The Bookshop Podcast

Exploring the Enchanting Yet Eerie Literary World of Catriona Ward

October 09, 2023 Mandy Jackson-Beverly Season 1 Episode 220
Exploring the Enchanting Yet Eerie Literary World of Catriona Ward
The Bookshop Podcast
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The Bookshop Podcast
Exploring the Enchanting Yet Eerie Literary World of Catriona Ward
Oct 09, 2023 Season 1 Episode 220
Mandy Jackson-Beverly

Get ready for an unforgettable journey through the captivating life of Catriona Ward, a beloved international best-selling author. Traverse the globe with us as we uncover her unique childhood experiences in various countries and delve into how these experiences shaped her trajectory as a writer. Discover how her stint studying English at the University of Oxford almost doused her passion for writing, and how her love for storytelling eventually rekindled it. The magic of her writing process, where each reading experience becomes fuel for her craft, is sure to leave you spellbound.

In this thrilling episode, we also navigate through the eerie episodes of Catriona's teenage years, when she was haunted by an uncanny presence. Unmask the complexities of fear as we discuss how it often carries a sense of shame and embarrassment. Unlock the powerful allure of the horror genre and uncover why Maine's unsettling landscape makes it a prime setting for such tales. Finally, accompany Catriona on her publishing odyssey - from her initial ventures in creative writing to finding an agent, landing a book deal, and penning her second novel. This episode promises to be a fascinating exploration of the writing journey, the allure of horror, and the twists and turns of the publishing world.

Looking Glass Sound, Catriona Ward

Death of a Bookseller, Alice Slater

 Mrs. March, Virginia Feito

 Holly, Stephen King

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Mandy Jackson-Beverly
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Get ready for an unforgettable journey through the captivating life of Catriona Ward, a beloved international best-selling author. Traverse the globe with us as we uncover her unique childhood experiences in various countries and delve into how these experiences shaped her trajectory as a writer. Discover how her stint studying English at the University of Oxford almost doused her passion for writing, and how her love for storytelling eventually rekindled it. The magic of her writing process, where each reading experience becomes fuel for her craft, is sure to leave you spellbound.

In this thrilling episode, we also navigate through the eerie episodes of Catriona's teenage years, when she was haunted by an uncanny presence. Unmask the complexities of fear as we discuss how it often carries a sense of shame and embarrassment. Unlock the powerful allure of the horror genre and uncover why Maine's unsettling landscape makes it a prime setting for such tales. Finally, accompany Catriona on her publishing odyssey - from her initial ventures in creative writing to finding an agent, landing a book deal, and penning her second novel. This episode promises to be a fascinating exploration of the writing journey, the allure of horror, and the twists and turns of the publishing world.

Looking Glass Sound, Catriona Ward

Death of a Bookseller, Alice Slater

 Mrs. March, Virginia Feito

 Holly, Stephen King

Support the Show.

The Bookshop Podcast
Mandy Jackson-Beverly
Social Media Links

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Hi, my name is Mandy Jackson Beverly and I'm a Bibliophile. Welcome to the Bookshop Podcast. Each week, I present interviews with independent bookshop owners from around the globe, authors and specialists in subjects dear to my heart, the environment and social justice. To help the show reach more people, please share it with friends and family and on social media, and remember to subscribe and leave a review wherever you listen to this podcast. You're listening to Episode 220.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Catriona Ward was born in Washington DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She studied English at the University of Oxford and later earned her master's degree in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. Ward is a three-time winner of the August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel: The Girl From Raw blood, her debut; Little Eve; and the Last House on Needless Street. Little Eve also won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel. Ward is the international best-selling author of the Last House on Needless Street and Sundial. Hi, Catriona, and welcome to the show. It's lovely to have you here. Thank you so much for having me. My pleasure and Looking Glass Sound, your latest book is fabulous, congratulations.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Oh thank you. It was a tough one to write, though. Yeah, I was thinking it must have been an emotional book to write, and we'll get into that a little later. Let's begin with learning about you and how living in multiple countries affected the narrative of your life.

Catriona Ward:

The first thing I'd say is that it was an amazing childhood. You know we used to go walking on Sundays. We'd go walking in the rainforest in Madagascar. You know we kept chameleons as pets and swam on coral reefs and saw some things which not only many people don't get to see, especially at that age, but actually rather sadly, maybe diminishing and disappearing from the world in general. You know these fantastic natural resources and wonders of the world.

