Saturday, August 15, 2009

Interview with Katherine Howell and Frantic Giveaway

Crime fiction author Katherine Howell was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. She worked as a paramedic in Sydney for 15 years and during this time she also studied for her BA and MPhil degrees, both in writing. Katherine’s first book, Frantic, was published in Australia in 2007 by Pan Macmillan, and won the Davitt award for crime fiction the following year. Her second book, The Darkest Hour, was published in Australia in 2008.

Katherine kindly contacted me after reading my review of Frantic and generously offered a giveaway of her book and also agreed to answer some questions. I've had a lot of fun talking with Katherine & I hope you enjoy learning a little more about this wonderful author, please join me in welcoming Katherine Howell to The Eclectic Reader.

As per usual my questions are in bold and Katherine's answers are in italics.

It was very obvious to me, as a former Registered Nurse that the medical/paramedic aspects of Frantic were exceptionally well done, not just technically realistic but the emotions captured. No doubt you have drawn on your personal experience to bring the reader that degree of believability?

Yes indeed :) Many of the cases I give to the paramedic characters are based on ones I've done myself, and when I write those scenes I find so many memories come flooding back. I think it's the extra level of knowledge from having been there and felt the emotions and experienced the details like the sounds and smells that brings the work to life, and I'm pleased to be able to use my years in the job in that way.

What influenced you to leave your job as a paramedic to write?

I actually had no choice in the matter, because after fifteen years the stress was getting too much. I'd been writing all that time, too, working on various terrible beginner novels, and I found that the more I wrote, the better I got at putting myself into others' shoes and the more I struggled with keeping a professional distance on the job. A few months after I resigned I realised how bad I had been emotionally and that I should have quit a year or so before. Once I quit, I got a scholarship to finish my Masters degree in creative writing, for which I was working on yet another draft of Frantic and writing an essay on suspense in fiction, and then the books sold.

We hear quite often now of new writers, unable to get their work published going the route of self-publication. How was your experience to publication?

As I mentioned above I wrote a number of beginner novels. They were awful but I improved with each one. I guess I'd been writing for about sixteen years before my agent (who'd been cheering me on for about five of those years) deemed that Frantic was good enough to submit to publishers. Pan Macmillan was the first one she contacted and they bought it quickly, also taking The Darkest Hour on the basis of a one-page outline I'd written. So while that part was simple, the years it took to get to that point were not easy. You never know if you'll get there, and I think it's during that time that some people decide it's too hard and go for self-publication. I never submitted any of those terrible learner novels to publishers because I knew they just weren't good enough. A friend even once suggested I go for self-publication but I wanted to be traditionally published and as a very stubborn person I decided that I would keep working towards that no matter how long it took.

Is it difficult to break into the international market?

That's a good question. For me it was painless because the Australian publishers (Pan Macmillan) bought world rights so they were dealing with the foreign publishers and I only heard about the sales, not about the rejections. Books need to have something special to appeal to the market and I think the paramedic angle puts my work in a niche.

As a blogger I’m participating in a worldwide ‘Literary Local’ meme to promote/spotlight authors who live in our local area or state (you'll be featured shortly lol) Is there anything that you’d like to see happening to promote Aussie authors here and overseas?

Blogs like yours are fantastic, as they reach the readers out there who are interested in what others are reading and in what's not necessarily available in their local stores. The more general promotion, advertising, etc the better, of course, but in these days of the GFC every company is cutting back.

Do you write full-time?

Yes. I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to do so.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging when you’re writing?

Keeping going! The deadlines can feel a long way off and it's easy to procrastinate

I am just about to start reading your 2nd book The Darkest Hour … what’s next on the table for Katherine Howell?

Book 3, Cold Justice, will be published in Australia in February next year, and I'm writing book 4 now.

Do we ever find out more about Sophie and Chris from Frantic?

There are snippets about them in later books and that's all I'll say :)

Tell us a secret, something the blogosphere doesn’t know?

I had a pet goat named Boris when I was in high school. He was lovely.

Do you have a favourite book from childhood?

Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter.

What are you reading now?

The manuscript of Cold Justice for the copy-edit.

A little known author or book you like and would recommend?

Michael Robotham. Best crime author writing today! His profile is slowly increasing but he should be huge the world over.

When you were little what did you want to grow up to be?

It changed regularly from vet to farmer to writer.

If you could be dropped into any book as a character who would you be and why?

Cassandra in my friend Kate Morton's book The Forgotten Garden. She has a great adventure and ... I won't give away the ending :)

Bookmark or Dog ear?

