On the launch of her new novel, Looking Past
Today, I’m delighted to welcome Katharine E. Smith back to the blog to celebrate the launch of her new novel, Looking Past. As well as being an author, Katharine runs Heddon Publishing – an independent publishing house – and works as a freelance proofreader, editor and copywriter.
She has a degree in Philosophy and a love for the written word. She works with authors all over the world and considers herself extremely privileged to do so.
A Yorkshire-woman by birth, Katharine now lives in Shropshire with her husband and their two children.
Q: Hello again Katharine. We’ve talked about the importance of book titles before. At what point during the writing of Looking Past did you come up with its title?
It came to me once the book was complete. I’d been using the working title Warning Signs but there are just too many books that share the name. Now I’ve come up with it, I love Looking Past.
Q: The protagonist in Looking Past is Sarah Marchley. What five words best describe her?
Strong, intelligent, funny, loyal, lonely.
Q: Is she the real hero of your story?
I think Sarah is a hero, but so is her dad, who I may have developed a bit of a crush on, come to think of it. Her mum – despite being dead for the duration of the story – is also a hero, which will make sense if you read the book.
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Q: Where is the book set and how did you decide on its setting?
The book is set in my home county of Yorkshire although, due to my long-standing love affair with Cornwall, there are also parts set there.
Q: Was Looking Past inspired by any real life events?
I’d say it was more inspired by real life characters than events, however I hasten to add that all characters are entirely fictional! Some have attributes borrowed from people I’ve encountered over the years. I’ve been far more sympathetic to one character in particular than I’d set out to be.
Sarah’s story really begins with the death of her mother and very sadly, while I was completing this book, one of my good friends who I’d known since the beginning of secondary school, died. While the book is in no way based on this, there are certain parts now which have an added poignancy, in particular as my friend was a mother.
Q: In which ways was writing the book transformative for you?
I have just loved writing this book. I think that, while I am very proud of my first novel (Writing the Town Read), Looking Past reflects the fact that I’ve grown up – at least a little – since that first book.
Q: You generally write in the genre of Contemporary Fiction. What can readers expect?
To date, my books have been very contemporary, real-feeling stories of young women. They tell the tale of a period of each protagonist’s life which has been formative, and transformative, for them. These are not fast-paced thrillers, neither are they chick lit or indeed just for women. However, I do believe that the stories will probably appeal to more female than male readers.
Q: We already know that you live in Shropshire, but how does your home and its environment influence your writing?
I don’t think I’m hugely influenced by my home and its environment. I find myself thinking of other places when I’m writing. The room I write in is often a mess. It’s not just an office but also the place where the seemingly endless junk of life, unwanted or broken toys and empty boxes which my husband is loathe to throw away, end up. Luckily I seem to be able to step past it all and plant myself firmly in the world I’m writing about.
Q: Do any of your books have dedications? If so, to whom and (if appropriate) why?
I have dedicated Looking Past to Gennie, my friend who died.
It was initially going to be dedicated to my parents, as parenthood is a key theme, but also to my parents-in-law, as a reassurance that the mother-in-law character is not a reflection on them! I’ve had to add that to the acknowledgements instead…
Q: Is your writing plot-driven or character driven?
Always character driven – which is not to say there is no plot.
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Q: Have you ever found that a book you were reading was influencing your writing style?
I work with a lot of other authors, but I try not to let their style seep in. It’s sometimes intense working on other people’s books, particularly when there’s a tight deadline. I published Rydon Hall for Alexander Games in the summer and I loved it. I wouldn’t say that my style is anything like that of Alexander’s, however I laughed a lot reading his book and I would like to think he’d find parts of Looking Past funny.
Q: Some writers need silence, others like the buzz of a coffee shop, the rumble of a train or their favourite music. Which type are you?
Silence. No interruptions. Other words, whether it’s somebody speaking, or even in a song, I find very distracting.
Q: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Both my published books have been first person but I’m going for third person for my third book. I’ll see how I get on with it.
Q: Finally, assuming you’re not superstitious, what are you working on at the moment?
I have written the first chapter of my third book, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it now Looking Past is complete and I feel I can start giving my attention to my new story. Without saying too much about it, the young female protagonist has gone out of the window for this one.
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