It's always a pleasure having authors on the blog to share not only about their novels and what brought about the stories, but also what led them on the path to becoming writers.
Katherine Fleet is the latest in the Behind the Pages series, and I'm excited that she wanted to do an interview for IFB because I really liked her debut novel. Check out the interview below and enter to win awesome prizes!
What/who inspired you to become a writer?
This may sound odd, but love stories inspired me to write. When I was a teenager and in my early 20s, I was obsessed with love stories – romances, historical romances, teenage romances. I loved a good love story. Often when reading a book, I’d imagine my own versions, sequels or alternative endings. When I was in my early 30s, I finally realized that I just had to try writing my own story, instead of constantly trying to change someone else’s!
What was the transition like, moving to Curacao from Canada?
Great question! I’d always wanted to live in a different country, but after we had kids, I thought that dream was over. I figured we were too “tied down”. Ironically, it was my kids that made the transition easier. They are so adaptable, especially when they’re young, and they make you join in the local community. They make friends, go to activities, and drag you along with them. They don’t give you time to sit in your house and feel homesick. Still, it wasn’t all easy. There were times in the beginning when we wondered what the heck we’d done, but I’m so glad we stuck it out. We’ve lived here almost nine years, and I’m so thankful for this experience. I love that my kids see the world as a much smaller place now and are so open to new and different experiences.
How has life on the island impacted your writing?
The biggest impact is the time I have to write. Back in Canada, I had a demanding, full-time career. Since moving to Curacao, I have time to write, and believe me, I know how lucky I am in this respect. I’ve also had the time and resources to travel, which is amazing. Travelling inspires my creativity. The only downside is being so far removed from other writers. Fortunately, I have great online friends in the writing community.
Where did you get the idea for your debut novel, The Secret to Letting Go?
I know this sounds cliché, but I had a dream that became the first scene of the book. When I woke up, Clover’s character was so clear to me – an eccentric, innocent girl with quiet strength who’d clearly been through something traumatic. This dream was probably inspired by an interview I’d watched a few days earlier – an interview Diane Sawyer did with Jaycee Dugard, a young woman who’d been kidnapped at the age of 11 and held against her will for 18 years. I was so taken by her grace and positivity in the face of the unimaginable. I kept thinking about her, and she probably influenced the quiet strength I created in Clover.
Did you do any research on the situation that Clover was living in?
In a way, I’ve been researching it for years. I’ve always been drawn to survival stories. I’m not sure why, but I’m always reading and watching accounts from people who have survived various traumatic situations, and their stories normally stick with me. I try to put myself in their shoes and imagine how I would have handled their situations. My husband often asks me why I get so emotional over people I don’t even know, but I can’t help getting drawn in. While Clover’s situation is extreme, I felt like I drew from all of this when I was telling her story.
How challenging was it to create a character like Clover, someone who has been through abuse and how it affected her life onward?
As I mentioned above, Clover came to me fully formed, just begging to have her story told. The only thing I didn’t know was exactly what she’d run from. I played with several backstories for Clover before I found one that fit the plot I’d developed. Before the book released, I did wonder what my friends and family would think when they read it – would they wonder how I’d come up with her dark and violent past? When my mom and dad read it for the first time, they definitely wondered where their seemingly well-adjusted, happy daughter got her ideas from!
How long did it take you to write the story?
This book had an unusually long time frame. Unfortunately, I’d just started writing when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of chemotherapy, it took almost nine months before I was emotionally and physically ready to write again. So, the book took eighteen months in total to finish.
What would you like for readers to take from these characters or even from the story?
First, I’d like to say that I didn’t write this novel with a particular message in mind. I wrote this book because I had these characters in my head and I needed to tell their story. Having said that, as much as this story is about surviving loss and still learning to live, I’d also like to think it’s about compassion, forgiveness, kindness and hope. I’ve been fortunate enough to have people who’ve reached out to me right when I needed it, just when things seemed bleak and overwhelming. They probably weren’t even aware of the impact they had on my life in that moment. So, I think we could all benefit from being a little more like Clover J
What are you working on next? Could you share a little?
I’ve just finished a YA set in South Carolina in 1962. It’s about a young New York socialite who falls in love with a boy from the wrong side of town and is struggling with family secrets and tragedy of her own. I’m hoping my agent will be going out on submission with it soon!
Thank you for taking the time. Please leave any tips you might have for aspiring writers.
Thanks, Shane. I’ve loved answering these questions and I do have a couple tips. First, don’t be disappointed if your first book is not published. Writing, like any other art form, gets better with practice. Take some writing classes, share your writing with critique partners, and your writing will keep improving. Also, for me, I only became serious about writing when I started to tell people I was a writer. Telling people made me accountable and helped motivate me during the tough times. Finally, find people who will support and encourage your writing goals. It may be your family, friends, a critique partner or an online writing community. You may need to put yourself out there to find them, but the reward will be worth it!
More About Katherine Fleet
Originally from Newfoundland, Katherine Fleet gave up the cold winters of Eastern Canada for the year round warmth of the Caribbean. The slower pace of island life has given her time to pursue a long-time goal—becoming an author. When she’s not writing, she spends her time baking, chauffeuring her three amazing, talented kids around, and having sun-filled adventures with her husband and wonderful friends in Curaçao. She is also a very thankful breast cancer survivor. In 2007, she joined RWA and has enjoyed the support and camaraderie of the YARWA and OIRWA writing communities. She’s participated in NaNoWriMo since 2012 and is an active supporter of the associated Young Writers Program. She is represented by super-agent Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. The Secret to Letting Go is her debut novel.
Haunted with guilt after his girlfriend’s death, Daniel Hudson has no interest in committing to anyone. At the end of the summer, he’ll be leaving Florida for a new start in college. If only he could avoid the mysterious new girl in town, who seems every bit as naive and eccentric as she looks. Trouble is, she’s hard to ignore, with her beautiful piercing eyes, pitiful-looking dog, and unsettling tendency of finding trouble.
Clover Scott lived her whole life off the grid and arrives on the Gulf coast in search of her grandparents. She never expected to nearly drown, or get caught in a hurricane, or fall in love with the boy who rescues her. Now, she has a chance to rewrite her life’s story, to finally fit in somewhere, but Daniel wants answers about her past. When the police start asking questions about the disappearance of her parents, she must make a choice: go to jail or confess her secrets—even if they might destroy her chance at a happily-ever-after.
Open to US & Canada