Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Blog Tour; Review and interview: The Story of You by Katy Regan

Katy Regan
HarperCollins │e-book 4th July / pb Sept 2014│£7.99│

Book Synopsis:

Your past will always be part of you but does it have to define your future?
Or can you rewrite the story of you?

Growing up in an idyllic, northern village, Robyn's life was pretty damn near perfect. Then, she turned sixteen and everything exploded: her beloved mother died, and she fell in love for the first time with the hottest boy in school - Joe Sawyer. Then that summer something happened that changed everything. She changed. She had to.

Seventeen years later, it’s happening all over again: a funeral, an unexpected pregnancy, and Joe back in her life. But although this should be a second chance - a chance to get things right this time, to be happy - Robyn knows, deep down, that she’s going to have confront the terrible events that have shaped her life until now, before she can begin to love and live fully. Is she brave enough?

Exploring themes of guilt, rape, teenage pregnancy, death and dysfunctional families, Katy Regan’s smart, heartbreakingly poignant yet wonderfully funny novel is told with originality, wit and insight that has been so evident in her previous novels.

Shona's review 5 of 5 stars

When I received the press release for this book I didn't read all of it I read the beginning of it and thought, yep this is something I will like. Then the book arrived and I jumped right into it with an idea in my head of what was going to happen. I was wrong. This wasn't the happy reminiscing of a teenage romance that I was expecting. This was darker than I was expecting but gripping. There is an almost perfect mix of love and loss, sadness and joy.. and it just compels you to read more. So much so that I read this book cover to cover in less than a day. I could not put it down.

The Story of You is an emotional rollercoaster that keeps you on your toes.. never knowing if the next page will bring happiness or sadness. I loved how the story unfolded.. the mix between the here and now and what came before 16 years ago was perfect.
Katy Regan is a 'new to me author' and I can definitely see myself seeking out her other work in the near future. 

Claire's Review 5 of 5 Stars

Wow how to put this review into words....I absolutely loved this book! from the very first chapter I was hooked and wanted to know more about Robyn and what was going to happen. I loved Robyn as a character, and reading about what had happened in her life. This was such an emotional read that has you up one moment and down the next and keeps you glued and turning the pages. I don't want to say too much without giving away the story, but all I can say is go and get this book as you wont be disappointed!

Hello Katy, welcome to Booky Ramblings. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m very scatty ( I lose everything). Terrible at Maths (haven’t even got G.C.S.E), and my claim to fame is that I went to stage school with Posh Spice! I like to wheel that one out often….I am the author of four novels and a journalist for most of the magazines and newspapers. I have a nine year-old son who is strangely sporty. (That’s another thing I am very bad at.)

Do you have a day job as well?

Not as such, I just combine the journalism with the fiction writing and also a bit of teaching and copywriting in order to pay the bills.

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I’ve always written. I used to make little books when I was a child by stapling paper together. Then I’d fill them with bad Beatrix Potter rip-offs. I started writing fiction seriously in about 2003, however and finished my first novel in 2007.

How did you choose the genre you write in?
I don’t think I ‘chose’ it as such, it’s just my voice and the subject matter suited women’s fiction. I think your voice changes and matures, however as you get older and write more. I’d say I write a slightly different kind of book than I used to. It’s inevitable, your writing grows with you.

Where do you get your ideas?

Life! Magazines, newspapers, my friends’ lives, cafes, buses, past experiences. Stories are everywhere I think, it’s just a case of turning on the detector.

Do you ever experience writer’s block? And if so how do you deal with it?
Yes, all the time. I suffer - as most writers do - from crushing self-doubt and it feels hard most of the time. If you only wrote when it was going well however, you’d never write anything. It’s a case of working through the problems, unfortunately and that can feel like pulling teeth. If I feel really paralysed, however (which I do quite often!) I take a break for a day or two or just write a scene I CAN write.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I generally know the big stuff: how it starts, how it ends, what the general plot is. The main thing for me, however, is getting the voice of the narrator right and nailing WHAT I want to say, what this book is about. After that, I know what will go in the first three chapters and then I just write.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I love Tim Lott’s book White City Blue about a guy, Frankie Blue who is on the cusp of having to choose between his friends and his girlfriend, his mates and his ‘mate. I guess it’s a book about growing up (they always are!) But I loved it and decided I wanted to write books like that (or at least aspire to it): books that were modern and relevant but essentially about love and relationships. I also love Chris Cleave - he always has amazing narrators - and Nick Hornby and Jenny Éclair.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Well the main challenge was I had no time to write a book! I had a baby, was a single parent and worked full time at Marie Claire as a features writer. I wrote that book very late in the evenings and very early in the mornings, before work (when my son was at his dad’s) .I think I was lucky in that it was based on a column I’d written for a long time and so my agent already knew about me when I wrote to her. She is a completely brilliant agent, though who then made the road to publication so less painful than it could have been. I think the challenge now, is not getting published but staying published!

