*The following interview was carried out by Stacey Lannigan and can also be found on The Nerd Daily website*
We chat to author Katherine Roberts about her books, which are inspired by legends and myths, writing, and more! Be sure to check out Katherine’s website to learn more about her books!
When did you first realise that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed making up stories – though at first I did not write them down, I just told them to my little brother at bedtime using his favourite toys as characters (he was 4, I was 8). But I never thought I’d be a writer… I did not enjoy English very much at school!
How many books have you written & which is your favourite?
I must have written about 50 ‘books’ along the way, but only 16 have been published to date… I’ve also written about 100 short stories, and about 50 of those were published in magazines so I am collecting those into book-length volumes at the moment. My favourite (published) book so far is “I am the Great Horse”, about Alexander the Great’s famous black stallion Bucephalas.
What do you think makes a good story?
Something the reader can’t put down!
How do you handle writer’s block?
I don’t think there is such a thing as writer’s block, as I can always write something (even if it turns out to be rubbish and gets thrown away afterwards). But there is something called publisher’s block, which is more to do with the business side of publishing and can mean talented writers do not get their books published unless they write for a market.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yes – five different projects (two YA, one middle grade Roman book, a younger series with a feisty heroine, and an adult novel). None of them have publishers yet.
Who is your favourite author & why?
Always a difficult one to answer! As a teenager, I loved Anne MacCaffrey’s dragonrider books and also read a lot of her science fiction, so I guess she was one of the authors who influenced my writing.
What comes first to you: characters or plot?
It used to be plot, but for a series like the Pendragon Legacy I tend to start with a character (or group of main characters) and then dream up some stories for them. In short fiction, it’s usually an idea or theme that comes first.
Describe your typical writing day!
I don’t have a typical routine. It really depends on the stage of a book, and whether I have a contract with deadlines. Writing a first draft can take between 3 weeks and 3 years… redrafting and editing takes less time, but might get put off for ages if there are no deadlines to meet. I cannot sit down and write first thing in the morning without getting out of the house first. That’s probably because while I was writing my first few books I used to have a job with racehorses, which meant I did not get to my computer until mid afternoon.
Draft on paper or device? E.g. notepad or laptop?
Used to be paper, then typewriter, then a PC, and more recently paper again… I find it more creative for first drafts. But this changes as technology changes. (I’m still waiting for a device with a direct connection to the brain.)
How do you write your books: start at the beginning, start at the end, or in pieces to put together later?
Depends on the book, but I never know quite how it will end until I get to the final few chapters – the characters can always surprise you!
If any of your books could become a movie or TV show, which one would you like to become one?
All of them? But some would be easier than others to make… I’ve always thought “Spellfall” would work well.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Being your own boss.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Being your own boss.
Do you ever believe your writing is “not good enough” etc? If so, how do you overcome these thoughts?
‘Good’ can mean different things to different people… publishers and agents may tell you it’s not good enough (with a rejection), but that’s because they are mostly looking at potential sales figures. It helps to remind yourself why you write, and sometimes you might decide to write just for yourself.
What advice can you give to aspiring writers?
Which character in your novels would you say is most like yourself?
None of them, hopefully! But they’re probably the people I’d like to have been in a different life (who wouldn’t want a unicorn to ride, or a magical sword like Excalibur?).
What inspires you to write?
I started writing stories of my own when I ran out of books I enjoyed in the local library. Now there are a lot more books around to enjoy, but it’s still difficult to find exactly the right sort of story, unless you write it yourself.
Do you listen to music whilst you write? If so, what kind of music?
Not really, because I find it interferes with the creative process. But when I’m editing or proofreading, I might have something classical playing in the background (and sometimes I use loud folk/rock to drown out the noise of my neighbours doing DIY!).
What is the most important thing about a book, in your opinion?
A good story with characters people care about.
If you could co-write a novel with another author, who would that author be?
I already have! I co-wrote a novella with Tim Lebbon – it’s called “Children of the New Disorder” but I used a pseudonym because it’s quite dark and definitely not a story for younger readers!