Kate’s Soul Beach trilogy caused a stir here at Liberton and Kate very kindly offered to answer questions from some of our very keen S2 readers.
How many books have you written?
I’ve written 3 books for teenagers – Soul Beach, Soul Fire and Soul Storm – but another 9 for adult readers, which are more romantic comedies! No murder or mystery in those at all. And now I’ve written a diet book as well, about the 5:2 diet which your parents might be trying!
Who was your favourite author growing up?
I had so many – but I did love Roald Dahl (Fantastic Mr Fox is my favourite and Danny Champion of the World a close second), Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising Trilogy, and also all of Noel Streatfeild’s books. There weren’t many books just for teenagers back then but I did like Robert Cormier’s scary thrillers.
Who inspired you to write books?
A whole mixture of people. My granddad used to make up brilliant stories about a girl called Kate in a wood near where he lived in Liverpool. Also I lived in Holland for a while when I was a child and I used to love reading all the books about Britain as I missed home and they were important to me. Plus I had a very encouraging English teacher – though no one from my school had ever done anything like being a writer, I didn’t realise someone who wasn’t well-connected could do that. But they can! You can do whatever you want.
Where do you write your books?
In the spare bedroom at home in Brighton. Sometimes I take a notebook to the seafront. I wrote some of Soul Beach in Barcelona as we lived there for 18 months, that was very inspiring.
Who is your best friend and has he/she ever appeared in any of your books?
I have two best friends, Jenny and Geri. I haven’t put them directly in any books except thanking them, but Alice in Soul Beach is quite similar to them both in character: they’re quick-witted and funny but very loyal and kind.
What school did you go to?
I went to 16 different schools growing up, including 9 months at school in Longniddry, East Lothian but I was 5 at the time so I’ve forgotten the name! I went back a couple of years ago to there and the coast along that part of Scotland, I love it there.
Would you ever visit Soul Beach if it was a real place?
That’s a hard one. I guess I would like to, but then again I’d have to either be dead, or have a close friend who was dead, to be allowed to go there. So then again, maybe not!
Have you won any awards for you books?
I’ve been shortlisted for quite a few but have never won one! But I did win a story competition when I was 16 and that really encouraged me. I think entering competitions is great for new writers.
Are you Patron of Reading for a school?
No, but I’d like to be. It’s been a crazily busy year – I had five books published! – but next year I will look into it. It sounds fun.
Did you like reading and writing at school?
I loved both. I always loved telling stories but never dreamed I could make a job out of it. The next best thing was being a journalist which is what I did before becoming a writer: it’s great preparation because you meet people who’ve had amazing experiences.
Why did you choose that person to be the killer?
Ah… I wanted it to be someone close to Alice and Meggie, but with hidden motives. As soon as I decided on that person, I had great fun trying to make readers change their minds all the time. The killer is truly scary because they’re not obvious.
How did you come up with ideas for the Soul Beach scenes and how do you choose names?
I guess with the Beach I was inspired by places I’d been – like Barcelona – and pictures of paradise beaches. I thought if the people on the beach were dead, the least I could do was imagine an amazing place for them to spend their time. But there’s also something dark about beautiful places and I wanted to reflect that.
Names are hard – I choose ones I like for main characters like Alice – and in her case, she has her own wonderland to go to. The others are a mix. One of the best tips I’ve had as writer is never to choose names which start with the same initial letter as it can get confusing. Sometimes I change names as I go along but here all the names seemed just right!
Thanks to everyone for the questions! They’re really interesting and were fun to answer.
See you on the Beach???