The Soul Guide is an urban fantasy novel set in my home city of London and the place where my heart belongs – Cornwall. I’ve lived in London, UK for all my life (I’m 39 this year) and so, of course, this has influenced the setting for my book, but I also lived a while in Cornwall whilst I was studying to become an English teacher.
Unfortunately, teaching didn’t happen in the end, but my love for the English language and for creative writing has never left me. In fact, before the failed attempt at becoming a teacher, I got my BA in English / Creative Writing from North London University back in 2002. A couple years later I got married, then had kids and, well, a good thirteen years passed before I actually tapped into that creativeness and started writing what was to become my first novel. Life, in all it’s wonderful glory got in the way I suppose.
Now you can find me juggling motherhood, work and writing. If I’m not doing one of those three things then I am in the bath reading a good book until I’m wrinkly, or my kids wonder if they still have a mother.
When and why did you start writing?
I began writing in earnest in January 2015. My youngest had started full-time school the previous September and suddenly I had previous time on my hands for two days of a week when I wasn’t working. I decided that I should start writing that book I’d always promised myself I’d would but never got around to. So, in late 2014 I bought myself a laptop and started jotting down ideas for a book. It wasn’t long before Bertram, Alec and Sybil were conceived and The Soul Guide was born.
What inspires your writing?
I’ve always had a vivid imagination, as a kid I would have these pretty surreal dreams most nights. Some elements of those dreams appear in The Soul Guide now. I had one particular dream that reoccurred as a child of a man with silver eyes who was always chasing me. The silver eyes appear in The Soul Guide, but aren’t as sinister as they were in my dreams. Honestly, I get inspiration from lots of things, from family members (Bertram is based on my father), from overheard conversations, from favourite places I visited as a child and so on. As a writer, I think I am always on the look-out for new story ideas, but I find the best ones come to you when you least expect it. A scene for my second book popped into my head whilst I was having a bath no less!
What has been your worst moment as a writer?
When I first pressed publish on The Soul Guide via KDP and realised it wasn’t the most up to date document. Fortunately, it was on pre-order and I could change it!
Do you have any writing rituals to get you in the mood for writing?
Nope. I still only have two days, and by two days I mean approx. 5 hours of undisturbed writing time whilst my kids are at school and I am not working part-time. So, I have to use that time wisely. I don’t really have the time to get myself in the mood for writing. I simply drop the kids off, rush home, make a cup of Earl Grey tea, bung on If You Wait, by London Grammar and write as much as I can in that time. Sometimes I do ok and get out about 4k done and sometimes I barely reach 1k. It depends on how distracted I am!
If you could, what would you go back and tell yourself as a writer starting out?
Write the whole series first, then work on a marketing/promotion strategy. I find that I have even less time now to fit writing in because I am trying so hard to promote my book and get new readers. I would also remind myself that it is an achievement to write a book, be a mother and work at the same time and to not be so hard on myself.
What do you believe make for great writing?
Imagination is key. Everything else will come in time. You can learn to be better at grammar, at marketing at promotion but ultimately a writer must have a good imagination. Without that you have nothing.
How do you measure success as a writer?
Before I published The Soul Guide, success to me was getting it finished. To be able to say that I’d wrote a book. Then, once I’d published it on KDP it was about getting readers, reviews, sales. Now, at this moment in time, success to me is keeping the momentum going and writing the next book. I would love writing to be a full-time job, to be able to earn enough money that I can support my family and do what I love, but I am realistic and I know that is pretty hard to obtain. So, for now, I am content with just writing the next book.
What’s your biggest fear as a writer?
That all my hard work and effort will be ignored, or just not seen. I so want people to read my book and to say, “you know what, that was worth a read. That was good.”
Describe your latest book to our readers.
The Soul Guide is an urban fantasy novel. It is a multi-layered story which revolves around Sybil, the main character, and her journey to the Veil; the place of Souls. She has been chosen as the newest Soul Guide and finds herself drawn into a hidden world, just beneath the surface of our own. This is about her physical journey to the Veil and the dangers she comes up against in the form of the Mephisto, but also about her own emotional journey. She must overcome her own fears, her grief at the death of her mother, withdrawal of her father and become someone stronger than before. But she is not alone in her journey. Alongside her is Bertram, the old caretaker who also has to deal with his own heartache. He opens doors no-one else can see with a set of magic keys. And there is Alec, Sybil’s Guardian, someone she is drawn to and repulsed by in equal measure. He too carries his own demons. I guess all three of them go on a journey in this book and find out a lot about who they are as people.
I’m also working on book two of The Soul Guide Series called The Farm and a prequel called Before about Mellissa and Bertram. The Farm is a lot darker, delves more into the world of the Mephisto and continues the story. ‘Before’ delves more into the relationship between Bertram and Mellissa and reveals some new stuff alluded to in The Soul Guide.
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
I want them to enjoy my books! I want them to be completely immersed in this world I’ve created and to be excited about future books. There’s nothing better than reading a review of your work and knowing that it has affected that person enough to want to talk about it.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Don’t stop. Whatever you do, write. It doesn’t matter if you think its rubbish, what matters is that you continue to write despite your self-doubt. I don’t write every day, and I hate it when people say you should. What I do say is when you sit down to write, do that, write. Don’t get distracted by social media (believe me I’m guilty of this and have learnt my lesson), just write until you get to a point when you can’t anymore. And read. Read lots.
What’s next for you?
Finishing ‘Before’ – the prequel to The Soul Guide. I am hoping to have this done by mid-May, although I may be pushing it a bit! Then I’m back to finishing book two of the series, The Farm, which I am a third of a way through currently.
What is your number one tip for writing credible fantasy?
Ideas. Lots and lots of them. Write those weird dreams down, make your world as fantastical as possible. The amazing thing about fantasy, in my opinion, is that the only limitation is your own imagination. So, get day-dreaming, get thinking, watch films, read books, let your imagination run wild because somewhere amongst all of that will be a fabulous story.
By Kelly Stock
“For centuries, the Soul Guide and the Caretaker have ensured light and life remain on Earth. But the Soul Guide is dead and the Dark are rising…”
Sybil, on a break from her first semester at University, gets stung by a bee in the middle of a winter snowstorm. But this is no ordinary bee, it is a bee that can travel between the Veil; the place of souls and Earth. She has been chosen as the next Soul Guide. With just a few days to reach the Veil and complete the Passing Over ceremony, Sybil must find her courage to do what’s right before it’s too late.
But with such responsibility comes much danger and Sybil is being hunted. Hunted by creatures from her nightmares, creatures that lurk in the dark.
On the run with only the old Caretaker, and a man who she’s drawn to and repulsed by in equal measure, Sybil must overcome her fears, leave the world she once knew behind, and fulfill her destiny.
On her journey, from the streets of London to the gothic Clayhill Manor and beyond, through doors only the Caretaker can see, Sybil will find herself embroiled in a world just hidden beneath the surface and will question everything she’s every believed to be true.
Will she reach the Veil in time? Can she trust the man whose been sent to protect her or the old Caretaker who seems lost to his own grief? Read book one of The Soul Guide series to find out.