Name KA Richardson (or Kerry to my friends)
Age 38 years
Where are you from
Darlington which is a small town in North East England.
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc
I live in the North East of England with my husband Peter. I grew up in the north east, and have studied my Bsc Crime Scene Science and Ma Creative Writing at Teesside University. I work for a large well known police force, and have done so for more years than I’d care to admit. I’m an avid reader, with a keen interest in the crime genre and I’m always on the lookout for new things to do and learn.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I love this question! My first novel, With Deadly Intent, is due out in March – it’s being published through Caffeine Nights and will be available on amazon, through the Caffeine Nights website, and also through more traditional venues such as Waterstones and WH Smiths (though some branches will need to order in as opposed to stock it all the time).
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always written – it’s just one of those things that I’ve always done and been aware of doing. When I was in primary school I used to write stories, draw accompanying pictures, then staple them together in small books. My primary school teacher kept these for many years. I’ve also written quite a bit of poetry – had one poem published in the school magazine, one in an international anthology, and one in a newspaper many moons ago. Most of my poetry though was written for me, and hasn’t been seen by many people. I wrote my first official novel when I was 17 years old – it was a complete rip off of the old show Airwolf and was amazingly crap. It’s still on the shelf in my office though I daren’t even look at it now!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t know that I even consider myself a writer now to be honest. I am someone who writes, I have a publishing contract, I have novels written and ready to be published, but am I a writer? I don’t know that I’ll ever have the confidence to say that with authority.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Other than the one when I was 17, my official first book started as an idea for my dissertation for my Masters in Creative Writing. I already knew I loved crime, had read loads of it since I was a teenager. I was also working as a CSI (crime scene investigator) at the time, so crime felt like the right genre to start my novel in. The first 15000 words were used for my dissertation and led to me passing my Masters in 2011. From there it was natural progression to finish it and start thinking about getting published.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t – I’m definitely not a chapter by chapter planner – I generally have the idea of what I want to write about, obtain the relevant contacts for research purposes, do my research then barrel straight in with writing. I do spider grams to show my character interaction, and before I start writing I do a character outline for the main characters. I allocate chapters once it’s written, but I do like keeping a timeline through the novel so generally write each scene in the order it appears.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles are so hard – I know with all my other books I’ve had to think really hard about it – but this one jumped out straight away. It was the word ‘intent’ that drew me in – I knew I wanted the antagonist to be intent on doing things his own way, to leave a trail that made it hard for the police to follow.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I wouldn’t say a message per se – as with any crime novel there’s a want for justice, a need to catch the bad guy. I have a short story due out very soon that is the prequel to the novel in that it’s set 8 years before, with the main female lead as the main character. It’s called Escape and is going to be published as a free eBook through Caffeine Nights. The short story has a message – and that is that domestic violence is wrong, no one should have to put up with it. There’s help available if people want to get out of that kind of abusive relationship.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
I have three years’ experience as a CSI, and I’ve worked for the police for years. The novel is purely fiction, the characters are all made up, but the techniques used, the procedure etc is based off real life events though not necessarily in the real vein of these events. A CSI would always process a scene a certain way, police officers investigate crime using various avenues of investigation etc. From that side it’s pretty standard. It’s set in Sunderland which is obviously a real city – some of the locations have been enhanced to suit the story but hopefully it gives a feel for the area.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Experiences in general do you mean? Or the ones in the novel? The crimes I featured in this novel are not based off any that are real – the killer is made up, the ways he kills were researched but not based off any actual murders, the experiences that the characters go through are also made up – I guess in any crime novel there is an aspect of real as you want to draw the reader in, make them feel what you’re putting the characters through. So though they are fictional experiences, they should have that element of reality – like Cass for example – my main female protagonist. She lived through a domestic abuse relationship, and escaped that life but it jaded her where relationships are concerned and made her wary – it’s real emotions, and for some it could potentially be real experiences – lots of people flee domestic violence and go on to make a new life for themselves. Whether the experiences are real or fictional, I think the emotional response to the experience has to be real.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
This is a fab question – there are so many books that shaped me as a reader and influenced my life. When I was small, Enid Blyton’s books built worlds for me to escape into, grew my love of being able to lose myself in those worlds. As I got older, my tastes changed, though I still love Blyton’s work now, and I read a lot of romantic suspense, crime and authors studied at school like Shakespeare and John Steinbeck. I loved Arthur Conan Doyle, Dick Francis, Patricia Cornwell, and Jonathan Kellerman. I read books by Jean M Auel which were so not my normal genre but I thought they were fantastic and definitely shaped a belief in research as they were so in depth. Now I read so many amazing authors that it’s impossible to list them all – a couple I own all of and eagerly await new releases are Karen Rose, Sheila Quigley and Mo Hayder, though my reading tastes take me to whatever tickles my taste buds at the time. I remember reading Stephen King’s On Writing when I was in uni doing my masters – never a fan of horror I’d stayed away from most of his books – they terrify me – but I love his style of writing. And reading this book made me believe that I could write, that there was a story in there waiting to come out.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette – it’s his first novel and is about the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005. I’m only 16% in but it’s a fab read.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I recently read Tuesday Falling by S Williams which was a fab page turner, full of action and pace. A good friend of mine, Eileen Wharton, has a crime novel coming out in May called Blanket of Blood – it’s awesome and a grisly, thrilling read.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m currently nearing the end of writing book 4 – and starting the research for book 5. Books 2 and 3 are written so I’m quite a bit ahead in books waiting to go to publishers. I’m also working on a supernatural trilogy which is in the beginning stages. I’ve just done a CSI based blog post which will be published by Vic Watson, and am hoping to get a couple more of these realistic blogs done.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My amazing friends would have to be mentioned – without their constant support and encouragement I’d probably have given it up as a dream a long time ago. My crime writing friends are also fantastic – Eileen and Sheila are incredibly supportive and always on hand with advice. And I’m still in contact with my uni lecturer from my crime scene course – he’s brill at answering CSI or scene based questions at the drop of the hat.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Define a career? I work full time in my ‘day job’ and write when am not working. It takes up a lot of time, I’d hazard a guess at about the same amount of time as my day job overall. So yes, it is a career. It would be fab to be in the position to give up my day job and just focus on the writing side though.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
