Guest Author Showcaset: Kathleen McGurl

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Today's Guest Author Showcase features Carina author Kathleen McGurl. Welcome, Kathleen, and thanks for joining me today!
Please tell me about yourself and your book(s).

I write dual timeline novels, where the action slips between a historical story and a modern day story, often with a genealogy element.  I adore reading this kind of book, so a few years ago decided I’d have a go at writing one myself!

Please describe your daily writing habits.

I have a full time dayjob, so writing time has to be squeezed into the evenings and weekends. At the moment I am trying to write about 5000 words a week which is about as much as I can manage. I usually sit on a sofa in what we still call the playroom (even though our sons are now full grown) with my laptop and a cat balanced on my knees.

What tips would you give to a writer who is just starting out?

Three tips:
1. Write what you most enjoy reading
2. Write because you love writing, not for the money
3. Write as often as you can, ideally every day.

What are some things that have surprised you as an author?

I began my writing career with short stories. While I enjoyed writing those, the big surprise has been finding that I much prefer writing novels. For years I was daunted by the prospect of writing something of 90,000 words, but now I love having all that space to play in and all that time to let my characters and plot fully develop.

What would you say has been your biggest challenge as an author?

It’s a continual challenge – that of balancing writing with all the other demands on my time!

What would you say has been your biggest success as an author?

I think the moment when I opened an email from publisher Carina UK, offering me a two book deal. I was over the moon with that. After ten years of writing it felt like I had finally made it.

What books and/or authors would you say have been your biggest influence?

I’d say Kate Morton and Katherine Webb, who both write the kind of dual timeline novel I write. Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper in particular is a book I enjoyed very much, and which showed how this kind of book could be structured.

What genre would you like to write for that you’ve not tried yet?

I love writing the historical strands of my books, and would like to try some pure historical books.

If you could have lunch with three famous authors, living or dead, whom would you pick and why?

Ooh, interesting one. I think I’d pick Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins and F Scott Fitzgerald. I’d love to discuss their respective historical periods with them, and get a true writerly flavor of the eras they lived in.

If you could have written any bestselling book today, which would it be?

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. Simply the cleverest book ever written.

Do you plan your books out from start to finish in advance or do you let the story and characters take you where it will?

I plan to some extent. I know where the story is going to go, and I write a one line description of what will happen in each chapter. But I’m prepared to be flexible and let things change as I go along, so the characters do have quite a lot of freedom to move around.

Where do you get the inspiration for your characters and books?

I’ve done some genealogy research myself, so that was the starting place for The Emerald Comb. The Pearl Locket began life as a short story I sold many years ago to one of the women’s magazines. The characters just appear in my head, then I fill in  a character questionnaire for them so I get to know them better.

Music or no music when writing?

No music, though the TV is often on in the next room.

Favorite snacks/drinks while writing?

Chocolate, and wine.

Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?

I like and buy both. I buy physical books if I know I want to keep them for ever, or as reference books. But ebooks mean I can increase the font size and not wear specs, and my kindle is easier to hold when reading in bed and more portable for reading on the train. For each book purchase I weigh up the pros and cons and buy whichever format will be best for that book.

What are your thoughts on the current trend of making books into movies?

I love movies made from books, though often prefer the book to the film. A film made from one of my books would be my all-time dream come true…

Favorite genre that you like to read?

Timeslip/dual timeline

Who is your all time favorite book character?

Oh that’s a hard one. Not sure I can answer for all time. I tend to love a character while reading the book. I suppose Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice is one I always enjoy reading about. Sorry, boring answer I know!

What three things must you have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

My kindle, a generator so I can recharge it, and a pot of facial moisturizer.

About The Pearl Locket:

We’ll Meet Again…

When Ali inherits her great-aunt’s house she immediately moves her whole family in, despite the warnings that there is something strange about the place. Unfazed, Ali begins redecorating, going through the rooms, making each one her own with the help of her daughter, Kelly. But when under the wallpaper in Kelly’s new room they discover a scrawled message from 1944 Ali begins to question the history of the house as she knows it.

Her family has always seemed so picture perfect, not a blemish or a secret to be found. Yet, this discovery throws her into confusion and Ali begins to question exactly what she knows about her family and the mysteries they have kept hidden…

About the Author:

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, with her husband, sons and cats. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present., and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

When not writing or working at her full-time job in IT, she likes to go out running or sea-swimming, both of which she does rather slowly. She is definitely quicker at writing.

You can find out more at her website,, or follow her on Twitter @KathMcGurl .

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