The story behind the story – Thunder Moon


My visitor in the coffee shop today is Joanne Mallory who’s here to tell us where she got the idea for her debut novel Thunder Moon which will be published tomorrow – and there’s a chance to win a free copy!

Processed with Snapseed.JM Hey Katy, thanks for inviting me in, I love the smell in coffee shops. Although I have to admit that I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to coffee; I like a very frothy latte, and it has to be decaf. (No-one wants to be putting-up with hyperactive-me when I’ve been drinking the hard stuff, that’s for sure.)
KJ Here you go! How is 2017 treating you so far?

JM So it’s pretty grey down on the south coast, and as far as Januarys go I’m already off to a weird start.
Normally at this time of year I’m having serious words with myself about how I’m going to put better food into my body. I plan to walk oodles of miles, and somewhere in there I often decide that if I taught myself to use a dictation program then I could ‘write’ while I walk.

I plan to be super productive and healthy, I tell myself this will be the year when I get my act together. Then I fail miserably. Usually because I’ve procrastinated myself into oblivion.
But this year I can’t do any of those things.
Just before Christmas Himself and I decided that we should move house. My troops are at schools that are all over the place, and as of September this year they’re all going to be at the same place. (I’m counting down the days, I tell you!)
So we want to move to a village about twenty miles up the road. Which all sounds okay. In theory.
So we’ve found a house, and it has that starry eyed feeling of perfection, you know how it is, before you actually move in and discover the bath leaks, and the boiler is temperamental, and there’s bats in the attic. (Don’t laugh, we had a squirrel nesting in the attic of where we live now.)
But the potential new house needs a wee extension. Which means that for eight to ten months I won’t have a study.
Now I know that this is wickedly precious of me to worry about. But there’s himself, three troops and two creatures roaming around my house.

I tend to shut myself in my study to write, and I have ear defenders to try and dampen oldest son’s (constant) drum practice, barking pooches, flute recitals ~ the list is endless.

So I haven’t had time this January to create resolutions that I never keep, because I’m too busy trying to work out if I can squeeze myself into a drafty attic, with the bats, to get some peace to write some words.

And I have to write the words, because to add to the weirdness I have a book coming out this month. (I cannot tell you how mad it feels to say that.)
My debut novel is due for release on the 17th of January, and i’m just a teeny-tiny bit nervous about it.
In January 2015 I started writing Thunder Moon, and I’m still struggling to believe that just two short years later I’m letting my story loose on the world.
(Life’s crazy isn’t it?)
KJ What’s the story about and how did you get the idea?

JM Thunder Moon started out as a short story about a witch fleeing an angry crowd, and I just couldn’t let her go.

It’s the first full-length piece of fiction that I’ve written, and it’s been an experience trying to learn how to grow the story.
In the bay where the book is based is a ruin of an old castle. It has one tower remaining, and the story has grown from that landscape.

The story of the ancient witch, Sarah, came first. Even though TM is a contemporary romance, Sarah is the linchpin of the magic that travels through her family’s line. I love stories that intertwine, so my heroine, Thea, naturally has a sister and brother whose stories I get to tell next.
And I love the possibility that magic can exist all around us, so I wanted to make sure the book was based in ‘the now’ with witches and healers (and who knows what else) living life like we do.
I’ve been able to write about all the things I love, and other than some hysterical late night editing, I’ve loved every minute of it.

KJ It sounds great – where can we find out more?
All my links are on my website ~
For Thunder Moon got to ~

Oh, and I forgot. I’m running a little giveaway over on Goodreads if you’d like the chance to win one of 5 signed copies.

Thanks Jo – what a great opportunity! How do we enter?

Here is the link:

Fantastic – good luck with the launch tomorrow. Can’t wait to read your book!


How to get published – Vanessa Knipe

Joining me in the coffee shop today is author Vanessa Knipe with some great advice for new writers. Vanessa is currently reading for an MA in Creative Writing, although her first degree is a BSC (hons) Biochemistry. She has seven books published, three collections of short stories and four novels, by two independent publishers. When not writing, she fights for a decent education for her autistic son.


Hi Vanessa and welcome to my virtual coffee shop. What can I get you?

Hi Katy, It’s lovely to be here. Thank you for inviting me, it’s really cosy in your shop. May I have a small white with one sugar please? I think we need to cut down on the strong stuff for a while. I may have a corner for a morsel of cake – it looks so good.

