Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Daggers Longlister Katherine Futers

Welcome today Katherine Black Futers, who turned her MA in Creative Writing into a focus on entering writing contests, and this spring received the validation of reaching the Debut Dagger longlist with the opening chapter of her second novel-length crime manuscript: Lufkin, Texas

Is this your first entry into the Debut Dagger? Where did you hear about this contest for unpublished crime novels, and what decided you to enter? Have you entered other writing contests with this or other works?

KF This was my second entry into the Debut Dagger. I also entered last year with my first novel, No Fouler Fiend. I heard about the competition through my MA course at the University of East Anglia. Since starting the MA in 2019, I’ve entered a number of writing contests. No Fouler Fiend came third in the Yeovil Literary Prize 2021. I think the competitions are a good way to test the writing, plus placing and/or winning gives validation to a manuscript when submitting it to agents and publishers.


Tell us a little bit about your shortlisted manuscript: cosy, noir, not easily categorized?

KF: I’ve described Lufkin, Texas as a coming-of-age Southern Gothic crime novel. I haven’t finished it yet, so it’s difficult to put it into one category. I’m still not completely sure what’s going to happen. I have an outline but, as I write, the story takes on a life of its own. It’s set in 1987 and is the story of a 16-year-old girl, Sunny, in a trailer park in East Texas. An awful crime has been committed and she’s seeking answers while navigating the confusing messages she receives from the adults around her. I grew up in Texas, but immigrated to England in my early twenties. The story was inspired by a horrific double murder committed by fellow students at my high school, as well as my own teen journals trying to make sense of the tragedy.


Tell us something about yourself. What is your life like when you’re not writing?

KF:  I’m a mom of two teenagers, 16 and 19. Outside of writing I run a busy house. There’s always some event or trip coming up, a request or a need to fulfill. I often feel like the family PA. We also have two dogs and an elderly cat, so someone is always in need of my attention. One of my biggest challenges is finding quality time to give to the writing.


You recently finished an MA in Creative Writing. How do you find that influenced your crime novel? What got you started writing crime?

KF:  I’ve always loved crime. Starting with Scooby Doo (great Gothic narratives!) to Nancy Drew, through Agatha Christie up to my latest discovery, SA Cosby. As my children got older, I started to think about what I wanted to do next. I’d always dreamed of being an author. As a test, I wrote a few short stories and applied to the two highest ranked creative writing universities in the UK. To my surprise, I was accepted to both! I chose the Crime Fiction MA at UEA because I knew crime was what I wanted to write. I graduated with Distinction this year. The course is fantastic. I learned an enormous amount about crafting a novel and gained the confidence I needed to really give it a shot. I also became part of an incredibly supportive community of writers. I can’t imagine being on this journey without them.


Do you like your hero(es) or your villain(s) better?

KF:  I often like my villains better. They’re usually complicated people for whom I feel real empathy. My father was a police officer for twenty years, then worked in the Texas prison system. He always said that monsters are made, not born. I hope that my writing shows how my villains got to this point in their lives. Saying that, I did write a character who’s an elderly sociopath who just kills people that annoy her. She does it with real style though.


What is one thing you wish you’d known when you started writing this novel, that you would warn other beginning crime novelists about?

KF:The most important thing I’ve learned is that once you’ve worked hard on a manuscript, you’ve read it a thousand times and edited it to within an inch of its life, you’ve created your first draft. It will continue to change and evolve, sometimes in ways you never expected. No Fouler Fiend was written from three POVs and, after feedback from agents, I’m about to rewrite the whole thing from one POV.

From what I hear from successful writers, the thing is to just keep going. That’s exactly what I intend to do.


 Find Katherine on Instagram and Twitter


#Debut #Dagger #DaggerAwards #CrimeFiction #CWA #contests #longlist #Texas #amwriting #WritingCommunity #Mystery

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