Katy Colins is a debut author with a fascinating and uplifting route into writing. Her first book in The Lonely Hearts Travel Club series is out tomorrow!
Tell us about your latest book.
Destination Thailand is the first novel in the Lonely Hearts Travel Club series out on January 21st 2016. It follows recently jilted bride Georgia Green who is disillusioned with the way her life has become and is encouraged to revisit her childhood dream of seeing the world before mortgages and dull dinner parties got in the way. But she soon discovers that the path of going from lost to wanderlust may not be easy but it sure is fun. Destination Thailand has been described as Bridget Jones goes backpacking and is perfect if you’ve decided to make 2016 the year you stop wandering and start wandering. I have also just finished the edits for the second novel Destination India and am giddy with excitement to get going on the third book Destination Chile in the next few weeks.
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
Destination Thailand was loosely based on real life events that happened to me. I was a jilted bride with a deep desire to travel and see more of the world than the life I was living. It was only when my big wedding was called off that I gained the courage to grab my passport and head off on my own adventure. I wrote this novel as I was backpacking around South East Asia and South America mostly as a way to work through my emotions, never allowing myself to believe it would end up as a novel but I just felt that I had to share Georgia’s journey including the highs and lows of being a broken hearted backpacker. Travel is the main thing that inspires me as I try my hardest to describe the places I have seen in such a way that I hope I make readers feel like they are there without leaving the comfort of their homes.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
Like with most things in life (cake and wine – I’m looking at you) I'm an all or nothing type of girl. I wish I wrote every single day but I prefer to block an entire day or days off and write from dawn to dusk only surfacing for food and to check we haven’t been taken over by a zombie apocalypse since I’ve been locked away. Obviously this isn’t always feasible but it has worked so far for me.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Gah there are so many! Probably the most influential women’s fiction book I read was P.S I Love You by Cecelia Ahern. After reading this ten years ago I felt compelled to write her a letter (twitter wasn’t around back then) telling her how much I loved the story and if she had any writing advice for an aspiring novelist. Amazingly she sent me a hand written letter (on pink notepaper!) sharing her tips. I will always cherish her not only taking the time to reply to me but also the seeds that letter planted in my mind that one day I could make my dream a reality.
What female writer has inspired you?
Again there are so many wonderful and inspiring female writers out there. I think in terms of my genre I would have to say both Lindsey Kelk and Kirsty Greenwood inspired me to see humour and awkwardness as positive relatable parts of every women’s life. I love reading about main female characters that have loo roll trailing from their scuffed heels or blurt out cringy things without meaning to as I identify with women like that and those ‘oh gawd this could so be me’ moments. This is something I aim to show in my novels creating the type of characters that you want to hang out with, get drunk with and share a kebab with on the way home.
What books have you been recommending recently?
I’m a bit behind on my reading list as I have been so busy meeting tight deadlines so most of my recommendations are probably a little behind the times. However, I got my aunty hooked on Elizabeth Is Missing and I tell anyone I meet that they need Jessica Beam in their life from The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance.
They say that writing is a learning curve and I couldn’t agree more. It took me a year and a half to finish Destination Thailand and it went through a ridiculous amount of edits from first person to third and back again, duel narrative and back again and thousands of scrapped words as I found my voice. Although looking back I really needed that time and the freedom to play around with it until I felt confident enough to send it off to agents and publishers. I only had three months to write my second novel Destination India so armed with a detailed synopsis and the knowledge I’d learnt from writing my first book I dove straight in and two fairly straightforward drafts later I’m really pleased with the current outcome.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I have always had a serious crush on English and creative writing from a young age luckily spurred on by a supportive family and inspirational English teachers at school. I studied English and Journalism at university and dabbled in both public relations and journalism for a few years before realising I didn’t want to write stuffy press releases but rather the sort of books which I wanted to read: full of awkward heroines, exotic adventures and hot love interests. After sending out Destination Thailand to agents I received a lot of positive interest but they ended in polite no’s which is when I sent it out directly to publishers. I received the call from a lovely editor at Carina ironically on the date of what would have been my third wedding anniversary and signed a three book deal with them!
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Write the book that you want to read, don’t fall for fads or try to write something you think will sell at that moment as it will pass. Remember this is a marathon not a sprint, you need to write because you love it and put in the many hours needed to create what you are proud of. Hang out with people who will inspire and support you, whether that is online or in real life as they will be your biggest cheerleaders but make sure you return the favour. Celebrate every milestone, not that I ever need an excuse for a party but it is good to take a step back and realised how far you have come.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have a few more rounds of edits for novel two, Destination India, but I’m already feeling so positive about this book even at this early stage which is such a lovely feeling. I am then jetting off to the Philippines to lock myself away in a beach hut to write my third novel Destination Chile. I do have very itchy feet so getting to travel, write, and write about travel is just the most perfect career for me!