Aussie Author Round-Up: Kylie Kaden, Losing Kate
Today it is my pleasure to welcome Australian debut Author Kylie Kaden to my blog, to celebrate the release of her novel, Losing Kate.
Kylie is a self-diagnosed bookworm and recovering chocoholic. Raised in Queensland, she spent holidays camping with her parents and two brothers at the Sunshine Coast, where much of Losing Kate was set.
Having graduated with an Honours Degree in Psychology from Queensland University of Technology in 2000 she cites it helps little with meeting the challenges of parenting in the real world! She shares her frazzled parenting experiences in her regular column in My Child magazine, and is a strong advocate for telling it like it is when it comes to the struggles (and joys) of raising kids.
After post-graduate study, Kylie went on to train and manage staff both in the corporate and government arenas where she met her surfer/lawyer husband at an end-of-year function (at the pub). She went on to write Losing Kate whilst on maternity leave from an executive role in the Australian Public Service.
Kylie lives in Brisbane with her husband and three young sons and, as the only female in a house of males, she tops up her sanity by writing whilst her youngest naps (and the washing mounts). She is adamant the next addition to the Kaden household will be female…and canine.
Before I continue though, I’d just like to thank Random House Australia, especially Lucy from their publicity department, without whom this interview would not have been possible.
Kylie, it’s absolutely wonderful to have you here to celebrate the release of your debut novel Losing Kate.
Always a pleasure to help promote Australian fiction!
Would you mind telling us about Losing Kate?
Losing Kate follows the story of two childhood sweethearts torn apart by the baffling disappearance of their friend during a beach party; the beautiful but unpredictable Kate. When the friends left behind (Frankie and Jack) meet by chance more than a decade later, it seems the couple can only move on by finding out what really happened that fateful night. It deals with some heavy themes like friendships forged in youth and the control we have on our own lives, but it’s light in tone and has a distinct Australian voice. Reviews have described it as a compelling who-done-it, a love story firmly based in reality, and even falling on the suburban-gothic side. I like to think it has a little bit of everything.
Sounds like a fabulous read Kylie! Could you share a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming an author?
I’m a fairly unadventurous person who, as a kid, liked to live vicariously through books. My Dad bought me a second-hand yellow bike, and I’d pedal it to the local library, the basket brimming with books on my return. I never set out to be a writer, but I remember making up stories during “journal time,” after year two little-lunch, devouring notepads as I went, so I should have known something was up.
As a grown-up, writing started as a housework avoidance strategy, but when I found myself doing it every chance I got (which admittedly wasn’t often), I attended a couple of day-courses at the Queensland Writers Centre. I sent sample chapters to the “slush pile” at Random House through their normal submissions process last July. They asked for a full shortly after and a few days later I had my first contract. German translation rights have also recently been sold by Random House, which is all very surreal.
It was a short path paved with luck, which makes me feel a tad guilty when I hear of talented authors slaving away for years.
That is fantastic Kylie and I'm sure your story will give a lot of hope to prospective writers out there and leads me on to my next question! Do you, as a writer, have a motto or maxim? What is it?
Just like our mothers told us “just be yourself.” I think people value an authentic voice – your own, not anyone else’s, not what you think sounds arty or fits into some guru’s formula. That way your writing will have a raw honesty and a consistency that will sustain you for the long haul. I also wonder if a manuscript can be over-polished/over-written – I find at times things can become too contrived if you try too hard and upset the natural balance of things (or maybe that’s just my excuse to call it quits editing a scene I’m sick to death of tweaking…).
And, what’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
As a newbie with my share of self-doubts, I found it tempting to try to cling to any bit of advice as potentially holding the key to success. I’ve also found well-meaning-advice can also jerk you off-track. The first thing you hear is show don’t tell (and to avoid doing both), and whilst this is a good motto (I like feeling present in a scene) there’s something to be said for a bit of narration to get to the plot point/characterisation quickly.
My critique partner Lily Malone (who was with me from draft to pitch) taught me a lot about pacing; not exhausting your reader, how phrasing and sentence length can alter it. She’s the master of detail – and those intricacies can make your writing shine. Lily also showed me to cull those excess words (that, for example – do we really need it?) and how to polish prose. Also look out for those repetitive words you use a lot (down is my downfall…but I just can’t seem to find an understudy!).
Also, kill your darlings. You may love it, but ask yourself – does it move the story forward? Cut and paste them in a file to sing another day. (They probably won’t but it makes you feel better…).
I believe you’re a recovering chocoholic? How did you survive the Easter season?
Three words; Off the wagon. (Although I reluctantly scrambled back on since….firm believer in cold turkey. The more I have the more I need…)
Kylie, thank you so much for joining me today and once again, a huge congratulations, but before you go, would you mind giving us a sneak peek of Losing Kate?
Certainly! And thanks for having me! Here’s a snippet - a flashback to the beach scene where Kate disappeared in high school:
As the headlights approach, I slow my rapid breaths and think it through. A deserted beach. A missing girl. A fed-up boyfriend. If she doesn’t turn up soon, Jack’s in deep shit.
‘It’s the ranger!’ Dan calls, pointing to the beach, pulling me back to reality.
The boys spring to action, race to the sandy flat, two sweeps of light beaming on their pale faces. Jack stands to join them – I pull his sleeve to stop him in his tracks.
‘Jack, we have to get our story straight!’
He lurches back. ‘Our story straight? There’s no story, Frankie. I told you. I didn’t hurt anyone.’ Jack rakes his fingers through matted hair. ‘We just gotta tell the truth.’ The crazy fool has no inkling of self-preservation. He’s a boy again to me, staring down from the steepest jump at the skate park, fearless.
‘The truth?’ my voice shrills. I push him. He stumbles back; his heels dig craters in the sand. I pace towards him but he retreats with each step. ‘What, that you wanted her gone, and now she is? Are you nuts? Can’t you see how this’ll look? You were the last one with her.’ I poke his chest. ‘You argued, came back white as a sheet, soaking wet and . . .’ As if on cue, a dark trickle of blood meanders down his neck, pooling in a fold of skin. ‘Jack, you’re bleeding.’ I can see white scratches on either side of the cut.
Jack’s hand pats his neck, and hits thick wet blood. His face pales, as he seems to retrace the night’s events in his mind. My guts clench. It has just sunk in for him, what this all could mean….
Kylie also loves to hear from her readers, and she would be delighted if you took the time to connect with her via the following links:
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - http://kyliekaden.com.au/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/KylieKadenAuthor