Q&A: Author Karen King @karen_king @AccentPress

 

Perfect Summer final

Perfect Summer by Karen King

To celebrate the release of Karen King’s latest book, Perfect Summer, she has joined me to answer some questions about herself and her writing. If you think that you haven’t read anything by Karen King then it is quite possible that you are wrong. Did you read Jackie magazine when you were younger? Perhaps you’ve read one of Karen’s 100+ children’s book to your child at bedtime? Or maybe one of her young adult books? Karen King has been making a living by writing for many years, so the chances are that you have read something by her. But if you haven’t then you can read this Q&A and decide which of her many books you might want to start with.

 

Hi Karen, thanks so much for joining us.

Thank you for inviting me over, Rebecca.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, please? How did you get into writing?

I’ve been a published author for over thirty years. I started my writing career with the teenage magazine, Jackie and spent many years writing for various children’s magazines such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh before concentrating solely on writing books.

You have written many, many children’s books. How does writing for children differ to writing a book for adults? 

Yes, I have, my last count was 120 children’s books. Whoever you write for, whether it’s children or adults, you need a credible, engaging character and a strong story plot so you start off from the same place but children’s books are shorter so the pace is quicker. When you’re writing for younger children you have to be aware of their restricted vocabulary and of the publisher’s limited word count. For children over 9 this is more flexible but even then the story tends to be fast-moving, with action and dialogue superseding description. When I write for adults I find that writing description is the most difficult to do, describing the beach my characters are sitting on, for example, instead of simply saying ‘they sat down on the soft sand’ – probably a result of writing for children’s magazines for so long, when the word count was so restricted there was no room for any description at all.

Can you tell us something that we, your readers, don’t know about you?

Gosh, there’s lots you don’t know about me. Let me think. Well, I can’t ride a bike. I tried when I was younger but I just couldn’t balance, or stop the perishing thing. After ending upside down in a litter bin I decided to give up trying!

Do you have any quirky writing habits? 

I don’t think so. I don’t have to use special notepaper or a certain pen, for example. I’ll write on anything, till receipts, shopping lists, the margins of magazines. I do like to buy pretty notebooks and pens though, but then I don’t like to use them.

 If you weren’t an author what would you be? 

A teacher. I really admire the work teachers do, it’s such an important job. I was all set to start training to be a teacher when I was offered regular writing work on children’s comics. As I had four young children I opted to write instead so I could work from home. Now I often visit schools to talk to children about writing, and my work, as an author which is great.

Do you have a favourite book that you have written and if so why that one?

 Sapphire Blue. It’s my second YA and is about two teenagers, Sapphire and Will, who really love each other and promise to be together forever. Unfortunately, they both die in a car crash and are separated in the after-life. They’re determined to find each other though, and go through all sorts of danger to do that. The theme is ‘can love survive death’ and one reviewer from Ind’tales magazine called it ‘the best YA out there right now’. It’s the story that’s closest to my heart because I believe we carry on after we die, and that we’ll see our loved ones again.

Having written so many children’s books why did you decide to write adult romance?

I like writing romance stories. Back in the early days of my writing career I wrote romance for teens; photo stories and short stories for Jackie, Patches and Loving magazines. I’ve always been interested in writing a romance novel but was too busy earning a living writing children’s books for the first twenty years of my writing career. A romance novel is at least 50,000 words – my chick lit ‘I do?…or do I?’ is 75,000 – that’s a big commitment and as a full time writer I couldn’t spare that time until my family was grown-up.

 

Can you tell us about your new book, Perfect Summer and why we should read it? 

Don’t be fooled by the title as this is rather a gritty book.  It’s set about thirty years in the future when society is so totally obsessed by perfection that plastic surgery (now called body enhancement) is the norm and anyone who is slightly different, or disabled in any way is looked down upon. Morgan, the heroine, has a friend called Summer who is beautiful, rich, has cool parents and a seemingly perfect life whereas Morgan isn’t so beautiful or rich and her little brother Josh has Down’s syndrome.  Morgan and her family get a lot of hassle from the Ministry who want them to put Josh in a Residential Learning Centre, where most disabled children are sent, but Morgan’s family refuse. Then one day Josh goes missing and the authorities aren’t interested so Morgan and Sumer decide to investigate. They, along with another teenager called Jamie whose little sister, Holly, has gone missing too, uncover a sinister plot involving the kidnapping of disabled children and find themselves in danger. Can they find Josh and Holly before it’s too late? Expect a few shocks and to shed a tear or two.

I got the idea for this story when I read an article about girls as young as four and five being worried that they were too fat or too ugly. That’s really sad. I started to think how far this obsession with perfection would go, would it get so bad that people who didn’t have perfect looks would be shunned from society? And how would disabled people be treated? I hope people will read it and start to question whether people should be judged by their looks and that girls, in particular, will stop worrying about having perfect looks. The dedication inside the book says ‘For everyonewho thinks they aren’t beautiful, thin, clever or good enough. Celebrate your uniqueness. There is only one you.’ That’s the message I want to get across.

And finally, where can readers find out more about your books and connect with you on social media?

