The Gardener’s Daughter was published on the 15th March 2018 in paperback and as an eBook by Instant Apostle. I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour for which I have interviewed K A Hitchins.
First of all can you tell me a bit about your new book please?
The Gardener’s Daughter is a Young Adult thriller exploring the theme of identity. The main character is a motherless nineteen-year-old girl who accidentally discovers she was adopted and runs away in search of her biological father. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, her journey of discovery unearths the shocking truth behind her mother’s death and the identity of her real father – with plenty of excitement and a sprinkling of romance along the way.
What made you decide to write this book?
When I lost my Dad to cancer and began speaking to friends about what he had meant to me, I realised just how many people don’t have a good relationship with their fathers, or even have any real contact with them. Most of the positive things in my life are a direct result of the happy and secure upbringing my parents gave me, rather than the result of anything especially good or talented about me. What would happen, I wondered, if I woke up one day and realised that everything in my childhood had been a lie, and that my real father had abandoned me before I was born? That was the premise for the book. Ava’s identity is intrinsically linked to knowing where she’s come from and finding a place she can call home.
How long did it take you to write?
It took about five months to write, but then another couple of months working with my copy editor and proof reader to really tighten up the manuscript.
Did you have to do any research?
Much of the action takes place in a cheesy caravan holiday park. As I’ve had more than my fair share of family caravan holidays, I didn’t have to do much research on the setting. Surprisingly the most difficult part of the book was the historical era. I’ve set the book in 2003, before Facebook, Twitter and Smartphones. I had to keep reminding myself that my main character, Ava, couldn’t check her emails on her phone. It’s amazing how much we depend on technology to know what’s going on and to connect with people. Without it, Ava has to depend on more traditional detecting methods to track down her real father.
What do you hope readers will get out of this book?
I hope readers have a really great experience. I love it when I get reviews from people who couldn’t go to bed until they’d finished one of my stories. That makes it all worthwhile. However, there is an underlying message in the book about love and forgiveness which I hope readers will find uplifting.
Are you working on any other writing projects?
I have another completed manuscript called Love in the Village of Drought which requires some editing before I submit it to a publisher, and I’m in the very early stages of writing my fifth novel, provisionally entitled, ‘The Shortness of Life’.
What has the publishing process been like for you?
I started writing seriously in January 2012. While I was writing my first book, The Girl at the End of the Road, I joined the HarperCollins online writing community called Authonomy. Authors would post up their chapters or completed novels and receive feedback and ratings from other writers and readers. Every month the top five books would receive an editorial report from HarperCollins, with the possibility of a publishing deal. The feedback I received from other writers really helped me polish my manuscript about a shallow, materialistic man who falls in love with a woman with Aspergers until it was ready to be sent out to publishers and agents.
By January 2015, my novel reached number four out of more than 6,000 books on the Authonomy site. I waited for the promised critical feedback from a Harper Collins Editor, but heard nothing. I was still sending the manuscript out and in May 2015 I was offered a contract from a small independent publisher called Instant Apostle. After a few agonising hours of wondering whether to hold on for my Harper Collins review or accept the bird in the hand, I agreed to meet the publisher and signed the contract the following week. Four days later, Harper Collins sent me their review and expressed an interest in the book.
I must confess, I had a short internal tussle of, ‘What if’, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m with the right publisher for now. They are small, flexible, inclusive and supportive, and want to bring me into all the decision making relating to the cover and the blurb etc. Even with this support, the experience has been overwhelming so I know I wasn’t ready back then for anything more high-powered.
While planning the launch for The Girl at the End of the Road (which took place in March 2016) I mentioned to my publisher that I’d started writing a book about a girl in a coma who was trying to solve her own murder. They immediately asked me to sign a contract, even though I’d only written a few chapters. The Key of All Unknown was launched in October 2016. It’s the story of brilliant scientific researcher, Tilda Moss, who wakes up in hospital unable to speak or move and with no recollection of what happened to her. Determined to find answers and prove to her family and doctors that she’s not in a persistent vegetative state, she searches for clues in the conversations she overhears and in the fractured memories that haunt her.
In between writing The Girl at the End of the Road in 2012 and The Key of All Unknown in 2016, I’d finished two further manuscripts: Love in the Village of Drought in 2013 and The Gardener’s Daughter in 2015. It’s been great to work with the Instant Apostle editors to bring the latter project to completion. I can’t believe I’m about to publish my third novel in two years. I’ve learned such a lot about the publishing process and how to promote my books on social media, that I now feel confident to call myself a proper writer.
What advice have you got for anyone wishing to write a book?
My advice to everyone is to read widely and step outside of your comfort zone every now and then. It’s all too easy to get into a rut with a favourite genre, but mixing it up a little and picking up a book you wouldn’t usually choose, particularly one which stretches your heart, mind and soul, is a great way to broaden your reading experience and improve your writing.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Writing is what I do in my spare time. I’m a busy mum, a Trustee of a children’s charity working in Togo, West Africa, and I also help other authors with their social media promotion. It’s difficult not to let my writing get pushed to the bottom of the pile of things to do. To get away from the ever present housework, I take myself out to a supermarket café at least once a week for a couple of hours of writing.
Motherless nineteen-year-old Ava has always believed brilliant botanist Theo Gage to be her father. But when a chance discovery reveals she is not his daughter, her world falls apart. Determined to discover her true identity, Ava impetuously runs away and enlists the help of inexperienced private detective, Zavier Marshall. Pursued by shadowy figures, she takes on a new name and follows in her dead mother’s footsteps to work at the mysterious Fun World Holiday Camp. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, will Ava survive in a world where she’s more valuable dead than alive? Will she discover the shocking truth behind her mother’s death? And will she find her real father before it s too late?
‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ can be purchased from Amazon UK:-
About K A Hitchins
K A Hitchins studied English, Religious Studies and Philosophy at Lancaster University and later obtained a Masters in Postmodern Literatures in English from Birkbeck College, London University. Her debut novel, The Girl at the End of the Road, was published by Instant Apostle in March 2016, followed by The Key of All Unknown in October 2016. Both books were short-listed for Woman Alive magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award 2017, with The Key of All Unknown reaching the final three. Her third novel The Gardener’s Daughter was published on 15 March 2018. She is married with two children and lives in Hertfordshire.
K A Hitchins, Author page