We interviewed author Kathryn Ledson on her latest book Monkey Business, life, and what’s in store for the future…
What made you decide to write a book?
Actually, you know, I didn’t really “decide” it! After I finished the writing course, I assumed I’d go back to my old life in the corporate world, but this time as a writer or editor. I did try, applying (half-heartedly) for a few jobs. I advertised my services as an editor, got a few bits and pieces but what I really wanted to do was write this story that was knock, knock, knocking, asking for attention. Actually, I think it was Erica Jewell doing the knocking – she was so determined to have a life. So it’s strange, I know, but in a way it was out of my hands.
Where do you spend your time writing?
I hog the dining table so no-one else gets to use it. This means we have dinner on our laps or sitting at the kitchen bench because the table’s always covered with my stuff (what IS all that stuff?). But the dining table seems to be where I’m most comfortable. I don’t mean just physically comfortable. I like to be able to see the garden and have quick access to the kettle and biscuits.
Did you find Monkey Business easier or harder to write than Rough Diamond?
Oh, much, much harder! When I wrote Rough Diamond I never really thought about getting published. That was a pie-in-the-sky dream that I didn’t allow for myself. So in a way I was writing it just for me, which meant I was free to just, well, write! But with Monkey Business – whoa! I discovered a thing called “Second Novel Syndrome” (I don’t actually know if that’s an official term) which caused me to freeze like a roo staring at a set of speeding headlights. Suddenly I had a contract, a deadline, a team of professional editors waiting for it, and an AUDIENCE! OMG. Talk about stage fright.
Erica Jewell is an Australian version of Stephanie Plum – are you a Janet Evanovich fan?
I was so flattered and worried when my books were first compared to Janet Evanovich’s because she’s a pretty big act to follow! I’ve read some of her books and they’re very very funny. There are some differences though, apart from the Aussie-ness of mine. While the Stephanie Plum series is sort of timeless (the characters don’t change or age), in mine time moves forward, and Erica and her friends all age and grow. Because of this I can’t keep the series going forever. I mean, they can only change and grow so much!
Which authors inspire you?
I don’t know that I’m inspired by other authors as such, although there are many I admire. Some I could read simply for the beauty of their prose, even though I might not necessarily enjoy their stories. And there are others whose stories I love but whose writing I don’t enjoy very much. But none of them really “inspire” me. For inspiration, I usually pick up a “how to write” book, and the one that really struck a chord for me – quite recently in fact – was Donald Maass’s “Writing the Breakout Novel”. It had some terrific pointers, and the day I finished that book I wrote 5,000 words and made some major changes to the plot. Now that’s inspiring!
Are you working on anything at the minute – will Erica be back in book #3?
Oh, yes, book 3 for Erica Jewell! Its working title is Grand Slam, and it’s set around the Australian Open tennis. I’m enjoying it so much (and enjoying watching the tennis under the guise of “research”). Now that I’m over Second Novel Syndrome, and have a much better feel for how this whole novel-writing business works, I’m feeling more relaxed about it all and just allowing myself to have fun with it. (Although, admittedly, between bouts of panic, I had a LOT of fun writing Monkey Business!)
You’ve got a Professional Writing and Editing diploma – what’s one piece of advice you’d give students wanting to get published.
Never. Give. Up. You could be the best writer ever with the best ideas, but unless you’re persistent, you may as well not bother. One of the greatest take-aways from the course was the repeated advice about dealing with rejection. This is something ALL writers face almost daily. Rejection from publishers and agents, rejection in the form of bad reviews. It’s very difficult to swallow, but if you want to be out there, then you have to put yourself out there. Join writing groups, network, attend writing events and festivals. Make friends with other authors – my experience is that they’re supportive and helpful, and love it when they can help you succeed.
What is your favourite word? Why?
“Snore.” WHY? As soon as I read that question, the word “snore” popped into my head. I think because it sounds like it sounds, you know what I mean? And it’s funny. I like anything that makes me laugh.
Are you reading anything at the moment?
Yes, I usually have one novel and one non-fiction book on the go. Currently reading Michael Connolly’s The Last Coyote but not for pleasure as such, even though I do love a good crime novel. I’ve heard it’s structured very well, so I’m keen to see what he does with it. And I’ve just bought a book called “Why We Write – 20 acclaimed authors on how and why they do what they do.” I can’t WAIT!
Monkey Business was released in January 2014.