AWW Feature: Kathryn Ledson on trusting the process

kathryn

I am happy to welcome Kathryn Ledson back to Book’d Out today to talk about her new release, Monkey Business, a sequel to her popular debut novel, Rough Diamond. Melbourne-based, Kathryn has worked as a PA in the corporate world, for Hayman Island’s PR team, and as Peter Ustinov’s PA during his Australian tour. She has also been on the road with rock bands Dire Straits and AC/DC. She now works as a freelance editor, but her passion is writing popular fiction.

My review Rough Diamond is a funny, fast paced, romantic caper that introduces an unlikely heroine. Nursing a broken heart and a mountain of debt after being deserted by her cheating husband, Danny, Erica Jewell lives a quiet life working in media relations for an oil company, making weekly visits to join her parents for dinner and resisting her best friend’s efforts to rekindle her social life. But Erica’s world is turned upside down when she discovers a man, bleeding from a bullet wound, in her front yard begging her for her help. Action, humour, mystery and romance blend in Rough Diamond to create a lighthearted romp with an improbable plot involving terrorists armed with a hijacked load of fertiliser, a few villainous psychopaths and a secret team of well funded vigilantes protecting Melbourne from terrorist threats. It’s pure escapist fun, allowing the reader to fantasise about escaping their ordinary lives into the arms of a handsome, rich hero and saving the world, or at least their corner of the world, at the same time.

The sequel to  Rough Diamond, Monkey Business sees Jack Jones heading out on another clandestine mission while Erica agonises over the status of their relationship and grows increasingly restless when he fails to return. When Erica realises Jack, and Joe, are actually missing-in-action and no one is willing to help him, she decides to go after him, flying to the troubled island of St Sebastian, where she quickly becomes entangled in some dangerous monkey business. My review of Monkey Business was posted earlier today, I thought it was a fast, easy read, offering plenty of laughs.

Read on to learn about about Erica Jewell, the heroine of Rough Diamond and Monkey Business and Kathryn’s writing process…

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Hi Shelleyrae and thanks for inviting me to be a guest on your fabulous blog. Do you know, blogging scares the life out of me.  I think because it’s ME talking, rather than Erica (my series character) who I can hide behind when writing my novels. I can blame HER for the nonsense. But with blogging, gulp, what if I say something stupid? But anyway, here goes. Hopefully nothing too stupid…

I’d like to talk about the writing process but first, a bit about Erica Jewell because, like the writing process, she fascinates me. I’m still trying to understand her, even though my sister reckons Erica IS me. And yet, I feel I know my hero, Jack Jones, so much better. Whatever the circumstances, I know what he’ll think and how he’ll respond. But Erica? Well, I’ve had to learn to trust her, to trust that she’ll know what needs to be done. That sounds crazy, I know, but it seems to be how it works. In fact, when I’m producing my best work I feel like it’s coming from someplace else. Someplace beyond mind and thought. Here’s an example of what I mean. Recently, while working on Grand Slam (no. 3 in the series), my writing stalled. I did something quite naughty, something authors know they shouldn’t do. Rather than moving on, writing something else, I circled a scene – this went on for weeks – afraid to put down the words. You see, I needed to introduce Erica to a new character, and I didn’t feel confident that I knew that character well enough yet. Finally, having listened to my editor’s ghost words whispering, “trust your process”, I decided to do just that. Instinctively, I knew I needed to start the scene to be able to create it – this is my process – if that makes sense. So I walked Erica across the room and as soon as those words were on the page, Erica took over. She held out her hand, and the new character jumped up so quickly her bag fell onto the floor. Now, I didn’t know that was going to happen, and I know it’s not very exciting, but guess what? Things fell out of that bag. Things that could give me, and the reader, information about this character. If I hadn’t trusted my process, that scene would never have been written because it wasn’t until it was written that I knew what would happen.

I had no idea about any of this when writing my first novel, Rough Diamond. In a way I was very innocent. I just tapped out the words with no expectations and pretty much no idea about how to write a novel. All I wanted was to see Jack and Erica together. Scene after romantic scene with barely a semblance of plot. I didn’t consider the process – any process really – or how the vague sub-plots fitted with the main story, whether or not a scene had anything to do with anything. Of course, when I submitted my manuscript to publishers, I thought it was perfectly wonderful! It wasn’t, but luckily Penguin believed in the voice of Erica Jewell. Rough Diamond needed a massive amount of work to pull it together structurally, and I did this work, but when I wrote Monkey Business, the next in the series, I was frozen with worry: “I did it, yes, but what if I can’t do it again?” I had stage fright. I was no longer writing this just for me. There was a contract, and an expectant audience. I felt like a roo staring into a set of speeding high beam lights. Of course, this is very normal and part of the whole “second novel syndrome” thing. And now, having survived it, and having taken that great leap of faith in trusting my process, I’m feeling more confident with writing Grand Slam, even though I’m constantly batting away the worry that if I put down the words, what if they’re the wrong ones? This is where I’m just starting to understand that there’s no end to the learning because at just 20,000 words into the story, the final scene keeps playing over and over in my head. I’m not sure what to do about it. Write it down? But if I write it down, will that allow my “process” to produce something else as I write toward that important climax? Something better might be waiting. I have no idea and I know I really shouldn’t dwell on it too much, trusting my process instead and just getting the words down so I can move on and away from it. Who knows what will happen with that scene? Anything could happen. And isn’t that exciting?

You can find Kathryn Ledson at

website I Facebook I Twitter

Monkey Business is available to purchase from

Penguinboomerang-books_long  I Booktopia I AmazonAu

via Booko

AmazonUS

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. herschelian
    Jan 09, 2014 @ 07:35:03

    Hi Shellyrae – and a very Happy New Year to you. Yet again let me say a HUGE thank you for your blog which has introduced me to so many Australian writers I would never have discovered on my own. Living as I do in Beijing, finding new authors to read is not easy – there are a couple of bookshops which stock English language books, but the range is limited to say the least. Not being an Australian it has been a joy and delight to discover new, different, authors through your blog.
    Kathryn Ledson’s books sound interesting, are the two books totally independent of each other, or should I try to get hold of ‘Rough Diamond’ and read it first?
    On another note entirely, I have always considered myself a fairly fast reader, but I am in awe of how many books you get through in a week/month/year – and whilst dealing with all the nitty gritty of domestic life with school-aged kids! What is your secret? how do you do it? Your public demand answers!!!

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jan 09, 2014 @ 12:11:16

      And a happy new year to you – thank you for your kind words, I am glad you find Book’d Out a useful reference🙂
      You really need to read Rough Diamond first otherwise the relationships wont quite make sense though its not strictly necessary in terms of plot.

      As to the other – I really don’t have a secret. I read pretty fast, I always have and I don’t do nearly enough housework (or sleep much LOL)

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      Reply

  2. readingwritingandriesling
    Jan 09, 2014 @ 14:26:45

    Loved this interview – what an honest response.

    Like

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