– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Common Cause’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
Kate Hunter was born in Edinburgh and lives in Milton Keynes. She left school at 15, working in the printing industry and as a tutor in trade union education. Her novels are based in part on the experiences of her own family.
It’s 1915 and Britain is at war as Kate Hunter’s sequel to The Caseroom – shortlisted for the 2017 Saltire First Book Award – opens on the next stage in the lives of Iza Orr, skilled compositor, and the workers in Edinburgh’s print industry. At a time of momentous events, we step alongside Iza as she copes with unexpected complexities of patriotism, women’s suffrage, worker victimisation and a historic wartime lockout. `It seems the country needs starched cloth-lappers and lunatic asylum attendants, but it does not need books, does not need learning and intellectual stimulation.’ Printers are denied reserved occupation status but, with bankruptcies looming, the jobs of Edinburgh’s dwindling number of female hand typesetters are on the line. Riven by challenges both political and personal, Iza must weather conflicting calls for loyalty to nation, to class, to gender, to family – her marriage to troubled John, her children, her estranged daughter Mary, now a grown woman – to discover her true common cause.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Since we’re not face to face, I’ll tell you something I’m embarrassed about. I’ve got wallies.
To save you from looking that up, I’ll tell you my parents’ generation all got full sets as soon as they were free on the NHS. I’ve had a partial set since my teeth disintegrated when I was twenty and pregnant. My teenage friend Bernadette got a full set when she was 18, so I’ve done pretty well to hang on to a few of my own.
Becoming an author was easy and hard: easy because I feel most myself – and forget myself – when I’m writing; hard because you need an income and freedom to let your work jubble away in your head day and night and I had to get to state pension age before I managed it. It’s never too late it you’re lucky enough to live that long.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
The first book I loved was Pookie Puts the World Right. My big sister won it at school for ‘general excellence’ and she read it to me. Pookie, a winged rabbit, was ahead of his time. With the help of fairies, he saved his woodland environment. I don’t remember having my own books, but my dad took us to the library. Me and my chums had befriended ponies that a horse dealer kept in a field near our housing scheme, and I loved stories about wild mustangs getting caught and suffering lashes before breaking free.
After my father died when I was in my teens, I read my eldest sister’s Grapes of Wrath and cried my eyes out. I learned Keat’s ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ off by heart because Keats knew about heartache. After reading all of Steinbeck, it was on to Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Isaac Babel, Samuel Beckett, Flannery O’Connor, Zola – weighty stuff and decidedly odd for someone who left school at 15. Right now I’m working through my local library’s novels from other countries (in translation). Sometimes it’s on recommendation, but often I just look for foreign names. I read a lot of factual history books too. I’m re-reading Ronald Fraser’s Blood of Spain, an amazing oral history of Spaniards’ recollections of revolution and civil war.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I often dip into Flannery O’Connor’s collected letters. While in some ways we couldn’t be more different – she a passionate Catholic and a landowner in the US deep South, me an agnostic socialist council house tenant in Milton Keyes – I love her singular character and sharp intelligence and wit. Because she was more-or-less bedridden, a lot of her struggles with her craft went into her letters. Generally, though, nothing helps like reading, reading and more reading, sometimes purely for pleasure, sometimes with your critical ear switched on.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
When I was a lot younger it would have been Alyosha from Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamozov because I didn’t half fancy him, though it wouldn’t have been tea I’d have been offering him. Now? Alyosha, to see if I still fancy him – and it would be tea.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I have a weird need to set myself deadlines of certain dates of the month: the sixteenth is a favourite, with multiples of three months for, say, redrafting. I can get pretty worked up as the sixteenth of the third month approaches before I convince myself a day, a week, here or there makes no odds. I also tend to rock on my ergonomic kneeler stool a fair bit, which stops my back from aching, but there’s probably other reasons I’d rather not think about.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried?
People, past and present, going about their lives are the source, so it’s a matter of trying to be receptive wherever you are.
There’s plenty in the world to worry about. I don’t think what I write will be on their list.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
My novels are based on actual events, so that to an extent dictates what happens. But then there’s what you select, what you choose to foreground, to dramatise. For me, the developing dynamic of characters’ relationships determines the flow.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’t’s)?
Enjoy it and don’t worry. You’re the only you and nobody else can write what you can. And E. L. Doctorow says to delete every non-essential ‘the’. That’s quite useful.
What are your future plans as an author?
I’ve got short stories and a long poem that I think are worth more work. I did start to write the story of one of the minor characters in The Caseroom and Common Cause and he’s been knocking on my brain.
Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, please?
I can’t really give a teaser, given the nature of the novel. Common Cause is rooted in fact and therefore some readers will have an inkling of events around the time the book is set (1915), especially if they have already read The Caseroom. Sorry!
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Kate Hunter.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!