In my first novel, I’d have worked harder at concealing the killer for longer. But in the current book I’m working on, I’d like to have gone and worked out of the fire station for a bit, done some interviews with fire fighters etc. I have fire fighter contacts, and have researched, but a bit more hands on would have been amazing I think.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Enid Blyton’s book, The Magic Faraway Tree. It’s the first book I ever remember reading myself that had the power to transport me to another world. It made me want to do the same to other people – to produce something that made them forget their lives for a bit and live inside a novel.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The current crime book I’m writing is based around a female arsonist – she’s obsessed with fire, has been since she was young. Her parents are controlling, and somewhat abusive though they’ve never physically hurt her. She sees what she perceives as wrong doing and feels the need to punish people for it. She’s mentally unwell to be honest, and used to putting on a front, pretending she’s just a normal girl going about her normal business. The protagonists are a fire investigator and a crime scene manager. There’s arson, stalkers, and murder – hopefully it’s going to end up being a story people want to read.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Editing – I’m a massive fan of writing and love the whole process from research to getting it down on the page – but I hate editing! It’s so tedious and time consuming. I understand the necessity of it and I do it willingly – but I’d much rather be writing or researching, or washing, ironing, or pretty much anything else but editing!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
This is a tough one – there’s so many amazing authors out there that I can’t be pinned on one. I like different authors for different reasons. I love the way Karen Rose creates her novels with interacting and overlapping characters that you see again and again and feel like you get to know personally. I love Mo Hayder’s dark side – she has me checking the doors and windows before I go to sleep. I loved Jean M Auel – the earth children series – because it was so completely different from anything I ever read. She gets a bit repetitive as you progress through the series as she covers events from the first couple of books but the immense amount of research she did for the series is blatantly obvious. I love the humour in Graham Smiths and Howard Linskys’ books. But I also love the ease of reading – and sometimes following a crime novel isn’t necessarily easy. For that I love the likes of Irish Winters – she’s not that well known in the UK but she has a lovely writing style, and writes romantic suspense, or security based romantic suspense very well.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
My crime novels are set in the North East of England – books 1 and 2 are based in Sunderland, 3 is based in Durham and 4 is based in Darlington. I know the north east pretty well – have worked out of all the towns featured. But I do travel about the counties a lot to do more local research. In the future I wouldn’t mind setting books in hotter locations – research trips abroad would be fantastic.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher has designers who do the covers – they’re fantastic though!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Sometimes the emotion gets the better of me when I’m writing – those characters are like real people when I’m writing, and when I focus on their pain it can sometimes overwhelm me. I take a little break, make a cuppa, and carry on.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think writing teaches discipline. The books don’t write themselves and it takes dedication and passion to sit and write, especially when you are shattered from working the day job and truly can’t be bothered. I used to just write as and when and work on it when I could. I’m more disciplined now as I allocate writing time, and I make sure I don’t check social media etc until I’m on my set ‘break’.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I think the main advice I would give is not to give up. It can be demoralizing and it can be so hard sometimes you want to throw the laptop out of the window. But if you work at it, you make it the best it can be, and you believe in yourself, you will get it finished. And eventually people will want to read it. It’s a hell of a slog writing a novel, you go through phases of loving it, hating it, being fed up of it, getting angry with it etc, and so often it would be easy to give up. But if you’ve started a novel it’s because there’s a story there that needs telling. So tell it. It’s your story – you know what you want it to say.
Make friends along the way too – writing friends are massive bolsters themselves. There will always be odd ones who don’t want to assist, but generally speaking, most of us are lovely and approachable and only too happy to answer questions.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just a massive thank you – it’s so important to read – and I love that so many people do. I’m only too happy to interact with readers – they’re a vital part of writing. So thank you for reading, thank you for hopefully reading my book and do let me know if you like it, and also if you hate it too!
And support your local libraries – so many are facing closures nowadays – they’re a massively under supported part of the community. Even just going in and borrowing books helps keep them open. They hold events and signings. The librarians are knowledgeable about everything from research to recommendations. I’d hate to live in a place where libraries were extinct.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I’ll go with The Magic Faraway Tree again here – I used to read constantly as a child but this is the one I most remember.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh – I laugh all the time at so many different things so it’s hard to pin point.
Cry – pretty much everything involving animals.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Hmmm – I’d have loved to have met Elvis Presley – I’m a massive fan and think he was a complex but lovely guy. Just a normal conversation over a burger and beer would have been fantastic.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Be the person you were born to be – I love this phrase as it shows anyone in the whole world can do great things if they put their mind to it.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love reading. I’m a crafty fox too so enjoy card making, personalized gift making etc. I think I also think I’d make a good chocolate taster for cadburies.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love action movies – anything with gunfire and bombs is all good with me. For TV shows my tastes vary – I love fantasy / sci fi, so things like Grimm, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries etc. But I also love crime based shows like Criminal Minds, NCIS, Happy Valley etc.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Favorite foods – chicken or steak
Colour – green
Music – varying tastes but anything with lyrics that you can feel.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I already did my dream job of CSI – the only other thing I’d have liked to have done was working in conservation of wild animals.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
www.kerryannrichardson.com – I do a monthly blog on there and it has info on my writing etc.
KA Richardson – Facebook
@kerryann77 – twitter