Coming right up! Happy New Year – hope you enjoyed the festivities?

Happy New Year to you. I keep Christmas and New Year very quietly. I have to keep to a regular routine so that my autistic son can cope with the festivities. I hope you had a good one?

Yes thanks, it was lovely. Do you have a New Year resolution that you’re prepared to share with us?

Well, I’m fifty this year so it’s time I had a proper clear out in my life. Of course, I’m looking to add to my published books, and I’m doing my MA in Creative Writing but I was looking at the screen saver on my PC and there was a photograph taken over the wing of a biplane, and I thought. ‘Why not me?’ Maybe this year I will learn to fly a plane.

Wow that’s a great thing to aim for! Good luck. Some people will probably have pledged to make this the year they write/finish a novel and try and get it published. Do you have any advice for them? What’s your top tip?



This is the best ambition ever, but you’ve got to remember there are a lot of books out there, and how can you make yours stand out among the crowd? For me personally that would be write the best book you possibly can. There are a lot of options to help you.

The cheapest option, because we’re all on budget here, is books. There is a fair number of decent authors out there, willing to share their experience. The hardest part is finding the author who speaks to your way of writing. With a kindle or other ereader you can download a free sample of the book. If you find yourself saying ‘huh? What are they talking about?’ or worse still ‘That’s a load of nonsense’ then probably the author can’t help you.

But when you’re thinking ‘yes, this is good advice’ then that is the author you can follow. Some of the authors are on Twitter and are willing to respond to reasonable questions – in 140 characters.

Some authors run online courses. These range from downloading a book that the author has written specially for that purpose, to online tutorials run on specialised teaching websites, all the way up to a series of videos by the author of bestselling novels discussing his techniques.
Universities run creative writing degrees and diplomas these days – if you have the time to spare and money. As I said earlier I’m doing a creative writing MA.
And finally there’s the really expensive option: one to one mentoring with a top author.


I’ve tried all of these options in my writing career – except the last one. I could never afford that. And in each I have found something that helped my writing to improve.

So my Tops Tip? It’s study hard to write the best possible version of your book, and people will come back for your next one.

Thanks so much, Vanessa – it’s been great to see you. Good luck with your writing – and flying – this year.

Thank you again for asking me, and good luck to you as well.

Learn more about Vanessa’s books here:

img_4197   img_4198


My New Year writing resolutions

Happy New Year – I hope 2017 works out really well for you.

Here are my writing resolutions for the year ahead – I can’t promise to stick to all of them but I’ll certainly try!

Write every day
This includes researching and rewriting (but not just reading over what I wrote last time, making a few small changes and then running out of time.)

Set achievable goals
I’ll be happy if I achieve at least 1000 words per day, one blog post per month and four newsletters a year.

Read every day
img_2727This year I want to read one classic and one book (fiction or non-fiction) that’s relevant to my novel’s genre per month in addition to any others that catch my eye.


Make the most of help available
I’m very lucky to belong to some wonderfully supportive groups and can really benefit from other members’ advice, experience and feedback.

Try something different
I would like to try and get at least one short story into a new magazine.

Be more productive on social media
This year I want to get the balance right between reading other people’s posts and writing my own, leaving more time for my writing.

Improve my technical knowledge
I’ve learnt so much over the past months but there are still many things I feel I should know how to do.

Edit my novel
img_4116I’ve sent an early draft of The Silence to a few experienced readers/reviewers/people with specialist knowledge relevant to the story. I will use their observations and advice together with my editor’s know-how and eagle eye to help get the novel ready for publication.

Prepare for publication day
I plan to use blogs, social media and events to let people know about The Silence well ahead of launch day.

Write the next novel
The Silence is intended to be the first in a series of stories about the Villa Leonida in Tuscany. Each novel will reveal a different secret harboured by the villa. I have the basic structure, storyline and some scenes for the second book in the series – a wartime secret with a contemporary strand that connects with The Silence. I will work on this over the summer.

Complete some unfinished work
I have chunks of novels and short stories sitting on my computer that I’m itching to get on with if I can make time.

Embrace every experience

I’m aware this might sound like an excuse but they say a writer is never off duty so time spent travelling, meeting friends, watching films and going to events might provide just the inspiration I need.

What resolutions have you made? I’d love to hear about them!