Today is 1st August. Already. Winter is coming, guys! I’ve just come back from a very well – deserved (even if I say so myself) short break at the Lake Constance and I could move there, to be honest. I’d have water, my husband would have mountains and everybody would be happy. But as it’s rather impossible, I’d stay happy on my reading sofa at home with my books. Am a little behind with my TBR pile, but will do my best to get on track again asap. In the meantime, it is time to let you know about my Book of the Month July. The choice was obvious for me this time – I loved „A Life Without You” by Katie Marsh with my whole heart!
And here you can read why I loved this book so much.
I am also absolutely thrilled to have Katie on my blog today – she was so kind and sgreed to answer some of my questions about „A Life Without You”. Thanks so much, Katie and you guys, enjoy!
1. Katie, could you tell us a few words about your new novel „A Life Without You”?
The book is about mothers and daughters and the joys and complexities of that relationship. It tells the story of Zoe, who is about to get married when she gets a call telling her that her estranged mum, Gina, has been arrested. The two reconnect, but Gina has signs of serious memory loss and is a different woman to the one Zoe remembers. At the end of each chapter is a letter from Zoe to Gina, written on every birthday, charting how their relationship has developed, from the exhaustion and mess of early motherhood to the secret that tears them apart. It’s a page-turning story of rediscovery and family secrets and about making the most of every single moment – and every scrap of love – that you have.
2. Both of your novels have turned me into emotional wreck – they are so full ofemotions and there is whole range of them, from sadness to happiness, from love to hate… – how hard is it to write a book balancing those feelings?
I always think that if I don’t feel something when I’m writing, then the reader won’t feel it when they’re reading, so I work really hard to get into situations and really feel them as I write. It is really difficult to keep emotions feeling real and vivid on the page – but I find that as I edit and re-edit scenes tend to clarify. I read my dialogue out loud to make sure that it feels realistic and not over-dramatic (heaven knows what the neighbours think), and my editor is brilliant at helping me to maintain the emotional balance of the story and of the characters.
3. I am always wondering – some scenes made me laugh, some made me cry – did you also laugh and cry when writing the book?
I certainly did. I come from a family of cryers – we cry when we are proud or happy just as much as when we are sad. I even put a warning in the Order of Service at my wedding, telling people that I would inevitably spend much of the day in tears so they didn’t think I was unhappy! I don’t laugh out loud when I’m writing, but I do consciously weave humour into my stories to lighten the more emotional moments. I am a massive giggler and I hope that shows in my writing. I cried buckets writing ‘ALWY’ – especially the ending. That chapter had about twenty rewrites and I knew I’d got it right when I was glued to a packet of tissues for about an hour after typing that final sentence.
Yes. It was terrifying. During the structural edit, I really had to pull the story apart and try to make it both pacey and believable, and I kept thinking about all the ‘My Everything’ fans and worrying about whether this was a worthy successor. However now that it’s finished I am incredibly proud of ‘ALWY’ and am so happy with the reception it has had from bloggers, readers and the press.
5. Who is your favourite character in „A Life Without You”?
Gina. I absolutely love her. I love her heart, her humour and her complete inability to keep her mouth shut – writing her was an absolute dream.
This book is fundamentally about a character learning to make the most of every single day she has – not to be held back by the past or too focused on the future. I would love it if readers felt a little bit carpe diem when they put down the book and went out to make their dreams happen. Equally, some people have told me they finished it and instantly called their mums to tell them they loved them, which made me very happy too.
My granny had Alzheimer’s in her eighties, so some of the scenes in the book are very much inspired by that. One scene is directly taken from my times with granny – I’ll leave readers to guess which one. But the characters always arrive in my head, pretty much fully formed – and are never taken from real life (though I’m sure some of my friends secretly believe they are walking the pages of my books…)
The launch of my first book was very special – all my friends and family were there and they had heard me banging on for YEARS about writing books and were all so happy and proud. However – to be honest – it’s the smaller moments that really mean the most. My daughter proudly picking my book off the shelf in a shop and beaming. Or the messages I get from readers – one the other week told me that ‘My Everything’ had inspired her to write again. Moments don’t get much sweeter than that.