Super excited to be hosting today’s stop on Karen King’s – ‘Perfect Summer’ blog tour! Karen is definitely not a stranger to TWG HQ itself, but she is a stranger when it comes to a TWG interrogation! Well, she was ;). Enjoy!!
Hi Karen! Thank you so much for joining me on my blog today! Are you ready for your interrogation? I’ll be gentle, honest….
Thank you for inviting me along, Kaisha. I’m ready to go. *Takes a deep breath. *
Before we begin properly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you onto the path of writing?
Well I’ve always loved books, both reading and writing them. I had my first poem published when I was about eleven and that inspired me to carry on. As I got older, got married, had children, I still scribbled away but didn’t send anything off for years. Then I started sending stories and articles to children’s and teen magazines. Finally, Jackie magazine offered to buy an article off me. I was so chuffed! Then I wrote more for them, articles, stories, photo stories.
You write books for multiple audiences aside from women’s/contemporary fiction; could you tell us a little bit more about how you came about writing for multiple audiences?
I’ve always written for different genres because not long after I had my first article published in Jackie I was asked to write for young children’s comics and before I knew it I was writing for a living. But, with a family to support, that meant I had to keep writing, and selling my writing, so I often accepted commissioned work and wrote everything from picture books, joke books, story books, even plays. Now I find it difficult to write for one genre as I have so many ideas buzzing about in my head.
I will always hold your novel, ‘I do…or Do I?’ close to my heart as it’s such a fantastic novel (as well as the fact that my quote still gets tweeted to this day). What inspired you to write such a bold novel about such a relatable topic?
What a lovely thing to say. Thank you, Kaisha. And yes, your fabulous quote is very popular! The idea formed when I read somewhere that the night before her wedding Princess Diana was wondering if she was doing the right thing and her sister told her that she couldn’t pull out because her face was on the tea towel. I started wondering how many women got swept along with the wedding plans, maybe because of their partner, friends, or family, but it wasn’t really what they wanted. How many women were settling for marriage to ‘safe’ partners because they didn’t want to hurt their feelings. And gradually the idea fleshed out into a woman who is about to get married when she meets her first love again, and discovers they both have feelings for each other. I tweaked it a bit, made Timothy not so ‘safe’, brought in a pushy ‘monster in law’ and the story took off from there.
Between you and me, deep down did you secretly want to ruin a character’s life in the above book (or any others), or are you too nice for that?
Of course I’m too nice for that, Kaisha! 😊
Your new YA novel, ‘Perfect Summer’, is set to be published on the 10th May, congratulations! What awaits us beneath the front cover (totally not asking for spoilers)?
Don’t be fooled by the title as this is rather a gritty book. It’s set about thirty years in the future when society is so totally obsessed by perfection that plastic surgery (now called body enhancement) is the norm and anyone who is slightly different, or disabled in any way is looked down upon. Morgan, the heroine, has a friend called Summer who is beautiful, rich, has cool parents and a seemingly perfect life whereas Morgan isn’t so beautiful or rich and her little brother Josh has Down’s syndrome. Morgan and her family get a lot of hassle from the Ministry who want them to put Josh in a Residential Learning Centre, where most disabled children are sent, but Morgan’s family refuse. Then one day Josh goes missing and the authorities aren’t interested so Morgan and Sumer decide to investigate. They, along with another teenager called Jamie whose little sister, Holly, has gone missing too, uncover a sinister plot involving the kidnapping of disabled children and find themselves in danger. Can they find Josh and Holly before it’s too late? Expect a few shocks and to shed a tear or two.
I have noticed that you also have a written a book which reminds me of shortbread, The Millionaire Plan. How difficult was it to write ‘millionaire plan’ instead of ‘millionaire shortbread’? This is a genuine question!!
It was quite difficult actually because the heroine Amber, had a ten-point plan to bag herself a millionaire and I quoted one of the ten ‘rules’ consecutively at the top of each chapter – so then of course I had to write the chapter to fit the rules! It was easier than making ‘millionaire shortbread’ though as I’m not a brilliant cook – I’m more of a ‘food heater’. You know, out of the freezer into the micro or oven.
