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Advice from IR Approved Author S. Kensington: “Plow through those brick walls and remember what inspired you in the first place.”

Just Another Girl on the Road received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author S. Kensington.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Just Another Girl on the Road, 2019.  The first title had been Le Flâneur, but friends said that was too obscure. Then I tried Unpractical Hearts referring to the statement in the Wizard of Oz movie about how hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable. I thought most of the characters in my book had very unpractical hearts. But that made it sound like a Romance. Then one day when I was at the gym (most of my ideas came when I was at the gym), I thought of the title I finally used—Just Another Girl on the Road. Dorothy, Amelia, Cricket, Milou, Yujana, and of course, Katrinka. All ‘just another girl the road’.

What’s the book’s first line? 

Screams shattered the late afternoon air causing Sergeant Farr and Corporal Valentine to dive for cover at the base of a small rise.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

I’ll try, but I cannot write pitches. I failed COMPLETELY on my query writing and trying to formulate an ‘elevator pitch’. But here goes. This is a love story. WWII is just the backdrop. It is about a young woman on a journey, both physical and internal. It’s a love story; in all its various forms, interpretations, and mutations. It is also about the emotional scars people carry with them, and how they deal with these scars.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

There were two events:

One: Finding a woman’s small white glove, and an old news clipping about the WWII Undercover Phantoms in my father’s war possessions, after he died.

Two:  Listening to Mongolian throat singing street buskers in Munich.

After finding the items in my dad’s belongings, an idea began formulating in my mind of a young woman who is somehow mixed up with an undercover operation in WWII. I had originally researched the Phantoms, but later switched over to the Jedburghs as there was more information

Then one day on my long commute to work I was listening to one of the Mongolian throat singing CD’s–It had a delightful tune and rhythm, similar to a kind of cantering movement on horseback, to it.

And I begin to see this scene in my head. Of a girl on horseback. She was running away from something terrible, and she was on this horse that was stretched out in long, loping strides, but still pacing itself. As if preparing for some lengthy journey.

The enchantment of the music, and the vividness of this image of a young woman on horseback got me started on the book. That night, or rather at three in the morning, I suddenly got up from my bed and went to the kitchen for a scrap of paper and pencil. I scrawled the first few paragraphs down, went back to bed, and was up a while later, writing the ending.  And that is how it all began. The ending scene with Farr and Katrinka was also inspired by listening to a beautiful piece of music by John Doan, called Farewell. I saw it as an ariel view, and so used the seabird, following their motorcycle down the road.

And of course, the most important inspiration, love. Definitely, love.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

For entertainment; an escape for a few hours or a few days.  A friend curled up with it on her couch, with a bit of chocolate and a cup of tea. That kind of enjoyment.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of? 

The most distinctive characteristic about Katrinka is her sexuality.  I knew when I began this book that Katrinka’s sexuality would be one of her more notable characteristics. She goes to it when she is frightened, She goes to it when she senses someone needs comfort, or she needs comforting herself. Sometimes she uses it just for physical relief, or for power in getting something that she wants. Or to express her love for someone, or to bring someone pleasure, She has no fear of her sexuality, and I admire her for that. In dealing with emotional difficulties or trauma, sometimes just the human touch; the warmth of another person’s arms around them in the night, can make things better. When I was young, I knew several young women with strong and fearless sexual appetites. But I guess everyone looks back at their past through rose-tinted glasses.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

Every writer’s dream to cast their book!

I would love to see Alicia Vikander in the role of Katrinka; she has an incredibly expressive face.  I’d also really enjoy seeing Mark Ruffalo as Amparo, Chris Pratt taking the role of Wolfe Farr, and Gerard Butler, a perfect Willoughby Nye!

When did you first decide to become an author?

I’ve been writing since I was ten. Journals mostly. Some newspaper work in high school and college. I always wanted to do humorous feature stories for magazines. I never saw myself writing a novel. But it started oozing out, just as soon as I retired. Like it had been waiting all along.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

Yes. And probably my last, unless I ever get my belongings out of storage and dip into my journals for a memoir.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

“Work??” I’m retired!  I very much enjoy getting out and traveling. Slow travel. Trains and boats. I like riding my bike. Just an old-woman-going to the market-type bike. Tooling along, looking at all the pretty scenery, smelling the great smells, and watching the changing of seasons. When I settle down, I would like to do some volunteer work with dogs, or maybe with Adult Literacy.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I don’t write much now; the book took A LOT out of me. But I do write daily, voluminousemails to my friends. I’m an expat and it is a nice way to stay in touch. They tell me they enjoy them.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?   

The best: Having the freedom to hang on to what you believe in!! Authors have one vision for their books. Publishers/agents often have quite a different vision. They can’t take risks. I don’t blame them. They must make money to survive. But I just couldn’t have taken a rewrite of my character/s or storyline to fit into what might be more sellable.

The hardest: The cost. Deciding if you want to spend your hard-earned tiny budget on a great developmental editor, publisher, copy editor, and proof editor. Or eat. Just kidding, but it gets pretty belt-tightening at the end of it all. And the marketing; a whole different world.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Stick with it. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself, and your characters. Plow through those brick walls and remember what inspired you in the first place. Don’t assume your first draft is the finished draft. Rewrite, question, change, tweak, polish, edit, tighten. Repeat, ad infinitum. And invest in the best possible Developmental Editor you can get.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?  

Last year, going through the grueling gauntlet of query writing to an endless list of agents I would have said YES. PLEEEZE. SOMEONE for pity’s sake, take me on!!  Now I’m not so sure. As I mentioned earlier, I love the freedom and independence that comes with self-publishing. But on the other hand, who wouldn’t love to see their book displayed in shop windows. Sigh.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Enjoyment of life, trying not to forget what it is all about. Simple pleasures.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

Too many, and the admiration always changing, along with my age. Right now, my mind needs some escapism.  Reading all the Agatha Christie/Nevil Shute books I never had a chance to read.

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