Festival trifecta!

Author Katherine Dewar with a copy of Ruby and the Blue Sky at Paige's Book Gallery Whanganui

La Fiesta 2017 promo posterThis week, I’m taking part in three events at the fabulous Whanganui festival, La Fiesta (gotta love alliteration!).  Can you make it or do you know anyone who might like to come?


THE FLOOD – Thursday 23rd February

7:30pm at the Education Room, 83 Maria Place, Whanganui – KOHA.

I’m excited to be alongside Annette Main, Tanea Tangaroa and Rachel Plank in a panel discussion about extreme weather, climate change and the role of creativity with esteemed MC Nicola Patrick.  Please bring your questions and join us, whatever the weather!


INSIGHTS FROM A FIRST-TIMER – Friday 24th February

10:30am to 12:00pm at Ladies Rest, 75 St Hill Street, Whanganui – KOHA.

In this workshop for writers of all kinds, I’m going to be sharing my experiences as an indie author self-publishing for the first time. Bring your questions and come ready to do some thinking about how you might reach an audience for your own stories.

PERSUASIVE MARKETING – Friday 24th February

1pm to 3pm at Ladies Rest, 75 St Hill Street, Whanganui – FREE!

I put my professional experience as a marketer to use every day as an indie-author. Please join me for the first delivery outside Auckland of my popular workshop on writing messaging for your organisation.  Practice putting your passion into compelling words to attract support, customers or funders.

You can read more about all three of these events in the Wanganui Chronicle here.

To ask me any questions or to register click here.

River City Press write up about Katherine Dewar workshop
River City Press preview article February 2017

To ask me any questions or to register click here.

Love the discovery

Digging to discover - image of spade in earth courtesy of Goumbik on Pixabay

I’ve realised my curiosity is a big part of what makes me an author. I want to write and I want to imagine, but I also want to find out.  In my ‘day job‘ we call it the ‘discovery stage’ and its one of my favourite activities – unearthing the intricacies that make an organisation tick and understanding them.

I’m in the ‘discovery phase’ of a new novel right now; exploring ideas imaginatively but letting them lead me into research, to find the intricacies that ‘furnish’, as Stephanie Johnson said last week, a character’s life.  This interplay between imagination and curiosity often seems to give me the inspiration that propels the characters through the plot.

As an author at the start of 21st Century, I have tools available no other story-teller in history has enjoyed.  I can visit a street in Leeds from my desk here in Aotearoa New Zealand in the flicker it takes my screen to load with pixels; I can look down on it from above, as if I were one of the city’s owls, taken flight from the town hall, or swivel on the street, looking around me.  I can dive into the complexities of veterinary care for polar bears in zoos, harvesting kernels from academic papers and expert websites, or watch people’s smart phone videos as they experience a flood,  like I did writing Ruby and the Blue Sky.

As I write, here in this remote part of an island 2000km from anywhere, the world at my fingertips, I’m full of respect for pre-internet authors and their patient library work and with gratitude for the internet which, at its best, can fire understanding, the empathy that follows and sometimes, for a short time, satiate my curiosity.

The three things I’m getting asked most, as a new author

Katherine Dewar - notebook with work in progress towards her next novel

It dawned on me yesterday that, as an indie author of six months, I could see a trend in what I get asked about writing my first novel, Ruby and the Blue Sky.

The most common question is ‘how long did it take?

Really I want to answer ‘a lifetime’. It feels two blinks and a heart beat since I was writing Hobbit fan-faction featuring giant spiders aged 10 and since I gave Crime a human form. There’s a been a lot of practice since then and a lot of learning. Much of it under the talented tutelage of Dame Fiona Kidman in her classes that later became a Whitirea Polytechnic course. I’ve had a couple of dry runs at novel writing, photocopied and shared with  whanau. One whispers to me from its box under the spare bed. One day it might entice me to unleash it on you.

Nicola Patrick and author Katherine Dewar
Nicola Patrick interviews author Katherine Dewar

What people really want to know is how long did it take me to write the 75,000 words that are this novel and, implicitly, the 75,000 more that were scrapped along the way.  The collection of scribbles that became Ruby and the Blue Sky started to accumulate in my notebooks around 2010. They settled around the ‘What if?’ question. What if someone with mass popular appeal really worked to lead change?  As I’ve written int he guest-blog here, the novel didn’t take shape until the following year, when I visited Leeds and the city crystallised the scribbles into the drafts that became the book.

I set it aside for most of a year at one stage, finding myself failing to progress either the manuscript or a non-fiction publishing project, an online course in ethical marketing. Once the course was launched, I revisited the draft with fresh eyes and the novel is better for its fallow time.  By December 2015 it was written, rewritten and a year of major edits complete. From then til I published took another six months of research into how to self-publish, commissioning the cover design, proof-reading, copy edits, layout, file formatting, completing tax forms and launch organising.  So, about four years writing, very part-time, around running one business and launching another, and six months to publish, all told.

The second most common question has been ‘how much is autobiographical?

Ruby illustration from the cover of Ruby and the Blue Sky by Katherine DewarWhen people have read the novel, this is frequently focused on the music; Ruby, the protagonist, fronts a band, singing and playing guitar. I don’t do either but it pleases me immensely I could imagine it well enough to make Ruby so convincing.  The only elements drawn from my life are a passion for nature, living in Leeds, which I did for nine years, and working in groups to make change, which I do to this day. The rest is made up. Except for climate change of course. THAT IS ALL REAL, whatever the US president might think. All the science is as accurate as I could make it, including the geo-engineering.

Thirdly, and easiest to answer; ‘are you writing another one?

Yes, dear reader, I am.

Katherine Dewar - notebook with work in progress towards her next novel