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Crime thrillers came from Katherine’s writing studies


Zoe Satherley
20 July 2007
People sometimes argue that writing courses have little worth as it’s quite possible to be published with no formal training, but author Katherine Howell believes her studies at Southern Cross University laid the foundation for her success as a crime novelist.

Katherine will be one of the University’s ‘writers-in-residence’ during this year’s Byron Bay Writers Festival. The University is a major sponsor of the three-day Festival, which opens next Friday, July 27. She will also give a talk about the process of becoming a published author at the University next Wednesday, July 25.

“It’s not as if it’s a necessary qualification in the same way that a nursing or medical degree is necessary,” said Katherine “but I do think a writing course has a great deal to offer a student.

“Helping with the production of the student anthology (during her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Writing studies), gave me experience in reading and evaluating manuscripts, and that same anthology put two of my stories in print. Having deadlines meant you could not simply sit about and dream of being a writer – you actually had to do it.

“Being surrounded by others who valued reading and writing as much as I did was tremendous. The writing teachers were a constant source of encouragement. The fact that students can choose several units from different schools of the University, and even from different universities, allowed me to spend a couple of semesters studying law and forensic science, and to create independent study units where I set my own goals regarding the development and writing of my novel and handed in large sections for assessment.”

Katherine has just released her first crime thriller, ‘Frantic’, through Pan Macmillan and her second novel, ‘Panic’, is awaiting publication. She wrote most of ‘Frantic’ while working full-time as an ambulance officer in the Tweed region, drawing heavily on her personal experiences to create crime-solving paramedic Sophie Phillips, the book’s central character.

Katherine said she valued her time at Southern Cross University because of the benefit of a formalised process of examining a wide range of writing and analysing what works and how it does so.

“Some developing writers might do this on their own but I suspect many wouldn’t. Having the guidance of an experienced teacher, a writer in their own right, while you do this is invaluable,” she said.

“A course can’t guarantee that a writer will be published at the end, but I believe it can help that writer improve their craft, practice their skill, and polish their work.”

Katherine will be reading from ‘Frantic’ and discussing the process of becoming a published author in the library at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus from 12-1pm on Wednesday, July 25. ‘Frantic’ will be available to purchase.

In another pre-festival event, acclaimed Lennox Head author and illustrator of 20 books, Martin Chatterton, will give a talk about the interaction between illustration and words in the University library on Tuesday, July 24 from 12-1pm.

Photo: Novelist and ambulance officer Katherine Howell will speak at Southern Cross University in the lead-up to the Byron Bay Writers Festival. For more information about Southern Cross University writing courses ring 1800 626 481 or check out