‘Motherless nineteen-year-old Ava has always believed brilliant botanist Theo Gage to be her father. But when a chance discovery reveals she is not his daughter, her world falls apart.’
Today I join author Kathryn Hitchins on tour with her third novel, but her first step into the YA world of fiction. The Gardener’s Daughter tells the story of one girl’s search for her true identity.
Kathryn has written a piece for us all today about her own ‘Writing Life‘ and the daily challenges of finding the space and time to put pen to paper.
I’m sure many of you will empathise with much of what Kathryn’s says!!!
Motherless nineteen-year-old Ava has always believed brilliant botanist Theo Gage to be her father. But when a chance discovery reveals she is not his daughter, her world falls apart.
Determined to discover her true identity, Ava impetuously runs away and enlists the help of inexperienced private detective, Zavier Marshall. Pursued by shadowy figures, she takes on a new name and follows in her dead mother’s footsteps to work at the mysterious Fun World Holiday Camp.
Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, will Ava survive in a world where she s more valuable dead than alive?
Will she discover the shocking truth behind her mother’s death? And will she find her real father before it’s too late?
Purchase Link ~ The Gardener’s Daughter
My Writer’s Life
When people ask what I do and I tell them I’m a writer, I can tell from their expressions and comments that they imagine me sitting peacefully in a book lined study, tapping away at my keyboard, adding daily to the pile of crisp white paper on the desk which grows methodically from chapter 1 until I type ‘The End’.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In the first place, I very rarely sit in my study to write. I’m either at the kitchen table, with half an ear on the wash cycle and the other making sure the saucepans don’t boil over; sitting in the car and jotting in a small notebook while I wait for the kids to come out of school; or snatching a quick cup of tea in a supermarket café, far away from the pile of ironing and the bathroom floor that needs washing.
Secondly, I’ve met many writers in the last few years but I’ve yet to meet one who sits down with a blank sheet of paper and starts at chapter 1 and works systematically through to the end – though I’ve heard Lee Child is the exception here, starting each new novel on 1 September and writing chapter by chapter with no rewrites and only minor editing. But then, we can’t all be Lee Child!
Instead, writing a novel is more a question of harvesting snippets and catching thoughts before they fly away and are lost for ever. It’s jotting down conversations between characters you’ve yet to create, capturing their voices before they fade to silence. It’s about lists of possibilities, little diagrams, sketching floor plans and googling baby sites in search of the perfect name for your hero or heroine.
It’s also about juggling multiple projects. I look back with nostalgia to the days when I was only concentrating on my first novel and didn’t have to think about anything else. Now, I’m accepting bookshop and book group invitations to talk about my first two novels, whilst planning the launch of my third – organising this blog tour for example, arranging my launch event, sending out review copies to magazines and contacting local media. I’m also touting my fourth book around agents and publishers, writing my fifth novel and advising other authors on social media promotion. Phew! It’s no wonder it’s all a bit of a blur. Sometimes I don’t even know which book I’m talking about!
It all began in 2011 when I left my job as a Learning Support Assistant at a Further Education College to become a full-time housewife. I’d tried to juggle the needs of my work, a husband, two young children, and a live-in nephew, but once I became the official carer for a disabled family member I knew I needed to be more available than my job would allow. Although it was the right thing to do, I missed my work colleagues and the routine of going out of the house every day. I soon felt lonely, bored and depressed.
To distance myself emotionally, I started my first novel in January 2012, planning my story on my early morning dog walks and jotting down the scenes while sitting in the car outside the children’s primary school. And that’s been the way I’ve continued to write. My children are now teenagers, but they still seem to take up an enormous amount of time, particularly as I’m their main homework motivator and taxi driver. And there’s always the housework! I try not to let my writing projects fester at the bottom of the pile of jobs, but guilt about all the other things in my life – including being Secretary and Trustee of a small children’s charity working in Togo, West Africa – is a more difficult obstacle to overcome than writer’s block.
Once I’d completed my first book, I sent it out to agents and publishers and began my next novel. By the time a publisher picked up the book in 2015, I had two further completed manuscripts. The Girl at the End of the Road was released in October 2016, followed by The Key of All Unknown in October of the same year. The Gardener’s Daughter is released this month, 15 March 2018.
The Girl at the End of the Road is the story of a shallow, materialistic man who unwittingly falls in love with a woman on the autistic spectrum. It’s a book about loss, and how sometimes the only thing we can do to change our situation is to change our perspective.
The Key of All Unknown is the story of brilliant scientific researcher who wakes up in hospital unable to speak or move and with no recollection of what happened to her. Determined to find answers and prove to her family and doctors that she’s not in a persistent vegetative state, she searches for clues in the conversations she overhears and in the fractured memories that haunt her
My third novel, The Gardener’s Daughter, needed some rewrites before it was ready to be released. It’s my first Young Adult story and I have to admit that writing YA was more difficult than I envisaged. Having two novels under my belt I thought it would be a breeze to write something for a younger audience but in fact the opposite is true. It isn’t a question of simplifying the writing. Teenagers don’t like to be talked down to, and they won’t waste their time reading something unless they’re gripped from the word go and the storyline relates to the issues in their life. After all, YA authors aren’t just competing with each other for teenagers’ attention, they’re competing with computer games, YouTube, and social media.
The main character is motherless nineteen-year-old Ava Gage, who accidentally discovers she’s adopted and runs away to find her biological father. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, her journey of discovery unravels the shocking truth behind her mother’s death and the identity of her real father – with a sprinkling of romance along the way.
Thankfully, the initial pre-release reviews have all been five star, so I must have done something right. It’s taken five years, but I think I can at last start to think of myself as a proper writer!
K A Hitchins studied English, Religious Studies and Philosophy at Lancaster University and later obtained a Masters in Postmodern Literatures in English from Birkbeck College, London University.
Her debut novel, The Girl at the End of the Road, was published by Instant Apostle in March 2016, followed by The Key of All Unknown in October 2016. Both books were short-listed for Woman Alive magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award 2017, with The Key of All Unknown reaching the final three. Her third novel The Gardener’s Daughter was published on 15 March 2018. She is married with two children and lives in Hertfordshire.
Website ~ www.kahitchins.co.uk
Twitter ~ @KathrynHitchins
Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/KathrynHitchins/
Instagram ~ kathryn_hitchins