Is Adine a sleuth? Let's find concrete evidence
I was plannning on telling a construction joke... but I'm still working on it. Okay, enough of the bad jokes. This week, it's my pleasure to interview Allyson Koekhoven, an author from Kwazulu-Natal. I first "met" her in an online group for Christian writers, and today, Allyson released her debut novel, Under Construction, which introduces Adine du Toit, an amateur sleuth.
How did you become an author? Please tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to where you are today.
I told my parents, at the tender age of six, that I wanted to write a book. It took almost five decades before I started the ball rolling on the writing process. Admittedly, I had completed several writing courses about 13 years ago, but I lacked the motivation and confidence to put my plan into action. I have been a business-to-business writer since 1982 so creating content is not a drudge for me, but the thought of writing a novel paralysed me. After reading a post by a Facebook friend about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month) in 2018, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and put pen to paper. I managed to churn out 53 000 words that November and in a fits-and-starts process finally completed the first draft last year. Encouragement from fellow authors in the Christian Writers Support Group of Southern Africa has been immensely valuable to me during the whole endeavour and has resulted in me making many treasured new friendships.
I'm so happy that you got it done, and that you found a supportive writing community. It makes all the difference. So what three words would you use to describe yourself?
Enthusiastic, sensitive, talkative.
Would you rather be without the internet for a week or without your phone?
I would have to say my phone as I use the Internet daily to conduct research for both my B2B work and for my creative writing.
How do you keep busy when you are not writing?
I love reading (show me a writer who doesn’t!) and when I have the chance, I go scuba diving. To me, that’s the ultimate way of putting your complete trust in God’s grace as you have to rely totally on your breathing equipment (regulator and cylinder) and prayer! It’s an amazing privilege to be able to see the ocean’s creatures in their natural habitat. I’ve also recently become a first-time grandmother, so I try and steal as much time staring into his little face and praising God for sending this precious bundle to us.
That's such an interesting hobby. I'm sure you have plenty of stories to share on scuba diving alone. You probably also work up quite an appetite. Now, if you could invite three people (dead or alive) to dinner, who would you pick and why?
Matthew the tax collector. I’d love to interview him and find out about his transition from tax collector to a passionate disciple of Christ. What an incredible story!
Shakespeare. Writer extraordinaire. I’d love to pick his brains on his writing process; where he gathered his ideas and how his works have managed to survive through multiple generations (remember a young Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo & Juliet?).
Agatha Christie. As an avid mystery story reader, I cannot think of any other author in that genre who has had such a huge influence on my writing life. I exhausted all the copies of her works at my local library while I was in my teens and have no problem re-reading them repeatedly. That, of course, can also be attributed to the fact that my memory is not what it used to be!
What an interesting trio. I can imagine the dinner conversation would be quite lively.
Under Construction is your first novel. What's the inspiration behind it and how long did it take you to write?
I worked in the construction sector for almost 20 years (in corporate PR and later as a magazine editor). I spent a lot of time on site and found the glass ceiling was very apparent for women at the time. I believe things have changed somewhat since then, which is very encouraging. I wanted to highlight how a strong, intelligent woman could make her way in this typically male-dominated field, without losing her femininity.
Sounds like a tough task. Tell us about your main character Adine. Why would readers like her?
Adine is a feisty, larger than life civil engineer who has very strong opinions on life. She is extremely independent and does not suffer fools. While some may find her overbearing and irritating at times, she will appeal to others who can see beneath the hard shell to the vulnerability she is trying so hard to hide.
Is there a phrase she repeats often or does she have a motto she lives by?
She believes that she can achieve everything on her own strength.
What other projects are you working on, by when can readers expect it?
Under Construction is the prequel to a series of cosy mystery novels which is currently in the planning stages. I am concurrently plotting the first book in the series which I will start writing next month and I hope to finish the first draft in the next six months. Given an average time of four to six months after that for self-editing, beta reading, editing and ARC reading, I'm hoping to have the next book out by this time next year. If things go well, it will hopefully be ready for publication sooner than that!
That's great. Good luck with the writing. Finally, where can readers find your book?
I’m launching the book online (Amazon KDP) today and the hard-copy version will launch in mid to late August.
Check out Allyson's book here:
Connnect with her here:
Facebook – AllysonKoekhoven.writes
Instagram – allysonkoekhoven.writes
Twitter – allysonkwrites