Welcome to the three hundredth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with prolific romance novelist Katie Fforde. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Katie. You have a Q&A on your website so I’ll try not to duplicate too much. Please tell us how you came to be a writer.
Katie: I became a writer – or an active one – I think writers are born, not made – after my mother gave me a writing kit for Christmas. She’d made it up herself and it was a sort of ‘put up or shut up’ present. I’d been talking about wanting to write for a while. This made me get on and do it.
Morgen: How lovely that you knew what you wanted to be. I didn’t have a clue, although I’ve always enjoyed English and making things up. ‘Recipe for Love’ is your 19th novel, is it still a thrill to see your books in print? Do you ever worry when you submit any of your manuscripts?
Katie: It’s always a thrill to see my books in print because when you’re writing them you never think they’ll be fit to print! I always have ‘submission anxiety’. Every time.
Morgen: That’s reassuring for those of us at the low single figures. Your books are available as eBooks, do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Katie: I do have a Kindle and I find them useful but would never choose a Kindle over a paper book from choice.
Morgen: Most people don’t – certainly the ones I’ve spoken to. They say they’d miss the feel of a book too much, although I must admit that I don’t like to damage a spine so I love my Kindle in that respect. I also tend to stick to short stories and have just finished (and enjoyed) ‘The Undercover Cook’. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Katie: I do as much as I can to help the marketing of my books. Although Twitter, which is supposed to be a marketing tool, is a pleasure. I don’t like marketing myself on it but I do love to chat!
Morgen: I think that’s actually the key. It’s well-known that those who only self-market get de-followed but building a rapport with an audience certainly earns an author respect and if the people they chat to are curious they’ll go and investigate, and hopefully buy. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, whom would you have as the leading actor/s?
Katie: Sometimes I like some books more than others. I like the ones with my children in them for example (Wild Designs, Paradise Fields) and also have a fondness for Love Letters. I just love the hero! My books are made into films for German TV and I like the actors but I don’t have specific people in mind when I write.
Morgen: I’ve been reading Love Letters and totally agree – Declan and Monica are my favourites. Do you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Katie: I think titles and covers are extremely important. I definitely have a say but always respect what my publishers think. I love my current covers.
Morgen: Me too – oh to be able to draw like that. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Katie: Currently I’m working on a book with an antiques background.
Morgen: Flora’s Lot features an auction house and I understand you worked in one as research. Are you usually so thorough or has your research process changed with the advancement of the internet?
Katie: I always like to be hands on when I do research. The internet is useful for the odd fact but you can’t get atmosphere from it.
Morgen: That’s very true, and of course you’re going to find differing opinions on a subject which doesn’t help. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Katie: I do have a rough outline and if I get stuck I write out a plotline.
Morgen: You’re best known for your novels but you also write short stories – apart from their lengths, do you find them very different to write and do you find them equally enjoyable?
Katie: I do enjoy writing short stories if I have an idea. If I don’t have an idea I flounder.
Morgen: You edited the anthology ‘Loves Me, Loves Me Not’ with Sue Moorcroft – how did that come about?
Katie: The Loves Me, Loves Me Not anthology was part of the RNA’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. It was great fun to work on. Sue Moorcroft knows everything there is to know about short stories.
Morgen: And judges them for Writer’s Forum magazine (and has taught me). Do you write any non-fiction or poetry?
Katie: I write the odd piece of non fiction but never poetry. I read it though!
Morgen: Considering how short some poetry can be, it’s really hard. Poetry is definitely for poets (she says, stating the obvious) – I do admit that I don’t ‘get’ it although I’ve never really been taught it so that probably doesn’t help. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Katie: I like third person best. I have done the odd short story in the first person which was fun. No, would never try 2nd person.
Morgen: Second person is definitely an acquired taste (I love it but then I write quite dark so suits it more). In your website’s Q&A you say what you love about being an author but what’s your least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Katie: I think my least favourite aspect of being a writer is being asked to read people’s unpublished novels. I love to help new writers but I don’t have time to read unpublished novels on the whole.
Morgen: Me neither so I came up with Short Story Saturdays where I review a short story a week and invite guest stories so I get to read my favourite format. Being so busy, do you have a way of ensuring you get enough writing time?
Katie: It is hard to get writing time so I arrange to go away for a writing stint each book. It’s the only way they get done.
Morgen: Minus Twitter presumably. 🙂 Well, thank you so much, Katie, for letting me eat into your time today. I hope your promotions for ‘Recipe For Love’ go well.
**** This interview is very timely. Katie won the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Contemporary Romantic Novel RoNa last night for her novel ‘Summer of Love’. Congratulations, Katie. ****
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