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Monday 22 May 2017

THE SOUND OF SILENCE - an interview with Katy Johnson

Today I'm joined by fellow-author Katy Johnson, whose latest novel The Silence is published by Crooked Cat Books on 8 June 2017.

Welcome, Katy!  What prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

My grandmother encouraged me to write. My first book was a collection of stories about a naughty chimp, written in Biro. I saved up my pocket money to buy a red plastic typewriter to write the next volume.

Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

Psychological, coming-of-age drama

What was the inspiration for this book? 

I love stories where people are taken out of their comfort zone and coming-of-age stories where the main character makes a life-changing decision that will affect their adult life. 

Did you do any research for the book? 

I didn’t have to do much as it’s not a procedural crime story but I did have it read by a speech therapist and GP and discussed a section with a firearms expert to make sure it was plausible. There are very few foreign words in there but I checked these with a native Italian speaker to make sure it was accurate in a colloquial way.

What does a typical writing day involve for you?

I don’t really have a typical day but once I've seen the children off to school, checked my social media and walked the dog I try and get non-fiction work done first and then reward myself with some fiction writing time.

How do you decide on the names for your characters?

I tried to choose names that weren’t too similar and didn’t start with the same letter as that can be confusing for the reader. The main challenge was choosing the name for the villa, which is an important character in the story. I wanted an old-fashioned girl’s name that was distinctive but easy to pronounce but not one that had too many associations for most people. I'd hate any of our Italian neighbour's to think it was about their house! After producing various shortlists I chose Villa Leonida.

Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?

I wrote the first draft without knowing how it would end but then plotted the later drafts to develop the story arc, include foreshadowing etc.

Which writers have influenced your own writing?

It's probably best not to say in case it raises people's expectations and then disappoints!

What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst?

Best – the alchemy of seeing it come together. Worst – getting all those plot points in place while making sure the details are consistent can be like wrestling an octopus.

Now that the book is on the point of being published, how do you feel? 

Excited – and a bit terrified. a bit like I felt when sending my children off to school on their first day.

Is there a message in your book?  

There is, but that might give the ending away!

Find out more at the Online Launch Party June 8th 

Do you have any advice for new writers?

I still think of myself as a new writer, so it’s probably a bit early for me to give advice, but I’d say first of all just write the book. Don’t worry about getting the first draft perfect. When you’ve got to the end you’ll have a clearer idea what the book is about and then you can sort out the story arc, flesh out the characters and develop the key scenes.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m writing a second book about Villa Leonida – a different secret, different time, different people – although there is a link.

The Silence is published on 8th June. You can buy it by clicking here.

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