Guest post by Katharine O’Neill

Guest post by Katharine O’Neill

Guest post by Katharine O’Neill

When did you start writing?
I started writing in school. When I was meant to be studying for my GCSE exams, I was writing a novel. Ended up being about 250,000 words, which I wrote in 7 months. I was pretty proud of it at the time, but looking at it later on I cringed. I had been doing a few segments now and then after watching a TV show or listening to Terry Pratchett, inserting myself into that particular world. Then I studied creative writing in a joint honours degree at university, but I didn’t completely focus on my writing until 5 years after graduation. I had been unemployed for about a year, had a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old, and my partner was going into his first year at university to study mental health nursing. I didn’t want to live off an allowance from his bursary and I decided to do something about it. So I put myself on freelance website Upwork and started looking for work. That was 5 years ago and I’ve ghostwritten at least 500 stories. It gave me the confidence to push forward my own work to be published, which finally happened with JMS Books in 2018.

How do you come up with titles and ideas?
Titles I struggle with. Sometimes it comes to me, but other times I have no idea until the story’s written. Those are not easy to come up with. Ideas are a different matter. With my first book A Day to Remember, I used a segment of a consumer show we have over here in the UK as the body of the story, and it worked. I’ve had people asking if I’m going to make it into a series – that I haven’t got sorted yet. Maybe once I’m completely self-publishing and not needing to be reliant on ghostwriting for my income. Now I mix and match tropes or ideas from shows, put them into a little box and then draw each one out as a lucky dip. That works when I’ve got a lot on and I’ve been given free rein of the plot.

Describe a typical writing day.
I get up about 7:30 and get the kids ready for school. We only live a 5-minute walk, so it doesn’t take long to sort them out. I drop them off and come back, which is when I set up in the living room. I try to work between 9 am and 3 pm, but that can often be 9 am to 12 pm depending on mood/motivation/distraction. Then I pick the kids up from school, get them dinner and make sure they know what I look like before I put them to bed. After that, I’m writing from when they go to bed until about midnight. Because of the amount of work I put on myself, it means working practically every day, although I’ve made sure now that Sunday is my day off. Until the kids go to bed. With the pandemic, it’s bits and pieces while I attempt to keep to the same routine.

What is the most difficult part of writing?
Keeping yourself motivated. You get to a point in the story that you don’t want to do but it has to be there. Something else gets very interesting. I also have some undiagnosed issues that have me wanting things in a very set way and if I get distracted in the slightest from what I’m doing, I can’t get back into it and that’s the rest of the day off-balance. I like to think I’m good with change, but I don’t think I am really.

You write both straight and LGBT romances. What’s your preference?
I’m not fussed with either. I do like to write LGBT because it’s something different. I like my women to be confident and my men to be manly in straight romances, and I bring that to my LGBT romances.

Quickfire Questions
Hobbies: Watching horror video games played by Youtuber CJUGames. He’s freaking awesome! The game Outlast was an inspiration to one of my stories with another publisher.

Favourite food: Depends on my mood. Although KFC will always be among the favourites.

Which 3 people would you have for dinner: Thomas Cromwell (he’s actually distantly related to me by marriage, plus my favourite person in history), Sir Tony Robinson (love his documentaries and his passion for history) and comedian Steve Hofstetter (his quick wit is something to behold).

Best part of the day: Having cuddles with my two little monkeys.

Sports: I play field hockey for Derby Hockey Club, and I also swim for Etwall Masters. I’m aiming to compete at national level and/or international level in a few years as a veteran.

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