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Karen King Young Adult Books

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenkingauthor/?hl=en

Thanks for inviting me over to your blog, Rebecca.

About the author:

KK Head and Shoulders

I’ve had over one hundred and twenty children’s books published. I’ve written for many children’s magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. Some of my short stories were featured on Playdays BBC and some of my poems on the BBC One Potato, Two Potato website. I write for all ages and in all genres. YA, story books, picture books, plays, joke books, I’ve written them all.

I also write contemporary romance and have recently signed a 3 book contract with Accent Press. My first book I DO – or DO I? was released in May. Accent Press have also re-released my romances ‘The Millionaire Plan’ and ‘Never Say Forever’ with brand new covers. Book 2 is in the process of publication and I’m now working on Book 3.

Perfect Summer by Karen King is out now and available from Amazon UK, you can also find Karen’s extensive library on Karen’s Amazon author page.

 

 

Book Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr.

 

florabanks

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr.

 

My 4.5* review:

I haven’t read an Emily Barr book for years, the first book of hers that I read was Backpack, a book that I loved back in 2001. After that, I read a few more books by the author but then she seemed to disappear under my radar and I actually thought that she had stopped writing. A look at the author’s page on Amazon tells me that she hadn’t disappeared at all.

I heard a bit about The One Memory of Flora Banks and when I realised who the author was I requested it to read on Netgalley and was happy to be approved. This was Emily Barr’s first book aimed at young adults, but as I enjoy reading that genre it didn’t put me off, and I hope that it won’t put you off either. When a friend told me how much she’d enjoyed this book I quickly bumped it up my tbr pile and I’m so pleased that I did.

Seventeen year old Flora is a wonderful character, she copes with short term memory loss by writing on her arms and hands, making sure that when she suddenly finds herself somewhere believing she is ten years old she can quickly see the information that she needs to know. As well as writing on her arms Flora has one tattoo, it says ‘be brave’ which becomes Flora’s moto and at times, her mantra.

Understandably, Flora’s mum is very protective of her but when Flora’s estranged brother is suddenly taken very ill in France her parents decide to leave Flora at home with her best friend while they go to be with him. Unknown to Flora’s parents, her best friend is no longer speaking to her after finding out that Flora had kissed her boyfriend at a party.

Suddenly alone in her house Flora appears to go slightly crazy. She remembers kissing the boy so clearly, yet she has no other memories at all after the age of ten. Believing that only true love would cause her to remember something she becomes obsessed with Drake and determined to find him, even though he is now at university in Norway. Flora proves to be remarkably resourceful and thanks to numerous post-it notes around her home she remembers to keep up the pretence to her parents that she is not alone and all is fine.

I loved the character of Flora, she is so strong and capable, it would be so easy to give up in her situation but instead she fights and she finds ways to get around her short term memory loss. The way that she is written is so believable and real, I have no idea how Barr managed to portray such a complex character so well.

Flora is clearly a special person, everyone she meets seems to be endeared to her and wants to help. This proves particularly useful when Flora manages to get herself to Norway, determined to find Drake. In a completely unknown and foreign world, Flora struggles, the constant daylight confusing her body as well as her mind and unlike home, where she has memories from before the age of ten, here she remembers nothing, relying on the writing on her arms to guide her. She meets some right characters along the way, they soon realise that there is something different about Flora, but they see her spirit and so endeavour to help her where they can.

I could go on and on about the book, the storyline and Flora but I don’t want to give too much away. The book is a joy to read, I just loved Flora’s fighting spirit and how with the help of other’s she is able to overcome her difficulties and fight against her mothers’ control. Flora really has to be one of my favourite ever characters in a book and I hope that I remember her for a long time. Be Brave might just become my new moto too.

I received a copy of The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr from Netgalley but I was under no obligation to review it.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr is out now and available from Amazon UK. In America, you can pre-order the book from Amazon US or it is available now on audiobook.

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Review: The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

smell of other peoples houses

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Blurb:

Alaska, 1970: growing up here is like nowhere else.

Ruth wants to be remembered by her grieving mother.
Dora wishes she was invisible to her abusive father.
Alyce is staying at home to please her parents.
Hank is running away for the sake of his brothers.

Four very different lives are about to become entangled. Because if we don’t save each other, how can we begin to save ourselves?

Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock’s extraordinary debut is both moving, and deeply authentic. These intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America’s Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare talent.

My Review:

The Smell of Other People’s Houses is lovely young adult book about life in the 70s in Alaska. I’ve always been interested in Alaska and I was intrigued by the title of this book.

This book is very different to what I normally read, but it was nice to have a change. Although it felt slow to start and I had to remind myself that thrillers start with a bang, but other genre’s are slower to get going. The Smell of Other People’s Houses turned out to be a lovely book, I loved how the story of the teenagers evolved and how they were all connected in unexpected ways.

An easy read, The Smell of Other People’s Houses is a charming book and gets a solid 3*s from me.

I was given a copy of The Smell of Other People’s Houses by the publishers via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

The Smell of Other People’s Houses is available now from Amazon UK and Amazon US