Unpublished Writer's Seven Deadly Sins
The Published Writer's Seven Deadly Sins
It's Sunday afternoon and in two days I'm off to Sydney to start the promo tour for Silent Fear. Well, not "start", really - I've been doing radio and print interviews on and off since December, and more so in the last fortnight. But it's from this week that I get to do one of my favourite parts of this job: meet readers! I often say in my talks that as most of my days are spent alone in my home office with only the voices in my head for company, I relish getting out and interacting with real live people :) But also I love to find out what they think of the books, and hear in their voices how they feel about Ella and the paramedic characters and how these imaginary people seem as real to them as they are to me. Reading is such an amazing thing. We sit down and stare at marks on a page and we're suddenly gone from the physical world and in another place entirely, living the story with and through the characters, feeling what they feel, breathless with suspense or fear or love just as they are. Amazing. To me there's nothing like being lost in a book, and I'm so fortunate and so thrilled that readers find they get lost in my work and tell me so.
But back to the tour! The full list of events is here but the very first one is actually on TV - I'll be on Channel Nine's Mornings on Wednesday 15th Feb at 10 am for a live chat with Sonia Kruger and David Campbell. I'm delighted and petrified all at once! Then it's off to Erina for my first library talk. One event I'm particularly looking forward to is at Hornsby Library, as I grew up in Normanhurst and went to Hornsby Girls High School. I believe some of my old school pals are coming along so it will be almost like a reunion!
On the writing front, book 6 is finished and with the publisher so I'm looking forward to hearing her thoughts in the next couple of weeks. After that the edits will begin, as will the draft of book 7. I'm stirring around some interesting plot ideas and wondering what Ella's going to get up to this time!
Okay, that's it from me. Hope to see you at one of the events, make sure you come up and say hi!
The latest in Katherine's news, plus what she's been reading.