This week, I have the pleasure of featuring Author Kathleen Jowitt for this edition of A Perfect 10. Hurricane Irma stopped me from running this interview a week ago as scheduled.
Please enjoy this week’s installment of A Perfect 10
If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:
A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley, John Howell, Elaine Cougler, Jan Sikes, Nancy Bell, Nick Davis, Kathleen Lopez, Susan Thatcher, Charles Yallowitz, Armand Rosamilia, Tracey Pagana, Anna Dobritt, Karen Oberlaender, Deby Fredericks, Teri Polen, Darlene Foster, Robert Rayner, C.C. Naughton, Sherry Rentshler, Linda Bradley, Luna St. Clair, Joan Hall, Staci Troilo, Allan Hudson, Robert Eggleton, Paul Scott Bates, P.C. Zick, Joy Lennick, Patrick Roland, Mary Carlomagno
Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
At the beginning, it energizes me. Words generate words; I wake up in the night and know exactly what needs to happen next. I’m riding on the top of an exhilarating wave. After a while, the momentum dies away and it becomes more of a slog.
Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?
I’ve thought about it, if only for the reason that my middle names would work very well as one! (Adele Fox – it has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?) But then my own name is very distinctive and I like the idea of keeping all my original work under the same umbrella.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?
A certain amount of confidence is vital, particularly if one’s going to self-publish. One has to be willing to take responsibility for one’s own work, to say, yes, this is good enough to put out into the world, and there’s no room for false modesty in that. But the other side of that coin is that one also has to look at that same work with a very clear eye, to accept the idea that it might have faults and to do whatever is possible to correct those faults.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Membership of the Society of Authors. I don’t think I’d have come across the Betty Trask Prize without being on the mailing list, and that’s really changed everything. Being the first self-published author ever to win a Betty Trask Award gives me a credibility that I’d have had to struggle for otherwise. And they’ve been so supportive ever since.
What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?
Producing good quality work, and having others, whose judgement I trust, recognize it. And yes, I’ve been fortunate enough for that to happen. The judges for the Betty Trask Prize were Joanne Harris, Michèle Roberts, and Simon Brett. I spent several weeks in a sort of daze, murmuring, ‘Joanne Harris read my book. Joanne Harris… likes my book!’ Not to mention approval from friends whose taste I share. But really, if I’m not satisfied with the quality of my work, it doesn’t mean anything.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?
It depends on the subject matter. Usually it involves a lot of reading around the topic, finding personal accounts by people who have been in comparable situations. I always start out with good intentions about having in-depth knowledge of the subject before I start writing, but very often I find that the research itself prompts scenes or lines to come to my head, so I’m quite likely to be researching and writing at the same time.
How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?
Usually I pick names that appeal to me in some way and write the character to suit. I did once have to rename a character because I’d inadvertently chosen the exact same name as a senior member of staff in a future employer.
What is the hardest type of scene to write?
For me, anything descriptive. Dialogue flows naturally, but I have to go back through and put in all the action afterwards. My first drafts all consist of indeterminate colourless blobs engaging in conversations of sparkling wit.
If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
Whoever it was, I’d worry about making a fool of myself! I think I’d get some of the great opera singers together, the ones who died before the age of recording, and ask them to sing. I’d love to know what they really sounded like. Let’s say… Jenny Lind, Maria Malibran, and Farinelli. And I think Julie d’Aubigny would be an interesting dinner guest. Quite apart from being an opera singer, she eloped with a girl from a convent, set the convent on fire, and fought several duels. It might not be the world’s most successful dinner party, but it would definitely be memorable!
What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?
Probably Twitter, if only because it’s brought me into contact with authors and bloggers I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
About Kathleen’s Book:
A new year at the University of Stancester, and Lydia Hawkins is trying to balance the demands of her studies with her responsibilities as an officer for the Christian Fellowship. Her mission: to make sure all the Christians in her hall stay on the straight and narrow, and to convert the remaining residents if possible. To pass her second year. And to ensure a certain secret stays very secret indeed.
When she encounters the eccentric, ecumenical student household at 27 Alma Road, Lydia is forced to expand her assumptions about who’s a Christian to include radical Quaker activist Becky, bells-and-smells bus-spotter Peter, and out (bisexual) and proud (Methodist) Colette. As the year unfolds, Lydia discovers that there are more ways to be Christian – and more ways to be herself – than she had ever imagined.
Then a disgruntled member of the Catholic Society starts asking whether the Christian Fellowship is really as Christian as it claims to be, and Lydia finds herself at the centre of a row that will reach far beyond the campus. Speak Its Name explores what happens when faith, love and politics mix and explode.
More information on the book is available at www.kathleenjowitt.com/speak-its-name
The Amazon links are here (US) http://www.amazon.com/Speak-Its-Name-Kathleen-Jowitt/dp/0993533906 and here (UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Speak-its-Name-Kathleen-Jowitt/dp/0993533906/ – there are various other links on Kathleen’s web page.
Connect with Kathleen: