Did you always want to be a writer or did you kind of fall into it? Tell us the story of how you came to identify yourself as a writer.
I have always wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. My mum was very supportive and would supply the copious amounts of notebooks and pens required to keep up with my passion. I always felt the pull of the written word. I was also a big reader, really getting into Enid Blyton books, then later, the Anne of Green Gables series. I received a copy of Gone with the Wind when I was 13 and I became sure that I wanted to be a writer. I used to sit in the huge pine tree at the front of our house, writing until the sun went down. I can still remember the sharp smell of the pine as I sat in the branches writing.
As a writer, are you a reader? What genres do you read and do you read more frequently in the genre you write in, or avoid it completely?
I’m most certainly a reader. To write, one must read. That’s what I think anyway. I read widely, but my favourite genre is my own, domestic noir/psychological thrillers. I like to see what my fellow writers are doing. I like to read for pleasure but I also find myself critiquing the books. I also measure them against my own and I love a twisty ending that I don’t see coming. Gets me every time. I don’t really avoid any genres, I’ll give just about any style a go.
Tell us about your first writing experience. How does that compare to where you are now?
The first novella I wrote was when I was 15. I was in year nine and I wrote a bit of a controversial story for my age. I wrote about a girl my age who had to go through the process of deciding if she wanted an abortion after falling unexpectedly pregnant to a boy she barely knew. I drew a lot of similarities from my own character. What would I do if I was in that position? How would I react? It was basically a ‘what if’ book. I still have it somewhere.
I have always tended to write the dark stuff. I don’t really believe in fairy tales and happy ever afters. I don’t think life is really like that, so I feel I write realism. My style has changed so much since then. I have tried numerous genres before finally finding the one that suited my style best and it has made my work exponentially better. I write much more realistically now, much more character driven, exploring who people are, what their motivations are and why they do what they do.
We all know the ‘just write’ memes if you are following any writers page, so apart from that, what’s the best advice you can give to someone new?
Just keep writing (close to just keep swimming) but I believe it to be true. Writing is the only way you are going to improve and hone your craft. If you are like me, you might have to write in a few different genres before you hit on the one that suits you best and there’s nothing wrong with that. Also, read. You must read to become a better writer. I believe it helps to read in your genre, getting to know the style, the highs and lows, the mechanics of writing, what’s expected by the audience.
What’s your biggest obstacle to writing and how do you overcome it? Most of us know that it is time, so try and let us know when you are best at your writing, and why that doesn’t work, and what you do to counter or overcome that problem.
My biggest obstacle? Self-doubt. I wonder way too much what people will think of my books. I am proud of my recent evolution into domestic noir, thinking it to be some of my best work. Early reviews from betas and my publisher and editor have been very positive for my latest book, so that helps. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. I don’t have a problem with time, I have great time management skills and I work well under the pressure to meet a deadline. I overcome the problem of self-doubt by reading others in my genre and making sure I hit the model for my genre Does the story make sense? I reread my work out loud and that helps alleviate the pain of fear of failure. When I am finished a book and I am happy and proud of it, the self-doubt goes away. Of course, reading a positive review or two helps.
Self-published or traditionally published? Tell us why that works for you?
I have self-published and traditionally published. Self-publishing affords you more flexibility in terms of release date, cover, marketing and pricing, whereas with traditional publishing, many of those decisions are taken out of your hands. I like both to be honest, but for now, traditionally published had edged ahead. I currently have a contract with London publisher Boldwood Books and I am thrilled to be working with them. My cover is amazing, I love it so much, the pricing is on par for books within my genre and it’s nice to know that there is a marketing team behind me, as I am not very good at marketing myself.
Here is your chance to plug a book. Tell us about it and why we need to read it?
My soon to be released book, Never Ever Tell (released 18 June 2020) is my second foray into domestic noir. I love the nuanced writing in this genre. Why do you need to read it? The easy answer is because it’s a great read, but the longer answer is, the character development is deep and detailed. You will feel all the things the main characters go through. It will be a rollercoaster of emotions. You’ll feel wrung out emotionally when I’m done with you. Not only that, I’m known for my blinding twists, coming out of nowhere, you’ll be left scratching your head and wondering how you didn’t see it, but the breadcrumbs are so subtle that you might miss them. If you can guess the ending, I’ll be surprised.
Next project? Where are you in your writing journey and where to next for you?
My next project is my second book for Boldwood Books, as of yet untitled but it will be released sometime in November 2020. It is another domestic noir and takes you on another emotional journey where you’ll feel for the main protagonist, sharing the highs and lows with her. Who am I kidding, she’s had a tough time in her life and I delve very deeply into Danni’s character. This book required a fair amount of research and I hope that shines through behind the main storyline. I’m also working simultaneously on my third domestic noir book which again, is such an emotional book. You won’t see the ending coming in that one either. I really do love surprising readers.
What’s your favourite genre? Tell us about one book from that genre that changed your life or outlook in life?
My favourite genre is psychological thrillers/domestic noir. I like to read in my genre as I like to keep abreast of what books come out and what works. I can’t narrow it down to just one, so my two favourite books (and consequently movies) are Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell. Both of these books encapsulate the genre, tight storylines, main characters that are well-written with just enough background information, and twists to die for. Exquisite twists. I aspire to write novels on par with these two as I hold them up as templates. They changed the way I felt and thought about the genre, apart from being inspirational books.
Having said that, completely out of my genre, Gone with the Wind changed my life. Again, a strong female lead, considered unwomanly in her time for doing whatever it took to keep her family afloat. I learnt about complicated relationships and how to write them, the nuance of life in the time of the Civil War. Brother against brother and the women caught in the middle, just trying to survive.
The most personal question of all, what does writing give you? Why do you do it, what’s the point, and what does it provide in your life that you can’t fulfil by any other means?
Writing is my passion, I couldn’t not write, it’s the way I escape real life for a few hours a day. Not only that, there’s nothing like the sense of accomplishment when I write the words ‘the end’. Writing gives me a safe place to hide from the world when I need or want to, in a world that I have created. The point is, I have something to say and I want other people, beyond my family and friends, to read it. I stand behind my novels, I believe they are good. What does it fulfill? I’m disabled and sometimes I feel like I don’t contribute much as I would like to, I prove to myself with every book that I write that disabled people can achieve something great too.
There is a lot of information about world building, character driven plots, and showing not telling. Discuss briefly how each of the elements of your book came together and which part do you love the most – the world you’ve built, your characters, or the story itself? I know, it’s like picking a favourite child, but give it a try.
I love character building, jumping into the mind of a character, exploring why they do what they do, how it’s going to end up, which is frequently a surprise to me as I don’t plan my books, I just sit in front of my laptop and let the words flow. My worlds are in this time as well as delving back in the past to contribute to the character building in the now. My favourite part is character building and their evolution.
Kirsty Ferguson is a born and bred Australian author. She writes domestic noir and thriller novels. Her stories centre around strong, capable, yet flawed women, with dark themes and undertones, designed to make you question what you think you know about the people you’re closest to. Kirsty chooses to deconstruct and enthrall her readers with the secrets of an everyday person, the stories behind closed doors.
Kirsty grew up in a rural town, on a farm and likes to base her stories in isolated places, physically, mentally and emotionally. She has long been a lover of reading and writing, beginning her professional career in 2015. She can be found with a good book in hand, her to be read list never growing any smaller no matter how hard she tries.
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