Talking with Terry Kitto about his debut novel, The Frequency
- Title: The Frequency
- Author: Terry Kitto
- Genres: Paranormal Thriller, LGBTQ+, POC
- Released: July 30, 2021
- Published by: Pennard Press
Death wasn’t an absolute end, but a further form of being.
Deep within the bowels of an abandoned Cornish mine a covert occult group, known as the Network, protects the living from the dead. Their mediums host a plethora of abilities—from telepathy to astral projection—because of their connection to an energy source called the frequency.
Fifteen-year-old Rasha Abadi and her mother are Syrian refugees granted leave to remain in Gorenn Village. The seaside town sprawls with beaches and idyllic coves, but the last thing Rasha finds there is peace. An impossible shadow visits her nightly and infests her mind with memories of the chaos that she and her mother fled in Syria. When she becomes possessed by the shadow, the Network intervenes to save her.
The shadow’s wrath knows no bounds and orchestrates a string of interconnected possessions across the south coast. Having survived the shadow, Rasha eagerly offers to aid the Network’s investigation. They must all act quickly to unearth its motive before it disrupts the balance between the living and the dead, and forges a new world from the embers of their own reality.
No choice will be easy for Rasha when thwarting a monster means becoming one herself.Goodreads
So Terry let’s begin…
1. Why do you write?
I can only describe it as this innate desire to tell stories. My brain is always firing with ideas — whether it’s a scene, a premise or a character’s voice. I think I’d go mad if I didn’t write it all down. It’s also become a cathartic outlet: I’ve written on topics from death to sexuality, and it’s always been at moments where I’ve been processing events that have happened in my life.
2. Is writing a full time job for you? If not what else do you do?
Hopefully one day writing will be my full time job, but whilst I was writing The Frequency I worked full time in a kitchen. Now I work part-time doing book design for self-published authors, under my company Pennard Press.
3. What is your ultimate dream in writing and having your books published?
My goals for writing are definitely small and long term. I have a ten year plan and in that time I will release all five books in The Imprint Quintet. Every day is a new opportunity to connect like-minded readers and writers, and my goal is to build a readership organically.
The dream would be writing full time, with a small but solid fanbase that is excited about what I do. By ‘full time’ I don’t mean scoring a multi-million writing contract. A modest yearly wage that keeps me financially stable whilst I do what I love is all I need. If there’s a little extra to buy a farm and re-home rescued animals, then I wouldn’t complain!
4.What is the significance of your book? What do you hope readers will feel when they have read it?
At the core of The Frequency is grief, and how characters react to that for the better or for the worse. I hope that readers will go on the journey with Rasha, Sam and Trish, and realise that there is no shame in grieving for loved ones; that we are not people that need fixing; and that grief is an emotion that is best experienced and processed, rather than compartmentalised and locked away. Sam’s character arc is definitely a testament to that mentality: as The Frequency concludes he hasn’t overcome his grief, but rather opened himself and began to accept it. He’s healthier in so many ways because of it.
5. What impact do you hope this book will have on the reader?
Carrying on from the last question, I hope that it will help people to come to terms with losing a loved one, and that grief is different to everyone.
In terms of the craft, it was my intention to blend multiple genres. The Frequency’s blanket genre is paranormal thriller, but there’s also elements of body horror, sci-fi, historical fiction and political espionage. I find that within publishing, and traditional publishing in particular, authors are forced into rigid genres because it is easier to market. In writing The Frequency as a blended genre, I hope people will see the potential of merging tropes and reimagining what has already been done.
6.Do you incorporate incidents from your own personal life into your work? Why?
I think it’s important for an author, especially writing genre fiction, to ground their story with a sense of emotional reality. We need characters with motivations and fears, and to have those qualities explored and pushed by external conflicts. I think that a true, deep understanding of a character’s psyche can only come from what we have experienced ourselves.
For example, Trish and Rasha share a lot of traits to the women in my life; my mother, sisters and friends. Sam’s arc, particularly where his sexuality is concerned, shares some parallels to my experience growing up in rural England. Most of that wasn’t purposeful either, it was very much subconscious — when reading my work back do I begin to pick up on it and realise where I drew that from. But I think those emotions will be relatable to a lot of readers and although they’re specific on the page, they’ll resonate universally.
