Hi Katie, can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Katie Ward, I’m an author, and I’m based in Suffolk with my husband and my cat.
Ah, Suffolk; a lovely part of the world! How long have you been writing?
I had sparks of writing excitement at school and college, but I began writing seriously at the age of 20.
What first got you interested in writing?
My taste in books evolved at university when I began reading more widely than I’d done before. I had an idea for a novel which took hold until I just wanted to write it out my system.
Do you attend a writing group?
I don’t attend anything personally. I’m someone who needs to absorb myself in my work without interruption or the doubt that comes with too many voices giving you feedback. I like to support writing groups though because I know they do work for lots of people. I’ve been a guest speaker at several.
What genre(s) do you write?
Well, I’m published by Virago, so I guess that makes me a writer of ‘women’s fiction’ which is a bit vague. My debut novel, Girl Reading, doesn’t fit easily into a specific genre. It starts in Medieval Italy, working up through different historical eras into the present day, and beyond.
What types of things do you write?
Novels, though some people think Girl Reading is short stories (I don’t mind that). Can’t write poetry, I’m terrible at it.
You mentioned earlier that you were a published author; can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yes! Girl Reading is published by Virago in the UK and Scribner in the United States. It’s a novel in seven chapters, each with a contained story about a painting or a photograph of a woman reading a book. It’s available at all good retailers, and a few disreputable ones no doubt.
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers? Have you received any rejections?
Girl Reading is my first published book, but I’ve got a whole other unpublished novel that I sent literally everywhere and have a heap of rejection slips to prove it. Any writer looking to find an agent should know that rejection slips are a rite of passage. We’ve all been there. Don’t give up.
Are you interested in eBooks, or do you prefer the old fashioned paper-made books?
There are clear accessibility advantages with eBook readers, like making the font size larger, and being able to store dozens of books in one handy place. However, I do worry about the longevity of eBook readers, whereas we know tree-books can last for hundreds of years. I personally prefer being able flick forwards and back, and seeing a beautiful cover design in all its glory. I like the way paper absorbs some of the places it’s been read: a coffee stain from a cafe for example; or a spot of sunscreen and grains of sand wedged into the binding from when you took it on holiday.
How do you come up with your characters’ names and personalities?
If I need to I’ll resort to a baby name book to find the right one, but characters’ personalities should ideally emerge from the subconscious. Trusting your intuition is very important.
What is your writing routine? Do you write daily or just when you feel like it? Is there a certain time of day where you are at your most creative?
I work office hours, a habit I carried over from the public sector into my writing career. When I’m not researching or editing I aim to write 800 words per day. So again, as with the public sector, targets are still very much part of my life.
Do you start out with a complete idea, or do you just write and hope for the best?
I believe absolutely in planning it. I have a start point, an end point, and I work out all the milestones I need to hit along the way. The risk of not planning is that you’ll have to junk huge amounts of work at the editing stage.
Do you have an editing process? Do you have someone else read over your work?
But of course. It’s essential to redraft, edit and rewrite until you can’t do it anymore. I’m constantly reworking on the screen and the page. When you’ve done as much as you can do, then it’s time to look for an agent or editor who can help you bring it to the next level – and that’s like starting over. You should polish your manuscript until it shines.
It’s important to read, but it’s also important not to become a book bore. Art was a huge inspiration for Girl Reading, but I try to be interested in lots of things. Current affairs, politics, theatre, economics, silent movies, true stories, anything can potentially inspire a writer. It’s vital to maintain contact with real people too.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to writing?
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Read Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. Practice. And Practice.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
It’s a love-hate thing.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
It’s extremely important to share my writing with those individuals who’ll glean something positive from it. I think it’s why we make art. Communication.
Have you ever attended an open mic night for spoken word performers?
Yes, at Ip-art.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
When I was young and earnest. Not recently.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
Theatre, art, food. I like DVDs, especially classy American dramas like Mad Men. I’m currently learning how to play tennis, but I’m hopeless at it.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It’s perfect.
What types of things do you read?
Historical fiction and women’s fiction are safe bets for me, but I think writers should read widely. Being in a book group is a good way to do this, for example. I love Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, it’s one of my very favourite books. I read Just Kids by Patti Smith earlier this year which is sensational and destined to become a classic. I love Sarah Waters, Hilary Mantel and Virginia Woolf. And for heart-warming nonfiction, I recommend A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen.
Do you have any favourite lines from novels/plays/poetry/songs, or any favourite literary quotes?
Try again. Fail again. Fail better. – Samuel Beckett
What are you working on at the moment?
My second novel. It’s top secret, but I can tell you it’s involved a lot of research.
Ooh that sounds exciting! Do you have a website/blog/twitter/facebook dedicated to your writing?
I have a very nice website if you’d like to know more about me and my work. http://www.katieward.co.uk/
It has my Notebook on it which is sort of bloggy. http://www.katieward.co.uk/?page_id=141
Facebook, here. http://www.facebook.com/katiewardwriter
Twitter is my weakness. I tweet rather too much. https://twitter.com/katiewardwriter
Sometimes I take a break from social networks just to focus on the writing for a while. It’s great to connect with people, but it’s sooo distracting.
Take a break from social networking?? I'm not sure I understand what you mean!! Ha! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for inviting me onto your website. Happy reading and book blessings,Would you be able to provide a piece of your writing?
An extract from Girl Reading can be found here. http://www.katieward.co.uk/?page_id=47Thank you very much, Katie.