I am delighted that KATE HAMER is joining me on my blog today as my Author in the Spotlight, as part of her Blog Tour. Kate's book - The Girl in the Red Coat - was published in paperback by Faber & Faber on 24 December 2015.
The Girl in the Red Coat has fairytale qualities, albeit dark ones. What inspired you to write it?
It all began with a central image I had – of a girl standing in a dark forest and wearing a red duffel coat. It had quite a spooky feel and I knew somehow she was lost. Although I wasn’t consciously trying to write ‘a twenty-first century fairytale’ those stories have always been important to me. I still have the copy of Grimm’s that I devoured over and over again as a child. These stories are not sugar coated – betrayal, murder, jealousy, loss – the real fairytales are strong meat and that’s what’s always drawn me to them.
Describe your writing style in 10 words or less.
Instinctive. Striving for a simplicity of language.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
Like many authors I read my work out loud, so if talking to yourself is counted as a strange habit then, yes. When I’m trying to describe a movement I often make shapes with my hands to help as well. Just as well I’m not overlooked really…!
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plot out the whole book before you start or just start writing and see where it leads you?
A bit of both really. I seem to have developed the technique of writing the beginning, knowing two or three major plot points along the way and writing the last paragraph or page – all very early on. I guess this is my outline. I did it with ‘The Girl in the Red Coat,’ the current novel I’m working on and the next one I’ve got tucked away so it seems like it’s becoming a bit of a method.
Who are your favourite authors?
Maggie O’Farrell. Edna O’Brien. Helen Dunmore. Marcus Zusak. Graham Greene. Erin Kelly. Kazuo Ishiguro. Ian McEwan. M.L. Stedman. These are all firm favourites. I’ve also come across some amazing authors for the first time this year like Susan Barker and the wonderful, singing language of Petina Gappah in her debut ‘The Book of Memory.’ Also Nicole Krauss – she is the most extraordinary writer I’ve read in a long time.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Boy, seriously I think this is the hardest question I’ve ever been asked! It would probably change every day. Today it would be ‘Woman in Yellow Dress Sits at Desk and Rewrites Chapter Three Times.’
What advice would you give your younger self?
Oh, the usual – have a little confidence probably. When you’re young you think everyone knows exactly what they’re doing. The understanding that they’re mostly winging it just like you are is very liberating.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers.
Write the story that is yours, the one that burns inside you. The stuff that makes you go ‘uh oh, that’s a bit strange/unusual/where did that come from?’ – go with that. Don’t chase trends. Be true to yourself. Don’t show anyone your work until it’s finished. Don’t discuss it either, it’ll deflate you. The story is the only and important thing.
Do you have another book in the pipeline?
I’ve just finished the first draft of my second novel and I’m working hard getting it into shape. It’s a coming of age tale again with a very healthy dose of the supernatural.
And lastly, why should people read The Girl in the Red Coat
I don’t know if that’s for me to say. I guess if anything I’d like people to know that as well as a crime book or a psychological thriller, more than anything, it’s a book about love.
About Kate Hamer
Kate Hamer grew up in Pembrokeshire. She did a Creative Writing MA at Aberystwyth University and the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course. She won the Rhys Davies short story award in 2011 and her winning story was read out on Radio 4. She has recently been awarded a Literature Wales bursary. She lives in Cardiff with her husband and two children.
The Girl in the Red Coat
Published by Faber & Faber (Paperback - 24 December 2015)
Eight-year-old Carmel has always been different - sensitive, distracted, with an heartstopping tendency to go missing. Her mother Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter's strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own.
When she takes Carmel for an outing to a local festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears into the crowd. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own. But do the real clues to Carmel's disappearance lie in the otherworldly qualities her mother had only begun to guess at?
Read my review here.