Can you believe it? An interview with the great Kate just in time for Easter (and no I’m not talking about Australia’s favourite LOTR elven Queen). Kate has written a number of books for a wide range of genres and audiences. This is my first ever author interview and I am very lucky that Kate agreed to take the time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about her writing.
1. You have written a number of popular series for both adults and children. How do you feel when you finish a series and do you ever think about writing new stories set in those worlds?
Oh, yes, I always have ideas for new books set in that world when I finish- I often know who my characters are going to marry and all sorts of other things that never make it into the book. However, sequels are not always the best idea I’ve got- I have so many ideas all the time and so I always try and choose the one which will make the best story.
As for how I feel- I’m both very happy and very relieved, but also sad. There’s always a period of grieving after each book is finished, and a time when I feel anxious for the book and how it will be received.
2. How visual are you when writing your books? How much do you plan out a novel? (Submitted by Ben)
I have a strong visual imagination and so I have to ‘see’ a scene before I can write it. It feels a little like watching a film and writing down what happens as I see it. This means I have to fully imagine the scene before I can write, and so I spent a lot of time daydreaming about the story, imagine it, wondering about my characters and what they look like and so on.
I plan my stories but not comprehensively. Normally I need my title, my opening scene, my opening line and quite a few key scenes along the way before I begin to write.
3. Do you workshop your writing with other people in the early drafting stages? If so, with who? (submitted by Rhiannon)
No, I have never workshopped my novels and I never shall. I don’t show my work to anyone until I have the novel as perfect as I can make it. I do talk over my novels with my sister, though, and we each have helped each other solve problems or overcome obstacles as a result. My sister is a writer too- her name is Belinda Murrell and she has written numerous wonderful books for children.
4. Does living in the Manly area inspire your work? Are there any scenes from your books that you can point us to that are inspired by where you live?
I love walking along the ocean front a few times a week, I find that very calming and inspiring. There are some scenes set in my novel, Full Fathom Five, which was published under my maiden name, Kate Humphrey, but strangely enough I wasn’t living near Manly when I wrote that book.
5. Would you ever consider writing a fantasy script after the success of Game of Thrones? Would you say yes to a film or tv option of your books? (Submitted by Ben)
I’d love one of my books to be turned into a film or tv show and so, yes, if the offer was amenable I would agree to selling an option. I would have to trust the director and producer however, and I’d like some imput into the project. I may even be interested in working on the script depending on what deadlines I have looming over me!
6. As an ex History Honours student I am always intrigued by the so called ‘Is History Fiction?’ debate, in particular the reactions of some historians to authors of historical fiction. For example, Kate Grenville was criticised by Inga Clendinning and Mark McKenna for her comments on her historical novel, The Secret River. Do you have an opinion on the whole thing? Are you a historian and a story teller when working on books like Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl?
I am first and foremost a novelist, which means I create fictional worlds. Nonetheless, I try as much as possible to stick to the facts as I understand them. I believe it is my job to bring the world of the story so fully to life so that my readers feel as though they had been there themselves, feeling all the joy and suffering that my characters feel. I believe historical novels do more to illuminate the past than dry history books because the readers experience the events of the book as if they were inhabiting the skin of the characters- this means they feel as if they were actually there. I rely heavily on the works of other historians for my research, but I am always searching for the emotional truth hidden behind the facts.
7. Even in your fantasy books, it is evident that you put a lot of research into your novels. Why do you see research as so important to your stories?
Research helps me to fully immerse myself in the time and place of my story. It helps me discover the voice of the novel, gives me plot ideas, and helps me find that telling detail that brings a story to life. I love researching- as I always say, it is simply reading with a purpose.
On Being a Reader…
8. What is your opinion of books like 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight? Do you read them? (Submitted by J.C.)
I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey because its simply not my kind of book. I have nothing against romance novels- in fact, I read a lot of them, though usually historical romances. I have nothing against novels with a high level of sensuality either. In fact, I enjoy a good boddice ripper and many of my books have a few saucy scenes. I was a little concerned about the sexual politics of the book, however, after reading a number of reviews and listening to what people had to say about it. I probably would have read it for curiosity’s sake if I was not so unbelievably busy at the moment and if most of my reading time wasn’t taken up with research for my doctorate.
I have read Twilight and I enjoyed it. I thought it was very cleverly structured for maximum suspense, and I think I’d have loved it if I’d been a teenage girl with romantic yearnings when I read it. I didn’t go on and read the rest of the books in the series, probably because I don’t much like vampire novels, but I certainly defend it when I hear people deriding it.
And a final challenge…
9. What’s a question about your writing or your books that you’ve never been asked before but you’ve always wanted to answer?
Have any of your books ever been inspired by a dream?
10. Now answer it!
Yes, many of them, in fact. Sometimes the dream provides the first flash of an idea, somtimes a dream offers up the solution to a problem in a novel I am writing, and sometimes what I am writing about invades my sleeping hours and give me dreams, some of which are truly horrible nightmares. The door between my subconscious and conscious mind seems to swing open more easily than most people, perhaps because I have always remembered my dreams and listened to them.
Thanks so much for your time, Kate!
Kate Forsyth is the author of over 20 books for both adults and children, including Bitter Greens, The Puzzle Ring, The Gypsy Crown, and The Witches of Eileanan. Kate is currently at a number of events promoting her new novel, The Wild Girl. You can find her at;
Her website: http://www.kateforsyth.com.au/Appearances
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateForsyth