Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Kate Lord Brown to Jera’s Jamboree:
Kate grew up in the wild and beautiful Devon countryside. After studying at Durham University and the Courtauld Institute of Art, she worked as an international art consultant curating collections for palaces and embassies in Europe and the Middle East. When the family left London for the orange groves of Valencia, Kate began to write full time, publishing work internationally and gaining a MA Dist in Creative Writing. She now lives in the Middle East with her family, and writes a regular blog for writers juggling their work with family life. Her debut novel THE BEAUTY CHORUS was published by Atlantic in 2011, and this year THE PERFUME GARDEN is being published in seven languages.
Please summarise your latest book in 20 words or less.
Spain, war, love. You can let go of the past, but what if the past won’t let go of you?
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
We lived in Valencia for three years, and I was intrigued by the history of the place, and the events of the Spanish Civil War. I was inspired by the amazing fragrances of Spain, too – the orange blossom in the fields, the incense in the churches. So it seemed like a natural idea to write the story of a young perfumer who inherits a house in Valencia – as she restores the house and garden, she discovers the truth about her family’s loves and losses during the war.
Do you have a book trailer? What do you think book trailers achieve?
I do – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qViezOftdpM I think book trailers can be a great way to give you a flavour of a story, and I was curious to try making one. It really makes you think about your story. Distilling a whole novel down into a few images, and finding music that conjures up the novel was a great challenge. When I showed it to my daughter, she wasn’t at all impressed that I’d learnt how to make a video, she just said ‘wow, the music’s by Kevin McLeod?’ She knew his work from Youtube!
Do you have a most creative time of day?
We have a young family, and my husband’s a pilot so he’s away a lot of the time. The reality is your work becomes ‘bombproof’ as a writer/mother and you can’t be precious about waiting for inspiration to strike, you work when you can! I liked Stephen King’s advice to just put your desk in the corner and get on with it – there’s always a houseful of children, and pets, and a lot of activity, so after several years I’m now creative the minute I sit down to work.
Which authors have influenced your writing?
I really admire writers like William Boyd, Anne Tyler, Carol Shields, Barbara Trapido and James Salter. I constantly find myself thinking ‘I wish I’d written this …’ They are all tremendously good at conjuring characters, and I admire that a great deal.
Have you done any creative writing/writing courses that you would recommend to others?
I’ve just completed an MA with the Manchester writing school, which took three years. There were a lot of late nights with tutorials, and it was a challenge fitting in the course work with all the usual commitments of family life and jobs, but I’d recommend it to any one who wants to push their work on to the next level. I’ve always belonged to writing groups wherever we’ve lived, and the support and challenge of working with the same small group of writers for three years has been fantastic.
What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
All the ‘firsts’ have been amazing – holding your published book for the first time. Reading your first reviews. Appearing at the Emirates lit fest alongside authors who are heroes of mine. Being a published author has been a lifetime ambition, and I hope I never take it for granted how lucky I am, and how great it is.
What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?
Write every day. Read books that inspire you to be a better writer every day. Gather a group of people around you who are supportive – whether that’s in a real writer’s group, or online through forums or social networking. If you really want to write, the only way to do it is to carve out time each day – whether that’s when your babies are asleep, or getting up an hour early before work (trust me, I’ve done both and it works – the words add up). You can do it!
Thank you for sharing with us today Kate.
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Corvus (1 April 2013)
High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco’s forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled; the garden, laden with orange blossom, grown wild. Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed in her mother’s will, she has left her job as London’s leading perfumier to restore this dilapidated villa to its former glory. It is the perfect retreat: a wilderness redolent with strange and exotic scents, heavy with the colours and sounds of a foreign time. But for her grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed here during Spain’s devastating civil war, Emma’s new home evokes terrible memories. As the house begins to give up its secrets, Emma is drawn deeper into Freya’s story: of crushed idealism, of lost love, and of families ripped apart by war. She soon realises it is one thing to let go of the past, but another when it won’t let go of you.
Kate’s publishers have kindly agreed to giveaway a copy of The Perfume Garden to one of Jera’s Jamboree readers. Easy entry on the Rafflecopter link below: