Some of you may know her as Khandy and have already appreciated her talent as a story-teller . Kate Forrester is here at FLY HIGH to answer my questions about her first published novel, Weathering The Storm. Read my interview and get a chance to win a copy of the book. There are two copies for two winners! This giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 18 June

Weathering The Storm is your first published novel. How difficult was your journey to publication and how gratifying was it when you got your paperback author copies from the publisher?

Trying to get your novel published is not for the faint hearted. I must have sent Weathering... to about twenty agents. My skin has become so thick that, if it wasn’t for the moisturiser, I’d look like a toad. Eventually after numerous rejections, I decided to self publish through Amazon. I was amazed how simple it was. As for it being gratifying, it was amazing. I had three firsts – the first copy being sold on Kindle, the first review on Amazon and then the first novel being sold. I was like a child on Christmas Day unwrapping my presents.

This novel was first out in instalments on line. Did you have to change much from the first original version in order to be printed and distributed?

The original novella was indeed published in instalments and was one of the most popular things I had written. It was suggested I rewrite it as an original novel. That was a real challenge. Not only did a 40,000 word manuscript became 100,000 words but, because of copyright issues, I had to remove any reference to the original TV series on which it was based. So the new novel has a completely different back story for the characters who were from Sparkhouse. Its face and feet(beginning and end) are the same but the main body has a lot of differences. I suppose, if I had to pinpoint the main difference in a word, it would be depth; at twice the original length it has more depth and a twist that many won’t see coming.

Will Barnes is your personal version of John Standring, one of the main characters in the TV series SPARKHOUSE. I loved Richard Armitage in that role. Such detailed acting, such a complex character. How did you like that role? Why did you choose to expand his character?

Sparkhouse isn’t easy to watch – it is a very bleak story. Richard’s part is small but significant. To say he lost himself in the character of John Standring is an understatement. He is unrecognisable from the man who played Thornton, Lucas North, John Porter and John Mulligan. Although it isn’t a series I repeatedly watch, it is one of his finest achievements.

I wanted to explore a couple of themes. One was how the characters moved on following Andrew’s suicide. I am firmly in the camp that doesn’t see how John and Carol’s marriage can survive the events at the end of Sparkhouse. I also wanted to explore the issue of a man aged thirty being sexually inexperianced: it certainly goes against the sterotype of a man knowing what he is doing.

Can you tell us how different your Will Barnes is from John Standring as we saw him in the miniseries?

I think of Will as more reclusive than John and more inexperienced. He only really seems to leave the farm to help his elderly neighbours and to volunteer with the Search and Rescue team. He has devoted his life to raising another man's child. I think the writer’s intention with John was for him to be a modern Hareton Earnshaw but Will is, in a way, a modern Silas Marner.

Who’s the new heroine helping him to overcome his crippling shyness? Is she very different from Carol (the female protagonist in the TV series) ?

The heroine is Alison Robinson, a school teacher whom Will rescues during the worst snowstorm in England. Unlike the character of Will’s wife, Alison is never a victim. During the course of the novel, things happen to her that could have made her a very tragic character. However, her love for Will and her inner strength and determination shine through like a beacon and, ultimately, she not only survives but she wins Will's love.

Will is not only incredibly shy, he has a serious problem with sex: How do you deal with such a delicate matter in the novel?

Well, it was tricky and, in truth, controversial. Several readers had a problem with my 37 year old virgin. I don’t want to give too much away as this is where Weathering... differs from the novella Bleak Mid Winter. As Alison explains in the book, they are snowbound together and their relationship develops much more quickly because of that. She teaches Will not just about the physical side of making love but how to deal with all the conflicting emotions he feels.

Does that mean there are explicit sex scenes? Better to warn our readers of what they’ll find!

I’m blushing as I write this. Well, we are not talking 50 Shades of Grey explicit here. I mean, friends and family have read this and I have to face them in real life and my Mum is 81. I don’t want to shock her too much, LOL. However there is no getting away from it. Obviously a story of this nature will contain sex scenes but I suppose I imply a lot and leave the reader to fill in the details from their own imagination.

How would you advertise Weathering The Storm in 50 words? 

During the harshest winter on record, reclusive Will Barnes’ life is turned upside down when he rescues Alison Robinson. Stranded together at his farm, Alison discovers Will’s secret and falls in love with the sensitive, lonely farmer. Can their love survive when the snow melts and real life threatens their happiness? 