7. What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
It’s the editing — which, ironically, I also find the most rewarding and enjoyable! But there’s no doubt it’s hard. I treat first drafts as a “splurge draft”. I get all of my ideas onto the page, ready to make sense of in later revisions. It’s particularly difficult to cut scenes that I really liked. For example, there was a bad-ass scene with Rasha out at sea fighting reanimated corpses. Ultimately it didn’t push the story forward or progress her story arc, so it had to be cut!
8. What comes first for you- the plot or the characters? why?
They really do inform each other. The very first draft of The Frequency happened when I was twelve years old — almost fifteen years ago. But the premise still carried forward, which was in the form of a question: how do people, who have concrete evidence of an afterlife, cope with grief? And does their attitude towards life change because they know death doesn’t mean the end?
When I explored that concept three years ago, I found the voices of Rasha, Sam and Trish. Rasha is young and fearful of death, and the very destructive nature of it, and so tries to shut out the dead for the longest time. Sam is cynical about the afterlife, and therefore he is also very cynical about death. Trish clings to the romanticised depiction of death found in Christianity: which really is her coping mechanism. With those core questions and the three mentalities of my characters, I was able to plot both story and character arcs.
9. What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?
Honestly, the beginning. Because I was technically adapting a book that I wrote when I was twelve, I had a head start. I knew exactly how it was going to end. So I had to plot backwards, ensuring that the characters grow organically whilst pushing the story forwards.
10. This book is the start of a series, can you share a tiny bit about your plans of what’s to come?
Absolutely! The Imprint Quintet is a five part series following a rag-tag group of psychics intent on stopping an otherworldly tyrant from paranormal terrorism. The globe is saturated in covert occult organisations, all festering different supernatural forces and it will be our characters objectives to bring down — and partner with — them to bring about an equilibrium between life and death.
The second book, slated for a late 2023 release, will take place in Manchester, a Northern city in the UK. Rasha has travelled to join the others in infiltrating The Hive, an occult group tied to a human trafficking ring, only to discover that her friends have disappeared without a trace.
11. What prospectives or beliefs have you challenged with this work
I really wanted to push the boundaries of how tropes from various genres could be blended together to create something new.
Thematically, I wanted to challenge the idea that we are more than the sums of our parts: grief, trauma, mental health and sexuality do not define us. How we approach them, does. There’s so much stigma around those topics, so by setting them in genre fiction I hope they are more accessible.
12. What inspired the idea for your book?
The original draft was called Ghost Conspiracies. I wrote it when I was 12/13, after my grandfather died. It was my first true loss and I was trying to work through that, as well as all the hormones that come with being a teenager. It was a cathartic project that helped me to heal and grow.
13. Where did you find all the sources for your research?
Research was a massive undertaking. For Rasha’s story arc I worked closely with Refugee Action, a charity that fights for refugee rights here in the UK. For the Cornish history featured in the book I used journals, archives, textbooks and historians to ground moments set in the past. Throughout The Frequency there is ‘paranormal jargon’ and that was all derived from Kernewek, the lost Cornish language that is slowly being revived by linguistic experts.
14. What has helped or hindered you most when writing a novel?
Without a doubt, time. Trying to write a novel is tough whilst working a full time job, balancing family, a social life, and downtime — self care is super important! I will scream that from the rooftops until the day I die. But when I get days off, or book a long weekend away, those days help me come on in leaps and bounds. And honestly, sometimes time just irons out kinks in your story. Your mind might need a few weeks to process your plot and generate new ideas, and I think that needs to be normalised in the writing community.
15. What books did you grow up reading? How have they impacted your writing?
As a kid and young teenager I read what I could get my hands on, which was mostly from libraries and car boot sales (yard sales for you guys). So from Tolkien to King, Pullman to Dickens and Christie. It was an eclectic self-education in writing, and crossed many different genres. I think you can see that reflected in my work, especially in The Frequency — that mash up of genres and ideas.
16. Who, or what, inspired you to pursue a career in writing?
It really was my reading experience. I just thought there was nothing more magical or amazing than telling stories and putting them into the hands of readers. Throughout school I was championed by some fantastic teachers who all saw potential in me. I’m the only creatively driven person in my family and so they’ve always supported me in my endeavours — from fine art to filmmaking to releasing my novel last week. I’ve been really fortunate!
17. What do you do when you are not writing?
I have my company Pennard Press, where I do formatting and book design for self-published authors. Over lockdown I taught myself book-binding from scratch. Otherwise I’m cycling down country lanes, cooking vegan food, and seeing family and friends.