Catriona Ward:

What I will say also is it was also a little bit lonely. It was before the internet. In Madagascar in particular, I remember it took six months for a letter to come from the UK to Antananarivo, which is where we lived. I don't think we had a working phone for most of the time. Yeah, obviously, with no internet, there's no quick way to communicate with people you know in real time. Also, there's no way to keep friends. We had a posting every three years and you can't really take friends from Kenya to Madagascar, even keeping touch really. So what happens is you become incredibly reliant on your family, your whole world; my sister and my two parents. That was it. That was your entire emotional and social and everyday world. There was nothing else. The horror writer or the sort of writer of dark of fiction, what my brain does immediately with this is try to think you know, how could this turn from something supportive into something oppressive? So in a way, it was a good start.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

You turned your loneliness into an opportunity of sorts.

Catriona Ward:

Show me a writer who wasn't a lonely child. I just think they all were, because your only other source of nourishment, intellectually and emotionally, is books. You know, for want of friends, you have books. So I would say it was amazing. It was an amazing way to grow up and I also think, you know, even with its challenges, it was sort of the perfect start to this job that I seem to have chosen.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Yeah, I'm sure it opened up your imagination, that's for sure. What kind of work were your parents doing that required you to live in different countries?

Catriona Ward:

My father is a water economist, so he devises strategies for the countries that are running out of water, so hence it was Madagascar, Yemen, Morocco, and Kenya, places like that.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Oh, such a fascinating childhood.

Catriona Ward:

Yeah, really amazing, in Yemen in particular. It was wonderful, it was wonderful to spend time there. You do feel like you're on, you know, on another planet sometimes. Yeah, it must be very different now.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

And what led you to study English and creative writing and acting?

Catriona Ward:

Yes, the acting came first. I actually always wanted to be an actor. You know I did write things when I was younger. It never really occurred to me to want to write. So I did acting and I wanted to be an actor. And then you know my parents very sensitive, like please, can you please get a degree? Please just go to university. I was like, oh fine, mom, all right, because you know you always think you know best at that age, better than your parents. For sure, often you're wrong.

Catriona Ward:

at school, I did English at university, at Oxford, and in a way I think that may have contributed to sort of putting me off but to make writing feel further away. Because it's this wonderful education where you're whisked or, you know, taken on this whirlwind tour of the entirety of like of the canon of specifically English literature, and it reinforces this thing of literature is something you're there to study, is something that you, you observe and you admire from afar. The idea of contributing to it myself really didn't, it didn't seem at all possible. It seemed kind of presumptuous really, and I think it took a long while for that feeling to fade.

Catriona Ward:

In the long term, obviously it was, I think, one of the best things I could have done, because the more you read and you know, that massive kind of immersion was incredibly helpful. No, you know, no right, no reading ever goes to waste when you're a writer. But initially, after that, I stayed away from it because it really felt like, you know, you could not, something you could never contribute to, something could only, you know, sit back and admire. So I went to drama school in New York, which was amazing, and in retrospect I think that you know there's it's a huge similarity in terms of storytelling in these two disciplines. And I look at the way I write sometimes and I think, yes, yes, I'm using these sort of tools that I was given at drama school. Anyway, I was phenomenally unsuccessful as an actor, and you can't imagine how unsuccessful.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Oh, I feel for you, it's a tough world. I was a stylist and costume designer in Los Angeles for quite a few years and saw many actors coming in to read. Oh my goodness, I don't know how they did it. It is painful.

Catriona Ward:

I admire actors so much. They're sort of holy really. I don't understand how they keep breathing sometimes. Yeah, I agree. But after, I decided that I just couldn't face that life. You know, I think actors spend something like half a percent of their time actually acting.

Catriona Ward:

I went and worked for a Human Rights Foundation for a while where I was actually doing writing, and that sort of sparked off this idea in my head, even though it was a very different kind of writing to novel writing or fiction. It was drafting articles and speeches for the foundation. It set off that little, you know, the pebble that started the avalanche in my mind about it's just creative form. And then I did a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, which is just a workshop.

Catriona Ward:

I can never remember whether it's based on the Iowa Writers' Workshop or whether the Iowa Writers' Workshop is based on it. I can never remember. Anyway, it's one of those things and that's sort of where I started working on my first novel. And then maybe that sort of barrier that I'd put in place, like you know, about how one couldn't possibly write because writing is such an elevated form or that I couldn't be the one to contribute to it, that sort of started to come down. And yeah, I mean, it still took me seven years to finish my first novel, so it wasn't exactly.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Oh hey, it takes what it takes, right. Yeah. Yeah. Catriona, I heard you talking about an experience you had at an old house in Dartmoor when you were 13 years old, and to me it sounded like a pivotal point, a turning point for you. I'm wondering if you could share that with our listeners with, please?

