Welcome to the ninth Author Spotlight post of 2022! Every month, I showcase an indie author and interview them to find out more about their writing life.
This month, the author in the spotlight is K.W. Thomas. K.W. is an editor as well as an indie author, so we move in two of the same spheres. When she published The Scoop, I snatched it up to read as soon as I could, and I was not disappointed!
Bio: K.W. Thomas lives in the north east of England with her husband and two children. By day (and sometimes by night), she is a freelance fiction editor, and any spare time she has after she’s through with work, housework, life admin, refereeing her children’s arguments, and, erm, faffing about on Twitter, she spends reading, and now writing, romance novels, because there can never be too much love in the world.
Q: The Scoop, your latest work, is a fun and steamy romance. Can you tell readers about it?
A: Devon Grant is a movie star whose hatred for the press is legendary. Cleo Carrigan is an English reporter who somehow manages to get a half-decent interview out of him. When Devon’s biggest secret gets out, he suddenly needs a sympathetic journalist to help him tell his side of the story…
Q: What inspired you to write about a reporter and a celebrity?
A: A couple of years ago, I developed an odd fascination with press junkets – how they must feel so different to the actors who have to sit through endless interviews and to the reporters who have to try to make theirs stand out. There seemed to be an interesting conflict there, and conflict’s always a great place to start building a love story.
Q: Family and sacrifice are both huge themes in this book. Why did you choose to explore these themes?
A: Family is really important to me in general, and although my own background is entirely unremarkable, I love that there is no one way to be a family. Romance novels are about one kind of love, but I think the way we understand and experience the other kinds has a huge impact on us, and I liked exploring that. I’m not sure I consciously chose to explore the theme of sacrifice, but in creating these two characters who are each very fierce in their own ways, it seemed natural that they would be willing to do anything for the people they loved. But the sacrifices Devon and Cleo make for the people they love also give them something to hide behind, and in order to find happiness, each must reflect on what they’re hiding from.
Q: Devon and Cleo, the protagonists, have such strong and distinctive voices. How did you develop their personalities and narrative styles?
A: As an editor, you become very conscious of how different you can make a character sound by changing a word or two. It’s like a fun puzzle for me – if I had to make two characters express the same sentiment, what references would each draw on, based on their personalities and experiences? Cleo was a lot easier – she’s not a self-insert (at least I hope not!), but there are definitely bits of my personality and the way I express myself in her. I have almost nothing in common with Devon, so I enjoyed the challenge of trying to create his voice. If I wrote something for him and it sounded too “Cleo” or too “me”, I often went back and picked at the sentence to see if I could find a way to tweak it.
Q: Why did you choose the self-publishing route?
A: Because I have no patience! Querying is a long, long process, and I just don’t think I have it in me. I also love that self-publishing lets you do things your way. I work with and read some amazing indie romance authors, and the freedom they have to find their own process and make their own decisions appealed to me more than looking for a publisher did.
Q: What advice would you give authors who are looking into self-publishing?
A: Do your research – there’s a load of information and help out there! And know what your goals are, because that’s going to affect how much time and money you’re going to need to invest in which areas. If you just want your friends to be able to buy your story from somewhere, you won’t need to do the same things as someone trying to make a full-time living as an author.
Q: Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g., lighting a candle before you write, meditating before you write, going for a walk to get ideas)
A: None at all! Maybe I need some and that would help me write faster… I’m a mum of two with a freelance business and a serious social media habit, so writing is something that gets done in snatches here and there. I am British, though, so when I do sit down to write there’s usually tea involved.
Q: What does your research process look like for your writing, if there is one?
A: Once I’ve got the story in my head, I then look at where I need to fill in gaps in my knowledge to make the story work. I read as much as I can on the internet, and then I try to find experts who can advise me on specific questions. I hired a US beta reader with knowledge of the film industry for The Scoop, and she gave me loads of great advice about little moments in the story that wouldn’t quite work as well as correcting a few lingering Britishisms. I also spend a lot of time on Google Maps making sure my locations work, because that’s something I notice as a reader (and as an editor, as many of my clients who’ve had to rework a plot point because of my travel pernicketiness will know!).
Q: Do you have any specific authors or books that you've learned from on your writing journey?
A: I learned a lot from Talia Hibbert about how to write a down-to-earth, fun romance that still has a lot of emotional weight. I’ve learned so much about how romance works from working with Tillie Cole for many years – she’s such a natural storyteller who instinctively knows where those high and low points need to be. I learned how to create feisty heroines from all the chick-lit I read in the late nineties/early-noughties! And I’ve read some great craft books as part of improving my skills as an editor – I’m a huge fan of Into The Woods by John Yorke, The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald J. Maass, and I’ve just picked up Writing Deep Scenes by Martha Alderson and Jordan Rosenfeld, which looks like it’s going to be really useful.
Q: What’s your number one tip for tackling imposter syndrome?
A: I tell myself two things on a regular basis: 1. Other people can do the same thing as you, but there’s only one you. Everyone has something unique that they bring to the table. 2. If Liz Truss can be Prime Minister, anyone can do anything.
Q: How do you refill your creative well?
A: I read. I used to be reading constantly, but between life and my phone and the fact that I spend all day working on books, sometimes I don’t get around to picking one up for myself. But whenever I manage to make some space to fall into something wonderfully written, it sparks my love of writing right back up again.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: I am working on the next in the series – two of the characters from The Scoop are getting their own book. It’s going quite slowly at the moment though!
Q: As a bonus, can you tell readers about your style guide, A Very Sweary Dictionary?
A: A Very Sweary Dictionary is a style guide for swear words. Some of my editing clients are very sweary indeed, so I was always having to figure out whether the inventive new curses they’d written should be one word or two. It became a semi-joke in the online editing community that I always knew the answer to those kinds of questions, and eventually I wrote a blog post about it. So many people told me they often referred to that post in the course of their work that I decided to expand on it and make it into a proper book. It’s saved people from having to delve into Urban Dictionary too often, I’m told!
If you'd like to follow K.W. Thomas on her writing journey or find out more about her stories, this is where you can find her: