Take a trip into my imaginary worlds – no passport, visa or vaccination requirements; all welcome, stay as long as you like.
I’ve never had any doubt that I was supposed to spend my life telling stories because I’ve always had people in my head narrating them. This isn’t sinister, Stephen King/M. Night Shyamalan The-Voices-Made-Me-Do-It territory, it’s just like having a play or a movie running permanently in my head. Any time “real” life isn’t commanding my attention I tune into my imaginary worlds and watch a scene while my characters argue or agree, encounter obstacles and wrestle with plot twists, then watch as it runs again with different motivations, or in a different time and place. Once I’m happy the scene is right, I write it down – and then have to wrangle with how to make what appears on paper match the performance in my head.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of help available for this aspect of writing. I have a shelf full of how-to books and I was lucky enough to come across the Romantic Novelists’ Association and their brilliant New Writer’s Scheme (limited to 250 places each year, entrants to the scheme are unpublished writers who submit a manuscript each year and receive feedback on their strengths and weaknesses from an industry professional). I’ve spent a great many years commuting between my imaginary worlds and writing reality and after an apprenticeship of about 15 years my writing is good enough to whisk other people into my imaginary worlds to experience the made-up lives of my invisible friends.
Whilst writing tales of my imaginary worlds I also tried to find a publisher so more people could come and visit my imagination. As time went on, my rejections from agents and publishers became more positive (from silence or form rejection notes, to “nice, but not for me”). I was aware of the self-publishing option, but I didn’t think I was interested in that – having to undertake the technicalities of publication, as well as market and promote a book threatened to rob me of time spent writing down my flights of fancy and I didn’t want that. Ironically enough, my decision to self-publish was settled when I received an offer from a small press. The terms weren’t dreadful, don’t get me wrong, but they weren’t stellar either, and I found I simply couldn’t give up my creation (and my career) to other people and let the rewards for my labours depend on factors outside my control. So: self-publishing it would have to be.
The idea was scary, but (as is probably apt for someone used to playing god with all kinds of characters in my head) it was also thrilling. I found some like-minded souls and the Paisley Piranha was born – a group of YA writers who provide mutual moral support whilst writing and reviewing YA books. And I thoroughly enjoyed working with a brilliant editor, the superlatively talented Rachel Daven Skinner, and stunning cover designer J D Smith who both helped bring my creation to vibrant life. I taught myself the technical side of formatting, (difficult for a determined luddite), told all my friends, pressed “Publish” and my first book, The Last Gatekeeper, moved from my imagination into the public domain.
I’ve been hanging out in the world of The Last Gatekeeper an awful lot lately whilst getting the novel ready for publication. Fortunately, it’s one of my favourite imaginary places. On earth, the home of my heroine, Zanzibar, is an amalgam of my childhood home out in the sticks of rural Lincolnshire and holidays in majestic, wild Northumberland, melded together with a twist of magic. And then there’s Fane: dry, dusty, devastated but still beautiful, and populated by powerful, martial fanes who spawned myths on Earth of mercurial, enchanting fae. Zan’s story is a similar mix of reality and imagination. She’s isolated from normal human life due to Electrical Hyper-Sensitivity, but as the story unfolds we discover there’s much more to it: two worlds stand on the brink of annihilation and Zan is the one person who can save both.
The response has been good – readers have enjoyed their trips into my imaginary world and want more. It’s hard to describe the thrill of that – this place and these people, who once existed only in my head, are now alive and well and striding across the minds of other people. That’s the magic of books, and now I’m truly a part of it. So, please, try out my imaginary world for yourself. Bring your friends, take a picnic, stay all day.
The Last Gatekeeper
Zan knows she’s different. Today she discovers why …
Zanzibar MacKenzie knows she’s a freak. She has EHS – electrical hypersensitivity – which leaves her trying to live a Stone Age life in the twenty-first century: no internet, no phone, no point really. Then Thanriel knocks on her door and the dull summer holiday becomes maybe too exciting. Zan discovers fairies and angels are real beings from other planets, she herself is half alien, and the future of life on Earth rests on her shoulders.
Find out more about Katy and her books at:
The video “How to Become a Writer” showing Katy’s journey to publication:
Find out about the Paisley Piranha and read our reviews of teen books we’ve enjoyed
The Last Gatekeeper is available at: