Author Interview – The Multi-Talented Womens’ Fiction Author Kitty Charles!

I admit it. I am totally hooked on The Arcade by Kitty Charles. Since discovering the series earlier this year, I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

It’s like a soap opera in book form with a new episode released every month and it centres around a Victorian shopping arcade called Angell’s arcade and the little boutiques that are based there.
And not only does the storyline entice me, but the author does too because Kitty Charles is not one, but six best-selling authors all writing as the fictional Kitty!
And if that isn’t exciting enough, all six of them are sworn to secrecy and have vowed not to reveal their true identities! So not only am I now trying to guess who they are, but which two episodes they have each written too.
My obsession was getting out of hand and I needed an outlet. I wrote to Kitty (slightly surreal to write to a fictional author, but then I still remember the letters I wrote to the tooth fairy…) and asked her (them) if they would answer a few questions.
Kitty said yes.
1. I have just finished The Arcade 2013 and loved it! The idea of six mystery best-selling authors collaborating on this project is brilliant, how did you come up with the idea?

We’re so glad you enjoyed The Arcade, Cathy! We came up with the idea after a few glasses of wine—we were talking about how ebooks allow so much more publishing flexibility for authors, and we were all intrigued by the idea of a soap opera type serial. No one else was doing it at that point, and we thought it was such a fun idea. As soon as we started talking about it, we all had so many ideas that we knew we had to do it.

2. How did you manage to plot out the story with so many creative people having an input?

We get together to plot out the big story arcs (like the one about Marilyn’s baby), but each of us has flexibility to invent whatever we like for our own episodes. We build on each other’s ideas. It’s so much fun!

3. What is your view on serialisation? Do you think it is an upcoming trend? What do your readers think about it?

Serialisation seems to be a hit with readers—there are quite a few ebook serial stories out there, though we think ours is unique in that it’s a collaborative project, and it follows multiple storylines, like a soap. We’ve got a group of dedicated readers who have discovered The Arcade and tell us they can’t wait for each new episode. We really enjoy talking to our readers via social media and finding out what they think. Sometimes our readers have given us great ideas about what to do next!

4. How did you decide who would write which episode? Where they written chronologically?

We’re all full-time novelists with busy schedules under our real names, so we chose to write the episodes that fit best into our writing year. We also each have favourite shops and characters so sometimes we chose to write stories that featured them. They were written chronologically, so we could build on the previous stories and foreshadow events that are to come.

5. I know that each author wrote two episodes each, but I can’t spot similar styles! It flows really well as a complete novel, did you have to do much editing to unify it?

As we write, I think we keep it in mind that we’re writing Kitty Charles’s novel, and not our own. So we choose a sort of hybrid style that hopefully flows over the entire twelve months. We also edited the episodes both separately and together. I think each of us can recognise the individual styles, but hopefully it’s a lot less obvious to the reader.

6. The monthly episodes have a very different cover to the full novel, why did you decide to do that?


We wanted the episodes to have a uniform look, with enough difference between them so that readers could recognise the brand but immediately know it was a fresh month. The full novel, on the other hand, had to stand by itself, and also look different enough so that no one would think it was just another episode. After a year of very similar covers, we were very excited to have a fresh perspective and a fresh cover for the novel. We think it’s gorgeous!

7. Is The Arcade based on a real shopping arcade and which seaside town do you locate it in?

Angell’s Arcade is based on several different shopping arcades—we collected a lot of photographs and all looked at them for inspiration—but it’s an idealised, even more beautiful version (with its own resident ghost). The seaside town is kept deliberately vague, because we want readers to concentrate on our storylines rather than looking for landmarks. It’s a fictional setting in the tradition of Coronation Street or Walford.

8. Would you like to see The Arcade in paperback, traditionally published and if so, how would you maintain your top secret persona(s)?

We love Kitty Charles and want her to take over the world, so we’d love a traditional publishing deal. We’re still discussing how to maintain our top secret personas. Maybe we’ll make some masks.

9. How difficult has it been to promote The Arcade, given that all the authors are having to work on it at arm’s length?

It’s been quite difficult; we all have our own novels to promote, so we don’t have much time, and we haven’t been able to tell our existing fan bases about Kitty. However, readers still have found us—each episode has been in the Top Ten Paid Short Story chart on Amazon, and many of them have been number one for weeks at a time. Our readership has grown month on month and we couldn’t be more pleased that Kitty’s work is popular on its own merits!

10. What does 2014 have in store at The Arcade in terms of storylines? Go on, give us a few clues…
In December 2013 we were introduced to the handsome yet sinister Vlad, and in January 2014 we learned of his nefarious plans that threaten Angell’s Arcade. But the Arcadians aren’t going to sit back and let him destroy everything without a fight…

We also have Eden and Philip’s wedding to look forward to, although Eden may not be so happy about the surprise wedding outfit that Philip is planning to wear. There are undiscovered secrets about Tamara Van de Beur’s past, and Libby Bartlett’s passions. Nothing is predictable in The Arcade, which is one reason why we love it!

My thanks to Kitty Charles for agreeing to me on my blog. 2014 looks to be just as thrilling as 2013. I hope I get invited to the book launch to see you all in your masks!
And if anyone haven’t bought their copy yet, here are those all-important Amazon links:
By Cathy Bramley

Cathy is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby farm, The Lemon Tree Cafe and A Vintage Summer. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her family and Pearl, the Cockerpoo. Her recent career as a full-time writer of light-hearted romantic fiction has come as somewhat of a lovely surprise after spending eighteen years running her own marketing agency. However, she has always been an avid reader, hiding her book under the duvet and reading by torchlight. Now she thinks she may have found her dream job.

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