Every mother’s worst nightmare
It was only for a couple of minutes, while dropping Noah off at nursery. Little did Melanie realise that leaving her sleeping son in the car would end up being the biggest regret of her life.
A teenage challenge turns sour
For teenager Woody, stealing cars with his new friend helps alleviate the tedium of a life of poverty and boredom. This isn’t what he wants to do with his life but for now, he feels accepted. Except on this occasion, his actions have consequences that could change his life forever. Is it too late to turn his life around?
How far would you go to save those you love?
While DI Paton is on the case of the missing child, he is quickly drawn into a web of deception that hits dangerously close to home. He soon finds himself torn in two, not knowing which way to turn: save his career or his family? Will he be able to crack the case before he himself cracks?
Did or do you like to read comic books/graphic novels? Which ones?
I haven’t read a comic book for years. Growing up, I used to love the Bunty comic and Jackie (showing my age now!) and my favourite cartoon strips were Snoopy books. I still think they’re funny and insightful today. My daughter has grown up with Snoopy toys, clothes and books and has probably even taken her cuddly Snoopy on holiday. She’s forty-three, by the way. In fact, I’m going to text her now to ask her. I’ll give you her answer later.
Another comic book I have found funny is Viz. They probably wouldn’t get away with half of what was written years ago but we were naïve in those days.
Whom did you inherit your love for books/reading from?
I always loved being read to when I was little as, with four children to raise, Mum was always busy, so this quiet time was a treat. I was obsessed with books before I even started school and was desperate to know what all the funny shapes meant. On my first day I wanted to yell, ‘Stop crying, you lot. I’m trying to learn how to read here!’
One Christmas, my three brothers were given a torch each – something I greatly desired so I could look at books under the covers when my light had been turned off – but instead, I was given stupid girlie hand cream. How many five-year-olds suffer from dry hands? I had to crawl onto the cold landing instead so that I could see to read.
When you need a murder victim or someone you can diagnose with a serious disease or someone who is involved in a fatal accident do you sometimes picture someone nasty you have met in real life and think ‘got you’ LOL?
Thankfully, I haven’t met too many nasty people in life and if I don’t like someone I do my best to avoid them. I can’t think of anyone in particular who I’ve described. I tend to take small elements of appearance, behaviours and anecdotes from people I know to build a character. In my latest book, Driven, the mother makes an unwise decision – something my relative used to do regularly and ignore my warnings – so this is my way of showing what could have happened to her small son.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I think names are so important in novels. They can define a character’s age, race and cultural background and provoke images in the reader’s imagination. I’ll give you three names and you’ll see what I mean:
Which would you use for a convicted serial killer, which a wealthy but lonely old lady and which a be-ribboned, blonde girl dressed in pink?
These may be extreme characterisations, or even caricatures, but hopefully you know what I mean. I spend ages thinking up names and can come to a screaming halt in my writing flow when a new character is introduced. Sometimes I will change a name halfway through a novel because I’ll realise it sounds like another or has the same initial. This can get confusing for my early readers though, so I try to think carefully before naming someone.
My mum chose Kerena from a romantic novel years before I was born but was too ill to make it to the registry office. Unfortunately, she hadn’t told my dad how to spell it so my birth certificate says Cerina. I consider Kerena my real name – in fact, I somehow managed to get that onto my passport from the age of 10 – but my dad thereafter called me Kerry. I’m known as Kerry to friends and family and I save Kerena for my writing and formal uses. I’m pleased to be the only Kerena Swan in the UK although both Kerry and Kerena aren’t great when it comes to defining my Star Wars name. According to a radio chat show I heard; you take the last three letters of your surname then the first three letters of your first name. Work it out. I almost rang in!
Do you write other things beside books (and shopping lists)?
I own and manage an agency providing care for children with disabilities. We’ve been running more than seventeen years and I set it up from scratch so had to write all the policies and procedures and staff handbook. I’m responsible for writing tender submissions, inspection reports, newsletters and so on. At times I’d rather be writing fiction but knowing we’ve helped over 850 families over the years makes it worthwhile.
A few years ago I had major health issues so kept a daily diary. It helped me through some difficult and painful experiences and has provided good material to use in my writing. I also kept a ‘three good things a day’ notebook which helped me focus on the positive aspects of my life. The most memorable entry was 1.I don’t need chemo! 2.I don’t need chemo! 3.I don’t need chemo!
If your movie or series would be made from your books, would you be happy with the ‘based on’ version or would you rather like they showed it exactly the way you created it?
I would be thrilled if either scenario happened but I’d definitely prefer the movie or series to exactly portray the story I’d written. So often I watch one of my favourite books being dramatized and think, ‘The book was so much better!’ Books can show the author’s unique writing style but visual portrayals can miss so much of the characterisations and subtleties of storytelling.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Years ago I was on an 11 hour flight from Aruba and sat next to a stranger. We got talking and he told me he was a private detective. We had some interesting chats about the first book I was writing – a psychological thriller called Dying to See You, but now that I’m writing a detective series I would love the opportunity to sit next to him again on a long flight. He had some fascinating stories to tell but sadly I can’t remember the details. I wish I’d taken his name and number.
Do you have certain people you contact while doing research to pick their brains? What are they specialized in?
I always consult with Graham Bartlett, a retired police officer with 30+ years’ experience as a detective, firearms commander and city police chief. Graham advises me, for a small fee, so I’m confident my novels are accurate representations of current police procedures.
My editor and friend, Lesley Eames, checks my work to ensure characters are plausible, plots have no holes and the pace and flow are maintained. I talk to friends for advice about their jobs – a fireman, nurse, greeting card designer, music promotions manager etc. and ask people about real-life experiences. I even spoke to someone with knowledge of drugs for my novel Who’s There? I drew the line at smoking weed to see what the experience was like first-hand though. I trawled through chat rooms instead to get the insider view.
I also have a friend and co-author, Alison Morgan who is a retired mental health nurse. She has given me some sound advice for my next novel.
Is there someone you sometimes discuss a dilemma with?
Sadly, I have very few people I can discuss my writing dilemmas with. Most of my family are not that interested although my son, Charlie, sometimes helps when I get stuck. I don’t like to discuss the plot with too many people because they may read the novel and it would spoil it for them. I’ve recently met a friend on dog walks who has written a great children’s book, Hound on a Scrounge, and we’re going to support each other with our writing.
What is more important to you? A rating in stars with no comments or a reviewer who explains what the comments they give are based on (without spoilers of course).
Four and five star ratings are welcome but comments and explanations are pure gold to me. To be given an insight into what someone did or didn’t like about the novel helps me with future writing. Someone recently said they really enjoy a big twist so I’ve thought of one for my next novel especially for her. Another reader said they would like more physical description of the characters so I will endeavour to add in more detail about people’s appearances in future whilst being mindful that I don’t slow down the pace.
The worst review I ever had was from someone who gave it one star and said, ‘Don’t give up the day job.’ Not only was this a bit harsh but there was no evidence they had even read the book and when I checked their other reviews they’d written similar comments to loads of other authors. Clearly a troll who derives pleasure from being nasty and without the literary skills to even write a proper review, let alone a full novel. I can only feel sorry for them.
In answer to the question to my daughter – No, she didn’t take Snoopy with her because she didn’t have room in her suitcase and was too worried about losing him. Shame.
About the author
We are thrilled to be introducing DI Dave Paton and his son Tommy, the stars of the first novel in Kerena Swan’s new series, to the world. Before coming to Hobeck, Kerena had published three novels, Dying To See You, Scared to Breathe and Who’s There? and has built a solid fan base around her writing career thus far. She is a juggler extraordinaire: driving forward a successful care business she runs with her husband yet finding time to write. She loves to write, here and there and everywhere when she’s not working. We don’t know how she does it but we are glad that she does! Kerena talks about her writing, her influences and how she came to Hobeck in this video.
Facebook : @kerenaswan · Author
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Driven-Paton-Investigates-Book-2-ebook/dp/B0BMGS953P
US – https://www.amazon.com/Driven-Paton-Investigates-Book-2-ebook/dp/B0BMGS953P
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