Kate Charles chats with us about writing, books, and advice she’d give her younger self.
1. What was your favourite book when you were little?
That depends on how little! My first favourite book was ‘Katie the Kitten’, though I quickly moved beyond that. Later it was anything English, from Alice to Peter Pan to Wind in the Willows.
2. Whose writing has influenced yours?
Barbara Pym and P.D. James. And probably a thousand other writers whose work I’ve enjoyed and subconsciously absorbed.
3. What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Something I was pretty surprised about myself: as a lifelong Anglophile, with a great interest in British history, I always regretted that my family roots – from what I knew about them, anyway – were primarily German rather than British. But an Ancestry DNA test last year led me down paths of genealogical research to some totally unexpected results, and I discovered that my ancestors include a large number of English, Scottish and Welsh monarchs!
4. What advice would you give your younger self when you were just starting out as an author?
Be true to yourself – write what you want to write, not what someone else tells you is commercial or what you observe is trendy. If your writing comes from your heart, the reader will be able to tell the difference. And when it comes to your colleagues: be kind, be generous. It’s so easy to get caught up in envy of other writers’ successes. There’s room for everyone, and it costs nothing to be kind.
5. What advice would you give anyone who would like to write for a living?
Find yourself a rich spouse! I jest, but if the ‘living’ part of the question is important, the hard truth is that writing is not a well-paying occupation for any but the fortunate few. So if you do intend to write 'for a living', you must love writing so much that you’re prepared to devote a lot of hours to doing it for a very paltry financial return. For most writers, the reward is in the joy of writing – of having the privilege of producing something that, with any luck, other people will read and find meaningful. But don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not hard work.