Many of us harbour dreams of becoming an artist, musician, or writer. We speak to local author Jess Kitching to learn how she followed her dream, never gave up and eventually landed a book deal.
Jess left the UK for Australia four years ago – a huge, terrifying move. This event pushed Jess to take the leap and focus on her writing. “I thought ‘you’ve already done one big, scary thing, why not try the other?’, and I’m so glad I listened to that!” says Jess.
As a child, Jess was always reading or writing. She had a vivid imagination and always a story to tell. Jess studied literature at university and loved it but was always shy to admit that she wrote in her spare time. If she only knew back then how things were going to work out!
Like most writers, Jess’ journey to publication wasn’t smooth. “I had lots of close calls, was signed to an agent and then let go, and had a stack of rejections. I was going to take a break from querying if my last round of messages didn’t go well. Luckily for me, that’s when I was signed to Kingsley Publishers for a three-book deal, and this has now been increased to an eight-book deal. This still feels like a ‘pinch me’ moment!”
For anyone with creative dreams Jess’ top tip is never to give up! “If I hadn’t sent that last round of queries, none of this would have ever happened. It’s cheesy and it’s cliché but it’s true – don’t give up because you never know how close to success you are.”
Discipline also helps when trying to reach your goals. “It seems to go against the idea of being creative, but it goes hand in hand. I must set time aside to write, especially now that I have a book deal and deadlines. Before I could write when I felt like it, skip days, procrastinate, and avoid writing if I felt blocked. Now I need to hold myself accountable. Life is busy and sometimes things get in the way, so set an achievable goal like writing 200 words in a day. You’ll be surprised how motivating it is.”
Everyone’s creative process is different, but most authors have one thing in common – they all get writer’s block. On how to overcome this issue Jess says, “Worrying about what people might think when they read the book is a great way to stem creativity. It’s not easy, but it’s important to focus on why you’re writing what you are and staying true to your intentions. I also find taking a break is great. Something as simple as going for a short walk is a great way to clear your head and reset”.
Many of Jess’ plot ideas come from real events. Her first novel, The Girl She Was Before, is a thriller that looks at the trauma legacy of bullying, among many other things. Jess has a facial birthmark and some of her life experiences inspired the book. “I find I connect to what I write more when I have a lived experience of it, and often I write about things I want to talk about.”
Jess’s second book, How to Destroy Your Husband, is a revenge-themed thriller that looks at issues such as infidelity, toxic masculinity, and the morality of seeking revenge. It’s now available from your local bookshop.