I'm taking part in the #MurderOnTheBeach blog tour which is celebrating the release of 'Soul Storm' by Kate Harrison and 'Cruel Summer' by James Dawson. I have a great guest post today from Kate Harrison where she talks about being a bookish butterfly or an author with a theme.
I have a very short attention span. I could blame the internet, but the truth is, I’ve always been a bit of a butterfly, floating between different ideas and genres.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of what I’ve written over the last couple of years:
- Three YA thrillers in the creepy, ‘Facebook for the dead’ trilogy, Soul Beach
- A romantic comedy novel about women on a fitness boot camp
- A book about mystery shopping
- Lots of short stories, including one about being mugged in Barcelona and one about meeting all your exes on a train
- A diet book
- A cookbook
This makes me a bit of a nightmare for publishers. It’s easy to sell an author who sticks to one thing – the dark, moody writer of scary books, or the happy-go-lucky writer of comedies. But someone like me is very hard to pigeonhole…
It’s made me wonder about my own sanity, too. Am I a lightweight? Then I went to a brilliant workshop by author Julie Cohen, who asked us to think about the central themes we always return to. Stories might change – but her point was that the themes we write about recur again and again in our books.
She gave us some great examples: Jane Austen’s work might seem to be about love and money – but deeper down, it’s more about status and pride.
I played around with themes of my own. Maybe I wrote about destiny versus free will? No, that’s not true in my diet book or The Boot Camp.
What about justice? It’s a very strong theme for me especially in the Soul Beach books – I want to set things right, to give the good people and the villains what they deserve. I remember feeling that right from when I was a young child.
But the quest for justice doesn’t really fit my comedies, or my cookbook!
And then it hit me: my theme is self-discovery. In every book I’ve ever written, the characters are on a journey of transformation – discovering who they really are and what they’re on earth to do. In my comedies, they have to make some fairly disastrous mistakes before they work out what they should be doing in life. And in my diet book and cookbook, it’s me going through the self-discovery process of shedding weight and working out what to eat to keep it off.
The most obvious example probably is Alice in the Soul Beach books, trying to uncover her sister’s killer and in the process, discovering her own strengths…
You could say YA books are about more about growing up than self-discovery. But I’m not sure any of us should ever want to ‘grow up’ completely – life’s about changing and adapting and discovering what makes us – and those around us - happy. And that’s what I’m going to keep on writing about.
Now, back to my ideas list. I wonder what my publishers would make of a book about a dieting space alien who falls in love with a cupcake-baking serial killer…
Check out all the other stops on the blog tour for more from Kate Harrison and James Dawson.