Author Interview with Katherine Macdonald

Author Interview with Katherine Macdonald

interviewed on Nov 8, 2019 Folkestone
Q. How would you describe yourself?
An eccentric Brit, and English teacher, a lover of cake and cats. I've been a reader since I was a child. One of my earliest memories is watching my parents disappear behind the pages of a book and longing to join them. Becoming a writer was inevitable.
Q. Tell us something about the books that you have written and the story behind them.
My debut novel is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. It was inspired by my love of fairy tales and far too long teaching Angela Carter. The traditional tales have a beauty to their simplicity, but the context makes them problematic; it has never sat well with me, for example, that the Beast imprisons Beauty- even if he doesn't treat her like a prisoner. I wanted to erase those elements and highlight others: I love the slow-burning romance and the mystical castle. Despite being one of the few fairy tales that doesn't feature "insta-love" it still seems like love story is a little rushed!
Q. What place does writing hold in your life, how has been your writing journey so far?
My writing journey has been long one. It started when I was 12 when I wrote a truly terrible Harry Potter-inspired story. It was followed by several more "failed" attempts- but from each one, something was learned. I went to Lancaster University in 2008, where I studied creative writing, but it was many years later when I got the idea for my first standalone novel. It was only surviving a year of motherhood that I plucked up the guts to publish it! I figured if I could go back to work with only 6 hours sleep a night, I could do anything.
Q. What is your writing process, a typical writing day routine?
I have a full time teaching job and a 1-year-old, so I only have a couple of hours after he's asleep in which to write! I use it very wisely and set myself SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-orientated) targets like I would the students. My typical goal is to write 500 words in an hour, but I often go beyond this. Sometimes the targets will be "edit chapter x" "re-write opening to..." "bullet point out words for..." but I always have them. I find it really helps to keep my writing on track and I feel much more productive for a checklist! (I am such a teacher...)
Q. What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Engaging with a lot of twitter-based activities at present; this is where most of my sales come from. There's a lot of shameless plugging involved. I'm looking to get some amazon advertising up and running soon.
Q. What do you think makes a book sell, or makes a reader buy it?
For me, it's the free excerpt. If it's got a semi-decent rating and I like the premise, the first page is the clincher. Do I like the writing style? Does it flow easily? Do I want to continue reading?
Q. What's the most moving or affecting thing a reader has said to you?
Always "I couldn't put it down". I know I'm doing something right then. I had an old school friend get back in touch with me after reading it to tell me just that, and wrote a lovely review titled "SO FREAKING GOOD." I like to know that my work is enjoyable, and that someone has disappeared into the world I created as surely as I have done with so many books that I have read.
Q. What are your favourite three books, and why?
Harry Potter. It's the ultimate nostalgia fest, and has everything in it that I adore. Magic, adventure, mystery? Check. Classic good vs. evil themes? Check. Humour? Check. Well written characters? Check.

Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. This dark, twisted and beautifully written anthology changed my entire writing style and showed me a different side to the "fairy tale" genre.

Anything by Shakespeare. His language use is phenomenal. "Much Ado" is probably my favourite for the witty dialogue between Beatrice and Benedick. We'll forget about the problematic Claudio...
Q. Who are your favourite three authors and what do you like the most about them?
Angela Carter for her beautiful prose. JK Rowling for her warmth and humour. Shakespeare for his skillful manipulation of the English language and excellent witty banter!
Q. Tell us about the books that you are currently writing and their progress.
I'm a 3rd of the way through the 1st draft of a new YA story. It's called the Phoenix Project and is about a genetically engineered superhuman, raised to be the perfect soldier. She escapes from the lab that made her and vows to one day return and burn the place to the ground. It's quite different to my previous work, and very philosophical. It features a diverse cast and attempts to answer some tough questions: what makes us human? Do some people have more of a right to life than others?
Q. What challenges do you think are faced by writers, what's the worst thing about the book industry according to you?
I think the biggest challenge is getting traditionally published, when writers currently outnumber publishers by the hundreds. It's a really tough industry to break into, and it can be very disheartening to face continuous rejection, particularly without feedback.
Q. Apart from writing, what goals do you want to achieve in life?
I want to continue to teach and inspire a love of learning in others. I want to teach my son to be a good person. I want to help people find themselves, their talents, and their own way in life.
Q. At QwertyThoughts.com, we are trying to bring authors and readers under the same roof, to connect, discuss and socialize over books. What's your take on this?
Sounds like a excellent idea! What's not to love about that?
Q. What message do you want to share with budding writers?
It's a cliche, but... don't give up! Believe in yourself, be brave and get your work out there! What have you got to lose?
(Also... listen to feedback! Constructive criticism is a GOOD thing!)

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