Mystery, horror, short stories
|Kate Murray was told she would never write…
But from an early age she wanted to tell stories. So she told them, all
the time, to anyone who would listen. At the age of twenty-four she was
diagnosed with dyslexia and suddenly the world of the written word was
open to her. Now she writes from her workshop, which she calls her
shed, in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains. Kate is writing her
way out of dyslexia.
So far, she has written three selections of short stories, one murder mystery, a horror, a disaster and three children’s books. Of those, the horror, The Gone, is about to get a sequel and there is also a picture book on the horizon.
Kate loves to make her stories come to life and to create strong female characters.
Questions for Kate
1.Are you working on another book?
Yes, at the moment I seem to be working on three… I like to keep things varied. Ha! Actually, I’m writing one adult book and working on illustrations for a picture book. The third? That is a colouring book based on fairytales, but for adults so the images can be a little more complicated. The book I’m writing is the sequel to ‘The Gone’, a horror about a woman who walks off a plane to find everything gone. Hopefully it will be out in the next two to three months.
2.What is your preferred genre?
It has to be a crossover between horror and thriller. ‘The Shallow Sea’ is a disaster, but it is most definitely a thriller, with some horror elements. It’s tricky to pin down. Even my children’s writing has an element of horror to it; in ‘Fey’ Dai’s sister is snatched by a hag.
3.What do you love most about writing in your genre?
My genre allows me to explore the story and break all the rules… If I want jellyfish to attack, as in ‘The Shallow Sea’, then they will. Or if the monsters are not monsters at all, as in ‘The Gone’, then I make it happen. By allowing myself to think outside normality I can let my imagination run riot. But at the same time I love to base enough on fact to make the story believable; in ‘Tunnels’ there is a whole society living under Edinburgh, but historically there have been people there, so why not now?
4.What is your writing style?
Tough question… It has been described as dirty realism, but I like to keep things simple. I love to describe my worlds in few words and let the reader make their own mind up. For me writing is about what I don’t say as much as what I do.
5.What gives you inspiration for your books?
Sometimes it is a dream, or a question… You know the type, they float through your head, completely ridiculous, but I chase them, grab hold and see where they take me. They can come from a tiny piece of overheard conversation or something I’ve seen. ‘The Gone’ was a woman running through an airport unable to find her family… ‘The Shallow Sea’ came from a documentary about Nomura, ‘Fey’ from a local legend, ‘Here Be Dragons’ from an old camper van on the motorway, faces pressed against the windows looking out with wonder at a rainbow… They come from everywhere.
6.Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite?
My favourite has to be Jimmy in ‘Here Be Dragons’. He is uncoordinated, a social outsider and different. And he is me as a child. I wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until my twenties, and my dyspraxia and aspergers wasn’t discovered until I was in my thirties… But as a child life was hard. I didn’t learn to read until I was 11. Writing has not come easily to me, but I love telling stories. Jimmy is everything I was, although I never turned into a dragon… Would have been cool if I could.
7.What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?
I have a feeling that would be Mel, she is the heroine in ‘The Shallow Sea’ and is a bit of a wimp… I mean as character development goes she is going to get stronger, she will have to, but in the beginning I just want to shake her and tell her to get a grip. The Mel she becomes? Now, we would get on brilliantly.
8.What is the biggest surprise that you experienced by becoming a writer?
Apart from waking every morning and realising I do something I love? The fans… In particular the children. They don’t care about how long a book takes to write, they just want the next one immediately. Their simple desire to read one of my books floors me every time.
9.What has been the best compliment?
“Have you written the next book yet?”
“Why isn’t it out yet?”
“What happens to them?”
10.Tell us a little about your plans for the future?
I’m going to be writing and drawing… My future sees at least another nine books, some picture books and a gaggle of colouring books. I will never stop writing. So just watch this space.
Read an interview with Kate on Judith Barrow's Blog