Okay, ‘Perfect Summer’ is a YA novel, but if you could describe YOUR perfect summer in three words, what would they be?
Sun, sea and spritzer.
Some of your readers may be aware of one of the genres you write, and not the others. If a reader came to you asking you to persuade them to read your YA novel (they had never read that genre before), what would you tell them?
A lot of adults read YA, in fact more than half the YA readership is adults according to the Guardian. I think this is mainly for two reasons, the escapist appeal of books like Harry Potter or Divergent, or the issues raised by books like The Fault in our Stars by John Green or Speak by Laure Halse Anderson – and by my own book, Perfect Summer. YA deals with topics in a lighter way than adult fiction and the books are often a pacier read so I’d say give it a go, what have you got to lose?
I have dabbled in a few YA novels in the past, do you have any favourite authors from that genre (aside from yourself obviously, goes without saying!)?
Yes, I’ve read quite a lot of YA but it’s hard to choose a favourite, there’s so much talent out there. I guess top of my list of YA books is Ash by Malinda Lo, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and The Uglies series by Scott Westerfield – I was chuffed when one reviewer likened Perfect Summer to a cross between The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and The Uglies.
When you start planning your YA novels, how difficult is it to switch your mindset to ensure you do end up writing a story of that genre, and not any other genres?
It isn’t too difficult because for me the character always comes first, and it’s their story. I start writing straight away from ‘inside my character’s head’ so my mindset is in that genre and age group – hopefully!
I’m assuming you’re very well read (when you aren’t writing) what five things do you look for when it comes to other storylines by other authors? What keeps you hooked on a book?
I read in lots of different genres but the main things I look at are the title, cover, back blurb, first page and character voice. Those are what draw me in. And it’s the character that holds me, I need to care what happens to them, to want to find out if they make it through.
What five things are most likely to turn you off about a book?
A boring character, a story plot that’s going nowhere, too much blood and gore, graphically- detailed sex and lots of descriptive passages.
I ask this question to every author I interview; what was your most favourite book as a child and why?
The Just William books by Richmal Crompton because they made me laugh out loud.
Which books by other authors, if any, have stayed in your head long after you have finished reading them?
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, the Samaria series by Sharon Shinn, Before I Go To Sleep by S.J.Watson and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
Do you look up to any authors, or secretly wish that you had written one of their books? (If yes, please share who and which one!!)
In the romance genre I love the work of Sophie Kinsella, Mandy Baggot and Sue Moorcroft. I can’t say there’s any book I wish I’d written because we all write differently so it wouldn’t be the same story if I wrote it – and probably not as successful!
A little birdie told me that July of this year will be when another book is added to your collection, you’re very busy! What exciting things can we expect with ‘A Cornish Hotel by the Sea’?
Yes I’m really excited about this one. I holidayed in Cornwall for years, and lived there for almost a decade so writing the book brought back many fond memories for me.
The blurb says ‘Ellie Truman’s widowed mum is struggling to keep Gwel Teg, the family hotel in Cornwall, afloat. Ellie is determined to do everything in her power to help her, even if that means moving back to the sleepy Cornish village she fled from broken-hearted a few years ago. Things go wrong from the start and she’s grateful for the help from hunky guest, Reece Mitchell. But does Reece have ulterior motives? Will Ellie’s efforts be for nothing?’
So expect some clashes with a feisty, kind hearted heroine and a hunky not-quite-what-he-seems hero in a fantastic summer setting.
Are you preparing yourself already for readers to start saying ‘oh no, not another book set in Cornwall’? I have never been to Cornwall but it certainly seems a popular setting for books, does that concern you?
No not at all. It’s a lovely setting for a book. Sun, sea, sand and romance – what more can you want? Apart from a long, cool spritzer, of course!
TWG does like an exclusive, so, putting you on the spot now, do you have any exclusives for me? Do you have any new books being published after the July one? Please tell me alllllll; I won’t share your secrets….intentionally ;).
