#WriteThinking – Catherine Hokin

catprofileSORRY! Life has got in the way, and I haven’t had chance to get near my blog, or if I have, I’ve been easily distracted. This week we have the fantastic Catherine Hokin writing a guest post. Catherine is a Glasgow-based author whose fascination with the medieval period began during a History degree which included studies into witchcraft, women and the role of political propaganda. This kick-started an interest in hidden female voices which resulted in her debut novel, Blood and Roses. 


Do you remember that scene in Bambi when our eponymous little hero first steps out into the snow with that wide-eyed grin and confident bounce? Yes he falls through the snow and gets buried a couple of times by piles of the wet stuff dropping on his head but he gives himself a little shake and skips merrily on unbowed and then he lands on the ice…

Bambi, dear reader, is a newbie author.

One day a professional, competent person who understood the world and its tribal languages and could even (sometimes) get its teenage kids to do what was needed, the next a wide-eyed ingénue staring at a message that isn’t the expected rejection but contains the magic word yes glittering at its centre.

It’s a wonderful feeling which I hope all authors will get to share at some point in their career but it is also the gateway to a world that can feel like Wonderland crossed with The Hunger Games. So here’s some things I learnt on the road to the publication of Blood and Roses and beyond:

  1. Your publisher wants your book – they may not want you with your crazy questions about sales and marketing and covers and launches and…Watch how the UN works and learn diplomatic skills. Quick.
  2. Define words carefully: my publisher told me I would have cover input but not control. Beware that phrase. My book is about the Wars of the Roses, more specifically a feminist revision of Margaret of Anjou. There is a lot of blood and no romance; it is not a ‘bodice-ripper’. I said that a lot, yet the ‘holding cover’ which appeared on the publisher site looked like a soft-focus gardening catalogue. Teeth were gnashed. We discussed crowns, we discussed blood (a drop, not a crime-scene), we discussed colours (black, red, gold). We agreed it wouldn’t be girly. At all. Timescales came, timescales went, then, with 24 hours to go before the wholesale catalogue needed the completed artwork, the cover came…It was pink, the palest pink, with pastel blue flowery blood bursts and a wishy-washy watermark of Margaret. Toys flew out of the pram like nuclear missiles. The UN were called.
  3. Throw yourself on the mercy of other authors – they will explain things like hashtag days and blog tours, they will share their own war stories, they remember your pain and their scars have healed…almost. There are lots of communities out there so pitch in.
  4. Promise your family a dedication in the book – you are about to ignore them for months and have melt-downs they were never allowed (teenagers have long memories). They will forgive all this on launch day when people point to their names on the inside front page. Also lie and tell them you sold the film rights and they’re going to be in it…
  5. Enjoy every mad moment and celebrate every little success (there’s a reason authors and alcoholics are often mistaken for each other) – why? Because you did it…you’re an author.

This is the best rollercoaster you will ever ride: when you finally get to the end, you will be sat in a bookshop, signing copies of your book, surrounded by people applauding your achievement. You will be in Authorland and, trust me, you’ll be itching to get back on the ice as soon as book one is done.

To find out more about Catherine check out her website here, her blog here, and you can follow her on twitter here and like her facebook page here.