Dog-ear, definitely. Books should look loved.

Fine dining or take-away?

Take-away thanks.

Bungee Jump or Parachute drop?

Eeek! Can I choose Option C - neither?

Favourite junk food?


Favourite way to relax?

Reading and watching movies.

If you could go anywhere for a holiday, where would you go and why?

The UK - love the history!

3 must have items if you were stranded on a tropical island?

Mozzie spray, sunglasses, girlfriend.

Anything random you’d like to add?

I'm always on the lookout for good medical fiction if anyone has recommendations!

Thank you Katherine.

Visit to get the latest news on Katherine's novels. There's also some pretty cool EMS photos from around the world.


I am thrilled to be able to offer readers a chance to win a copy of Frantic thanks to Katherine Howell. Katherine will post to the winner personally, isn't she awesome!!

Competition is international & is only open to followers of this blog (if you're not a follower & you'd like to enter just click on the follow button on the right hand side of my blog - easy peasy)


leave a comment or a question for Katherine to be entered in the giveaway.

+ 2 comment on my review of Frantic & let me know

+ 2 for posting this on your blog, sidebar, tweeting it etc & leave me a link

please leave an email address or ensure you are contactable via your blog.

Competition ends Friday August 28th and winner will be announced on this blog. Good luck to all! 

This month on The Eclectic Reader you could win Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong OR The White Queen by Philippa Gregory OR Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.


  1. What a really fun interview with the author!! I liked all of the questions you asked her. I have Frantic marked to read, of course I've blamed you for it!! Can't wait!

  2. Heh When I was younger I was changing everyday dream-job too.

    I'd like to take part in the contest.

    +2 for commenting in the review

  3. It was nice to read your interview, Katherine. Your book, Frantic, looks thrilling and I would love the opportunity to win it!
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

  4. Hi Katherine, I'm not a fan of violence in my books but don't mind medical details. Do you think I'd enjoy Frantic if this isn't a genre I've read widely?

    Love to win a copy of this book Teddyree.

  5. Ooooh please enter me - it is exciting to hear of an Aussie author via book blog - so much of what I read is from the US.

    Fiona :)

  6. Wow, you come up with great questions! Please enter me in the contest. It sounds like a great read.


  7. Great interview!! I love to hear the process authors go through to get is really extraordinary how much hard work you put in to it!!

    I put the contest in my sidebar

  8. Wow - what a great interview. I love to read interviews that are more personal, like favorite book and author. Please inlcude me in your giveaway.

  9. No need to enter me, as I've already read and enjoyed this book. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed the interview!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  10. I'd like to know how hard it is to let go of a story once you've finished writing it? Does it try to seep into your next work?

    Please enter me into the comp.

  11. my question would be what is there a type of a book that youve always wanted to write, a subject/genre so outside of your experience that is tempting to try?

    loved the interview, love to hear strait from the source

    i am a follower

  12. I'm a follower and always looking for new authors to read, count me in!

  13.'ve sort of left me speechless after that interview...and you know that is hard to!

    Great job!

  14. Great interview Teddyree
    Would love to win a copy of this book.
    Commented on your review post and posted this on my sidebar.
    killemall9 at gmail dot com

    Slip Carefully

  15. Wonderful questions and answers. I always like to learn more about the writer's life and discover charming new authorsa :)

  16. Really great interview.I would love to read "Frantic"
    please enter me
    yk AT toptruecrimebooks DOT com
    I am also going to post about this giveaway at Book Blogs international giveaway

  17. Hi everyone, Katherine here. Thanks for your great comments and questions!

    Alaine, I think you'd enjoy Frantic a lot. I'm not a fan of over-the-top violence either, and I can tell you that my mother recommended Frantic to one of her fellow church-goers who wanted to buy it for her elderly mother.

    Hi Eccentric Anna :)

    Sarah, great question. Frantic is the first in a series and I find that letting go is not a problem because there are flow-ons from each book into the next. Detective Ella Marconi is the ongoing character and every time I start writing from her point-of-view it feels like sitting down with a dear friend!

    Wheresmyrain, another great question. Stephen King was my hero when I started working on novels as a teenager and all I wanted to write was horror! There's still something in my head that wants to write about ghosts but I don't think I could do a full book on it - I'm just not familiar enough with the genre to know what works and what doesn't in those stories. I'm applying to do PhD next year looking at medical fiction and for that will be writing a paramedic novel with little or no police involvement, which will be a challenge but fun.

    Thanks again,

  18. I would definitely love to read Frantic. Please enter me.

    +2 I enjoyed your review and the questions that you asked. It was great that you also asked off the wall questions, too. Now we will be the only ones to know about her pet goat Boris.

