Monday, December 1, 2014

Found, Near Water

Today's special guest is Katherine Hayton, who is visiting us from Christchurch, New Zealand. In her own words, she says:

Ever since I was three year’s old I’ve been reading everything I can lay my hands on. It’s been my passion, my solace, my comfort. I used to look forward to Wednesday nights which were the time that my mother would take me, and any of my siblings who wanted to go – so usually just me, to the library.

It would be wonderful, thrilling, and risky. I was only able to take three books out each week, and only one of those could get a free pass on fees. If I picked the wrong one I would be stuck with it for a whole week. Not only stuck with it, but I’d have to read a bad book cover to cover because otherwise I’d have to do something else, and that was not really what I was after. I did go outside, and played outside, and watched TV like any normal kid, but that was just stuff you filled in time with until you could read again.

Throughout my childhood there was never anything I wanted to do but become a writer – it seemed the only natural progression to my life. Then I crawled inside a bottle for fourteen years, and when I popped back out I was working in an office job in a travel agency, my mother was dead, and I was clueless as to how I was meant to get my life back on track.

About the time I started to seriously study the craft of writing, something that used to come naturally to me but had grown incredibly hard through lack of use, I also had a change in career path into insurance (not as big a change as it might seem as it was really from one office job to another with a brighter future and better career path.) I started to challenge myself in my professional life, and my personal life, so instead of focussing in on writing I instead tried out a range of different hobbies, followed up on fleeting interests, tried to learn to play the saxophone which my partner was glad was a short-lived affair, and generally did all of the things I should’ve spent my teens and twenties doing but hadn’t.

But of course I always circled back to writing. Reading and writing. My passion remains the same but instead of skimming widely across any and all genres I’ve narrowed down and done a deep-dive into crime fiction which has been my favourite for over a decade now.

I love the fact that I’ve been reading the same genre of fiction for more than ten years now, and still find new and interesting things with every book that I pick up. Now I’m trying to bring something new and unique to me to the genre. And soon I might finally get back on track to being the person that I always wanted to be.


Well it’s more about combining than balancing. I go to work early in the morning (because that’s when I get a free ride in) so I’ve got about an hour spare at the beginning of the day. When I’m actively writing a draft I use that time for writing, and then top-up with another half-hour or so at the end of the day (if I’m after a specific word-count which I usually am because if I leave myself to my own devises it’s too easy to let go of everything and just do it tomorrow.)

I also write a daily blog post between 8.00 and 9.00pm so I’m not just concentrating on crime writing. It also makes sure that I’m writing (almost) every day even when I’m not actively working on a manuscript.

What I find more difficult is setting aside the time for marketing rather than writing. I’m still new to that side so I tend to do it at the weekend when I don’t feel rushed. Then I have the time to read through ideas (luckily a lot of indie writers are out there going through the same thing so there’s a lot of how-to how-not-to guides to wade through) and start to work out how to put them into practice. If I need to carry something through from the weekend I try to make sure that I get my word-count in the morning so I’m not flat out from the moment I get home!

There’s also the work-creep that tends to take over when I’m between drafts. I can’t pick up a first draft as soon as it’s finished to rewrite it into a second, but whenever I put a manuscript aside I also find it difficult to pick it back up. There are a lot of unfinished novels in my trunk due to this habit. However, if I set a firm appointment for a manuscript assessment etc it encourages me to get my A into G.

Having no children or pets or hobbies helps greatly with my combining. I recommend that no one clutter their lives up with these things. If you’re too late to take my advice I don’t envy you – you’ll have to put aside your two hours of dedicated television watching to get everything done, and then what’s the point of living, eh?


Rena Sutherland wakes from a coma into a mother’s nightmare. Her daughter’s is missing – lost for four days – but no one has noticed; no one has complained; no one has been searching.

 As the victim support officer assigned to her case, Christine Emmett puts aside her own problems as she tries to guide Rena through the maelstrom of her daughter’s disappearance.

 A task made harder by an ex-husband desperate for control; a paedophile on early-release in the community; and a psychic who knows more than seems possible.

 And intertwined throughout, the stories of six women; six daughters lost.


On the fifteenth of March 2007 I came home after a short day’s work, and Emma wasn’t there. Jacob was, but he was unconscious on the bed and from the smell of him he hadn’t got to that state accidentally.

There were the police asking endless questions. There was the media attention and my daughter’s photo pasted across the front page of a lot of newspapers. She didn’t look anything like those photos. She was living, breathing, full of motion and life and energy. She would snuggle in next to me on a weekend morning and run a length of my hair through her pudgy wee hands and exclaim in admiration ‘Mummy. You’re so pretty.’

I thought that not knowing was the worst thing I could ever endure. Not knowing if she was in trouble or needing my help or in pain. I worried that she’d been taken by someone that would hurt her, then I worried that she’d been taken by someone who would love her and care for her and in a year or two she’d have forgotten I ever existed. Not knowing was killing me.

But it turned out that knowing was far worse. When I went to the hospital to identify my beautiful girl’s broken body - that was worse than not knowing. When I buried her in the cemetery and compared the size of the gravesite to the other freshly buried bodies - that was worse than not knowing. When I drank myself to sleep on the anniversary of her sixth birthday, and realised that I would likely be doing that until my life ended - that was worse than not knowing.


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