Friday, 4 September 2015

An Interview with the Author Katharine Swartz

A very warm welcome to you Katharine, and can I thank you, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today.
Thank you! It’s a delight to ‘be’ here.

For the benefit of our International readers can you tell us a bit about the part of the world that you are currently resident in and why do you like living there?
I currently live in West Cumbria, which is a beautiful and remote place to live. I love the strong sense of community and also the feeling that you’ve turned back time a little when you come here, because it’s so isolated from the rest of England.
Can I ask what sort of books did you like reading as a child?
I read whatever I could get my hands on. 'Anne of Green Gables', 'A Little Princess', and 'Mandy' were some of my favourites.

Do you think the books that you read as a child have influenced your writing in any way?
I’m sure they have. The first book I wrote at eighteen years old was directly inspired by 'Anne of Green Gables'!

Do you have a set routine when you are working on a novel?
I usually have to let an idea percolate in my mind for awhile, and let the characters speak to me. Then I make an initial outline which usually changes more than once over the course of writing. I always write in a linear fashion, one chapter after another, with the endpoint in mind. 
Where do you do your writing best?
In my study without distractions!
What initially helped you decide to become a writer?
My father always encouraged me in my writing, from the time I was very small and he listened to my short (sometimes only a couple of sentences!) stories. He always believed I could be a published novelist and I’m so glad he’s seen me become one.

When you are writing a novel, how do you place yourself into the time period that you are actually writing about?
I try to read some books written in that time period, as well as magazines and newspaper articles, to get a feel for the period. It’s important to research a period with both primary and secondary sources.

How do you go about imagining, developing and give real lives and personalities to the characters that we read about within in your books?

I let them speak to me. Often I write in the first person voice of a character, and see what comes out. Creating a character is like unravelling a knot—it’s all there, you just have to have it untangled.

Did you encounter any difficulties in getting you books accepted and published?
Oh yes, I think every writer has! I’ve had plenty of rejections along the way, but I’ve persevered and I think anyone who wants to be published will too.
 Did you have to undertake any research for your novels?

I do quite a bit of research for my historical novels, because it’s very important to me to get the details right. It’s so easy to make a mistake with something small, but it can really yank readers out of a story.

What is your favourite book and why?
My favourite novel is ‘Remains of the Day’ by Kazuo Ishiguro, because it is so simple and yet so clever, and also so heartrendingly emotional in a restrained way.

Can you tell us a little bit about your fairly recently published book ‘The Lost Garden’?
The Lost Garden is a story about grief and forgiveness, and of course a garden. I uncovered my own lost garden in back of our house and that’s what initially inspired me to write the story.
Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?

I’m reading ‘I Let You Go’ by Clare Mackintosh.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from your normal routine and your writing?
 I love baking and gardening, although I’m not particularly good at either. I also love playing card and board games with my children. Settlers of Catan and Dixit are family favourites.

Can you give us a hint about any other books that you may have in the making at the moment?
I have a book being published soon called,’ Rainy Day Sisters’, which is also set in a small village in Cumbria. I am also hoping to write a third instalment in the Tales From Goswell, titled (at the moment) ‘The Second Bride’.
 What do you hope readers gain from your books?

The simple pleasure of reading, and a deeper understanding of what it is to be human.

Katharine, I have been absolutely delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be interviewed for my literary site. I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today.

Thank you! I’m delighted to have been asked, and I hope your readers enjoy ‘The Lost Garden’.


Book Synopsis
Lonely and stagnating in a soulless job, thirty-seven-year-old Marin Ellis is in need of a new start but she is not prepared for the one she is given, when, after her estranged father and his second wife die in a car accident, she is made guardian of her fifteen-year-old half-sister Rebecca.

The half-sisters are practically strangers, and their life in Hampshire is stilted and strange. At Rebecca's pleading they move to the picturesque village of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast, settling into the charming Bower House on the edge of church property. When a door to a walled garden captures Rebecca's interest, Marin becomes determined to open it and discover what is hidden beneath the brambles. She enlists the help of local gardener Joss Fowler, and together they begin to uncover the garden's surprising secrets.
In 1919, nineteen-year-old Eleanor Sanderson, daughter of Goswell's vicar, is grieving the loss of her beloved brother Walter, killed just days before the Armistice was signed. As winter passes into spring, her mood remains bleak despite her attempts to alleviate the emptiness she feels. When her father decides to hire someone to help Eleanor restore the once beloved, but now neglected, vicarage gardens, she is enchanted by the possibility of a new garden and the gardener her father hires, Yorkshireman Jack Taylor. Jack understands the nature of Eleanor's grief more than anyone else seems to, and as they spend time together, a surprising and unsuitable friendship unfolds...

The Lost Garden is a luminous novel about tragic secrets, the chance for forgiveness, and the healing that can come from a new start.

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