Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author Cat Walker

Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6

The Scoop by Cat Walker

What comes up when you search for "Cat Walker" and "The Scoop"? On my first attempt, it was indeed kitty litter. But now, at last, Amazon ranks the book as the first suggestion! Let's give a warm welcome to today's spotlight guest.

1- February 26, 2020 is Pink T Shirt Day in the US. Which of your characters is most likely to wear pink to symbolize not tolerating bullying?

Casey, a grown up tomboy, would hate to wear pink, thinking it far too girly, although she might do it for such a good cause (for one day!). I can just imagine 12 year old Ari’s response if you asked him to wear pink… :-0 I actually think wayward Danny would be the most likely to wear a pink t-shirt, good cause or not, as he’s the most comfortable in his skin, his sexuality and his opinions. And he’d rock it too!

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Never give up! Seriously, it took me (lucky) 13 years to get published, so hang in there. Oh, and keep listening to readers’ comments and revising your WIP.

3- What is the best piece of writing advice you've received?

The best writing advice I was ever given was to join a writing group. I spent years believing that my very first draft of The Scoop was word perfect, literally, that I didn’t have to change a single comma. Then I wondered why I wasn’t getting anywhere with it. It might have stayed “an undiscovered masterpiece” in the back of a drawer if I hadn’t been encouraged to seek out some constructive criticism from other writers. After swallowing my pride I learned to weather the inevitable criticism which was aimed at making me write better. I completely reworked the first draft, keeping only the storyline and the very best bits of prose. I paid particular attention to the beginning as that’s where your readers decide whether or not to stick. In future I definitely wouldn’t waste so much time being precious about my first draft.

4- What have you learned about copyright permissions when using quotes in a book?

Ha! I’m glad you asked this. I think I’m probably a world expert in this subject now, having come up against it recently in preparing the manuscript of The Scoop for publication. I wanted to have evocative quotes at the head of each chapter to set the scene – it’s a little foible of mine to love quotes – and I’d spent years choosing just the right ones. When it came to publishing, however, it was my job to try to obtain copyright permission for each of these. I will summarise my learnings from this process here:
a.“Fair use” means nothing when it comes to fiction! There’s a commonly-held assumption that you can use a certain number of words of anything without infringing copyright – this doesn’t hold any water for a published work of fiction.
b.Every country around the world has different copyright laws, so in order to comply with everyone everywhere it’s safest to go for the highest threshold for copyright (which is generally ‘death of the author plus 70 years’).
c.Don’t, however, take ‘death plus 70’ as the rule without checking first that the copyright hasn’t been extended by the family of the author or another entity.
d.Research every quote to check its source and accuracy. I was astonished to find that so many popular quotes are actually apocryphal, misattributed or just plain made up. That seems especially to be the case with quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson for some strange reason.
e.Use free resources to check your quotes and permissions, such as the excellent PLS clear and Project Gutenberg.
f.Just don’t use quotes, it’s too much hassle! While I did end up sourcing some excellent out of copyright quotes for The Scoop it was a lot of extra work that I hadn’t planned on and it nearly derailed the publication timetable.

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book somewhere awesome?

I actually don’t have physical copies of the book yet (due next week) so I’ve sent some pictures of the cover and author pics and a couple of my travels (which inspired the book).
Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author Cat Walker
Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author Cat Walker
Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author Cat Walker
Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author Cat Walker

6- What inspired you to write The Scoop?

The idea for the novel came about when I went travelling in my thirties in South East Asia. You could say that I was having a bit of a mid-life crisis and needed some space to figure out what life wanted from me and what I wanted from life. I wrote a blog as I went, which I sent back home to family and friends. Several people commented that I should write a book about it. So I did. But I knew that I didn’t want to write a travelogue or a memoir, because I felt that a novel would be a more powerful way of exploring the big ideas I wanted to bottom out about the meaning of life.
I wrote the first draft of the book while I was living in Australia and Ireland, and used the local libraries wherever I was to research the countries I hadn’t been to, and all the historical, cultural and philosophical background I wanted to feature. The characters and their stories came from lots of different people I met while travelling and in my own life back home (although none is based on anyone in particular of course!)
Thirteen years later I had re-written and re-edited the book a hundred times and eventually sent it out to two last publishers. One said no… but the very last one said yes!

7- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

You can find me on Twitter here: @CatWalkerAuthor Please do stop by and have a chat!
I’d like to give a shout out to my local author friends @LouiseTondeur , @eleanor_wood and @helentrevorrow

8- What’s your favourite book to movie adaptation?

I generally don’t think that movie adaptations hit the mark as they can never plumb the depths of the nuances in a book, but the movie of Umberto Eco’s ‘The Name of the Rose’, featuring Sean Connery, has to rate quite highly for me. I can’t wait for the adaptation of The Scoop…! 😉

9- What most motivates you to read a new book?

I don’t have enough time as I would like to read, as I run my business and have a toddler! So I often rely on book recommendations from friends or people on social media. I hate to admit it (because I’d rather not be ‘told’ what to read by the powers that be) but I often also look to Booker Prize winners as there have been some awesome winners in the past.

10- It's our tenth anniversary! How far has your writing come in the past ten years and where do you see your writing career ten years from now?

