I love the research for a new book, and have to put a time limit on myself – each new question and bit of information sparks off new lines of enquiry. Writing about recent history is fantastic, because people are still alive who lived through WW2. I spoke to veterans, spent months in archives and museums. I watched endless black and white films (no hard task …), and immersed myself in the music, novels and art of the time.
Can you tell us something about a typical writing day for you?
It’s an early start to the day here – I drop the children at school just after 7am, and work until 1pm. If I’m researching, I’ll go for a run and a swim first thing, then read and make notes. If I’m in the middle of writing, it’s straight to my desk at 7.30am. Then after the children are asleep, if my husband is away (he’s a longhaul airline pilot), I’ll work late into the night revising and editing manuscript pages.
What is your favourite part of writing the book, apart from the bit where you see it on the bookshelves?
It was amazing seeing the review copy – the first time the book looked like a ‘book’. That’s when the whole process seemed real for the first time. Now, it’s incredible hearing from people who have read ‘The Beauty Chorus’, and reading the reviews. It feels like the book has taken on a life of its own and people are making it their own.
Because my books have a lot of historical research, I have a strong ‘scaffold’ that each story hangs on – I need to know the story arc pretty clearly. However, I don’t plot in minute detail because I like to have room for the story to grow, and the characters to change and develop. I think it’s close to magic when the story and characters start to surprise you.
Are there any How To books you could recommend for an aspiring writer?
You can’t go wrong with Dorothea Brande, or Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ – they are both great basics. Lajos Egri’s ‘Art of Dramatic Writing’ is also extremely good. For nuts and bolts advice about the business of writing, Carole Blake’s ‘From Pitch To Publication’ is superb.
Great choices. Finally, if there was any piece of advice you could give an unpublished writer, what would it be?
Persevere. Rejection is all part of the writing journey, and if your first articles or stories aren’t picked up, keep writing. Every story, every novel you write you learn more and your writing gets better. Don’t try and write for a market – write what you love, what inspires you. No one can predict what ‘the next big thing’ is going to be and trends come and go – but if you write from the heart, that will come through in your work.
Kate studied Philosophy at Durham University, and Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is currently taking a Masters degree. She worked as an art consultant, curating collections for palaces and embassies in Europe and the Middle East, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She was a finalist in UK ITV’s the People’s Author competition in 2009. Her debut novel ‘The Beauty Chorus’ is published by Atlantic in 2011.
‘The Beauty Chorus’ is published by Corvus, Atlantic 1/4/11 http://thebeautychorus.blogspot.com
Blogs: What Kate Did Next http://katelordbrown.blogspot.com
Ask Evie http://thebeautychorus.blogspot.com