Author Interview: Katie Ward
Today I am delighted to welcome Katie Ward to the blog to talk about her writing process and what you can expect to see from her next – don’t miss my review of her debut novel, The Pretender!
About the Author:
Katie Ward always knew she wanted to write for a living. However, she was told by her careers advisor that “it might be more appropriate for you to work in a shop”. When Katie didn’t get the grades she needed to get into college, she negotiated a three month trial. After successfully completing the course she secured a place at her first choice university to study Journalism.
After realising she wanted to be an author, Katie moved to Dublin where she worked her way up from receptionist to Executive Assistant at Merrill Lynch. Katie continued to write in her spare time, submitting her short story into the “Do the Write Thing” competition being run by Irish TV show ‘Seoige and O’Shea’. This story was originally written when Katie was 14 after she was inspired by an article in her favourite teen magazine. Katie was the only non-Irish author selected to have her story published in an anthology of the same name which reached 19 in the Irish Best sellers List. Katie was also shortlisted for a competition judged by MAN Booker Prize winning author Roddy Doyle which was run by Metro Eireann newspaper.
Katie currently lives in Devon with her cat (aka ‘Her Royal Fluffiness’) where she sings in a community choir and has recently taken up Archery. Katie’s favourite author has been Roald Dahl since she was a child as she loves the dark edge he brings to his books. On the flip side though, Katie loves Disney, magic, unicorns and a good rom com film at the cinema with her friends.
- Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions! First of all, can you tell us a bit about how this story changed from your initial idea to the finished book?
The book has changed significantly since my initial idea. Originally, I was looking at basing it in the UK and re-imagining the British Royal family but I disliked that idea because our monarchy is too established. That is why I set it in France. Originally, Frederick was the Prince of Denmark but this had to change when I realised that there was in fact a monarchy in Denmark and coincidentally the Prince was called Frederic. There is a small pool of “Royal” names which made naming my characters quite tricky. When I first came up with the idea, someone was going to find out Isabella’s true identity leading to her being kidnapped and an attempt made to kill her but I didn’t feel it suited the way the novel was developing so I didn’t include that.
My work does tend to have a darker feel to it ordinarily but I’ve tried to keep it lighter for this first novel.
- What was it about the ending of Mark Twain’s Pretender that made you want to re-imagine the story?
In the original story, the characters accidentally switch places and when they come to resolve the situation the pauper (Tom Canty) goes back to live as a Pauper in Cheapside in London. But this always felt very unsatisfying. I understand they may not have been friends but I felt that there would have been some interest in him due to his association with the royal family. As a reader, I wanted to know what happened next. It always felt unfinished.
(I love imagining how a story could end differently and have often rewritten or re-imagined the ending or continuation of favourite books like this. I guess I feel like the book belongs completely to the author when they are writing it, but each reader brings something of themself to the story so the book changes with every reading.)
- What is your writing process like? E.g. where do you write, snacks to keep you going, tips for aspiring writers.
I tend to act out my ideas, so it is not unusual to hear me talking to myself as I develop the story and map out the plot. When it comes to characters, I have a vivid picture in my mind of what they look like. I know their hopes, fears and their character flaws. I write straight onto the computer but I may jot things down on a notepad in the initial stages so I can get an idea of how it all links together. I never know exactly how a story goes when I’m first writing it as this tends to develop later.
When I’m in the thick of the writing process I sometimes don’t even stop for a break because it can jolt me out of my headspace. I tend to get a lot done in a short space of time so I may have two days where I work solidly on it but then take two days away from it completely.
My main tip for aspiring writers is to keep writing, many times over the years I’ve felt like giving up when I’ve felt I should “get a proper job” or “grow up” but I’m sure the likes of JK Rowling had the same battles to contend with when they first started. I dare say no one is saying that now to them. You are your own success; if you believe in yourself then you will go far and if you feel that you have a great story to tell…don’t give up. Many “overnight successes” in the literary world have toiled for years to get there; we just never see that part.
(I think that this really true! I once heard success likened to an iceberg in that the bit we see is only a small part of the whole!)
- What kind of research did you do to bring the characters and the setting to life?
A: Once I had decided to set “The Pretender” in France and imagine that the French royal family had never been abolished, I needed to research where they had lived, what their names were so I could build up a picture of what their royal life was like. The Palace in Fontainbleau is where the French Monarch actually lived. Bourbon was their official surname and the Cathedral in St Denis has a long connection with French Royalty. I’ve effectively picked up where they left off. I also had to do a lot of research into Royal protocols, what is allowed and what isn’t. Although I did relax some of these for my story, for instance I didn’t want the household staff to refer to Isabella formally even although in reality they absolutely would. I wanted to show she wasn’t caught up with her title. I also needed to do research into Royal names to ensure that I picked ones that would have been used. However, I chose not to use the name Louis as practically every French King was called this!
( I only realised this recently, but monarchies are in the minority around the world. This makes me wonder just what happened to all of those families who used to be royalty…)
- What’s next for you?
A: Well, this is actually the second novel that I have written but the first to be published. So I have another novel called Red Roses that will be published next. This is a tragedy and will be for the upper end of the YA genre. It starts with the character making a decision that leads to her death and then follows the journey of how it all happens. It is a lot darker than this novel and deals with obsession and betrayal. I also plan to adapt my published short story, Defying Gravity, that I originally wrote when I was 14, into a full novel. So, if you like my work there will be a lot more to come from me.
(Yay! I can’t wait!)
Book: Wuthering Heights, Charlotte Bronte.
Movie: Sense and Sensibility
Food: Cheese…I really love cheese!
Thank you so much Katie and I look forward to seeing your next book!
Don’t miss the other stops on this blog tour:
And, last but not least, would you like a chance to win an amazing, original piece of art from the talented artist who created the book cover, Emma Haines?
See the cuteness and enter below!
This giveaway is open internationally – click here to enter!
Win a signed original illustration from Emma Haines (Open Internationally)
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Thanks for reading!