Happy 10th Anniversary! That’s quite a landmark. In some ways my own writing has come a long way in the last ten years, from dreamy first drafts to a finished novel about to be published. I’ve also self-published a book of poetry ( and co-written and directed a successful amateur musical (‘Honeybees: The Musical’ - the world’s first lesbian field hockey musical) which sold out performances in Brighton, Eastbourne and the legendary RADA Studios (formerly the Drill Hall) off the West End of London. These days my ‘mainstream life’ is very busy though, with work and parenting taking up a LOT of hours, so in an ideal world in ten years time, I will somehow have carved out enough time to write full time and have a few bestsellers under my belt allowing me to travel the world guesting at book festivals (that’s every writer’s dream, right?)! 😉

11- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Being honest, my all time favourite books are by authors who are either dead or don’t take to Twitter. In particular The Scoop owes a debt of gratitude to ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’ by Robert M. Pirsig, ‘Notes from a Small Island’ and others by Bill Bryson, and ‘Sophie's World’ by Jostein Gaarder. But if I had to choose a recent novel that I loved by someone who is on Twitter it would be this one:
Author name: @helentrevorrow
Title: In The Wake
Love because: It’s a gripping psychological thriller full of dark humour and strong female characters. And we need more books with gay lead characters to normalise such diversity.

12- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?

Ooh, great question. Firstly I really hope that The Scoop makes people think as well as feel. It’s basically a book about life’s big questions: Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What can we learn from others? How do we live a good life? But it’s couched in the stories of three very different characters and describes their personal journeys from uncertainty to… well, let’s just say, less uncertainty, with a lot of humour! So I hope that readers will recognise something of themselves in the characters and their endeavours as well as, occasionally, thinking: “Oh, I never knew that”.

13- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?

Above all I hope that The Scoop will give its readers some further hope that life is what you make it and that every life is worthwhile. It sometimes seems that we live in a very dark and scary world, and I think that we need to be reminded to listen to the lessons of history and what other cultures and religions have to teach us about life and about being nicer, better people.

14- What is the best writing tool, program, or reference book you've ever bought?

I loved Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ memoir which kept me passionate about writing as a way of life. I also benefitted from Louise Tondeur’s excellent little guidebooks: How to Write a Novel and Get It Published: A Small Steps Guide; and Find Time to Write. And of course Julia Cameron’s amazing: The Artist's Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Casey, the narrator in The Scoop, is a gay woman. I would argue that this fact is not pivotal to the book – it’s not a ‘gay book’ per se – it is just what it is. And that’s what’s important in diversity I think, not that we randomly place diverse characters in there for the sake of it, but that it’s reflective of the real diversity of life around us.

16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?

I’m new to the world of book blogging so don’t yet know who to follow – some suggestions would be gratefully received. The Scoop’s blog tour starts mid-March and that will be a totally new experience for me. I can’t wait!
Please allow me to recommend the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, which has a great many of book review bloggers every year.

17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

I spent thirteen years trying to get The Scoop published. I had previously self-published a book of poetry but I’d decided after that that I really wanted a traditional publisher for my novel. I felt at that time that this route would give me a bigger audience. But it wasn’t easy! Thirteen years later I had sent it out to every publisher and agent I could think of. I had tried large and small publishers in the UK, the US and Canada. Eventually I came across the idea of hybrid models of publishing – where the author and the publisher both bear part of the risk (and the cost). It seemed like the perfect solution – I would get the publishing expertise and knowledge I needed but still maintain a large amount of control over how my novel was handled and marketed. Trepidatiously I sent out my manuscript to more publishers. I still got some rejection slips (hybrid publishers don’t say yes to everyone) but eventually the amazing and brilliant and revolutionary @RedDoorBooks said yes!

18- Which author, past or present, do you feel most resembles your work?

If The Scoop is seen as resembling, in the smallest way, Robert M. Pirsig’s ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, or anything by Bill Bryson, or Paulo Coelho or Jostein Gaarder, then I would be thrilled beyond belief.

19- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?

What is the meaning of life? (Just kidding. Although if you do know then please do tell!)
Alternatively: As I never have enough time to read as I’d like, I’m curious about how many pages will you generally read past the point at which your enthusiasm starts to flag?

20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author Cat Walker

The Scoop: A wonderful tale of journeys, both geographical and emotional, that will keep you entertained at every turn... Cat Walker is a brilliant storyteller Zoe Lyons
Casey Jones's life is a mess. Her job bores her, her parents confuse her, and she has repeated nightmares about her ex-girlfriend. In a moment of madness she packs in her job and plans an adventure with her schoolfriend, long-time lad Danny. What she didn't plan for was an extra passenger, in the shape of Danny's estranged twelve-year-old son, Ari, who has problems of his own.
The three of them are thrown together for an intense rollercoaster ride in Alice a converted bright pink ice cream van through some of the most beautiful and dangerous places in the world, from Tulse Hill to Tibet.

About the Author
Cat Walker was born and raised in the sunny seaside town of Scarborough in North Yorkshire. She is a grown up eternal student, with many and various jobs under her belt, and a passion for travel which has seen her wandering the globe in search of the truth.
Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author Cat Walker
The Scoop is her debut novel. Cat currently lives in Brighton with her wife and baby son.
Cat Walker is not having a mid-life crisis!

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Twitter Link: @CatWalkerAuthor
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The Scoop by Cat Walker

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