A full-time author lucky enough to write in Paradise. Ask Me Anything.

K T Bowes
Sep 9, 2018

I've been writing forever and publishing since 2012. I have 23 published novels to date available on all major platforms.

I'm what's known as a 'pantser', sitting down to write and listening to the characters to see where we go next. It's a different way of writing from those who sit with endless charts and plans and know the ending before they begin. I think I would've been locked up in an institution in ages past for listening to 'voices.' But it works for me and my novels sell really well. I guess the proof is in the result.

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When writing, especially time leaps, how important is it to ensure the reader relates with the shift?Does this work better than the rush we sometimes see towards the end of some books?
Sep 21, 3:17AM EDT0

I don't like time leaps personally. I start to lose interest when it becomes a common theme throughout a novel. But I don't mind a little move forward at the end if it helps to mop up the story line and round things off. It's often in the form of an epilogue. I used that method at the end of 'Artifact' to give some continuity to the novel as it was a standalone.

Sep 30, 8:46PM EDT0
What was the best advice your professor gave you to make you take the bold step to publish your first book?
Sep 19, 10:59AM EDT0

Get it as clean as it could possibly be and then just submit it. In my haste I ignored the first part and submitted. I regretted it immediately and ended up with lots of messing around after the fact. I'm a perfectionist but let panic overrule good sense. He would have been horrified. It's something I've never been tempted to do again. Edit, edit, edit and then edit again. Readers pay good money for the product and they deserve nothing short of perfection.

Sep 20, 5:11PM EDT0
When writing, do you find yourself following the guidelines set for writing the different genres or do you prefer to let your heart lead you?
Sep 18, 8:52AM EDT0

I'm a 'pantser' so I let my heart lead and then see how far off the track I've gone when I'm finished. Sometimes I'll pull myself in half way through or when I hit a road block. Readers of certain genres have an expectation of how things will work out and get upset if things deviate. I'm fortunate enough to have readers who'll just follow, possibly because of the genres I write in. I know others find it harder in say, romance for instance. Romance novels are written to a set beat, but I find things like that much too restrictive, which is why I don't write them. Beta readers are awesome for stopping me wandering into a complete other genre, as are developmental editors. 

Sep 18, 4:06PM EDT0
Do you think one can learn to be a writer or would you say it is inborn?
Sep 15, 5:12PM EDT0

I think you can learn the skills, but the love of pouring out your soul onto paper is something which comes from inside a person. I don't know if you're born with it or just discover it hidden within yourself somewhere along the way. Lots of people shelve their creative desires between school and employment and only come back to them later. Sentence structure, grammar and spelling - all that can be sorted out by professionals once the story is there on the page. Only someone who really wants to get it written can do the creative part. It all centres on the desire to write which comes from a person's soul. Whether they're born with that or not, I don't know. Maybe the truth is that you're born a creator, but yes, you can learn the formalities of being a writer. Everything has a formula. Writing is no different.

Last edited @ Sep 18, 12:03AM EDT.
Sep 18, 12:01AM EDT0

When you say you write in Paradise, how does the place in which you live and work inform the kind of stories you create? Are your stories regional, or deeply rooted in the place you live?

Sep 14, 8:50PM EDT0

Although some of my novels are set in the UK, latterly I've devoted my time to plots based in New Zealand. I absolutely love this country and I've been told it comes across in the stories. There's a fascinating and rich culture which is engaging and colourful. I love writing about it so I guess the stories inherently are rooted here in tikanga and kawa.

Sep 14, 11:34PM EDT1
Many upcoming writers assume that all they need to do is write one book but sell hundreds. This makes it a very lucrative business but it really isn't,is it? Do you think this mentality has resulted in the emergence of quantity over quality?
Sep 14, 11:17AM EDT0

Around 2015 I think there was a tendency for mediocre writers to engage in the 'rinse and repeat' theory. But the book market is massive and readers are inherently astute purchasers. It's like any product, if it's poorly presented and executed, it will sink to the bottom of the vast pond of novels available and languish there. I've seen lots of writers come and go who couldn't take constructive criticism and argued they just wanted to write. Quality is paramount if any degree of success is to be achieved. Readers are just like any customer and will vote with their feet.

