In 2011 I left my job as a Learning Support Assistant at Oaklands College to become a full-time housewife. I had tried to juggle the needs of my work, a husband, two young children, and a live-in nephew, but once I became the official carer for a family member I knew I needed to be more available than my job would allow. Although it was the right thing to do, I missed my work colleagues and the routine of going out of the house every day. I soon felt lonely, bored and depressed.
To distance myself emotionally, I began to write my first novel. I wanted to write a romance which wove together plot lines involving care for the elderly, end of life issues and disability. To prevent the story becoming a personal rant, I developed a male narrator. The story is written from the point of view of Vincent Stevens, a victim of the credit crunch who loses a high flying career, swanky flat, gym membership and glamorous girlfriend. Like me he has to give up the superficial things he holds dear to gain a new, deeper perspective on life.
I completed the first draft of ‘The Girl at the End of the Road’ by February 2012. Not really knowing what to do next, I signed up for a Creative Writing course with Carer’s in Hertfordshire. I immediately felt comfortable with the group. I think it helped that we all understood what it was like to be a carer and the challenges and restrictions this brought to our lives. Our sessions were filled with fun and laughter as we worked through exercises and dreamt up imaginary scenarios, learning how to develop characters and plots for our stories. As a result of the advice I received, I went back to my rushed first draft and completely re-wrote it, adding a couple of sub-plots and cutting out sections that were slowing down the pace of the story.
I then began the arduous task of proof reading it and sending it off to agents. I also posted it on an online writing community to get constructive criticism, publishing advice and reader reviews. It slowly rose up the rankings, reaching fourth place in 2015 out of more than 5,000 entries and winning feedback from an Editor at HarperCollins. They called it ‘a compelling read’ and asked me to tweak a minor character and submit it to them for consideration. However, I had signed a contract with an Independent Publisher four days previously!
I was delighted to receive an endorsement from Michele Guinness, author of ‘Archbishop’, who wrote:
“This is a wonderful first book from K A Hitchins - touching, poignant, inspiring, and beautifully written. I was captivated from the start and raced to the denouement, knowing I’d need to read it again to appreciate fully its many nuances and challenges. Like Vincent, her sympathetic yet shallow narrator, I don’t think I’ll ever see life in quite the same way again, thanks to the extraordinary Sarah Penny, one of the most memorable and unlikely heroines ever created.”
‘The Girl at the End of the Road’ will be available from Amazon and bookshops at the end of March, but I will be having a pre-launch event on 22 February from 7.30 – 9.30 pm at The Trestle Arts Base, Russet Drive, St Albans, Herts, AL4 0JQ. It will be an opportunity to buy a signed copy of the book in advance, with author royalties being donated to a children’s charity in Africa, which amongst other projects supports a disability school in Togo. Everyone’s welcome to come along, but if you can’t make it you can pre-order the book on Amazon now at:
'The Girl at the end of the road' by K A Hitchins is published by Instant Apostle (paperback £8.99, ISBN 9791909728394)
Member since: 18th January 2016
I am a local author writing contemporary commercial fiction.