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The Sleeping Season with Kelly Creighton

Today I’m delighted to be able to host Kelly Creighton on the blog tour for her amazing new novel, The Sleeping Season. Best described as the first in a Belfast Detective Series, the book is set predominantly in East Belfast and is published by Friday Press. The release of the book has been hotly anticipated, particularly by me, as of course my novels are a Belfast Detective Series set predominantly in West Belfast. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader copy. It was amazing to say the least. You can read my review of it here Before the spectre of Covid-19 reached our shores, I managed to catch up with Kelly for a Q&A. Unfortunately though, some of the events mentioned have had to be rescheduled due to the Coronavirus. Describe yourself using three words? Chaotic, impatient, creative. What time of day do you like to write? I don’t have a set routine or even have to write every day. I’ve written as I waited for football practice and gymnastics and all sorts. I write much less now than I did when I started in 2012, but I am more efficient; I have a lot structured and worked out in my head before I start. If you count making notes and thinking about the books I’m writing, or going to, then I’m practically working all day, every day. I fit it in here and there. Stays at retreats like the River Mill, Downpatrick lend invaluable headspace and time to really sink my teeth into a new idea or wrap a project up. How did you pick the title of your book? The Sleeping Season (Book 1 in DI Harriet Sloane series) has had about four different names in the five, going on 6, years since I first wrote it. The other titles weren’t obvious that they belonged to the crime fiction/police procedural genre, so I thought about the book in terms of imagery and came up with a bed. The missing person - a young boy called River - goes missing from his bed, and the book deals with issues like rape within marriage and disability: in this case Huntington’s disease, which has left Harriet’s mother bedbound. And it is set during October, when the natural world goes to sleep, if you like. Are the characters in your book based on real people? No, they aren’t. A friend once said to me, ‘We don’t live in a vacuum.’ A phrase I always think about since. Aspects of real life, experiences, how someone dresses, how they speak, what is going on in the news, it all ends up in there - for me. But I only write fiction. Once you start writing the imagination grows. Interestingly I did have someone contact me years back to say they knew I had written about them, and from the message it was clear they hadn’t even read the piece. I think Carly Simon also wrote a song about the same person. What's your favourite word? Because. If you were a colour what would it be? I hadn’t heard of Kelly green until lately. Has to be it. Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow? It depends on what I am writing. For novels, I do a rough outline, a sentence or two for each chapter and allow myself to move lots within those parameters. But with short stories I kind of know where I’m going but allow myself to be surprised. In the DI Sloane books I spend days mapping out plot before I even open my pc and allow myself to write the word Prologue. The instalments get far more intricate in books 2 and 3, so I would only tie myself up in knots if I tried to wing it. Who is your favourite Author? Gillian Flynn. She’s ballsy and a fantastic writer. I can’t fault anything of hers that I’ve read. Are you working on a new project? DI Sloane book 2 isn’t exactly a new project - I wrote it nearly three years ago - but I need to do the final edits. It will be released in November. I have a book about a serial killer that needs a bit more editing and it has an autumn deadline too, but I’m a glutton for working on what I’m in the mood for and I have a couple of half-done manuscripts I am itching to get back to. Do you have any upcoming events our readers can attend? The Sleeping Season is launching in No Alibis, Belfast on Friday 27 March, with help from Simon Maltman and Sharon Dempsey. We will be talking about the genre and giving readings. Then I’ll be in conversation with Sharon on Saturday 16 May at The Secret Bookshelf, Carrickfergus, which is a gorgeous new store run by local sci-fi and fantasy writer Jo Zebedee. There should be some literary festival slots in spring and summer but it’s too soon to say, so watch this space! What would you consider your biggest achievement? Honestly, my biggest achievements are personal things, probably all family-related. Writing-wise, when a reader knows your work and wants to talk about it, whether it is a student studying The Bones of It or someone who has come along to an event. Suddenly something you invented is no longer just in your own head, but something tangible, that’s the best. A man at a library book club said he couldn’t stop thinking about my book for days after. I don’t think he loved the book but I loved his remark. I don’t want to write a book that you set down and forget about instantly. What would you consider to be the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your industry? To stop being selfish. I’m not selfish at home: I look after a husband and four kids, one of which is disabled, and we have a few dogs, so initially writing was my chance to be self-centred and I’m all for that. It is a solitary profession and you do have to promote yourself, but the lesson is that you have to get the balance right and get out there, take a class, join groups and see that there are many amazing people doing cool things, not just you. Social media is a lifeline but making connections with real people helps with the writing loneliness and offsets all those darned rejections. People are more honest about their writing life in person too. If you had to describe your work to someone who has never heard of you what would you say? Dark, funny, thought-provoking. The DI Sloane series is quite feminist. Unflinching. What’s the funniest experience you’ve had in your business? I once visited a book group of older ladies. None of them (bar one!) had read The Bones of It because they were offended by the language. There is a lot of it, to be fair. (Even though I deleted 47 f*cks.) One woman came to my defence, she said, ‘I loved it, read it twice and I’ll read it again. I could have eaten it.’ That comment made the whole trip worthwhile! But then she had to leave. An hour in, after tea and biscuits and a chat, the group warmed to me and said they would give the book another go, then another member came in; I think she had been trying to avoid me. The other women told her how nice I was and that I had four children etc. and that maybe they quit the book too soon, but she still looked disgusted. When my phone buzzed in my bag she said, ‘That’s your kids wanting you to go home now.’ What would your advice be to young people hoping to pursue the same industry? It’s easier if you just want to write; if you want to challenge yourself to learn and then become the best writer you can be. Of course it might be part of the appeal that you will one day get published, but don’t start with that. Publishing is a different, fickle ball game. People complain a lot about writing and most of us aren’t being asked or paid to do it, so only write if you love it.

Find Out More or get your hands on a copy using the links below.

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