Catherine King speaks to Hampshire Writers’ Society

Report by Lisa Nightingale

Not a Romance Novelist. Catherine King is a Professional Yorkshire Lass and Career Novelist.

Catherine writes (and is contracted to do so) a book a year. ‘It is achievable’, she says, ‘if you are writing full-time.’ Which as this is her career, she does.

Apr 15 Catherine KingChoose your genre and be prepared to stick to it. Eg. Historical Saga for Women.

She researched and learned the genre’s rules. Her heroines meet its criteria – vulnerable and strong. They need to be strong, as she adds with a wicked grin, ‘because I (the writer) am going to make it worse’. But Catherine does relent – she always gives the heroine a happy or at least promising ending.

‘Whatever your genre. Use what you know.’

The North is in Catherine’s blood. So, why go anywhere else? And this is where the Saga comes in. Each of Catherine’s novels is regional.

Having settled on her genre, she needed a period. Victorian times were thrilling and industrial. But, for women times were challenging. This gave Catherine’s characters an important, enticing trait – they had to be resourceful.

Not a Romantic Novelist – Catherine is a scientist!

Being a novelist is more fun.’

Catherine’s education taught her the rudiments of research and what to do with it. Local libraries and museums are teeming with tit-bits. At least three times during her talk she mused; ‘I must revisit that….’ But, she does admit to evidential espionage, a Hampshire health farm which had a beautiful setting was moved up north.

Always be nice. To everybody.’

Network! Catherine cannot stress enough the Importance of Networking. There is luck in publishing, but by Networking, you may increase your chances of netting it. Through a group of novelist friends Catherine was introduced to an agent.

Being a Career Novelist, Catherine endures much input from her publisher. The decision of the title and cover has been relinquished to the marketing department. And the publishers have even, once or twice weaseled the plot line and period to suit what they know will sell. The up-side of this though, is that when a drop in sales does happen – it is not Catherine’s fault. And she can and does play them at their own game. A new slant on a story poo-pooed by the publishers persuades them and her plot is agreed.

All this may sound a little stifling but it is these peoples’ business to know how to get a success and Catherine is successful. Plus being a writer is what Catherine has always wanted and she loves it.

Special Guest, Judith Heneghan, 

Director of the Winchester Writers’ Festival

Apr 15 JudithWriters! Come and Play said Judith Heneghan, Director of Winchester Writers’ Festival. The Festival is a safe environment – a workshop with an experienced lecturer.

Even for those not embroiled in their ‘big work in progress’ the one-to-one meetings are the brazen opportunity to pick the brains of knowledgeable writing doyens. Ask your questions. Gain inspired feedback.

But, there is also Hard Graft. The Festival is somewhere where the writer can find their audience. Perhaps even their agent. Connections have been forged here and will continue to do so. Networking formal or informal at the Festival surrounds the writer with people interested in ‘what we do’.

And after that crazy day’s workshopping and playing, join us for dinner and let the professionals do the work.

Come to see the Keynote Speaker, award-winning, best-selling  author Sebastian Faulks. Take away new friends to sustain you through the rest of the year until you can come to the festival again in 2016.

The festival dates 19th – 21st June 2015. More information about the workshops, talks, competitions, 750 one-to-one appointments can be found on the website.

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