Last week I read and reviewed Kith and Kin by self-published author Sophie Bowns. Sophie was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions for me. Here’s what she had to say…
1) When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I have always loved creative writing. When I was younger, my Nanan gave me a red notebook for Christmas one year and I used to write short stories in it. I started posting fiction onto my WordPress blog in about 2011-2012 and began receiving positive feedback. A couple of years after that, a family friend told me that I should consider self-publishing my fiction on Amazon Kindle and things went from there.
2) What authors inspire you?
That depends. I try to read novels in the genres that I plan on writing in. Costume dramas by Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte have always been helpful. I got introduced to film versions of Jane Eyre from the age of about five or six and read the novel at fourteen. I adore that book. She is a character ahead of her time in many respects because she is headstrong.
3) Do you read much? Do you have a favourite book or series?
Every author needs to read. I have to admit that I am not as passionate as I should be, but I always put some time aside for reading novels or short stories. Some of my favourite novels include- The Lovely Bones by Alice Seybold, The Green Mile by Stephen King and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I am not a fan of following book crazes and have to admit that I haven’t read all of the Harry Potter books, purely because I am not a fan of fantasy novels.
4) Where do you get your ideas?
A lot of my ideas come to me at random times. I think it’s a good idea not to over think things. More often than not, inspiration comes to me when I am out walking in Cumbria or during my dreams! I like to brainstorm and make bullet pointed lists and often make basic character profiles before I start to write.
5) What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
That depends. When I started writing ‘Kith and Kin’, I had actually studied and written about Quarry Bank Mill for a piece of history coursework in year ten and eleven. As well as that, I do try and read a few books in similar genres as I go. I find it easier to research as I go along.
6) What do you find to be the most difficult part of writing a novel?
For me personally, the first 20,000 words are the most difficult. I think it is a case of make or break because if I feel like if the first 20k words aren’t right, I know for a fact that the novel will not work. The very first draft that I did of ‘Kith and Kin’ was actually in the first person and it did not work. I should have changed it sooner, but I ended up redrafting the entire 20,000-30,000 words that I had written and putting them into the third person.
7) What is your favourite thing about writing?
I love getting lost in my own work. For me, creative writing is a form of meditation. I am able to zone out and transport my imagination to other places. It is also exciting when my characters start to talk to me and have their own conversations in my head! Another positive aspect of being a writer is receiving feedback. I am always grateful to anyone who takes the time to read and review my books on Amazon or Goodreads. I have a little following now and these same people come back and review my newest novel and give me feedback on my Instagram book teasers.
8) Do you have a favourite place to sit and write?
My favourite place is my wooden writing desk. It has lots of small wooden shelves to put things, and plenty of room so that I can stack a few books either side of my laptop. Failing that, sometimes I sit and write at my work surface in my bedroom. It depends what mood I am in.
9) For readers who haven’t read Kith and Kin, can you give us an insight into your main character?
I adore John McGrath. When we first meet him, he is an eighteen-year-old cotton mill worker who is unsure and frightened about his future. John has a low self-esteem and is constantly bullied by the tyrannical factory foreman, Mr Hopps. John has a gentle nature and longs to feel loved. He is a caring person, with wavy unruly brown hair and a skinny frame. I actually imagine him to look a little like Matt Bomer did when he played Neal Caffrey in White Collar, but obviously a younger version.
John does not realise how talented he is, but his gift shows when he makes a drastic decision and is taken on as a tailors’ apprentice. As he gets older, John becomes family orientated and is determined to give his daughter a better childhood than he had. She is very intelligent and although he is not academic himself, he encourages her to work hard at school.
John always wanted to be like his best friend Caine when he was at the mill. Ironically, John ends up living a more fulfilling life. Or does he? There might be more to Caine’s life than he lets on. You will have to stay tuned and read my sequel when it is released!
10) How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It does vary. I can normally write the first draft of a novel in three- four months and then I will put it to bed for a while. I then go back to it and try and publish it to the highest standard that I can. I always worry when I release a new novel onto Kindle, but ‘Kith and Kin’ has received some excellent and helpful feedback so far!
11) Are you working on any more novels at the moment and if so can you tell us anything about what you’re working on?
Yes, ‘Kith and Kin’ is going to have a second book. I felt that it wasn’t finished, but that I had written enough in that novel. People have said to me that they would like to know more about John McGrath’s story and I feel like it shouldn’t end in ‘Kith and Kin.’ I am currently 58,000 words into it. This book will shed light on Bonnie, John and Maira’s young daughter. There were parts of ‘Kith and Kin’ that were left open and I feel like I owe it to my readers to go back and answers any questions that I left open in book one.
12) What advice do you have for writers?
Never give up! If you are passionate enough about novel writing, then you need to keep going. Not everyone will like your work, but even the most successful books get 1* and 2* reviews on Amazon. Take on board any useful advice and ignore any hateful comments. Keep moving forward and expanding your ideas and never, ever give up!
13) What do you do when you aren’t writing?
When I am not writing, I am a carer for 16- 20 hours a week, I help at a hedgehog rescue centre for four hours a week and I am also an exam invigilator in November, January, March and then May and June. Hobby wise, I love walking. I live in The Lake District and go out for walks every Wednesday no matter what the weather. We walk between six and eleven miles. I also walk four miles to work four miles a week- I do like to try and keep fit!
14 ) How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can follow me on-
All of my novels are available to download onto Amazon kindle from my Amazon Authors page here- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sophie-Bowns/e/B00NHO75EA/
Thank you again, Sophie!