Q&A with novelist Kate Riordan @midaspr @thenovelry #NationalStoryTellingWeek #YourStoryMyStory #AuthorInterview @KateRiordanUK

Kate Riordan is a tutor at The Novelry. Offering support for beginner and established authors at any stage of their writing career, The Novelry will take writers from the very kernel of an idea through to a polished manuscript ready for literary agent submission. With mentoring from bestselling authors and editorial advice from leading industry professionals, The Novelry is the writing school recommended by leading literary agents.

1. When did you first realise that you were a storyteller?

I don’t know that I had a specific moment, but I have always been an avid reader and starting writing my own (rather eccentric) stories from when I was a very little girl. My dad also recorded a load of audio tapes of me inventing stories about what my soft toys got up to when I was asleep. I was only three then, so I suppose that was the beginning!

2. Do you remember when you came up with the first story idea that would ultimately go on to be published as a novel? How did you know this was the idea that was worth telling?

My first book for Penguin – The Girl in the Photograph – was inspired by a place. So, the story’s setting was what came first, well before any semblance of a plot. I was a journalist at the time and had gone to stay in a cottage on the Owlpen Manor estate for a travel piece. The house is built at the bottom of a very steep valley in a quiet corner of the Cotswolds and I just fell in love with it immediately. It was one of those places where the past feels very close (I didn’t sleep much that weekend…) and I could very clearly imagine a troubled young woman arriving there at the beginning of a long, hot summer. I didn’t know why she was there and what she was so afraid of – not yet – but that was my starting point.3. Do you have a story of yours that you are most proud of?

I always feel quite protective of my books, as though they’re friends or relatives. So I feel bad favouring one over another! There are elements of each that I’m proud of, and bits that I hoped would turn out better. I’ve just finished work (bar page proofs!) on Summer Fever, which is out in May, and so is much too recent for me to know how I feel about it! I suppose I will always have a soft spot for The Girl in the Photograph as it got me my first two-book deal, but I’m also proud of The Heatwave, which was a Richard and Judy pick and is probably the best finished article, from a craft point of view.

4. Why did you decide to write novels, as opposed to telling stories in another format?

I’ve always been a reader and, despite doing some film studies as part of my English degree and watching loads of TV, I don’t think it would have occurred to me to try any other format. Although story is the most important thing, I do love crafting a nice sentence or creating a lovely image. That said, I’ve always tried to write quite cinematically and this has got me thinking lately that I’d love to have a go at screenwriting.

5. Why do you think stories are important?

We wouldn’t be human without stories – I don’t think we know, as a species, how to communicate without them. So I think they’re a way of bonding with others, but also a much-needed escape from reality when the world feels too bleak.

6. National Storytelling Week is all about the oral tradition of storytelling. Do you think it’s important to keep this tradition alive, when we have so many other ways of consuming and telling stories these days?

It’s important because it’s how humans first communicated, and because it’s probably the least elitist form of storytelling. Also, after a couple of years of missing out on so much social interaction because of the pandemic, I think we all need to get together more to share stories, rather than consuming them on our own.

7. What do you think is different about writing a story down on paper as opposed to telling it out loud?

I suppose there’s an extra craft element to writing a story down. Writers have the opportunity to finesse and polish the written sentence, which is something I really enjoy: I much prefer working on later drafts of my stories to the terrifying first attempt. But telling a story out loud is uniquely spontaneous and alive; the teller can react to their audience live, making it a one-off experience which can’t be exactly replicated ever again.

8. How do you like to consume your stories? (Reading, listening, watching, etc.)

Lots of my friends swear by audiobooks and I’ve absolutely loved the way my own books have been narrated (particularly the pitch-perfect French accent Miranda Raison did for The Heatwave), but I do like to read stories best. It’s a solitary escape for me, plus I read fast so I like choosing my own pace.

9. What is your favourite story of all time?

That’s an impossible question! But four stories I adore and came immediately to mind are: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, The Go-Between by LP Hartley, Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

10. What do you hope readers will take away from your novels?

An overall atmosphere that stays with them, visually clear in their heads and hopefully slightly unsettling. As a reader, I’ve always been drawn to dark stories set in beautiful places and try to create that in my own stories.

11. If you had one piece of advice for someone wanting to tell a story of their own, what would it be?

Begin! Starting to tell a story is half the battle. It’s scary to begin because you’re finally taking what is probably a long-held dream seriously – in effect, you’re taking yourself seriously. There’s something weirdly hubristic about saying ‘I have a story inside me which I think other people will want to hear’ but I think you just need to push through the cringe factor of that!

Kate Riordan is a tutor at The Novelry. Offering support for beginner and established authors at any stage of their writing career, The Novelry will take writers from the very kernel of an idea through to a polished manuscript ready for literary agent submission. With mentoring from bestselling authors and editorial advice from leading industry professionals, The Novelry is the writing school recommended by leading literary agents.

Kate Riordan is the author of five books; four novels and short stories. The Girl in the Photograph was a Sunday Times bestseller, a haunting dual timeline novel about two women entwined by fate, published by Penguin in 2015 and described in the Sunday Times as ‘rich and atmospheric’ and a must-read for fans of Du Maurier’s Rebecca. It was Penguin’s bestselling e-book that summer. The Shadow Hour was published in 2016. The Stranger followed in 2018 and was a Top Ten Red Magazine choice of that year. Published in September 2020, The Heatwave was a must-read Richard and Judy Book Club Thriller pick. A tense psychological thriller, set in Provence, it went to No.1 in the Apple Fiction Chart.

Kate Riordan’s next novel, Summer Fever, is out on May 12, 2022.

Follow her on Twitter @KateRiordanUK and/or Instagram @kateriordanauthor

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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3 Responses to Q&A with novelist Kate Riordan @midaspr @thenovelry #NationalStoryTellingWeek #YourStoryMyStory #AuthorInterview @KateRiordanUK

  1. Carla says:

    Great interview Lynne. I have not heard Kate Riordan or The Novelry, so thanks for bringing them to my attention.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Q&A with novelist Kate Riordan @midaspr @thenovelry #NationalStoryTellingWeek #YourStoryMyStory #AuthorInterview @KateRiordanUK – Book Library

  3. Pingback: Q&A with novelist Kate Riordan @midaspr @thenovelry #NationalStoryTellingWeek #YourStoryMyStory #AuthorInterview @KateRiordanUK – Imobiliare 24

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