IndieView with Catherine Fearns, author of Sound

I love big concept writers like Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Michael Crichton, and there’s a major Victorian gothic influence in my books too. I’m also a member of Sam Missingham’s Empowered Authors Group, which is a treasure trove of advice and support. Do you outline? It was an easy decision to make, and it has been fantastic being able to work so closely with a small company – I have a say in most aspects of the process. My current WIP is something very different. It’s about psychoacoustics; how our brains process sound, and in particular how sounds can induce paranoia. The artwork (by a Russian artist) was purchased from Shutterstock and is not exclusive, so there is always the risk that someone else might use it. The book’s title may seem very simple, but it has a dual meaning, because ‘Sound’ is a commonly-used expression in Liverpool, used to indicate agreement or contentment. His heartbreakingly understated elegance is what I am going for. They are my favourite characters and their dialogue sort of writes itself without me having to think about it. And the font was also purchased online. About Writing
Do you have a writing process? Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you? I also try to get out of the house to write whenever I can, and I vary my writing locations, from coffee shop to coffee shop usually. If yes, what gets the fingers tapping? As for famous people, well yes, I suppose. It’s the best city in the world, I love it and miss it every day. Then I type everything up at the end of each day. I never borrow from people I know personally – not intentionally anyway. I had positive responses from one agent and one indie publisher – Crooked Cat. It’s a great place to live. However, my covers were done on a very small budget. You need to be in it for the long haul. But it doesn’t scare me anymore and it might be an option in the future. The idea for Sound had been in my head for a while, and I couldn’t wait to get started! Swift will need to put the rulebook aside and seek the occult expertise of Dr. Do you have a target reader? Were there any parts of the book where you struggled? When I take breaks from writing I go for long walks with my headphones, and I create playlists and soundtracks to my books. If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences? Is there anybody like that out there, apart from me?! But that means I am very flexible. Connect with other authors as much as possible. Whereas joining one particular Facebook group, by chance, and interacting with its members has brought me a large percentage of my readers. I wait until I have a full first draft. I’m a big fan of twitter. I have travelled a lot due to my husband’s work, but hopefully we will settle in Geneva now. A manuscript was produced by the end of spring 2019, and then the process of redrafting, beta reading and editing took until the end of the summer. But as an indie author in a saturated market it is always an uphill struggle. Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors? With the help of my editor hopefully I got the balance right in the end. Writing about music and sound is always a pleasure for me, and I loved weaving my acoustics research into the story. Funnily enough, even though I’m a music journalist and my books are music-themed, I cannot listen to music while I work! I love to connect with readers and I’m always happy to hear from them on social media! Do you listen to music while you write? Then my second book probably came out too quickly after my first, so I hadn’t had enough time to process what worked and what didn’t. I had Jeff Gardiner for my first two books, and then Alice Cullerne-Brown for Sound. In future I would love to spend more money to create something more individual and artistic. I thoroughly enjoyed working with both, it was a fantastic two-way process. I couldn’t stop mentioning what had happened in Reprobation and Consuming Fire! But last year I also became fascinated by the sounds that we can’t hear – infrasound, sonic weapons, gravitational waves – strange acoustic phenomena, not all of which can be explained. But in terms of literary style, probably my biggest influence is Kazuo Ishiguro. I really love my book covers, and I’m lucky that I had so much input – I have heard that a lot of authors with big publishing houses are disappointed with their covers. There are some fantastic resources out there. I began the writing process itself in January 2019, although by then I had done a lot of background research, and I continued to research as I wrote. The Messiah character is an amalgam of lots of real-life characters from the world of black metal. I always start off with an outline. About You
Where did you grow up? I don’t need silence – in fact I love the white noise of a busy café – but music distracts me too much. Where do you live now? With my first book I winged it – I was a complete novice and I just chucked whatever I could at it – social media, blog tour, competition, launch party… Like most new authors I was shocked at how much work you have to do to get even one person to care about your book – it was very disheartening. With my first book, Reprobation, I had no idea what I was doing, so as an experiment I sent it to five agents and five publishers. It’s a historical novel about witchcraft in Switzerland. Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished? Detective Inspector Darren Swift is convinced there are connections. What are you working on now? The downside is that there is no marketing budget or distribution, so in that sense it’s very similar to being self-published. Where did you get the idea from? We all know how important it is for writers to read. If you’re a Liverpudlian heavy metal fan who likes reading supernatural crime fiction, my books are perfect for you. About the book
What is the book about? The research was bliss, and I’m now about 15,000 words in to the first draft – it’s going well so far! But this case cannot be solved using conventional detective work, and D.I. But that outline is very flexible, because as I go through, the plot inevitably evolves and becomes more complex. Liverpool, near Crosby Beach. Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it? Even though he’s a fictional character, I still had this strange feeling of voyeurism, as if I was intruding on his private thoughts. Even if I was able to identify them consciously, I wouldn’t reveal who they are! Helen Hope and her unlikely sidekick, guitarist Mikko Kristensen. Can it really be a coincidence that death metal band Total Depravity are back in the city, waging their own form of sonic warfare? How long did it take you to write it? Get your copy of   Sound from Amazon US or Amazon UK.  
Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) I also found it difficult to write about Darren’s grief over losing his partner. Darren Swift and his unlikely team into the world of satanic black metal. End of Interview:
For more from Catherine visit her website or follow her on Twitter. Otherwise you’re writing into the dark and it’s too unwieldy and scary. Geneva, Switzerland. Catherine Fearns – 8 October 2019
The Back Flap
A professor of psychoacoustics is found dead in his office. Not to mention strange noises coming from the tunnels underneath Liverpool. I’m self-taught and pretty new to the writing game, so my process is still evolving. When I think about how beautiful music album covers are, it makes me think that the publishing world can do better in creating works of art with which to wrap the text. I wish I could! Accept that marketing is a central part of the process. What came easily? Since I have four small children it’s not possible for me to block out whole days to write; I have to fit writing in between childcare and housework, as well as music journalism. My publisher assigns an editor. Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know? If I want my book to sell, I have to go out and sell it myself. I had a feature in Metal Hammer magazine and again, absolutely no spike in sales. I have found that the Scrivener programme is great for these early stages of novel construction. Meanwhile, there’s an outbreak of mysterious illnesses on a council estate, and outbursts of unexplained violence in a city centre nightclub. I write crime fiction that is very much tied to its location of Liverpool, so I’m inspired by other crime writers with a strong sense of place, such as Ian Rankin and Dennis Lehane. But with Sound I have decided to do things properly and I hired a book PR – Hannah Hargrave. She has put together a great marketing plan which will hopefully get my books more attention. The voices of Mikko Kristensen and Helen Hope always come very easily too. It appears to be a heart attack, until a second acoustician dies a few days later in similar circumstances. Although it’s inevitable that certain character traits, mannerisms, physical characteristics are derived from people I know. The first draft of Sound was ridden with spoilers. Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself? What would you like readers to know about you? Was it a particular event or a gradual process? When I’m not writing novels I’m a music journalist, so I’m fascinated by the ways that sounds can affect our emotional and physical health. I would have been afraid to self-publish my first novel because I needed that validation of a publishing house. I write longhand in notebooks; I find that writing longhand improves the quality of both my thoughts and my sentences. For some reason more difficult with book three than with book two. Still grieving his fiancé’s death and sworn to revenge, he is thrown back into action on the trail of a murderer with a terrifying and undetectable weapon. What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? You need to shout about your book, even if that doesn’t come naturally to you. When I picture Darren Swift in my head I tend to have an image of the footballer Steven Gerrard – the accent, the mannerisms, the furrowed brow. Sound is the third in my Liverpool crime thriller series. I was extremely lucky. When did you start writing the book? I became slightly obsessed with the connections between sound and the supernatural, and within that theme I found the perfect plot for Darren Swift’s next adventure. The book is very much a sequel to Consuming Fire, which ended on something of a cliffhanger, and it forms the third book in my Reprobation trilogy. Be prepared for disappointment after your first book launch – once the high has worn off you may be shocked at how low the sales figures are. A crime thriller fan who’s willing to try something a bit different. Then I edit that before moving on to the second draft, and so on…
Did you hire a professional editor? About Publishing
Did you submit your work to Agents? I started the research towards the end of 2018, while I was finishing the editing process for the previous book, Consuming Fire. However, listening to music is still a very important part of my writing process. It feels very me. And the guitarist Mikko Kristensen is inspired by an amalgam of two real-life metal guitarists – Alexi Laiho and Randy Rhoads. But it is also a self-contained story in its own right. I have learnt almost everything I know about book marketing from the Facebook groups of which I am a member. When I’m not writing novels I’m a music journalist, so I’m fascinated by the ways that sounds can affect our emotional and physical health. Only the memory of silence can comfort you…or death itself. You can’t escape the noise. That would be very wrong, I think. If so can you please describe it? Most of my family are still there, and I visit as often as possible. I would say the technical challenges associated with writing a sequel were difficult. This third book can be read as a standalone, but it is also built on what happened before, so it’s really hard to get that balance between reminding established readers, explaining to new readers, and annoying just about everybody! My book cover was designed by James at Go On Write, a company that mainly offers pre-made book covers, although I worked with James on bespoke options. For example I did a prime-time, one-hour interview on Radio Merseyside, which was a great experience – but didn’t sell a single book. You never know what will be a sales trigger. The mysterious death of a professor of acoustics leads D.I. I didn’t really have to decide – I was offered a contract with Crooked Cat.