Well I am working on another three books; a YA, a chick lit and an emotional drama but that’s all I’m saying for now. 😊
Thank you so much for your time and good luck with the release of your new book, Perfect Summer, on the 10th May! As always I will cheer-lead you and your books. I hope to see you back on TWG soon, you’re welcome any time! Thank you for interviewing me, Kaisha, and for your support. It’s much appreciated. 😊
So today we have learnt that Karen is far too nice when it comes to ruining a characters life (hmmmm!!!! 😉 ), and how she struggled not to write ‘shortbread’ for one of her books! Write shortbread, eat shortbread; same thing really isn’t it? Mmmm I want some now! Thank you, Karen, for allowing me to interrogate you today!
For those of you who wish to find out more about Karen’s upcoming book, ‘Perfect Summer’, keep reading for the blurb and an extract!
Set in a society obsessed with perfection, 15 year old Morgan is best friends with the
seemingly perfect Summer. But when Morgan’s brother, Josh, who has Down’s syndrome, is kidnapped, they uncover a sinister plot and find themselves in terrible danger.
Can they find Josh before it’s too late? And is Summer’s life as perfect as it seems?
Summer and I hurried upstairs while Josh was busy watching TV. Summer plonked herself down on my bed while I got my things ready.
“Want some music?” I asked, pressing the silver button on the comm-panel. The
latest hit from Krescendo, our favourite band, blasted out and a hologram of them playing beamed onto the wall. Then I pressed the green button, my wardrobe doors glided open, and a rail of clothes slid out. I glanced over at Summer, feeling awkward as always, that my room was so small and my wardrobe so sparse. Summer’s wardrobe was a huge walk-in affair full of designer clothes. Luckily, she was sprawled out watching Krescendo so I quickly grabbed the clothes I needed for the weekend and shoved them in my rucksack. Thank goodness I’d found an immaculate emerald green Maliko dress at the recycle store the other week. That would be perfect for Roxy’s. I knew Summer would let me borrow her clothes but felt better if I wore something of my own.
I took out the dress and zipped it into a freshpack to keep it crease-free. I glanced at
the image screen on my bedroom wall and grimaced. My make-up needed renewing and
some strands of my chestnut hair were escaping from the ponytail I’d swept it into. I swiftly fixed it and applied more make-up. I didn’t want to turn up at Summer’s looking a mess, Tamara and Leo expected everyone to always look their best.
“Ready.” I pressed the buttons on the CP again to close my wardrobe doors, and
switched off the music.
“Have a nice weekend,” Mum said as we popped in to say goodbye. She looked so
pale, with dark circles under her eyes. I could tell the visit from the Ministry had upset her and hesitated for a moment, wondering if I should stay. But Dad was due home soon and I was so looking forward to the weekend. I loved going to Summer’s house and being spoilt for a bit. It was like living in another world. She was so lucky.
“Thanks, we will.” I leaned over and tousled Josh’s chestnut curls. “Bye, Josh.”
“Play, Maw,” he said, scrambling up.
“Maw going out now. I’ll play with you when I come back.” He puckered his face as
if he was going to cry, but Mum took his hand. “Come on, Josh, let’s pick some tomatoes for tea.”
Josh’s face lit up. He loved helping Mum in the garden. Everyone had a vegetable
patch, compost and water butt by order of the Ministry as part of the Planet Protection
Programme. I hated gardening but Josh loved helping Mum water the plants with the rainwater collected in the butt, and picking the vegetables. Summer’s parents had a gardener, of course. Mum led Josh out into the garden while we went out the front door. before Josh could realise I was leaving. I had no idea how much I was going to regret not playing with Josh one more time. Or not kissing him goodbye.
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Karen King is the author of over 120 children’s books and has had two YA’s published,
Perfect Summer and Sapphire Blue. Perfect Summer was runner up in the Red Telephone Books YA novel competition in 2011 and has just been republished by Accent Press.
Karen is also the author of two romance novels, and has been contracted for three chick lit novels by Accent Press. The first, I do?… or do I? was published in 2016 and the second, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, is due out in the Summer. In addition, Karen has written several short stories for women’s magazine and worked for many years on children’s magazines such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh as well as the iconic Jackie magazine.
When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.