K D Grace: Walking the Story

Please help me welcome author K D Grace to the blog. K D's erotic novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly is available now from Xcite Books. She lives in South England with her husband and a back garden full of free-loading birds.

When I started writing The Initiation of Ms Holly, I had an idea of where I wanted to go with the story. I’d had my pivotal experience of being stuck in the dark in the Eurostar Tunnel, but it was a long way from that inspiring experience to the completed novel. As it turned out, my husband was away for two weeks in South Africa and we were having a spate of exquisite weather here in South England, so I had the perfect circumstances to walk the story.

The trail along the Wey Navigation runs near my house. It follows a canal which was used for transport for the wool industry before the advent of trains. Now the restored canal is used for pleasure boats, which move along only slightly faster than I can walk. This particular stretch of path passes the ruins of Newark Priory and a house where John Donne once lived. Mute swans float serenely on the water in the wake of the canal boats. In the summer dragon flies and butterflies flit to a glorious sound track provided by song thrushes and black birds.

Outside a pub in the village of Send, Rita Holly’s sexy experience in the pitch dark of the train came to life as I scratched and scribbled in my dog-eared notebook while the boats navigated the canal and, along the path, people walked dogs and children and sat patiently with fishing rods.

The next morning I walked to the ruins of the Chilworth Gunpowder Mill along the Tillingbourne River. All that remains now are grey walls draped in vine and ivy, archways that lead only into the darkened woods, and staircases that end in mid-air. As I studied the sharply angled shadows cast by sapling trees now growing in the ruined foundations, it was hard to imagine this place was once an industrial hub, the river harnessed and the woods cut and used for the charcoal needed to make gunpowder. Nature has taken back what’s rightfully hers and left ruins that made my imagination churn and squirm with excitement. What did this have to do with The Initiation of Ms Holly? Absolutely nothing. Nonetheless, when I got home the end of chapter one practically wrote itself, like it had waited politely until I finished my walk and my ruminations.

When the weekend arrived, I packed my notebook in my rucksack and headed to the North Downs Way. The landscape is varied along the route I had in mind, with views out over the chalk downs of verdant farmland and sleepy villages. Skylarks sang overhead so high in the sky that, at times, I could just make out the tiniest of black dots against the blue. It’s amazing how one tiny bird can flood the whole countryside with such a wild riot of trills and arpeggios.

As I walked amid the sights and sounds and smells of high summer, my imagination returned to the most exclusive night spot in London, The Mount, where Rita was about to meet Edward for their hot date. In the heavy summer heat, I walked through thick woodlands and across fields and heathland to drop into the village of Gomshall and The Compasses pub, a place that serves some of the best local ales in South England. I ordered my Sunday roast and a pint of Sheer Drop and found a table outside in the shade overlooking the Tillingbourne River. I ate my lunch while blindfolding Rita Holly and drenching her in champagne. I was well into my second pint by the time Rita was being tangoed all over the dance floor by the Mount’s hot dance instructor, Alex.

I walked fourteen miles that day, following the river back up through a lush beech woodland, thinking about Rita and Edward, thinking about Rita’s tasks for her initiation, thinking about Rita’s offer to get her sleazy boss an inside story on The Mount for his magazine.

Back home, after a shower and bite to eat, I wrote into the night. The better part of a bottle of carmenere later, I had a rough chapter by chapter synopsis of the whole novel, and I could barely contain my excitement.

The Initiation of Ms Holly is my finest example of walking the story. There’s something about picking up my feet and putting them down again and again that changes my thought process. I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation for it. I’m sure I don’t really slip into a time warp and commune with the fiction fairies. But whatever it is, it works for me. Walking always makes the writing better.

There’s an opening up that occurs when I walk. My mind thinks differently. It looks behind shrubs and under rocks, it sees the pattern of the poke-a-dots on the leaves of wild orchids, it hears the throaty chrrr of a green finch in a yew tree. And all of these things have absolutely nothing, yet absolutely everything to do with the story I’m writing at the moment, or the story I’m about to be inspired to write.

I get twitchy when I don’t walk, just like I do when I don’t write. The more I walk, the better I write, and the less time it takes me to write the cool stuff. Which leads me to think that maybe one of the most important parts of writing is what we writers do when we don’t write. I can easily forget that I write better when I walk, and yet when it comes back to me, when I put on my walking shoes and my rucksack and head off to the Downs, something inside me immediately knows that this is what needs to happen for me, not only to write well, but to live well.

Maybe we writers need to create an empty space in our over-crowded brains before we can fill it up with all the fabulous other-worlds that exist in our imaginations. Maybe our minds are too full of busy stuff. Walking is my way of emptying a space, letting it air out in the great outdoors, letting my feet lead me, one step at a time, to the place where story resides. And when I do that, the words come rushing back in to fill that space in ways I could have scarcely imagined. But that’s the real mystery, the real magic. The words come rushing back in ways I absolutely DO imagine, and the rest is just a matter of writing it all down.

About K D: K D Grace was born with a writing obsession. It got worse once she actually learned HOW to write. There's no treatment for it. It's progressive and chronic and quite often interferes with normal, everyday functioning. She might actually be concerned if it wasn't so damned much fun most of the time.

K D's erotic romance novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly, published by Xcite Books, is now available everywhere.

Her erotica has been published with Xcite Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, Erotic Review, Ravenous Romance, and Scarlet Magazine.

Her second novel, The Pet Shop, also published by Xcite Books, will be available in October 2011.

Find out more about K D Grace on her website, http://kdgrace.co.uk. She's also on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Thanks, Rebecca!

    It was lovely being on your site! I always love talking about writing, and add walking to that and I'm totally blissed out. Wishing you much writing success and fabulous encounters with the Muse.

    K D

  2. Thank you for coming on today, K D. I hope you can get some traffic here. :) It's a great posting.