What inspired you to start writing? When did your start doing it and what did you write about?

As a child, I had a very vivid imagination. I was always making up plays and writing stories and poems. I remember receiving an A grade for a composition I wrote at school when I was eleven which was based on Sherlock Holmes. However, once I left school, work and family took up my time and I stopped writing for almost thirty years. I then discovered C19 and the writing community there and that piqued my interest again. I started writing fanfiction – the rest, as they say, is history. 

Is there something you particularly like writing? Something you consider your best achievement?

I suppose, although I write romantic fiction I haven’t really settled into a genre yet. I have explored historical, medical, modern and pure chick lit. I do though seem to have a preference for an intrigue element to my writing and was christened “The Cliff Hanger Queen” very early on. My best achievement seems to change with every new thing I write but what I do now see, looking back, are key stages in my development as a writer. Stage one was A New Track, my first story – as others will tell you, it takes huge courage to publish that first piece. Stage two was Redemption of a Haunted Man. This piece made me realise the importance of a good plot. Unless a story keeps you turning the page to find out what happens next, it won’t be successful. Stage three was The Gruinard Project. I set out to prove to myself that I could write a novel length story and, in the process, I wrote one of my most popular stories. I was stunned by the response to it. Stage four is Weathering the Storm, my first original novel.

Since you are one of the many writers whose talent was awakened by handsome Mr Armitage’s acting, can you try to explain, how is that possible? I mean, that a man acting wonderfully can be so inspirational for so many of his admirers? 

For me, personally, it is the layers and details he adds to his characters. I have a severe to profound hearing loss and his voice, which many of his fans love, passes over my head. I have to look at the physicality of his acting and it is different in every role. But significantly he always leaves me wanting more and so that is how he has inspired me. I continue each character's story.

What are you writing now? Any special project?

I have just completed Degrees of Silence. I guess you could say it is the novel I was born to write. It tells the story of a teacher who is struck down by a life changing illness which leaves her deaf and how, by helping a young father communicate with his teenage daughter, she regains her own self worth and place in society. 

I am currently working on a new novel which will be the first not to be published in instalments. It has a working title at the moment of The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing. I do want to reassure my readers that I’m not going away. I will keep publishing short stories on C19, DreamerFiction and Wattpad so look out for my stories inspired by Thorin, Thornton, and Porter

Thanks Kate for being my guest here at FLY HIGH! Great success to your first published novel and ... see you around the Net! 

About the book

How many 37 year old male virgins do you know? Not many? Well, meet Will Barnes. This is his story. And before you ask, he isn’t ugly. He’s tall, dark and not far from handsome. It’s probably difficult to understand how such a man is still a virgin. Circumstance mainly. Will’s life hasn’t been easy. Add in his crippling shyness and, well, the whole making love thing just didn’t happen.

If it hadn’t been for the snow, Will’s life would probably have continued on the path of solitary bachelorhood. But a freak storm grips the country and a young woman quite literally crashes into his life.

Alison Robinson is a teacher who, having discovered her husband’s infidelity has run from the family home. Not a good idea in the worst snow storm on record. Initially wary of the bear of a man who has rescued her, Alison soon sees beneath the gruff exterior to the lonely man within and, on their own, with no distractions, a friendship develops which quickly turns to attraction.

Weathering The Storm is a love story. But the path of true love has never run smoothly, and it doesn’t here. As the snow melts, an abusive husband and the ghost of a dead wife threaten to destroy Will’s and Alison’s happiness.

Exploring themes such as suicide, infidelity, and a non-consummated marriage, the novel follows Will’s sexual awakening. It’s a cocktail of humour, sadness, tragedy and, above all else – love

About the author

Kate Forrester aka Khandy  
Kate Forrester is a 47 year old registered nurse. She lives in the lovely county of Shropshire with her mother, two beautiful children and the usual assortment of pets. She has been writing for four years and Weathering the Storm is her first novel.


Gratiana Lovelace said...

Hi Karen/Khandy,
I recently read your "In the Bleak Midwinter" fan fiction tale in one sitting a few weekends ago. I adored it!

So much so, that I'm reading your tale again. The love story between John and Alison is truly touching--an awakening to real love for each of them. And I'm so glad that John finally has someone who appreciates him.

