Hi everyone! Today I’m so pleased to welcome Kate Beaufoy to the blog to discuss her writing and her fabulous new novel ANOTHER HEARTBEAT IN THE HOUSE which was published on 2nd July 2015 by Transworld Books.
Look out for my review which is posted on Monday, 6th July and add it to your TBR!
July 2nd 2015 | Transworld | Goodreads |
Two women living a hundred years apart. One home that binds them together.
When Edie Chadwick travels to Ireland to close up her uncle’s lakeside lodge, it’s as much to escape the burden of guilt she’s carrying as to break loose from the smart set of 1930’s London.
The old house is full of memories – not just her own, but those of a woman whose story has been left to gather dust in a chest in the attic: a handwritten memoir inscribed with an elegant signature . . . Eliza Drury
As she turns the pages of the manuscript, Edie uncovers secrets she could never have imagined: an exciting tale of ambition, hardship, love and tragedy – a story that has waited a lifetime to be told. . .
Hi Kate –
Thanks so much for agreeing to come on the blog.
Thank you so much for having me
– First off, can you tell my readers a little about yourself
When I was a tiny child, I invented a family who lived under the pear tree at the bottom of the garden. I was the head of the family, and I called myself Mrs Patterson. To my mother’s embarrassment, I refused to answer to any other name, even in public. That was the start of my involvement in the world of the imagination, and it’s a world I have inhabited ever since. I have dedicated Another Heartbeat in the House to Mrs Patterson
Your new novel, ANOTHER HEARTBEAT IN THE HOUSE is stunning. What was the inspiration behind the plot and setting?
Thank you for the praise!
The house of the title is a real house, built in 1840, and you can read about it in the afterword to the book. Ireland was at that time on the verge of an appalling famine, and the discrepancy between rich and poor was frightful, especially in Cork, where the novel is set. While researching the period, I learned that on a voyage to Ireland, William Thackeray’s wife had thrown herself overboard the steamship into the sea in a suicide attempt. She had been suffering from post-partum psychosis. I could not get this image out of my mind, and it set me thinking about the role of women in Victorian Britain (Ireland was then part of Britain), and how difficult it was for them to achieve any kind of respect or independence. My 1840s heroine, Eliza Drury, is a prototype feminist, feisty, determined and intelligent.
– This is your second historical novel but you’ve written books in other genres as Kate Thompson. Is switching genres something you relish or can it prove to be quite daunting?
I felt it was time to embark on something new, so I welcomed the notion of a change of genre. Because my first historical novel, Liberty Silk, was based on real letters written after the Great War, I felt that I was on firm ground writing about the 1920s.
What helped me most in the writing of Another Heartbeat in the House was re-reading the 19th century novels I had once loved – in particular Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair. Halfway through the latter, I realised that I had found the key to my own novel in the form of literature’s wickedest and most enduring heroine, Becky Sharp. I reinvented her as Eliza Drury, and she took my hand and led me through the narrative.
– What comes first; the character, the plot or both?
In Another Heartbeat, the house itself is a character. It had haunted me from the moment I set eyes on it about five years ago, and I knew it had a story to tell. I was lucky to find a local historian who filled me in on its background. However, all census and Land Registry documentation covering the decades between 1840 and 1890 had been destroyed, and that for me was the most intriguing period. It was up to me to invent a narrative to cover those missing years.
– Do you rely on the support of other authors or are you more of a solitary writer?
I have had huge support from other writers, several of whom provided glowing testimonials for the book (see http://bit.ly/1IlzeJT) Of course the writing process is of its nature solitary, but I am lucky to count among my friends two of Ireland’s most popular authors, Cathy Kelly and Marian Keyes.
– Can you tell us a little about your writing process?
I start off in a fairly disciplined fashion, in my attic space with no distractions and a tidy desk. By the time I have finished a novel, It is chaos. I will be surrounded by books, notepads, and sheets of paper covered in scribbled notes. Months – even years – after I have delivered a book, I often find old receipts, scraps torn from paper napkins or from the margins of newspaper, all covered in illegible handwriting. It meant something at the time!
– Before turning to writing, you were an actor. Has that helped you in your writing, particularly when developing characters?
I think it’s been very helpful, yes, not just in terms of character development, but also in the writing of dialogue.
– I can’t let you go without asking for some advice and tips for the aspiring authors out there!
Don’t procrastinate. Don’t tell yourself you’ll start in the New Year/when the kids go back to school/when your workload has eased. Marian Keyes wrote her first novel by getting up at six o’clock a.m. and spending two hours working before she headed to the day job. There’ll never be a ‘right’ time. Start your novel now.
– Authors are first and foremost readers! What are some of your favourite books and which author would you love to sit down with for a chat?
My favourite comfort read of all time is Gone with the Wind. I have a well-thumbed biography of Margaret Mitchell, and I find it fascinating that she never wrote another novel, even though she had a pretty remarkable life. I would love to pick her brains.
– What are you working on now? Can you give your fans a hint?
I’m writing a lot of magazine articles, and I can’t wait to sit down and give my full attention to the next novel. I’ll be heading off to our shack on the west coast to get some dedicated work done. It’s set at the beginning of the 19th century, and it features another literary heroine … and that’s about all I can tell you without jinxing myself!
-What have you learned, yourself, about your writing since penning your first book?
What I’ve learned about myself is that I have great determination and an enormous capacity for hard work. Writing is not an easy way to earn a living. I have no truck with people who describe writers as ‘scribblers’ who ‘churn out’ books.
– When you’re not writing what do you like to get up to?
Because my work is so sedentary, I relish physical activity. I go hillwalking, I swim, and I am religious about Bikram yoga. I have an advanced certification in scuba diving, but the last time I donned a wetsuit was a year-and-a-half ago. It was in Perth, Australia, with sharks – and I have the photo to prove it!
Thanks so much for taking part!
Thank you, Danielle! It was a pleasure and a privilege.
About the Author
Kate Beaufoy has an MA in French and English literature from Trinity College Dublin.
As Kate Thompson she has had a dozen novels published, including the Number One bestseller The Blue Hour, which was shortlisted for the RNA award.
Kate has contributed to numerous publications and broadcast media in both Ireland and the UK. A former actress, she was the recipient of a Dublin Theatre Festival Best Actress Award.
She lives some of the year in Dublin and some on the West coast of Ireland, and is happily married with one daughter. Kate is an advanced-level scuba diver, a wild swimmer, and the fond keeper of a bewitching Burmese cat.