By Darci Robbins
Khaiah Thomson struck gold with her debut novel Welcome to Blackwood and is looking to recreate the magic with her latest release Leaving Blackwood, the sequel. Many reviewers who have received advanced readers copies of the novel have been wowed by worldbuilding and characterisation that Thomson has been able to expand on in the sequel. There’s even talk of a fan club being made for the series!
“When I wrote Welcome to Blackwood, my goal was to show myself that I could write a novel, that I could pursue a dream and achieve it. To make that goal realistic, I played it safe when it came to story and character development for the fear of overwhelming myself,” Thomson said.
“When it came time to write the second novel, I wasn’t a newbie anymore and it became about challenging myself to go that one step further, to do something even better. I was a little braver and willing to write scenes (such as fight scenes) that had previously been too daunting, but that also meant that the process of writing was much harder. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Am I pushing myself even harder with the third book? You bet. Is it painful? Most definitely.
“I feel as though the further along on the writing journey I get and the braver I am in sharing my writing with others, the more authentic my writing becomes. To hear that people are enjoying the second novel even more than the first shows me that the bravery, the willingness to be myself in my writing, and the sweat, blood and tears are paying off.”
Carolyn Martinez, Director of Hawkeye Publishing, is excited for fans to read Leaving Blackwood. “The reviews coming in for Leaving Blackwood are phenomenal. The general vibe is “Welcome to Blackwood was so good I didn’t think she could do better for the second book, but she has!” The new world, and introduction of new characters in Leaving Blackwood are absolutely thrilling,” she said.
“But perhaps the stand-out feature of Leaving Blackwood are the conversations that Freya has with the serial killer now living in her head, who she’s befriended since he can no longer physically hurt anyone, and let’s face it, he’s always there – they had to learn to get along with each other.”
Verbalising her ideas helps Thomson to write and admits that her sisters have played a role in helping her to do so.
“My sisters have continued to be my sounding boards through the whole process of writing this trilogy. I am not the best at verbally explaining my ideas in a clear and concise manner. I jump all over the place and don’t make a lot of sense because I get so excited that I get ahead of myself. It still amazes me that they can sit there for a good hour, listening, looking interested and giving me feedback. As terrible as I am at it, verbalising my ideas really helps me to write them,” Thomson said.
Welcome to Blackwood was a finalist in the Queensland Writers Centre’s Adaptable competition, meaning that the finalists got to pitch their novel to film producers who had come from across Australia.
“As a debut author and someone who suffers from imposter’s syndrome, being shortlisted for Adaptable confirmed for me that my book being published wasn’t a fluke,” Thomson said.
“The world of film is so different from the literary world, and it was awesome to get a taste of what that world is like. Pitching to seven film producers felt like sitting through seven interviews and I really don’t do interviews. It was an opportunity to prove to myself that if I could successfully pitch my book, then I could do anything if I put my mind to it. I made some great connections that day and the fact that a Netflix-connected producer has asked for the Leaving Blackwood manuscript just blows my mind.”
Thomson is currently working on the third book in the series, although she admits she hit a roadblock when she started writing it and scrapped the first 30,000 words.
“I kept hitting blocks until I realised that what I’d written wasn’t true to the protagonist’s character. The pressure to write a finale better than the first two definitely added to that decision, but mostly, I’m a perfectionist and if I know it isn’t my best then it just won’t cut it. I’m about a third of the way through now and much happier with this draft,” Thomson said.
When asked about the fan base Welcome to Blackwood already has, Thomson said that positive feedback is what motivates her to keep writing. Reviewers and Bookstagrammers received advanced reader copies of the novel and were impressed by the sequel just as much, if not more, than Welcome to Blackwood.
“An epic and intoxicating blend of secrets, power play and rebellion. Thomson creates one hell of a sequel. She really is a rare talent!” Peta Carolan, @UnfoldedEdges, wrote in her testimonial.
“The author has expertly built upon characterisation established in Welcome to Blackwood, and Freya’s struggle to keep herself and her darker impulses in check is fascinating to read,” Nita Delgado, a reviewer for Hawkeye Publishing, wrote.
“Leaving Blackwood is just as thrilling as Welcome to Blackwood. Dangerous magic, unlikely allies and desperate choices made this a compelling read I didn’t want to put down,” Jenny DuRoss, @Bookbookowl, said in her testimonial for Leaving Blackwood.