I look forward to reading your novelization/transformation of that tale into the expanded "Weathering the Storm".

Cheers! Grati ;->

Mrs. Higgins said...

I always wanted to read a continuation of Sparkhouse. This story sounds very interesting. I look forward to reading it.


RAFrenzy said...

Kate, it's so good to see a picture of you! and I'm so glad you published this as a novel -- changes and all.

However, I will not be entering the contest, because I'm going to buy it!

Glad you're still putting work on C19, and I look forward to your next published work.

Thank you, Maria, for this interview.

Natasha said...

Sounds really good! Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

aurora said...

The theme is really intriguing. I would like to read it. Thank you for giving us a chance to win this novel.

Herba said...

I think it is always great to see how Mr. Armitage inspire so much people.
The synopsis of 'WEATHERING THE STORM' sounds lovely. Thanks for sharing the process of publishing with us in that great interview!
I wish you all the best for future writing projects!

minor_herba AT web.de

jaydee09 said...

I accidentally became a beta reader for khandy, along with time4tea, some time ago. And what a pleasure it has been! She is a wonderful story-teller and I always feel gleeful that I get to read her stories before just about anyone else, LOL! I love Sparkhouse and read In the Bleak Midwinter before I began editing. I thought it was a lovely story and I was thrilled when she decided to extend it into Weathering the Storm. I think she captures the John Standring of SH, so don't worry that you will get a change of character along with a change of name. And what really pleased me about WtS is the unexpected twist as she extends the story. I was concerned that we might just get padding, but,no, she carries on with the story in an imaginative way. Congratulations, khandy, on your first published novel. And I hope to edit a whole lot more!

khandy said...

Thank you to everybody for the comments and to Maria for inviting me to do this interview.

You have Maria to thank for the photo frenze she asked for one.

I have to thanks Time4tea and Jaydee who now beta my writing and also Alicat my first beta reader. Without them my writing would be nowhere near as good

khandy said...

I should also say that I have been lucky to come to writing via the RA fandom which is just a wonderful place. The support and encouragement is just wonderful

Nancy said...

This sounds different. I'd like to read it. Thanks for the chance to win.

nanze55 at hotmail dot com

linda60 said...

Ah wonderful..Thank you so much Maria for this interview with khandy (and of course the picture!!)
I loved "In the bleak midwinter" and I devoured "Weathering the storm" in one (long!) go. This unexpected twist in the story gave me nearly a heart attack and I for sure couldn't stop reading.....Khandy I'm looking forward to read many, many more stories, fanfictions or novels of you. BTW is the printed version now available?

khandy said...

Hi Linda sadly only via Amazon com in America

Trudy said...

So glad to see Kate featured here on FLY HIGH! She's such a prolific writer with a gift for making her characters come to life in whatever plot she devises.
I loved Weathering the Storm - I bought the paperback. The John Standring character is truly recognizable as the sweet, trustworthy, and shy man we saw in Sparkhouse. It's a lovely story you won't want to miss.

Mrs. Higgins said...

The more comments I read, the more I want to read this book.

Literary Chanteuse said...

I have not heard of this author and book but it definitely sounds good. Thanks for the giveaway!


khandy said...

Trudy thanks so much for your lovely words your support has been just aazing and I can't thank you enough.

Mrshiggins I hope you get the chance to read it soon.

Margaret thanks it is nice to know that the the blurb makes it sound interesting

Servetus said...

Always love to read more about the talented khandy!

(I already have a copy -- bought it within seconds of reading it was available! so please do not enter me in this giveaway.)

khandy said...

And doing this interview enables me to thank the numerous people who have spread the word about the novel and you Servetus have been a star so thanks

Anonymous said...

Thank you MG for giving us a chance to read more about Kate/Khandy: I've read all her works so far, and my favourite is The Gruinard Project :)
I wish her all the best with this new novel, but hope she'll find the time to go on with the v. promising JT FF 'Passages in Time' :)
mrskarenblixen at gmail dot com

khandy said...

I proise that when I have finished with Thorin and Porter I will return to JT

Monica said...

Thank you for the nice interview and the giveaway. I would really like to read this book.
Let us also know when Degrees of Silence will be available!


nobutterfly said...

I've never heard of Kate Forrester, but this interview makes me curious about the book.