First published at Sean Wright’s blog.
I’d like to welcome Kate Forsyth to kick off my run of 2014 Snapshot interviews and thank her for taking the time to answer my questions.
1. You are about to lead a writing workshop in the Cotswolds. What were the factors in choosing this location and what do you think taking writers out of their everyday surrounds can do?
When I was asked to run a writers retreat overseas, the organisers left it up to me to choose the setting. They already had a retreat in Paris, and they wanted something different … something magical and full of history and romance and atmosphere. I thought about where I’d most like to go … and the idea of Oxford & the Cotswolds came into my mind. I mentioned it to the organisers and they loved the idea! It took a while to find the perfect Cotswolds village – luckily for me, part of the research was to travel through the Cotswolds checking out pubs and restaurants and pretty little villages. I think we’re found somewhere amazing in the beautiful old village of Broadway – it’s called the Jewel of the Cotswolds.
I think travel is very important for writers. It shakes us up, gives us new perspectives and new ideas, and allows us a space of time in which to dream, imagine, and play. A writers’ retreat amplifies this experience. My plan is to have a 3 hour class every morning, and to leave the participants free in the afternoons so they can write or explore as they wish. The workshops will be all about finding new ways to think about writing; about opening up the imagination and the creative mind.
2. I have loved your two most recent adult books, Bitter Greens and The Wilde Girl and I love hearing you talk about the adventures you have while researching. In this digital age with a lot of information at our fingertips, how important was it to be physically present in some of these locations?
For me, its very important. I can see what it looks like from a photo or website, but I cannot FEEL the place. Writing is all about what lies within. When I travel to a certain setting, I have been living inside my character’s skin for months and so I stand there, feeling what they may feel … it opens up the story to me in new and very interesting ways.
3. I note that you have a transmedia event called The Impossible Quest, being launched internationally in September. Can you tell us about the project and what you hope to achieve with it?
It’s such an exciting project! Basically, I have written five fast-paced,action-packed, fantasy adventures – old-fashioned narratives in which the reader will hopefully be totally absorbed into the story. Separate to the stories but intimately linked to them is the website, which contains a locked vault where all sorts of treasures lie – games and quizzes and thousands of dollars worth of prizes … the secret codes to unlock all this treasure are hidden within the books. The only way to find them is to read the stories closely …
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
‘The Caller’ by Juliet Marillier
‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’ by Karen Foxlee
‘Evergreen Falls’by Kimberley Freeman
‘The Sequin Star’ by Belinda Murrell (disclosure needed: she’s my sister!)
‘The Winter Bride’by Anne Gracie
and I’m now reading ‘Burial Rites’by Hannah Kent
5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be writing/reading in five years from now?
The international publishing industry is changing fast and I think its important to be aware of the changes, and the opportunities they bring. The transmedia project ‘The Impossible Quest’ is an example of me and my publishers playing with new ways to publish books. I’d like to do more with new technologies, seeing how far we can push the boundaries – I have lots of ideas! However, I still think that readers want a totally immersive reading experience which new technologies can disrupt. So I’ll be looking at ways to use new technologies to enrich the reading experience, but not to disturb it too much. I’ll also be looking at ways of using new technologies to help in the marketing & promotion of books, to reach out to a global audience without having to spend half my life in airport lounges.
Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called ‘one of the finest writers of this generation’. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.
Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called ‘The Wild Girl’, which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, ‘The Wild Girl’ is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013.
You can read more about Kate at her official website: www.kateforsyth.com.au