I'm delighted to welcome to my blog my good friend, multi-published author, Karen King, and to say congratulations on the release today of her latest YA novel - Sapphire Blue.
With more than 125 books to her credit, ranging from picture books to adult romance (under the name Kay Harborne) this is Karen's second young adult novel. It's published by Solstice and has a very distinct supernatural theme to it.
Karen has also written for many children's magazines including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. In fact she writes for all ages and all genres: story books, picture books, plays, joke books and non-fiction.
I asked Karen a few question – and was really pleased by her first answer... you'll see why!
Q. Placing the story in a spiritual setting is very different from other books you've written. How hard was it to write this and to imagine the locations and backgrounds?
Karen: It was quite a difficult book to write and I kept putting it away and in fact wouldn't have finished it if you and another friend hadn't kept persuading me! Imagining the world and background wasn't too difficult, after all no one knows what the afterlife is like so I could give my imagination free range. What was difficult was working out as things like whether people would still eat, sleep, how they would walk around, would we still have night-time? Also, the story is written in dual viewpoint, from both Sapphire and her boyfriend Will's point of view so I had to try and get into two characters' heads.
Very pleased that my nagging had something to do with you finishing Sapphire Blue, Karen.
Q. The idea of there being different plains when we die is interesting. What inspired that idea? And what inspired you to write Sapphire Blue?
Karen: I've always believed that we live on after we die, that our souls go back to the place we came from, join our friends and family and carry on with our journey. I was talking about this to someone one day and they said that they hoped they didn't forget life on Earth, when they died and that they still had their memories. That started me thinking about what it would be like if you loved someone; would your love still survive in the afterlife? Does everyone go to the same place? It was from this that the idea of Sapphire Blue was born. I started it seven years ago and my synopsis grabbed the attention of a publisher straight away but unfortunately they didn't carry on with their YA fiction list so I shelved it for a while. But the idea wouldn't go away.
So glad the idea didn't go away, Karen.
Q. Sapphire Blue is your second YA book, could you tell the readers something about your first YA book?
Karen: Perfect Summer is set in the not-too distant future when society is so obsessed with perfection that being different in any way is considered a crime. Morgan, the heroine, has a younger brother, Josh, with Down's syndrome and she and her family are under a lot of pressure to have him put away in a home, so life is tough for Morgan. Whereas her best friend, Summer, seems to have a perfect life. Then Josh goes missing and in her quest to find him Morgan encounters great danger and discovers that Summer's life isn't so perfect after all.
I've read Perfect Summer – it's a great book. I know when Karen goes into schools, the story provokes much debate amongst the students. I think Sapphire Blue will do likewise!
Q. With more than 125 books published, what advice would you give to anyone just starting to write.
Karen: Read, read, read so that you're aware of the current market, then write the story that is buzzing around in your head shouting to get out.
Q. Finally, what's next in the pipeline for you?
Karen: I'm working on a few different things but finishing my romance novel and writing the series I'm doing with you is top of my list.
So glad you said that, Karen! Good luck with all your writing projects and especially Sapphire Blue.
Sapphire Blue – Blurb
Can love survive death?
“No one has ever walked out of Red. Once the Soul Catchers get you they don’t let you go.” Denny’s words scare me but I have no choice. If Will is in Red that’s where I have to go.
I’ve never really thought what it was like when you died. I’m only 16, too young to worry about that. At least I thought I was. I’ve heard about Heaven and Hell, of course, but it doesn’t look like I’m in either of them. All I know is that Will is here too and I need to find him. I can’t face spending eternity without him.
Sapphire Blue – Extract
Everywhere Will turns all he can see is mist. It’s inside his head too, wrapping around his mind, stopping him from thinking straight.
He tries to shake the mist away, to find a fragment of memory that will tell him who he is, where he is. But there’s nothing. His mind is a complete blank. He can’t even remember his name.
He squints as a shape starts to form in the mist. It’s a man.
The man strides purposefully as if he’s heading somewhere in particular and needs to get there fast.
“You okay, mate?”
Will shakes his head. “I can’t remember anything. Where am I?”
The man pauses and looks around. “No one meeting you?”
Will frowns, trying to remember. Why would someone be meeting him? “I don’t think so,” he stammers. “Should they be?”
“Sometimes they do.” The man’s tone is casual. He shrugs. “You’d better come with me then.”
Will doesn’t know what else to do, so he follows the man. He has to quicken his pace to keep up with this stranger’s long, effortless strides and constantly looks around, trying to get some idea where they are. After a while the mist starts to fade and Will sees that they’re crossing what looks like barren wasteland. Rugged cliffs jut up along each side, gnarled trees and bushes dot the landscape here and there, and a buzzard caws as it flies overhead. It’s eerie. There’s no one around except him and the man yet Will feels like he’s being watched. Stalked almost.
“Where are we going?” he demands, fear making his voice sound shrill. “Who are you and where the hell am I?”
The man turns around. “You really don’t remember, do you?”
Something about the way he says the words sends an icicle of fear down Will’s spine. “Remember what?”
The man holds out his hand, it’s long, thin and bony. “Take my hand.”
Will stares at the outstretched hand not wanting to touch it.
“Take it if you want to remember. Or leave it if you don’t. It’s all the same to me.”
Will hesitates, a terrible feeling of foreboding seizing him. What is it he has to remember? He’s sure it’s something he’s not going to like. But he has to find out. He needs to know who he is, where he is, what he’s doing here. He takes a deep breath, reaches out and grasps the man’s hand.
Immediately, a bright light explodes across his forehead. He gasps and tries to pull his hand away but the man grips it tight, his nails digging into Will’s flesh. The light fades and pictures flash across his mind like a horror slide show. He’s getting in a car, a girl’s singing, a huge tree zooms in so close that he instinctively step back then there’s a big bang. Now the girl’s lying motionless, blood oozing out of a gap in her forehead, her neck bent at an awkward angle, her eyes open, staring. Will draws in his breath, his hand pressing across his forehead as his memory floods back and his heart shatters into jagged smithereens that puncture him inside. The girl is Sapphire, his girlfriend. He’d just passed his driving test and was taking them for a drive when he crashed.
He killed her. He killed Sapphire.
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn&__adt=7&__att=iframe#!/KarenKingAuthor
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Karen-King/e/B0034P6W7I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Please visit my website: http:www.annevansbooks.co.uk
Take a peep at three of my latest books:
Any teenage reluctant readers in the family?