Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Interview with Katherine Hayton, Author of Skeletal + Excerpt

I'd like to welcome author Katherine Hayton to the blog. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new YA mystery, Skeletal.

Tell us about the main character. Who is Daina? How did you come to write her as a spirit?
Daina is a girl with a lot of bad luck, but also with a lot of heart. She has an overwhelming desire to do the right thing, not because that’s the way she’s been shown to live her life, but because that’s a need inbuilt in her psyche. I think that if she’d grown up in a stable and supportive environment then she would have been saving lives in third world countries, or reducing the poverty divide. Because she ended up with an unsuitable home environment she wasn’t given the chance to save the world, but she still has that driving need to do what’s right even when it’s not to her benefit.
The main character of this book was always going to be dead, and then the story was looking back at how that occurred. When I was trying to find a way to tell Daina’s story, I found it was too harsh to leave it as the events happening to a teenage girl. I wanted her to be able to tell what had really happened from her point of view, but then also to have a ‘grown-up’ reaction to it as well to soften the blow. From that need the spirit Daina developed, and her ability to look back over the life she’d led with a grim sense of humour made it possible to reveal a lot more than just a recitation of events.

The plot is quite imaginative. Where did you find inspiration?
I watched a reality series produced in Australia which was about a coroner who travelled around the remote towns performing inquests in a variety of settings. While I was watching it I thought how interesting it would be if you could hear the statements made by the witnesses, and then could see what had actually occurred. 
I also work for an insurer in New Zealand, and we have seen a new technique that’s been used after the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 which lifts houses off their foundations. During a roadshow demonstrating this my mind wandered and I thought how devastating it would be to the homeowner if human remains were found under their house when this building technique was performed. 
Together those two ideas formed the backbone of the story.

What are some interesting things you learned while writing/researching this novel?
I learned a lot about the different schizophrenic disorders, and how they manifest themselves for the first time. It’s incredible to read about patient’s experiences when they’re perfectly normal one day, and then another they’re having to deal with a whole lot of extra stimuli which is created by their own minds but arrives through the same channels as any other sight, sound or feeling would. Having to learn what is real and what isn’t, and what to pay attention to and what to ignore, on top of being a teenager (which I remember as being a hard thing in and of itself) is a lot to deal with for anybody. 
It gave me a lot of respect for people who have to expend so much energy on getting up to a normal level, and then are still expected to do everything that anyone else would be doing on top of it. I find just the business of living day to day confusing, complicating and tiring. Adding another full-time job of sorting out my mental state to that would be unworkable.

Were there any scenes that were particularly difficult to write?
There are two rape scenes in the book which I found difficult to write. Both of them are meant to appear “grey” in nature, there’s no dark man in a black alley, and it was hard to balance them out to make sure the reader knows these are attacks, yet make them casual enough that the girls involved aren’t entirely certain enough to claim they have been assaulted.

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers about the Skeletal?
It’s a damn fine read, and you should purchase a copy immediately. Also, it’s open to a number of interpretations because nothing is ever exactly as it seems, so feel free to make up your own mind because your opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s.

If you could visit anyplace in the world (cost is no object), where would you go?
Mission Beach, Australia. My darling and I usually go there once a year, and it’s our favourite holiday spot on the face of the planet. The township only has a population of 500 or so, but it has the most beautiful beach that we’ve ever walked on, and has the most amusing crabs of any beach we’ve seen. It’s hot and it’s sunny and you can just relax all the time you’re there. 
Each time we come back from a holiday there we keep saying we should try somewhere else next holiday, and we never do because we’d rather go back than go anywhere else.

If you could invite any fictional character to dinner, whom would you invite, and what would you serve?
I’d quite like to invite around Hannibal Lector so we could have a good natter about psychopaths and their favourite methods of killing. I’d serve up something offal.

