Kate Forsyth‘s lifelong dream has been to write, to be an author, to bring fantasy worlds to life. She lives that dream every day, writing in her study, on planes, trains, automobiles and in hotel rooms. And, occasionally, in the Italian Alps. Here, she smuggles us inside her writing world, giving insights into her life and creative space and shows us how she has made her childhood fantasy a reality.
Where did you write your latest book?
Most of the time I write in my study, but I also have been known to take my notebook with me to bed, to the beach, to a cafe, or while I’m travelling. This year I was lucky enough to go to France & Italy for research, and so I wrote in my notebook in Paris, Florence, Venice, in the Italian Alps and in Bordeaux.
How important to you is the space in which you write?
Its very important to me, but not always something I can control. My preference is to write in my study, which looks over the garden to the harbour and the ocean. Its painted pale green and is lined with bookcases and framed prints of my covers or illustrations from my books.
Do you transform your space in any way for each book?
I put all the research books for the last book away in my library (yes, I’m lucky enough to have a library!) and then I start to collect books for the new book. I have them all together on a shelf in my study. For example, when I was writing The Puzzle Ring my bookshelf was laden with books on Mary, Queen of Scots and Scottish fairy lore. I had photographs of Scottish castles and mountains and lochs on my wall and on my computer, and maps of Scotland everywhere. All those books and photos and maps are put away now, and new ones have taken their place.
Do you ‘get into character’ at all?
Only in my imagination.
How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
My first novel was written on a rickety old table in the corner of the living room. Then we renovated and I got a room of my own which was very exciting. However, I kept having babies and so I had to give up my study for a nursery. When Baby No 3 came along, I told my husband I wasn’t giving up my study again and that we had to move. Now our house is big enough for all my 3 kids to have a room of their own, and I have a study AND a library. Life is good.
Do you keep regular writing hours? What are they? If not, when do you write?
I’m very regular indeed in my work hours. I take my kids to school at 9am, walk the dog until 10am, then turn on my computer and have a cup of tea. I work steadily till 12.30pm, have lunch and read a chapter or an article about books or writing, walk around my garden, then have another cup of tea and get back to work. Three afternoons a week, I work through until 5.30pm. The other two afternoons, I pick up my daughter from school at 3pm. Quite often I’ll go back to work till 5.30 or 6pm, when I start cooking dinner and helping my kids with their homework. If I’m really excited about the book I’m writing, I’ll start work again at around 8.30pm and work till late. Usually, though, I read or do some research instead. This happens every day I’m at home, but you must remember I do spend a lot of time travelling, talking about books and writing, or appearing at festivals and so on. During those times, I take my notebook and my laptop with me and work whenever I can i.e. on the plane, in the airport, in my hotel room. Usually I only get a few hours’ work at a time done then.
Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for writing?
I love my morning walk. I always think through what I want to do that day, so I’m all keen and eager to begin. I usually have a cup of tea and a banana before I start work – does that count as a ritual? The other thing I always do is read through what I wrote the day before, and edit and polish it. It gets me back in the swing of things.
Thanks Kate! Check back next Wednesday and climb inside the world of another author.