Almost two weeks ago Kate Frost published her first novel The Butterfly Storm. She’s currently on a blog tour to promote it and as part of that I’ve been privileged enough to interview her about writing her novel and the challenges she faced along the way. Here is what she had to say.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
When I was seven. Following open-heart surgery for a hole in my heart I had home tuition for a few months. The two things I remember learning about were dinosaurs and punctuation. My tutor basically gave me the tools to write dialogue and stories, and that was it, from that moment on I was hooked.
How did you come up with the idea for The Butterfly Storm?
It all began with Greece as I knew that was where the setting of the novel, at least in part, was going to be and then my main character Sophie began to filter in when I started thinking about how and why someone would end up living in Greece. It just snowballed from there; I didn’t actually start writing it with any real structure in place. I knew of certain scenes that I wanted to include but I didn’t exactly know where it was heading and I certainly didn’t know the ending.
Did writing The Butterfly Storm require much research and if so what did that research
One of the main reasons why I began writing The Butterfly Storm when I did was because I didn’t want to write a novel that required much research. For the MA in Creative Writing I was doing at the time the main requirement was to write 40,000 words of a novel to publishable standard in less than 12 months and so I wanted a story that I could simply get stuck into rather than having to spend a chunk of time wrapped up in research. The fact that I’d spent time in Greece and north Norfolk, the two places that feature heavily in the novel, helped greatly in me being able to just put the words down, all 40,000 of them!
What’s the biggest challenge you faced while writing it?
To take on board the comments of an editor who was interested in publishing it and then having to start almost from scratch with it and be ruthless, cutting chapters that didn’t actually have a place in the story (originally there were flashback chapters), rewrite other sections and then write a handful of completely new chapters. It was a lot of hard work but it taught me so much. I now have no problem at all cutting words, sentences, paragraphs or even whole chapters that I know don’t work!
What have you found to be most helpful to your growth and development as a writer?
Without a doubt it’s been the time I’ve spent workshopping my work with other writers and getting constructive feedback on what works and what doesn’t, what sections are redundant and what doesn’t make sense. I think it’s so important to get feedback from others as a lot of the time you’re too wrapped up in the story you’ve created to look at it through unbiased eyes.
What has the experience of going through the self-publishing process been like for you?
It’s been an exciting one and one I’ve got more passionate about as I’ve gone along. At the time I started writing The Butterfly Storm (nine years ago) self-publishing was very much frowned upon and so it had taken me quite a long time to come around to the idea and be comfortable with the thought of publishing it myself. But I’m so pleased and proud that I have done and I certainly don’t feel that it’s second best. I’ve taken on board all the comments and advice I’ve had from the writers I workshopped the novel with and the feedback I got from agents and publishers and so I know I’ve got a decent novel. What self-publishing has given me is the ability to be in control of it, which is hard work, but very satisfying being able to choose the cover, arrange for it to be proofread and organise the marketing and promoting side of things. It’s been a very positive experience so far and hopefully it’s just the beginning.
Looking back over the whole process of writing The Butterfly Storm and publishing it, is
there anything you’d do differently?
Yes, I’d have more faith in myself and wouldn’t have left it nine years to get to this point! Having said that I’ve learnt an awful lot during this time and have grown as a writer so I certainly think The Butterfly Storm is a far stronger novel than it would have been if I’d published it five years ago.
Have you got any tips for other aspiring writers?
To keep writing and improving and to not give up. Perseverance is key as is a thick skin if you send your work out to agents and publishers. Also write the story that you want to write. If you don’t enjoy writing it the chances are a reader won’t enjoy reading it either.
**Anyone who buys The Butterfly Storm between Friday 14th and Friday 28th June and emails the Amazon receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org will be put into a prize draw to win one of two £5/$5 Amazon vouchers.