16 November 2018

‘Don’t write in a vacuum: Ask other people to read your work…’

Karen Cole, author
by Katie Smart Author Interviews

Former CBC student Karen Cole’s psychological thriller, Deliver Me, is new out in eBook from Quercus this month, with the paperback publication to follow in spring 2019. Karen was a student on our Writing YA and Children’s Fiction course taught by Catherine Johnson, but it was during her time studying with us that she discovered her talent for writing thrillers. Here she tells us more …

Your debut novel, Deliver Me, is to be published by Quercus. How did it feel when you found out your novel was going to be published?

I was thrilled, of course, and completely gobsmacked! I didn’t really believe it and still don’t. It feels, in a way, as though it has happened to somebody else.

You were a student on our writing course for young adults – what made you decide to write for adults instead?

Our course tutor, Catherine Johnson, told us that you should only write the books you really love to read, or words to that effect –  and although I do love many books for Young Adults, my favourite genres to read are psychological thrillers and mysteries.  It may sound like obvious advice, but sometimes we need to be told the obvious! I didn’t have an epiphany at the time, but I think the idea resonated. After the course finished, I revisited an idea I’d had a long time ago and decided to try to make a go of it.

Is there any advice that has stayed with you since completing the course?

I was told my heroine was too passive for a Young Adult book. I don’t think that applies quite so much to adult fiction, but I did keep it firmly in mind when I was creating Abby’s character in Deliver Me.

Many of our students find trusted readers on our course- do you keep in touch with any of your CBC course mates?

Yes, I keep in touch with lots of the students on the CBC course, and some of them provided valuable feedback and encouragement on the first three chapters of Deliver me.

The market for psychological thrillers is very lively at the moment. What initially attract you to the genre?

I’ve always loved thrillers and mysteries, starting with my obsession with Agatha Christie as a child. I think it may be easier to get published in this genre than others but that wasn’t a factor that I considered at the time.

Do you have any advice to offer first time novelists?

Aim to just finish a book. It’s an achievement by itself, even if nobody wants to publish it. You will always reach a stage in writing any book where you want to give up. You need to push through that feeling and complete it. You will learn a lot from the experience even if you aren’t entirely happy with the result. Also, don’t write in a vacuum. Ask other people to read your work and accept their criticism.

Finally, what’s next for your writing?

I’m currently working on another psychological thriller set in Cyprus, where I live. It’s all about escaping the past and being a mother to a teenager. Like Deliver Me, it has a twisting plot and a shocking ending.

Get Deliver Me on eBook.

If you’re currently working on a novel, take a look at our selective-entry novel-writing courses. Our spring 2019 courses are currently open for applications: Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course with Lisa O’Donnell or Six-Month Novel-Writing Course in London with Laura Barnett

Or, if you’re writing YA or children’s fiction why not take a look at our dedicated selective-entry online course for Writing YA and Children’s Fiction with Catherine Johnson.

We also run three short online courses at budget-price designed to help writers at different stages of their novel-writing journey: Starting to Write Your NovelWrite to the End of Your Novel and Edit & Pitch Your Novel – all starting in January 2019.

back to Blog

Our Courses


Write to the End of Your Novel

18 Sep – 30 Oct