Over the February half term Karine Hetherington and I found time in our hectic schedules to meet up at the Royal Festival Hall for coffee and a catch up. The most important celebration of the morning was the recent publishing of her first novel, The Poet & The Hypotenuse.
The last time we saw each other was about 3 years ago at one of Caroline Natzler 's courses when Karine was working on a short story version of The Poet & The Hypotenuse. In fact, we worked together on a collection called Chasing the Hypotenuse.
So in the 3 years since I last saw you the story has developed into a full blown book.
Yes, it's been a long process because it's taken a long time. I've been working part-time. It's probably taken about 5 years.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
It started out as a short story about a young Russian emigre and her family in the 1930s. Then mushroomed eventually into a book which took a while because half way through I decided to start all over again. So it was a long spread out process. But I'm pleased I did start again because it's meant it is a better book. So now 82,000 words later and it's over but it's not entirely over because you're always going back on it.
THE PASSION & THE GENRE
When you write a book the story just comes flowing out of you. Your first book is your first love, your baby. My second book is an extension of the first. At the moment when you see the little royalties trickle in, it's hilarious how excited you get. But it's amazing how a book can also take up your life. Certainly in the early stages you're so worried about typos which keep you up at night. Especially when you're writing historical fiction. I wake up at night and think that date is wrong and that character could not have said that because it's historically wrong. I've had to go back 3 or 4 chapters starting again. Even though I'm really drawn to history and setting my characters in an historical context it has it's own problems. I don't want my characters to be cardboard cut-outs in an historical setting. But it does create a framework for me.
PUBLISHING THE BOOK
I've published on Amazon. The only other help I had was with the cover because I felt it was important to get that right. The editing I organised privately. A lovely little company called Electric Reads formatted it onto Kindle. You never meet them obviously. It's all by email. They're terribly helpful whereas I was trying to do everything by myself; came Christmas and I was nearly having a breakdown so they formatted it for £75. It was amazing and then to see it on Kindle!
IT'S OUT THERE
After Christmas it was live within 48 hours and it's a real learning process because you're waiting for people to read it and get the reviews back. For me it's quite nerve wracking. But it's all really interesting too, seeing how people from places like Australia and America pick up your book because it's online and maybe a friend abroad has mentioned it.
THE MARKETING PROCESS
I was invited into The Royal Ballet School to do some marketing. I read a little bit of the book to the students but they were very interested in the title and the writing process. Most of the session was talking about the title which they found very intriguing. I'd like to do more of that. It's what I feel most comfortable with. But I was holding up my kindle and I thought “Oh no! They're missing out on the wonderful cover.” So I'm having the paperback done on Createspace.
I feel more comfortable doing this than dealing with the technical side of online marketing. I haven't done any marketing apart from sending out emails to people I know. And that sort of mushrooms out. But I'm going to work on an online presence because I feel writers need to link up.
Karine is currently working on her second novel which follows the travails of Tatiana and her husband during the German occupation of France in WWII.
The Poet & The Hypotenuse is available to buy on Amazon.