Sep 14, 11:40PM EDT0
After writing this many books and having your name on the lips of the readers, do you feel pressured to meet the expectations of your readers today more than when you were starting out?
Sep 13, 9:27AM EDT0

Perhaps. Because I now know who my perfect reader is, I know what they want and expect. I also know what they'll tolerate in terms of killing off certain characters or making drastic series changes.  I'm under pressure to keep producing new material because they're hungry for it and many will re-read a whole series before a new release just to refresh their memory. But I also know them well enough now to be able to surprise them and know they'll receive it positively. There's actually something comforting about writing a novel and imagining a real person reading it. It feels less isolating than just launching a novel and wondering who will buy it. As my readership and subscriber list has grown, they infuse me with a sense of excitement about what I'm doing. A little pressure is a fair trade off I think.

Sep 14, 11:47PM EDT0
On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
Sep 13, 1:42AM EDT0

It honestly depends on the book. The first three Hana books took me 7 years.Yet, I have been known to knock one out in a matter of weeks. Some novels are faster than others. The Hana ones do take me longer. I'm not sure why.

Sep 13, 2:51AM EDT0
Do you have favorite lines that you find yourself using in often when writing?
Sep 13, 1:04AM EDT0

I guess there must be some repetition across novels but I try not to do that. It's tempting to reuse a clever sentence, but many of my readers will read my whole collection, so it's not a good idea really. If something like that did slip in, it'd be pulled out during the editing process.

Sep 13, 2:49AM EDT0
If you were not a writer, what would you be?
Sep 12, 5:27AM EDT0

A lawyer. Barrister, I think. Not sure why, but I love legislation; reading it, interpreting it and understanding it. It's hard because I loved being an archivist too, but yeah, definitely lawyer.

Sep 12, 4:33PM EDT0
Do you find it easier to market your books now than you did when starting out? Is it about having a network or understanding the process?
Sep 12, 2:45AM EDT0

I've learned a tonne about marketing over the last 5 - 6 years, mainly through courses. A network is essential, but the game also changes overnight, so it's about staying ahead of the game. The best kind of foundation for your business is your own; mailing list, website etc. Social media and publishing platforms change the rules all the time. It's easy to be left with nothing if you aren't smart about it. I don't think it gets any easier. You learn something, the rules change and then you have go back to the plan and start again. It's about staying fluid and progressive. Otherwise it's impossible.

Sep 12, 4:37PM EDT0
What are some of the mistakes you see writers make today?
Sep 11, 6:41PM EDT0

They rely too heavily on others. It's not just about writing anymore unfortunately. A publisher might book appointments, but the author is the one who has to show up and speak. They may or may not perform marketing duties for you, it depends on the contract, so that might be down to you too. The biggest mistake is in thinking that the creation of the novel itself is the biggest task. It isn't. A writer nowadays wears a lot of different hats from maintaining a website, copywriting, sourcing cover images and understanding the basics of graphic design. The writing is the easy part. They also give up too easily and that's sad. Books are now cheaper than a cup of coffee and a new writer will celebrate getting something published and then keep lugging the dented box of paperbacks with them every time they move house. Plan for success and then make it happen. The motto should be to 'do whatever it takes.'  I'm an introvert, but I had to sit in a radio station and give a forty minute interview about my work and myself. I was deeply uncomfortable leading up to it and then thoroughly enjoyed myself. Who knew? I'd say the biggest mistake today's writers make is not pushing their own boundaries and being willing to do what it takes to succeed. Readers expect more than a book. They demand authenticity and relationship with the writer. We have to be prepared to give it.

Sep 12, 4:47PM EDT1
Do you usually write characters or situations based on people or experiences around yourself?
Sep 11, 12:27PM EDT0

I think we inherently do because that's what we know. But no one character will represent a complete personality. It will be made up of bits of lots of others. Readers often contact me convinced I've written about them or someone they know, but it's always someone I've never met. Very occasionally I will put a real person into a novel, warts and all. For my father's 70th birthday, I included a younger version of him in Du Rose Sons. He loved it. And the Calculated Risk series features an elderly lady named Freda Porter who gets involved in some very risky endeavours. She's in her eighties and doesn't care what others think and provides a great balance with the female main character. Freda is 100% real and was a very dear friend of mine. She had no children and adopted me and mine as her own. The relationship between her and Emma reflects mine with her. Like her character, the real Freda never had children and I guess for me it's a way of keeping her memory alive.

