Thursday, 24 December 2015

Book of the year: The Girl in the Red Coat

The best book I read this year was Kate Hamer's The Girl in the Red Coat. I was lucky enough to discuss the novel with Kate, and as it's Christmas I'll share that with you. Then you go out and by the book, ok? (You can stay in and order off Amazon too)

Here's the interview:

Do you believe in magic?

What an interesting question! Magic certainly has its part to play in my writing, it’s a very strong theme. Do I believe in real magic in the non-fictional world? If pushed I’d have to say yes, although I imagine it to be a lot more complex, human and subtle than a magic wand being waved.

I find the book very magical, in what ways do you think it manifests itself in the book? Were these planned or was some of it happy accidents?

I think it all comes from reading fairy tales as a child. I had a copy of the Grimm brothers’ stories and read them over and over so they must have made quite an impression. I think it sort of ‘normalised’ magical happenings from a very early age – yes, of course a mirror can talk, that sort of thing. The main arc of the story in ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’ was planned beforehand but there were surprises along the way – the twins for instance, I hadn’t planned on them. They just popped up completely formed and refused to go away.

Is there anything you’d change about the book? Do you look back like that at your work or does madness lie in thinking like that?

Definitely madness lies that way! Because of this I’ve yet to re-read the book since it’s been published because I know I’m bound to be unhappy with something. Maybe in about five years time I’ll pick it up and read it, but I’m guessing by that time it might seem like it was written by another person!

What makes you proudest about ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’?

Simply seeing it on the shelves and having the thought that people are reading it. That seems truly wonderful.

What do you hope people take away from it?

Fundamentally I feel the book is a love story. I hope that is the abiding sense that people are left with.

There are elements of fairytale, crime, even horror to the novel. How would you define the genre of the book? Did you worry about that when planning/writing?

I love all those genres to some extent or another but while I was writing I didn’t really think about placing it in any one of them. I wrote the story that I felt passionate about, personally I think it can confuse the fundamental truth of a story if you worry too much about genre. It’s been placed in a lot of categories – crime, domestic noir, psychological thriller, though my very favourite description has been ‘twenty-first century fairy tale.’ That sums up what I was attempting perfectly for me.

How do you plan to follow up on ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’?

I’ve finished the first draft of another novel and I’m working on the second draft of it now. Again, it’s a coming of age story. It has a strong supernatural theme with many creepy goings on. The appeal of the dark just seems to come naturally to me!

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