Where can readers find you online?
They can find bits of me on my website www.kathay1973.com, or on my blogger page www.kathay1973.blogspot.co.nz, or on my facebook page www.facebook.com/kathay1973, or my goodreads page www.goodreads.com/kathay, or my amazon author page www.amazon.com/author/katherinehayton, or my google plus page https://plus.google.com/+KatherineHayton, but mostly I hang out on twitter https://twitter.com/kathay1973


Katherine Hayton

YA Mystery
January 2015

Amazon | B&N

Three months before she died Daina Harrow faced a bully at school.
Six weeks before she died Daina Harrow suffered an assault in the park.
One week before she died Daina Harrow stole a secret people had killed to hide.

That was ten years ago. Ten long years.

Now, her bones have been found on a building site. A coroner's inquest has been reopened. A parade of witnesses is about to start.
And Daina's here. Watching every day as her mother cries in the courtroom. Watching every day as her friends, and her enemies, and her killers lie about her on the stand.
Watching, and making sure that no matter what the coroner hears, you know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

So help you God.

Warning: this book contains some bad language, and scenes of sexual assault. Recommended for ages 17+ only.


Watch this. Watch this now. Those men - the ones in the fluoro vests and the hard hats and the mud-caked boots. They’ve removed the bricks of the house, by hand. They’ve piled them up and put them aside in neat square packages wrapped in tarpaulin, ready to use again when the time comes. They’re about to raise the house off its foundations.  
   It’s amazing.  
   Before the earthquake, no one had ever really tried something like this before. It was a proposition of something that might work in a trade magazine that no one would ever have read. Except now it was read, and practiced, because there were so many opportunities to try out things people had never tried before.  
   Opportunity, and the potential to save money. A perfect combination for experiments. And this thing works. 
   Watch them. Right there. They’re lifting the denuded house up off the foundations. It creaks and groans but it holds together. Amazing. 
   And look down in the foundations. Where they’re cracked and broken and the floor on one side has dropped almost a foot in height because of the liquefaction souping up the earth. That bit, where it’s broken so much the bare earth can be seen straight through the concreted silt. Even before anyone starts to try to crack it up. Broken along a prior instability. 
   That’s where I am.  
   Watch them as they pull aside the hard clods, and now – that one – he’s reaching forward, pulling one aside to expose a creamy white bone. He’s taking a step back now. He’s calling over his shoulder to a colleague. His site manager is about to be wholly pissed off, and frustrated because he’s not allowed to show it. Not in this situation. 
   But the whole site’s going to be roped off and their work is going to be backed up and he’s going to be on the phone for the rest of the day trying to shuffle everything around so he doesn’t lose more than a day’s wages for his crew. 
   It’ll take a while before they know that it’s me. There’s going to be a stream of ‘professionals’ coming by. They’ll carefully dig, and photograph, and exhume each bone. They’ll lay it out on a board in a morgue, making sure that each and every little piece of me is tagged and laid out in place.  
   They’ll drill into the bone, the femur, and try to get a read on the DNA left in the dried out marrow. They’re going to find a match with a file on a missing person. And that missing person file is going to be me. 
   My mum’s going to get a knock on the door that she’s been waiting for, and dreading, for a decade. She’s going to break down and cry with the easy tears of a drunk, even though her ten year chip takes pride of place in her jewellery box. 
   She’ll cry, and won’t hear half of what they say. But they’ll be patient, and they’ll go through everything with her again. And again. 
   I would cry too, if I still had something to cry with. 
   But for now that’s all poised in the distance, a series of dominos not yet pushed into action. For now, there’s just the hi-viz workers and the glimpse of something they know shouldn’t be there. For now there’s just my dead bones and the cold ground they’ve been stored in, hidden in, waiting for the puff of fresh air to caress their curves and lines. Waiting for the dirt to be brushed aside and their porous surface to inhale the warmth of the sun. 
   Waiting to be found.

About the Author

Katherine Hayton is a 41 year old woman who works in insurance, doesn't have children or pets, can't drive, has lived in Christchurch her entire life, and currently resides a two minute walk from where she was born. Fascinating, eh?

She's the author of two spectacular un-bestselling books (unless you count tiny niche genres on Amazon, which of course you should) FOUND, NEAR WATER and new release SKELETAL.
She is currently curled up on her couch with her typewriter (laptop) while she tries very hard to give birth to her next novel AS YET UNNAMED BUT PROBABLY INVOLVING GRUESOME MURDERS.

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