The View From Here Interview: Katie Fforde
Part one of the interview can be found here.
ABOUT KATIE FFORDE
Katie Fforde lives in Gloucestershire, England, with her husband and some of her three children. Recently her old hobbies of ironing and housework have given way to singing, flamenco dancing and husky racing. She claims this keeps her fit. She is the author of fourteen previous bestsellers.
Katie's books have been translated into Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish and Swedish at the latest count.
It often seems publishers want more of the same after an author is initially successful, but authors and readers may need something new. How do you manage this?
I am aware that my publishers and my readers want to know what they're going to get from one of my novels. I keep it fresh by having different settings, different professions, and quirky characteristics for my characters. I haven't run out of ideas yet!
How do you document your research - post-it notes, wall charts, stacks of notebooks?
I never document my research quite well enough. I do use post it notes a lot and I have a very tiny notebook in my handbag. I often write myself notes on the first pages of the chapters.
I’ve read that all your characters are based on your own experiences in various jobs. Is that correct, do you take on new things to use them in your writing? What’s been your favourite so far?
I used to base all my books on jobs I'd had, but I've written too many books for that now so I have to do research. If I'm going to write about a subject I like to experience it at first hand. I worked with an auction house for Flora's Lot and worked at the Chelsea Flower Show for Wild Designs. Not sure where I'll be working for my next book - I haven't worked that out yet! My favourite was definitely the auction house.
How do you know when your research is complete and when to start writing? What’s your writing process? Do you write in order, or in parts?
I usually do a bit of research before I start but I'm always quite impatient to get going. Then I research more as I go along, as and when.
Where is your ideal writing space?
I like my messy study with the good views from the windows, but I also like going away to write, because there isn't the 'stuff' which takes up so much time when you're at home.
Do you recommend editing as you go along, or after a complete first draft?
I edit as I go along and then again when I've finished. Then my editors have their say. They are brilliant and always make me feel why didn't I think of that?
You have a page on Facebook and you “Twitter”. How important do you think online connections are for writers?
I think on line connections are important for writers because it's where everyone goes first when they want to find out anything. I'm bad at Facebook but I love Twittering! It only takes a few minutes and it keeps my website fresh. I also love my Twitter mates and followers.
Your books are available through leading UK supermarkets, such as Tesco with 20% - 45% discount on the RRP. Do you think these discounts have big impacts on authors and publishing in general?
I think the fact that people can buy books so cheaply has to be good as busy mums particularly often don't have time to go to lots of shops and it can be really convenient to pick up a book while you do your weekly shop. But I do worry about independent bookshops because of course they can’t give the same discounts but they do offer a much broader range of books and I always support them when I can.
Do you read other writers’ work for pleasure, for study of the competition or to improve your own writing?
I can't be bothered to study the competition but that said, I read my friends' books and they probably are the competition! I'm currently reading a brilliant book by a girl I met at a writing course years ago. It was my first time as a tutor and I said she'd do it and she has! It's called 'Carry me Home' by Terri Wiltshire (MacMillan New Writers.)
Assuming you were on Desert Island Discs, which book and which luxury object would you like to take with you and why?
My Desert Island book would be a massive anthology of poetry. I love reading it and there would be enough stories in there to keep me happy. Can't quite decide on my luxury item would be. I know some people have chosen Radio 4. If this is cheating, can I have a lifetime's supply of Astral? My mother used it and my daughter uses it. I really hate having dry skin.
Your latest book will be published this week, June 4th 2009 - Love Letters. What is planned for the launch?
I’ve got a pretty big tour lined up for Love Letters, with a mixture of signings, bookshop and library events and festivals too. All the info is on my website. I really enjoy getting out and about to meet my readers and each year the publishers pick a different part of the country to visit and we whizz round nipping into bookshops signing their stock along the way, it’s great fun!
Katie's publisher - Random House
Katie's own website
Katie on Twitter
The Romantic Novelists’ Association