Monday, 29 May 2017

Southern Virtual Mini Book Festival - Introducing Katharine Johnson

My penultimate guest today is Katharine Johnson, author of The Silence and Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings.

Katharine lives in Berkshire with her husband, three children and spaniel. When not writing she plays netball badly and is a room guide at a National Trust property. She has lived in Italy and has a house near Lucca which neighbours call the seven dwarves' cottage.

Photo courtesy of Katharine Johnson

Welcome to my little event Katharine and sorry that you've had to wait so long. I'm sure I saw you earlier chatting with some of the other authors, so hopefully the time hasn't been wasted.

Hello Neats - thank you so much for inviting me, I'm thrilled to be part of this festival. My novel The Silence comes out on 8th June. It's a psychological/coming of age story set in Tuscany - but now I'd like to hand over to my main character, Abby.

                                        Meet the main character of The Silence

Hello Abby, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Of course. What would you like to know? I'm 38, married, two little girls, Lucy (6) and Sophia (5). No pets - I'd like a dog, perhaps a cockapoo - but I work long hours as a GP. We live in a Victorian house in Hampshire. We've spent a lot of money renovating it and doing an extension. Creating a secure and happy home for my children is the single most  important thing to me.

Sounds like life's treating you well.
It was. Until the other day when I saw this. Now I know that everything I have, everything I've worked so hard for, could
disappear in an instant. It all goes back to the summer I spent at a Tuscan villa in 1992 - a hot, beautiful summer with a catastrophic end. Up until now I've allowed myself to believe that the flashbacks and bad dreams were false memories, some sort of mental illness. But I can't pretend any longer.

But if you were involved in a traumatic event how have you been able to put it out of your mind and carry on living a normal life?
Because the alternative would be to lose my sanity, like my cousin Mina has. I've dealt with it by compartmentalising my life, sorting it into different boxes. Among those boxes is the one I told myself I could never open, never look inside. It might look as if I'm not affected by what happened but the only reason I did well at school and in my career is because I focused all my energy into filling my head with facts, so there wouldn't be space left for other thoughts. I became a doctor so that I could save lives. You could call it an atonement I suppose.

If you and your husband are so close, why can't you tell him?
I should, I know I should. I know James would never have married me if he knew the truth about me. But every day he is kept ignorant is another day I get to keep him.

Do you worry about your children finding out?
All the time. They are my world. They've done nothing wrong. They don't deserve to have their lives shattered. I need to keep lying to protect him from the truth. Yes I'm being selfish because I can't stand to lose them but I also worry about the effect the truth would have on them and the way they see the world.

 So there's really no one you can talk to?
There is someone - Connal. He's a hypnotherapist helping me to sift through my memories and make sense of what happened.

Isn't he also an ex-lover?
Yes. If I could go to anyone else I would but hypnotherapists are obliged by law to disclose serious crimes. I know I can trust Connal even though he's not happy about it.
Why did you spend that summer in Italy?
Because my father and stepmother were on honeymoon.

 Were you happy there?
Not at first. But getting to know Philippa changed everything. She was all the things I wasn't - wild, rebellious, cool. I knew she stole and told lies and was angry about something but what mattered was that she didn't laugh at me or think I was weird. She made everything seem like an adventure. I hoped if I stayed around her for long enough some of her spirit would rub off on me. But instead I got drawn into doing something I will regret for the rest of my life.

But why should anyone make the connection between you and the villa?
Somebody already has. I know they're watching and waiting. But I will do anything to keep my family safe.

                                                  *    *    *    *

The Silence is available for pre-order on Amazon here, £7.99 for the paperback or the special price of 99p for the eBook. The price goes up £1.99 after the launch so grab a copy now!

By pre-ordering you could also win a prize. Message Katharine with proof of purchase and you will be entered into a goody bag draw which includes prosecco and chocolates (U.K. only), Amazon gift cards (international) and a signed paperback of her first book Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings. 

Find out more about the book and join in the fun at the Facebook Online Launch Party on 8th June - there will be some awesome guest authors and more prizes to be won! 

You can find out more about Katharine, her books and connect with her by using the links below:

Crooked Cat Books

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Katharine for her great guest post and for taking the time to stop by today. It's been a pleasure getting to know you and your character Abby. Wishing you lots of success with The Silence and I'll 'see you' at your FB launch party! 🎉 😉

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