An Interview with Karla Forbes
What a pleasure it is to have fellow author Karla Forbes visit my blog today to discuss her writing journey. Karla’s new novel, Fallout, was published yesterday. Tell us about your interest in reading and writing.
1 Please tell my readers a little about yourself?
I write under the pseudonym Karla Forbes and I recently moved from the South East of England (where, until now, I have lived my entire life) to Scotland. My husband and I had been planning a move to Suffolk but our daughter, who lives near Edinburgh, set about persuaded us that we’d love Scotland instead. She’s right about the friendly people and the stunning scenery but I think she might have been rather economical with the truth about the sunny weather. (Grrr)
2 What inspired you to become a writer/author?
I’ve always loved reading. From a very early age, I used to save up my pocket money for paperbacks and by the time I was 12 I had read my way through the James Bond books thus my love of thrillers was born. I remember sitting in the school cloakroom scribbling away at my novels during the lunchbreaks but it wasn’t until many years and a husband and two children later, when our son and daughter finally left home, that I had time to sit down and start writing properly.
3 What is the best thing about being a writer/author?
Well, it certainly isn’t the money or the wonderful social life because it’s probably the most underpaid and lonely profession anyone can choose. Neither is it the bad back caused by being hunched over a laptop for too many hours or the tears every time you get your hopes up and another rejection arrives. I’m beginning to wonder now, what actually is good about writing. I guess it’s the absolute joy of losing yourself in your plot, giving life to your characters and pleasure to your readers.
4 What is your writing routine like?
I don’t have one. I wish I did but life keeps getting in the way. Every time I sit down to write, someone wants something. Even the dog gets in on the act nudging my hands away from the keyboard. It’s probably why I find that I’m most productive first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
5 How much time is spent on research?
The old adage that says you should only write about what you know doesn’t really work when your chosen genre is thrillers. Strangely enough, I have very little firsthand experience of murderer or terrorism and my school curriculum was sadly lacking in regard to plutonium and dirty bombs so I do need to carry out quite a bit of research. Fortunately, in this day and age, authors no longer need to search the bookshelves of their public library. From the comfort of your armchair you can have just about every fact in the world at your fingertips. So, one minute I can be using Google Earth to fly over Grangmouth in order to work out the easiest way to blow it up and the next minute, I can be checking out the tastiest recipes for apple crumble.
6 How much of the book is planned out before you start writing it?
I have an idea and very little else. For example, the theme in Fallout is a nuclear bomb rumored to have been invented by the Russians during the cold war that could be carried in a suitcase. The Third Wave concerns a computer virus. Sniper features a soldier suffering from post traumatic stress who goes on a killing spree…I am currently writing my 14th novel so I won’t bore you with every plot but you get the picture. I start out with little more than an idea and then start writing to see where the story takes me. It’s probably not a good method, and I certainly don’t recommend it but it suits me.
7 What do you think is most important when writing a book? Characters, plot, setting, etc
Characters and plot are the two essentials. You can’t have one without the other. Everything else is just dressing.
8 What is your latest book about?
To begin with, it seems to be about a straight forward case of industrial espionage but as the story unfolds it becomes far more sinister. Throw into the mix a sprinkle of terrorism and an attack on the stock market and it soon becomes apparent that deadly forces are at play.
9 What inspired it?
I was stuck for a plot and kept asking the family for ideas. My daughter got sick of hearing me whining and came up with something to make me go away. It worked for a short time but now I keep going back to her for clarification.
10 Why did you pick the genre or genres that you write in?
My two favorite genres are thrillers and historical fiction. I’m far too wary of writing the latter because if you get just one historical fact wrong, you run the risk of your readers losing faith in you are a writer. That just leaves thrillers
11 How did you go about getting a publishing deal? Or how did you become self-published?
The truth is that the road to traditional publication is long and hard, littered with tears and disappointment and the majority of writers will never find a major publisher. To begin with, I went down the conventional route of submitting to agents and I was very excited when one signed me and sent my manuscript to the big five. One by one they rejected me. One submissions editor said that she had loved the book and didn’t really know why she was turning it down. Another admitted that he was refusing my book because it was too difficult selling thrillers that had been written by a woman. Having been so close to achieving my ambition only to fail, I lost heart and stopped writing for while until a friend suggested that I self publish. I took her advice and it rekindled my love of writing. I wrote several more books self publishing them each in turn until I hit another bout of writer’s block. This lasted over a year but during lockdown, I was so bored that I started writing again. I submitted Fallout to Darkstroke, was accepted and am now setting off in a new direction on my writing journey.
12 Any new books or plans for the future?
I stopped making plans years ago after learning that life always gets in the way and turns your well thought out plan on its head. I live my life one day (and one book) at a time.
13What authors have been an influence on your writing?
I’m an extensive reader and nearly every book that I have ever read has influenced me in some way or another. I’ve used other authors to work out what works and what doesn’t work and I’ve tried to learn from their successes and failures.
14 What writing advice would you have given yourself when you started?
There are more important things in life that writing success so don’t be stressed by the rejections. If you had to choose between a publishing deal or a loved one’s health, I doubt that many people would choose the deal so get it into perspective and enjoy the ride.
15 What writing advice would you give to an aspiring writer or a new author to the block?
The same as above
16 What has been your favourite book so far this year?
I read several books a month so most of them I can’t even remember let alone chose a favourite. Sorry.
17 What is your all-time favourite book and why?
This might seem a bit weird coming from a thriller writer but it’s Wuthering Heights. It’s the only book I’ve ever wanted to read more than once.
18 What genre do you read most often?
Thrillers and historical fiction
19 What are you currently reading?
Warriors of the Storm by Bernard Cornwell. I’ve never read a bad Bernard Cornwell yet.
Karla Forbes first began writing books when she was twelve years old. Heavily influenced by Ian Fleming, she wrote about guns, fast cars and spies. Naturally, she knew nothing of her chosen subject and was forced to use her imagination to make it up as she went along. These books, half a dozen in total, ended up being thrown out with the rubbish. Several years later, she dabbled in a futuristic sitcom and a full length horror story. Although both of these efforts were also consigned to literary oblivion, at least no one could have accused her of being in a genre rut.
She began writing properly more than twelve years ago and her first book, The Preacher was published on Amazon in July 2011. Thirteen books in total are available to download from the Amazon kindle book store. Other books will follow at regular intervals. She writes about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations and she aims for unusual but scarily believable plots with a surprising twist.
She moved from Sussex to Scotland in 2020 and is enjoying the stunning scenery and friendly people but feeling less enthusiastic about the weather.