Last edited @ Sep 11, 3:19PM EDT.
Sep 11, 3:18PM EDT0
Do you use a publisher or have you been self publishing?
Sep 11, 10:05AM EDT0

I'm happiest self-publishing. I've been following NYT bestselling authors like Mark Dawson who are self-published for years. I've done both his and Nick Stephenson's courses. I did have a children's book accepted by an agent/publisher in the beginning but it was a completely unedifying experience. They took the lion's share of the money but I was still expected to do all the marketing etc. I still do, but can at least take 70% as a royalty. The process is exactly the same. I still need a cover designer, editor, beta readers, developmental editor and proof readers. But I pay them direct, can shop by word of mouth and reputation and have a more direct input into what comes out with my name on it.

Last edited @ Sep 11, 3:11PM EDT.
Sep 11, 3:09PM EDT0
How do you generate ideas for your books? Do you screen those ideas? If you do, what parameters are most important to you?
Sep 10, 9:00PM EDT0

The ideas just come to me. There is an element of screening which goes on because some ideas just won't work for the market. I do write within a set of parameters but that's more of a natural process than something prescribed. For instance, I avoid erotica because it doesn't fit within my personal values and also my mother beta reads for me. I wouldn't write anything with gratuitous violence because I don't like it. Those parameters have just developed during the progression of my career and are probably as much about my personality as my writing structure.

Sep 10, 9:08PM EDT0
How hard is it to establish and maintain a career in fiction writing?
Sep 10, 2:05PM EDT0

It takes up most of my life. It's something I fell into but I've had to work hard to raise my profile and showcase my work. I've had to learn skills I never imagined I'd need. It's about more than just writing. It's marketing, advertising, graphics, websites and staying abreast of industry changes. I suppose the short answer is that it's very hard and not for the faint hearted.

Sep 10, 8:59PM EDT0
What is the best piece of advice that you can give to aspiring authors?
Sep 10, 7:11AM EDT0

Not to take everything personally. When you put your work out there, it will be judged and so will the writer. The only way to grow is to accept constructive criticism and there's a process required in your own heart and psychology to open yourself up to that. I've seen lots of writers come and go over the years. They start with big hopes and dreams but won't accept help from publishers, other authors or experts. They know what they know and they won't budge from that standpoint. It's called being a 'special snowflake' and in a hard business like publishing, it's career ending.

Sep 10, 8:48PM EDT0
How was that first step you took to be a writer? I am asking this because many people think and even believe they can be great writers but somehow never get to do it. How important was it for you to take that first step?Was there any trigger?
Sep 10, 5:58AM EDT0

There's a huge difference between writing and publishing. Anyone can write and just leave their work on a hard drive or in a notepad somewhere. I did that for years. The trigger for me was the death of my university professor. He really believed in me and I let life get in the way. That first step of submitting About Hana for publication was massive. It's the best decision I'd made in a long time.

Sep 10, 8:37PM EDT0
How do you approach each different form of writing?
Sep 10, 4:39AM EDT0

I get an idea in my head and I knock it around for a while until at least the characters and location take proper shape. Then I sit down to write and see what happens. I use a product called Scrivener, so I can write random chapters and just move them around as the novel grows.

Sep 10, 8:30PM EDT0
How important is reading for a writer? How much or how often do you read, and what kinds of texts do you choose to read?
Sep 10, 12:10AM EDT0

It's essential for a writer to make time to read. Genres evolve and develop and it's easier to stay up to date with changes if you're actively part of the reading experience. I also love reading. It's my leisure and relaxation. I read for an hour and a half each morning on the treadmill (on my Kindle with the writing big) and before I go to sleep. I probably rocket through at least 3 full length novels a week. I love mystery and science fiction but have lately strayed into fantasy. I love words and will literally read anything. 

Sep 10, 12:54AM EDT0
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