    Thank you,


  19. +2 I tweeted about this giveaway under the name of ossmcalc

    thank you,


  20. Hi Katherine! I haven't read a book of yours yet but Frantic sounds exciting!

    +2 commented on review
    +2 linked this on my sidebar:

  21. Thanks for popping in Katherine :-)
    I heard about an author that apparently has really good forensic detail (was on J.Kaye's blog)- Lee Moylan, Once Upon A Nightmare, I'm going to look it up on goodreads.

    Glad everyone enjoyed the interview!

    ossmalc ~ isn't it cute, a pet goat named Boris. Hope he was nicer than the goat we had when I was a child (a horrid old thing, always bunting & nipping)

  22. Hi Teddyree!

    What an awesome interview (chat) with Katherine. "Frantic", sounds amazing and I'm off to read your review now.

    I'm a follower and will pimp your contest at closetwriter right now.


  23. Interesting she becomes a paramedic and writer-as a child wanted to be a vet and writer.

    good for her.

    chocolateandcrosisants at yahoo dot com

  24. Blogged about it at chocolate and Croissants

    chocolateandcroissants at yahoo dot com

  25. Hi Katherine!
    My question is, how do you come up with titles? During or before the writing process?

    + 2 comment on my review of Frantic
    + 2 sidebar

    cindyc725 at gmail dot com

  26. Great interview! My question is: Do you start with handwritten notes/story ideas and then get to writing or do you just sit down at the computer and begin?

    +2 - contest on my blog sidebar.

  27. It was a good interview.

    I like the unusual questions you pose !.

    Its nice to see more and more authors other than fron the USA, Canada, UK getting international publicity.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    Carol - South Africa

    buddytho {AT} gmail DOT com

  28. This book sounds SOOOOO good! I loved the interview. My question is: Can your books be read out of order or will it spoil something by doing that?

    I commented on the review already when it was posted. Please enter me! I love medical thrillers!

  29. Great interview and review, this good sounds fabulous! I love a good thriller and this one sounds like I need to add to my list.

    I commented on your review and posted to my sidebar at

    Thanks for the giveaway and introducing a new author!

    Dottie :)

  30. Thanks for the answer Katherine, I'll put this one on my reading list!

  31. Hi everyone, thanks for all the comments and questions! This is great :)

    I Heart Book Gossip, titles are tricky things. Frantic was originally called Jungleland (I know, I know) and when it was ready to send out my agent said "Can't call it that - too masculine, too static. Find something else". So I wrote out a list of words that described the way I saw the story, and frantic was one of them. The next step is to search for it on Google and Amazon. There's no copyright on titles so you can use anything anytime but it doesn't make much sense to choose one that's recently been used, because it just confuses people. The Darkest Hour is a case in point: it was going to be called Panic but then a US author brought out a thriller novel with that title, so again I sat down and wrote a list. The title for my third, Cold Justice, was suggested by my brother when I was telling him about the story. The fourth is as yet unnamed and I wish it wasn't! I've been playing around with notions of identity but not come up with anything yet. So - suggestions??? Anyone? Anyone?? You'll score a credit in the acknowledgements and a free copy when it comes out in 2011.

    Patti, I tend to write straight onto the computer but do also like to sit around and scribble out notes. Sometimes when I'm stuck I find it helps. Also it's good to draw diagrams of links between characters and plot points.

    Hi RachelfromNJ. While not much is given away, there is enough to know the general outcome (such as who lived and who died) of the previous book. I've thought about whether it's possible to avoid that but I don't think it is unless the main character is somebody like Sherlock Holmes who doesn't seem to change between one story and the next. I decided that Detective Ella can't not be affected by what she goes through and it is only natural that she will think about it sometimes.


  32. I love medical thrillers, sounds like your experience will make it even more realistic. Thanks for the give away.
    I have posted a link to this giveaway on my blog.

  33. Please enter me to win a copy of Frantic. I am a huge fan of medical thrillers and based on the interview this looks to be a definite page turner. I am indeed a follower. :)

    +2 I commented on your brilliant review, which convinced me I need to read this novel.

    +2 I have the contest on the right side of my blog.


  34. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your interview; no need to enter me into the draw, though.

  35. Competition Closed.

    Thanks everyone the winner will be announced shortly.

  36. Darn, I missed the competition, but thanks for the top tip. I have been looking for new medical/crime thriller recommendations for some time. Looking forward to getting hold of the first in the series.
    The Literary Gift Company


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