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Not really because it was all part of the learning process and like I say, you can only grow as a writer by going through ALL the stages and that includes writing your first book - as clueless as I was!

Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

Not YET but that could well happen! It’s a precarious game.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
It’s called The Story of You and it’s basically an emotional roller-coaster of a love story about two people, Robyn and Joe who went through traumatic times when they were teenagers. We meet them in the book when their lives have just collided again, sixteen years later with some very dramatic consequences. It was a total nightmare to write, but now it feels like a special book and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I really hope people like it!

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I think there are always parts of you and your life in all your books: where else is there to write from but life, I suppose. In terms of have I experienced the events in the book, however? No, not at all, it’s probably the least auto-biographical novel I’ve written in fact. However, there are definitely parts of characters and little events that I have taken from my own life.

What was your favourite book/chapter/scene to write and why?
HOW WE MET, my third novel was a joy to write (mainly! Save for the essential mini-breakdown at about 60,000 words). I think this is because it was about friendship - something very close to my heart - and I knew where I was going with that book right from the start.

Will you have a new book coming out soon?

Yes, THE STORY OF YOU is out in ebook on July 3rd and paperback in September. I’m very excited. It’s darker than my last books but it’s been really well received so far and that’s kind of surprised me! I think, hope, people are enjoying the drama of the darkness so that’s brilliant!

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I loved Fraser in HOW WE MET to bits and would love to see how his and Mia’s life panned out. In terms of themes - gosh, so many! I guess THE STORY OF YOU has lots of themes of motherhood which I loved writing about. My new book, that I’m writing now (number five) is partly also about motherhood, but also growing up, learning about relationships and how life works and ultimately LOVE. I think it always comes back to love, doesn’t it?

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write lots (sounds obvious but you have to practise like anything else!). So, enter short story writing competitions to give you a goal, read loads, especially literary fiction sometimes, as it makes you aspire to greater things and makes the writing of commercial fiction better, I think. Also, turn off your mobile, get off the internet and MOST OF ALL, GET OFF FACEBOOK! I write in my local library where there’s no Internet access and if I didn’t do that, I’d get nothing done. That’s my main tip.

What do you do when you are not writing?
Be a mum, go to the pub, lie in a darkened room and watch documentaries. (Now, a pub that showed documentaries, that would be AMAZING)
Not as such, I just combine the journalism with the fiction writing and also a bit of teaching and copywriting in order to pay the bills.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans? 
Just thanks so, so much for reading me and buying my books. Honestly, there is no greater thrill than knowing you are read and that people (hopefully) enjoy the stuff you’ve slaved over. It makes it SO worth it. Readers are obviously the most important thing, because without them, you would not have a job! In fact, also, can I just say, please if you like THE STORY OF YOU, leave a review on Amazon! Reviews keep me in a job (it’s true!)

Who designed your book cover(s)?
A very clever girl called Heike at Harper Collins. She’s did the cover for HOW WE MET too and I totally loved it.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Where to start? All of it! I thought this book would never see the light of day, actually as I struggled with it so much. If I had to say the hardest thing, however, it would be nailing the actual plot.

At what point in your life did you realise that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?
I still don’t believe I really am an author to be honest because everything could change at any moment and you can’t rest on your laurels. It’s possibly the most unstable career choice I could have made! I suppose having completed four books though now, I do at least know I can do it, in the end, no matter how hard it seems. Someone once said to me, you can’t call yourself a novelist until you’ve written four novels - so there we go! Maybe now is the point I can call myself a novelist.

Can you describe your writing room/space?
At the moment, I write either in the local library, or at a desk in my bedroom. It’s a nice room: light, airy, with velux windows and views over Hertfordshire fields so can’t complain. It’s also incredibly messy! Lots of coffee stains on the desk and I really need to hoover…..

About the author:

Katy Regan enjoyed a successful career in magazine journalism before leaving to focus on writing novels full time in 2007.
When she's not writing fiction, she continues to freelance as a journalist; writing features for the likes of Stella Magazine, Psychologies and Marie Claire. She is also blogging about her experience of writing her fifth novel on her website: She lives in Hertfordshire with her son Fergus. The Story of You is her fourth novel.
Follow Katy on twitter

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Praise for Katy Regan’s previous novels:

Veering from uproarious humour to tissue-clutching sadness, Katy Regan’s third novel tackles love, loss and sherry-fuelled scrabble games.’ Marie Claire

'Regan writes brilliantly, humorously and sensitively.' Daily Mail

A warm and touching account of loss and life.’  Daily Express

Beautifully written, this tale absolutely fizzes with energy, has totally believable characters, convincing dialogue and is funny, moving and memorable.’  Sunday Mirror