18. Name an under appreciated novel that you love.
Ooh it’s actually a trilogy that I was obsessed with — The Hex Trilogy by Rhiannon Lassiter. It’s like X-Men meets The Matrix. In a not-so-distant future a select few mutant humans are able to access technology with their minds. It’s super grungy and would have had the same potential to be adapted into a film series, just as The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner was. I really hope one day it has a resurgence and gets the recognition it deserves!
19. Do you prefer ebooks, printed books, or audiobooks when given the choice?
I really do prefer printed books! Without sounding like a snob, I feel like you have a completely different relationship with printed text. When I try to read anything long form on a screen I can never quite get into reading mode — it’s almost as though my subconscious associate screens with passive forms of entertainment and reading requires work from the reader. I haven’t given audiobooks a fair try as of yet, but I do zone out quickly if people are talking at me — I was a nightmare in my university lectures!
20. What was your path to publication?
It was three years of literal blood, sweat and tears. I undertook months of revisions (nine drafts in all) which also included two rounds of beta reading. It was then copyedited by Natalia Leigh, a fantastic editor, YouTuber and indie author. I then edited from her notes, formatted and designed the book, and then passed it over to one of Natalia’s team to proofread. Whilst that was happening, my designer Daniel Iglesias designed the cover. The book’s formatting was tweaked once again. Then I sent out advanced copies to reviewers and bloggers, and put together a virtual tour across blogs and YouTube channels (including here on McFly’s Book Bliss). Lots of work and lots of planning — and it’s not over yet!
21. How do you manage social media?what do you like to use the most and why?
When it comes to building an author brand and promoting The Frequency, I really am a visual person and so I naturally get on better with Instagram. It has so many great interactive features in the stories too, which is great to chat with readers, and host polls and quizzes. That’s my aim with social media really; to organically grow a readership and interact with them all. I have quite a following on Twitter now but I feel like that platform has become quite polarising. The algorithm is really against you there, too.
22. Exactly what formats is your book available in?
My book is available in both paperback and eBook, everywhere that you can buy them! As soon as I can afford to, and if there is demand, I will definitely work on an Audiobook in the near future!
23. Add anything else here you feel is pertinent to your book.
I’d like to say that I am releasing short stories bi-monthly on my website. They’re all tied into the events of The Frequency and are completely free. So if you want a sample of my work before you invest in The Frequency, or you’ve finished The Frequency and want to read more, you can find them all over at www.terrykitto.com/writing.
The Frequency can be found at:
- Amazon — https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09316QM9G/
- B&N — https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-frequency-terry-kitto/1139660881?ean=9781838181505
- Target — https://www.target.com/p/the-frequency-by-terry-kitto-paperback/-/A-83854841#lnk=sametab
- Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57836612-the-frequency
- And everywhere else: www.terrykitto.com/frequency-purchase
Supporting Refugee Action
By the end of 2018 there were 126,720 refugees, 45,244 pending asylum cases and 125 stateless persons in the UK.*
Refugee Action is a UK based non-profit that helps refugees seek asylum in the UK and rebuild their lives. Their services include access housing and support, legal counsel, human rights campaigns, and training and support to third party organisations.
Refugee Action provided a wealth of knowledge for writing The Frequency, concerning issues and injustices that many refugees face. Rasha and Haya Abadi’s story wouldn’t be as nuanced and realistic without the resources that RA provide.
Therefore, Terry is donating 5% of The Frequency’s profits to Refugee Action in the hope that the novel can contribute towards providing shelter, education, legal aid and mental health support to those seeking asylum.
*fact taken from https://www.refugee-action.org.uk/about/facts-about-refugees/ May 202121.
About the Author
Born and raised in Cornwall, England, Terry Kitto is never found without reading a book or penning one of his own. Teaching himself to write screenplays in Sixth Form, he took his creativity to Film School at Falmouth University. There he wrote the biopic Christopher’s Queen and studied postmodernism in long running television series’, earning a First Class with Honours. He further developed his television writing skills at the University of Salford, with a PGDip in TV and Radio Scriptwriting.
In February 2015 he won the award for Best Writer at the New York 100 Hour Film Contest with the short Can You See Me? and was shortlisted for the BBC’s Writers Room 2016 with comedy-drama Brunswick House.
Alongside his writing, Terry offer’s professional book design and formatting with his company Pennard Press.
The Frequency is Terry’s debut novel.