Today I am welcoming Kathleen Jowitt into the Indie Spotlight.
Kathleen Jowitt writes contemporary literary fiction exploring themes of identity, redemption, integrity, and politics. Her work has been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize and the Selfies Award, and her debut novel, Speak Its Name, was the first ever self-published book to receive a Betty Trask Award. She lives in Ely, works in London, and writes on the train. Find her at www.kathleenjowitt.com and @KathleenJowitt
Thank you for joining me here on my blog today, Kathleen.
What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?
I found it so difficult getting anybody interested in my first novel (too gay for the Christian market; too Christian for anything else) that eventually I gave up and published it myself. That one ended up being shortlisted for quite a prestigious prize, which in turn attracted some interest from agents, and I followed up with one of them. By the time she decided that she couldn’t do anything with it after all, I’d decided that actually I liked having the freedom to do what I like.
What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?
I started out writing contemporary litfic because it cut down on the amount of research. The first book happened because I had a particular story to tell about a particular place and time. Even so, I tend to wander between genres. This year, for the first time, I’m attempting a historical novel. At this point the only thing that’s true of all of them is ‘they’re about twenty-somethings trying to figure out the right thing to do in a difficult situation.’
Do you only read the genre that you write?
No, I read all sorts of things! I have my favourites (thrillers, golden age detective fiction, travel writing…) but I’m struggling to think of a genre that I wouldn’t at least try.
What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?
I’m rereading a beloved children’s book series – Swallows and Amazons, and all the sequels, by Arthur Ransome. I’ve just started watching Star Trek: Lower Decks alongside the original series, and it’s a lot of fun. I used to love Futurama and this hits the same kind of spot. I’m quite fussy about the type of music I listen to while I’m writing. It needs either to be instrumental or to be in a language I don’t understand, or I get distracted by the lyrics. Classical or acoustic guitar works well for me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Loads! Whether it will work for anybody except me, though, that’s another question. One thing that I would want to say is that you’re likely to come to a point where you think your work is absolutely awful and you don’t think you can do your own idea justice. Don’t panic, don’t give up; keep on writing and you’ll find your way through to the other side. Really, I think it all boils down to ‘Just give it a go, and keep on trying’.
What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?
I have two books on the go at the moment. One is a thriller in a modern day Ruritania. The other takes the story of Romeo and Juliet and considers what might have happened had they survived the events of the play. As to which of those will appear first… your guess is as good as mine! But I’m having fun with both of them, even if it’s slow going sometimes. One thing that’s really working for me at the moment is just opening up all the documents I’m working on and adding a sentence to each of them, every day.
I wish you the best of luck with your new projects and with sales of your published books, Kathleen. Thank you so much for taking part in Indie Spotlight!
Speak Its Name
A new year at the University of Stancester, and Lydia Hawkins is trying to balance the demands of her studies with her responsibilities as an officer for the Christian Fellowship. Her mission: to make sure all the Christians in her hall stay on the straight and narrow, and to convert the remaining residents if possible. To pass her second year. And to ensure a certain secret stays very secret indeed.
When she encounters the eccentric, ecumenical student household at 27 Alma Road, Lydia is forced to expand her assumptions about who’s a Christian to include radical Quaker activist Becky, bells-and-smells bus-spotter Peter, and out (bisexual) and proud (Methodist) Colette. As the year unfolds, Lydia discovers that there are more ways to be Christian – and more ways to be herself – than she had ever imagined.
Then a disgruntled member of the Catholic Society starts asking whether the Christian Fellowship is really as Christian as it claims to be, and Lydia finds herself at the centre of a row that will reach far beyond the campus. Speak Its Name explores what happens when faith, love and politics mix and explode.
A Spoke In The Wheel
The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.
The first thing she saw was the doper.
Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it.
Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done.
But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.
Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…
The Real World
Colette is trying to finish her PhD and trying not to think about what happens next. Her girlfriend wants to get married – but she also wants to become a vicar, and she can’t do both. Her ex-girlfriend never wanted to get married, but apparently she does now. Her supervisor is more interested in his TV career than in what she’s up to, and, of the two people she could talk to about any of this, one’s two hundred miles away, and the other one’s dead.
The Real World.
Who is next in the Indie Spotlight?
Hi everyone! I’m P.L. Stuart! Nice to meet you! I’m a Canadian high fantasy author, of Ghanaian and Barbadian descent. I live in Chatham, Ontario, with my wife Debbie. “A Drowned Kingdom” is the first novel in “The Drowned Kingdom Saga.”
I’m an experienced writer, in that I’ve been writing stories all my life, yet never thought to publish them. I’ve written informally – short stories – to entertain friends and family, for community newspapers, volunteer organization magazines, and of course formal papers for University. Now, later in life, I’ve published what I believe is a great fantasy novel, and definitely worth reading, called “A Drowned Kingdom”.