I’m joined by Katherine Markland today who is sharing her answers to my Author in the Spotlight questions. Thanks to Grace Pilkington for inviting me to be part of the blogtour. If Only He’d Told Her is available now in ebook and paperback. You can order a copy here: If Only He’d Told Her
What inspired you to start writing?
I have always loved writing. I can be creative, but I also get very easily bored. I couldn’t write all day or write full time, and I can’t be creative under pressure, but relaxed and at my own pace, I really enjoy it.
What made you decide to write a novel?
I’d done a few creative writing courses, but couldn’t really come up with a story – I was writing a lot of single episodes or small scenes, and they were good and I enjoyed that, then life presented a story to me and I made the most of the opportunity.
Tell me about your journey to publication
This journey has been very long. It took me four years to write the first draft on my novel, and I enjoyed this, I did a little every so often – it gave me something to do at weekends. Then once it was finished I spent four years trying to find an agent to then find a publisher. This was soul-destroying. You are asked not to send your work out before it’s finished, or to more than one agent at once. You are then faced with a lot of delays and rejections, and if an agent doesn’t even reply – how long do you wait? While also not sending it somewhere else? There were only a few who never replied, but it’s annoying. At the start I was very thorough – I researched the agents, sent the book out to only those who seemed appropriate, but towards the end, I was sending it to any I hadn’t contacted already. Although I only received rejections, most of the early ones were more ‘it’s not for us’ than anything else and ’good luck’, which gave me hope, so I continued. By the end of the fourth year, self-publishing was more common. I researched this, found a company I thought I could work with, and they took me and my book on. Since then it has taken a further four years of redrafting and finessing. The story hasn’t changed much in this time, but the book is shorter and more focussed, and there were a few aspects that needed clarifying. It hasn’t really taken that long, but other aspects of my life have been busier, so it’s been harder to fit in.
In a nutshell, what is your book about?
If only he’d told her is essentially my story. It’s the story of a girl who falls in love with a man who is dying and while they both try and deny it to start with, they have to face it, it tears them apart, but in the end, they come back together. It’s a romance, but not a standard boy-girl romance – it’s clear from the start that they get together, it’s more about relationships, the good and the bad, and what these tell us about ourselves.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The current title wasn’t the first title. Originally, I wanted to give the book a title that reflected the two main characters, but the story isn’t just about the characters, it’s about their reactions to their life events, so the title needed to reflect this too.
How did you celebrate publication day?
The book will launch on 27th August, and on this day I have planned celebratory drinks in the garden of my local 5* hotel. It’ll be quiet, but classy, and hopefully sunny!
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I don’t have one in progress, just yet, but I do have ideas. I’d like to write a story that’s essentially about bullying and abuse, the kind that happens every day, between partners, siblings, family members, but can sometimes spiral out of hand. It’s a story that again will start with a death, but this time it’s a suspicious death, or maybe it was an accident. The format for the writing will be similar to the book we’re promoting here, moving backward and forwards in time, to try and understand what has happened, in order to move on in the future. It’ll be harder to write I think, I’ll need to research a lot, but I am keen.
What one book would you recommend to a friend and why?
I don’t think I would ever suggest just one book, or rather not the same book. There are different books for different people that will be useful at different times. Some of my favourites are by Paulo Coehlo, but they each aim to tell us something slightly different, and it would depend really what was needed, but sometimes we also just need a good story, a reminder of impossible luck and good fortune – a Jilly Cooper or a Jane Austin.
What are you reading just now?
Right now, I’m reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. I love this book. I’ve read it before and it’s beautifully written, but it’s about choices, choosing for the long term rather than short, and this is where I am with my life at the moment. I feel I need to focus more on the long-term.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
The longest I can find by Charles Dickens. I love Charles Dickens – I could read his writing again and again, it’s so descriptive, but I’m a practical person too – if one book needs to sustain me for a while, it needs to be long and the plots in a Dickens can be complex – I think I would need that to keep me entertained for a long period.
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
I always think books are better as books. The beauty of a book is that it involves your imagination – you as the reader get to decide what the characters look like, what they wear and so on, at least to some degree, and as soon as a book is made into a film then someone else has decided for you. There is a place for films – they allow stories to reach those who may never have the time or inclination to a read the book, and some films of course are very visual, but I would always choose a book by preference.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
There is a website for the book at www.ifonlyhedtoldher.com, with a place for contacts and reviews, and there are regular updates on here. I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I’m not a big social media fan.
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
One of the Jane Austin girls – a real heroine who realises her weaknesses and is rewarded with a handsome, rich and loving husband – Emma Woodhouse or Elizabeth Bennett!
From the back of the book
f only he’d told her is the story of Emma, who at the age of 32, loses her boyfriend to cancer. Their relationship before his death, though, was difficult, and Emma is left with one important unanswered question – did he really love her?
Beginning at the funeral, the story moves forwards in time as she comes to terms with her loss, and backwards in time as Emma untangles a complex relationship overshadowed by a terminal illness. Tested to breaking point, she and Mark demonstrate the courage and kindness they have for each other, but also the courage and kindness that they both need, and only by understanding the love that they shared, will Emma be able to move forward. From the loss and emptiness surrounding death, the injustice of illness and failed treatment, to the hope and strength provided by love, this is an emotional, but ultimately uplifting account, with elements that will speak to us all.