Time to put down that work and do something fun - like enjoy another author interview!
Now I have Kathryn Malcolm, whose debut novel lands this week!
In a world filled with endless possibilities, a young girl named Kathryn discovered her love for storytelling. Growing up in Southampton, she would scribble down stories with her Mum, dreaming of one day sharing her tales with the world. In the years to come, her passion for writing only intensified, and she spent countless hours honing her craft. After graduating from the university of Southampton and moving across the country she tried her hand at writing again, filling the void between boring office jobs. She poured her heart and soul into crafting stories filled with magic, adventure, and unforgettable characters. Eventually she went on to work in museums and libraries, sharing her love of history and art with children and teens. Kathryn is passionate about providing access to literature for all and encouraging reading for fun. But even as she pursued her professional career, her love for writing never wavered. In fact, it only grew stronger. In 2022, Kathryn’s dream of becoming a published author finally came true with the signing of her debut novel, The Shadow of the Scholar. The book captivated readers with its vivid world-building, intricate plot, and relatable characters. It quickly became a hit in the Young Adult Fantasy genre, garnering critical acclaim and a loyal fanbase. Today, Kathryn lives in Cheshire with her husband and continues to write stories that capture the hearts and imaginations of readers around the world.
Firefly – gone too soon or overrated?
A book you’re looking forward to release (by someone else)?
Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I like to take inspiration from mythology and specific areas of history with a link to the fantastical. For example, in The Shadow of the Scholar, I use a combination of Greek, Christian and a hint of Egyptian mythology combined with research on alchemists from the Elizabethan era to create the backdrop and lore of the urban fantasy world.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Erratic. I work full time as a librarian at the moment. In the past, I would spend 3 hours in the morning dedicated to writing. If it was going well, I would keep going for as long as possible after that, and if not, I would stop and continue the next day. Now I’m constrained to evenings and weekends.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I probably spend most of my free time reading, I like to try and get an hour or two in every day. Other than that, I play d&d, travel around the UK for steampunk festivals and spend a lot of time gardening.
What does your family think of your writing?
My parents are both bookworms so they always encouraged my writing. They’ve not actually read anything I’ve written as an adult…so the true opinion remains to be seen!
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Just plough through. Even if the story isn’t fully formed, even if there needs to be more twists and turns, a more robust plot etc. just get to the end. The details can be agonized over later, but the sense of achievement and knowing the novel is technically finished in draft form is enough to motivate any writer, in my opinion.
Do you like to create books for adults?
Absolutely. I grew up reading YA fiction when it was emerging into the beast of popularity that we know today. I still read a lot of these books as, in my opinion, they are still some of the best for lovers of the fantasy genre. However, as an adult myself now, the books that really resonate with me are New Adult. Here, a lot of the adolescent undertones are stripped away, there is often something darker at play yet the core of modern fantasy elements are there. This is what I try to replicate in my writing.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be an author, which is why I’m so thoroughly over the moon that I’ve managed to have a book published. Even if writing is only ever something I do on the side, I will always be proud of the fact that I can call myself an author.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Most recently I went to Tredwell’s, the famous occult bookshop in London. I’d been wanting to go for a while, especially as it relates a little to my upcoming book, The Shadow of the Scholar, which has occult themes and is also set in London. However I often travel to York and Canterbury (famously home of the Canterbury Tales), both cities are perfect for bookish days of new and second-hand bookshops all housed in haphazard medieval buildings.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I would probably say it hurts writers. Especially during the publishing journey, most writers experience a lot of rejection and I think humbling oneself can help in that process. There is always more to learn with writing, always things we as writers can improve on. I personally think a big ego could make one blind to this and perhaps hinder self-reflection and improvement on our work.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
‘There is nothing new under the sun’ but a healthy dose of both is best I think. I always try to keep my themes, world-building and plot as original as possible, but I think readers often enjoy certain tropes and look for them in other books. Why fix what isn’t broken?
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
I always thought I’d be the kind of author to write stand-alones, but the problem with writing fantasy is the worlds are too big to contain just one story, and the characters have more life to give than can be contained in a certain amount of pages. I originally wrote The Shadow of the Scholar to be a stand alone, but towards the end of the writing process, I realized my character’s stories and the overall direction of the world was far from over, so I’m currently working on the sequel. I think in the fantasy genre, I’d be more inclined to write duologies or trilogies now.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It definitely gave me more motivation to write. Knowing that not only I have a book under my belt but also that I could publish again with the same publisher has really spurred me on. It’s also inspired me to write at the best quality I can give.
Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?
I am traditionally published. I’ve never self-published, but I was just about considering it when Tea with Coffee Media got in touch over the manuscript I’d previously sent them. I feel that working with an indie publisher has given me the best of both worlds as I get to be traditionally published, but also get the personal support that I might with an agent, as well as being able to give my own input on details like editing or cover design.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Too many to count. Most of which I wrote when I was younger without a fully formed idea on how to end them. The bones of an idea are there, they just need fleshing out. Much like my upcoming release, these are the kinds of ideas I intend to return to and write anew.
What is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?
42, of course.
What do you have coming next?
My next release will actually be my debut novel! It’s called The Shadow of the Scholar, and it’s about a half-demon girl who is getting to grips with her powers. She discovers her mother was murdered, and in a letter from her beyond the grave is tasked with finding the killer. Her search embroils her with secret occult societies of London, young gods, and demonic deals.