Tell me about yourself Keri.
I have always had a voracious appetite for books and movies. I grew up in Norfolk, England, on a diet of horror and suspense and quickly learnt that psychological build up is far scarier than blood and gore. The mind is a powerful thing and can conjure up worse images than what is seen on screen or given away too early in a book. It’s the sense of unknowing that can give the best scares and keep you on the edge of your seat.
My goal as an author is to create page turners, with engaging characters, fast paced plots, plenty of twists and turns and hopefully a few chills along the way. Dead Letter Day is my first published book, but not the first I have written, and it has taken twenty years and a couple of near misses to get to this point.
When did you know you wanted to become an author?
Writing has always been second nature to me and from a very young age I was filling up notebooks with stories and plays. When I was nineteen I was holidaying in Tenerife and reading a Stephen King book. I remember thinking at the time how much dedication and commitment it must take to complete a full novel. Within a couple of months of returning home I had decided to give it a go and was hard at work on my first book. From that moment on, being a published author was the only career I wanted.
Is there a central theme to your books?
My stories are all mystery thrillers with plenty of red herrings and twists, and a little bit of dark humor. Despite only being out a couple of weeks, I’ve already had people asking if there will be a second book involving some of the central players from Dead Letter Day. The book was intended as a stand-alone novel, but I enjoyed spending time with the characters so am considering it.
What books have inspired you the most in your life?
As a child it was Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree. As an adult it has been Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca (inspiration for the name of Dead Letter Day’s protagonist, Rebecca Angell) and Stephen King’s The Shining – Room 237 is the scariest place I have ever been. I am also a big fan of Tami Hoag, Nora Roberts and Lisa Gardner.
What’s a typical day in your writing routine like?
I have a full time job to work around, so it’s snatching time whenever I can, usually in the evenings. If I am lucky enough to have a whole day to write and I find myself in the zone, I will only emerge for coffee, and God help anyone who disturbs me. I’m typically a very laidback person, but break my concentration when I’m in full flow and I’m a bit like Jack Torrance towards the end of The Shining.
What is it that you do to relax?
I drink red wine, hang with my cats or have a gossip and a laugh over dinner with my girlfriends. All of these things work for me.
Do you use an outline or do you write organically?
Some writers use a storyboard; I prefer not to. My plots begin with an idea and grow in my head until I have a beginning, an end of sorts and a couple of revelations. When I start writing I don’t know exactly where the story will take me and part of the fun for me is finding out.
Have you ever had writer’s block and what did you do to push past it?
I wouldn’t say I’ve had writer’s block. I have the odd days where I struggle to put anything decent down on paper. I used to force myself to write when this happened, but nearly always ended up trashing the end result. Now I find it better to step away for a few hours. It equals itself out because for every bad day there is a good day when you are so in the zone, it’s almost as if your fingers are telling you the story as they type.
Is there a certain time of day when you are most creative?
Usually evenings and if I find my flow, I will write until two or three in the morning.
How many drafts do you usually write of a manuscript and what is your editing process like?
I write the first draft, often stopping to tweak along the way. Once complete I go back and attack a second and sometimes a third, fourth or fifth time. I am not afraid to make some major changes if I feel the book needs them and the published version of Dead Letter Day has very little resemblance to the first draft.
What do you think of the recent changes in the publishing world?
I think they’re mostly good. I came incredibly close to getting published when I was in my mid-twenties. After four years of struggling I managed to get signed by a top agent, but still failed to get a deal with one of the biggest publishing houses because ‘I was more RL Stine than Stephen King’. They admitted RL Stine was a best-seller author, but they wanted someone who was going to be bigger. As an unknown author, the big guns just weren’t interested unless they thought you were going to make them a fortune. With the recent successes of some indie authors, some of the power has been taken away from publishing monopoly and it’s refreshing to see budding (and probably extremely frustrated) writers are getting a fair opportunity to put their work out for the public to decide.
Out of all the books you’ve written do you have a favorite, and if so why?
I have two favorites. Dead Letter Day is the book I am most proud of. I like the characters I created and the way I managed to pull all the twists and turns together. I also have another novel I have written, tentatively called Pandora’s Box. Again I am fond of the characters, though the story is slightly slower paced, and I may try to change this before publishing.
What are you working on now?
Another fast paced thriller that should appeal to fans of Dead Letter Day. All I can reveal at this stage is that it features a serial killer who reenacts scenes from an author’s books.
Where can we buy your books?
At the moment, primarily Amazon. The Kindle edition went on sale a couple of weeks back and the paperback has just launched.