James Molloy Writer
Centre Stage - The Silent Chapter
Hi there, and welcome back to the blog.
First of all, I’d like to thank you for coming by to read this week’s article. This is the fourth instalment in the ‘Centre Stage’ series, where I interview independent authors about their upcoming releases. I hope you have been enjoying this series so far, as I feel it is important to try to give independent writers a lift whenever possible, and a monthly interview on my blog is the best I can do for everyone. If you like the following interview, I will provide links to purchase the book below so you can check it out for yourselves.
This month I have been lucky enough to get an interview with Katherine Blakeman, who is currently promoting her upcoming release, The Silent Chapter, which comes out on February 7th, 2022.
Q1. Tell us about yourself and your upcoming book?
My name is Katherine and I am from the East of England. I am the author of The Silent Chapter, a comforting mix of historical fiction, romance and a top note of domestic fiction, which is coming out on February 7th.
Q2. How long on average did it take you to write this book?
The bare bones of this book were written when I was thirteen, about to go into hospital for spinal surgery. It was on the backburner over that summer – pun not intended – and I picked it up again that autumn, when I was fourteen. I finished the first draft just before I took my GCSE exams, and since then I’ve been rewriting sections and polishing it up. I finally regarded it ready to publish about this time last year. So, all in all, about five years.
Q3. What surprised you the most about writing your book?
How it would take over my mind. I remember studying for my GCSEs and having my mind wander to it in English lessons, and writing random single words on my hand in the hope that I would remember whatever I had been thinking of when I got home. Normally, I didn’t! Even at night, I would lie in bed thinking of where the plot could go next, and once I even got up in the middle of the night to find a bit of paper so I could write down a new idea. (My parents thought I was sleepwalking!)
Q4. Was the main character inspired by a real person?
Neither of the main characters, but the character of Hazel (introduced in Chapter Eight) is inspired by my grandmother Audrey, to whom the book is dedicated. One particular tale of hers of being an evacuee in the 1940s is incorporated into the plot – but you’ll have to read it to find out what!
Q5. Which character in your upcoming book do you relate to the most?
Honestly, nobody in particular. I suppose that when I wrote the first draft, when I was fourteen or fifteen, I didn’t really know myself well enough to incorporate much of myself into the characters. I definitely take my promises seriously, like Dorothy. And I’d like to think I have the cool grace and dignity of Katharina, but who knows?
Q6. How do you select the names of your characters?
Most of them just seemed to fit. To me, they already belonged to the characters. It’s hard to explain. The best way I can describe it is that the characters already existed in my head, so their names were already part of them. If you see what I mean.
Q7. How would you describe your ideal reader for this book?
Anyone who likes a bit of twentieth-century British historical fiction and who wants to make my day by buying my debut novel!
Q8. What can readers expect from your book when they purchase it?
Oh, all the feels. Laughter, tears, and everything in between. I’ve written a couple of paragraphs in the epilogue that should sum up perfectly everything that the reader has felt throughout the book, but I know that’s not helpful here. So I’ll just say this: it’s the story of life. Or several lives. What can you expect from a book that follows life? That’s impossible to define.
Q9. What inspired you to write this book?
I always loved hearing my grandmother tell me stories of World War Two when I was younger. (I still do!) I also loved the simplicity and pure innocence of Enid Blyton’s children’s books. One sunny Sunday in 2017, I sat at my dad’s computer with a blank Word document in front of me, as I did so often back then, and what came out was a mix of Blyton-esque storytelling and a story that my grandmother told me. It’s undergone some pretty drastic changes, but what I came up with is now Chapter Eight of The Silent Chapter.
Q10. What did you learn when writing the book?
So much. So, so much. So much that I can’t really remember what I knew before and what I actually learnt while writing! Two things stand out to me though: I learnt about the difference between suffragists and suffragettes, and I learnt about what makes a true, quintessential Swedish dinner party. You’ll have to read it to know where they fit in the book, though…
Q11. Who are your writing friends that inspire you and how do you keep each other motivated?
Well, despite inspiring me, I can’t exactly call Enid Blyton a friend, so…
I am so lucky to have become a part of the Book Twitter community, and that is where I have met most of my writing friends. Azariela Kerrigan (@AzaKerrigan) and I chat quite a lot. I think we both have plans for world domination! Other writers who inspire me are Olivia Bratherton-Wilson, fellow historical fiction author of The Lives We Left Behind, and Bixby Jones, author of the recently published Soulmate, Stage Right (which I’m currently reading and loving!). If I wrote about everyone, I’d make this blog ten times longer, but suffice to say there are a whole bunch of names in my acknowledgements… *winks*
Q12. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Music! Music, every time. I’m a huge fan of anything deep and meaningful (some may say depressing). Anything with nice words. I’ll hear a line from a song and immediately want to convey the emotions it stirred up in me to my readers in whatever book or project I’m working on at that moment. It’s helped me infuse so much meaning into The Silent Chapter, and listening to the same song on a loop for an hour is worth it for that!
Q13. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I have two that spring to mind.
One is vanity publishers. Don’t get me started. If anyone asks you to pay them to publish your book, run as far away as you can. Burn any contracts they send you. Block their emails. They are not legitimate publishers, and they will eat your money.
The other is a bit more light-hearted. When I finished writing what is now Chapter Eight of The Silent Chapter, but back then I thought could be a short story, I went through the whole book and replaced various adjectives with what I thought were ‘better’ and ‘more sophisticated’ ones. So I ended up with fifty pages of sentences such as this… ‘Brobdingnagian candelabras were being enkindled by Elaine and the cutlery coruscated in their flickering flames.’ Sounds like I’ve swallowed a dictionary, right? Thank God I rewrote it! Longer words do not make the story better, trust me.
Finally, what is your favourite word and why?
It varies sometimes day to day! But, like my favourite comedian Miranda Hart, I do have a fondness for the word ‘plunge’. Plunnnnge. If you know, you know!
The Silent Chapter will be released on February 7th, 2022. I will include a link to check out the book below if you are interested in pre-ordering before the release date.
That’s it for this week. I just want to leave by saying a huge thank you for taking the time to read this article, with a special thanks to Katherine for a wonderful interview. I hope you all liked it, and I would recommend picking up a copy of The Silent Chapter if you are interested. Finally, I hope you enjoyed the fourth post in this series, and I hope to continue this series as usual on the first Friday of every month. If you would like to follow Katherine on social media, you can do so on Twitter @kblakemanwriter.
Note: The Silent Chapter WILL be released in paperback; however, it is not available to order just yet. Hang tight!
Link to pre-order:
Until next time,