Catriona Ward:

For sure, and it certainly dictated the kind of things that I ended up writing. So, with all this moving around, we came back almost every summer to this house on Dartmoor. And you know, to me I lived in the tropics and Dartmoor was incredibly exotic. You know, it had weather and rain and you know, because in, say, Madagascar, you've got like sun, sun, sun or disaster, that's it, you've got, there's no two, there's no middle ground. So like rain and clouds and wild ponies, and, for those who don't know, it looks quite like Scotland. Yeah, it's down in the south. It's very, very beautiful. And this house we used to stay in was, I think there'd been a building on that site for something like a thousand years. Really, really old, and the walls were so thick and they were about five feet thick and you know, the windows are really deep and these really deep sort of sills and casements and it was just really very atmospheric.

Catriona Ward:

And when I was 13, something started happening to me. In the night I'd wake up with a hand in the small of my back pushing me out of bed and I could feel every single finger on the hand, I could feel the fingertips and I could feel the force with which I was pushed, I would fall on the floor. It's a very physical experience and I could feel that there was someone in the room with me. You know, it wasn't just, you know, just a disembodied hand. It had intent and will, and it didn't mean me well, and that's probably the most frightened that I've ever been. So I'd go, I'd get up and I'd go to, I'd go to my sister's room and I'd crawl into bed with her and I'd just spend the rest of the night there. So many things puzzle me about this later in life. Why didn't we tell anyone? Because we didn't, we didn't tell anyone.

Catriona Ward:

But I think I know why. I think it's because fear is shameful. You know, fear is embarrassing, it makes us vulnerable, especially at 13. It feels like one of those childish things you're trying to get, you're trying to grow up and get past. And adults still feel this way too. We don't like fear. We don't, we don't. It doesn't really have any place in our, in our rational conscious, in our rational sort of day-to-day lives, and I think that's partly why horror or the works of the uncanny are such a powerful thing. We don't have any other kind of discipline or genre or discourse which is interested in interrogating fear. We don't, we don't, we try to just brush it under the carpet. It's a reminder of our vulnerability and of our mortality. So I think that's one reason. Also, another reason is, I don't know that at 13, with all the changes that were going on that start to go on with you at that age, it seemed any weirder than anything else. You know it was, it was just like well, maybe this is just what what adult life is like.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Yeah, I mean, it's such a tough age.

Catriona Ward:

Yeah, it was really weird. And what happened after that summer, which made it sort of almost doubly odd, was um we left and went back to I think it must have been at that stage, we were in the US at that stage. I don't quite remember, but what I do remember is it happened again, not just in their house, so and it carried on happening after that, you know, with different levels of regularity. The inevitable conclusion was it wasn't the house that was haunted, it was me. For a long, long time it became a very accepted part of my life. But it obviously very terrifying. But that logical reasoning leads you to the thought that you have a sort of companion or a passenger of some kind, and I don't know how I could possibly have turned out to write anything else but horror, having had that experience.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

And do you still feel this presence or did it end after a few months or years?

Catriona Ward:

No, no, I still get it, but it's called a hypnagogic hallucination. It's unfortunately, you know, in someone in my 20s was able to kind of identify it. It doesn't make it any less frightening actually knowing what it is. It's actually, it's a well-known phenomenon. I think members of the Bloomsbury group used to sleep with ball bearings at least heavy ball bearings in their hands. So at the moment of them dropping off to sleep the ball bearing would drop and make a loud noise so that they'd wake up to catch this nominal moment between sleeping and waking, so this is sort of moment of genius. I personally could have done without it. But you know, each to their own.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Yes, and as you said at 13, you have so much stuff going on between your body and your emotional being, it can be daunting, to say the least. Let's talk about the setting for your new book Looking Glass Sound. It's set in Maine, and in an interview you said that in some ways it was a tribute to Stephen King. So can you talk about that?

Catriona Ward:

Oh yeah, I mean it's a lovely letter to that country because it's quite a big move really to invoke that. Because, you know, Maine in that sense isn't just a physical place, it's also this imaginative landscape that we've all grown up with, you know, created by Stephen King. It's definitely chosen advisedly with that in mind. But Maine is just so weird, so beautiful, so weird, and the light is so extraordinary. You're so far north I think you're farther north there than in many parts of Canada. It's got that broad brilliance that you get from beings always so near the sea. Maine suits horror, it does. New England suits horror, it's made for it.

Catriona Ward:

I was doing a panel the other day with Christopher Goldman and Gretchen Felker- Martin. We were talking about this, why is New England so suited to like the uncanny? And we came up with lots of reasons. Essentially because it's just formed in a secretive sort of way. Partly it's topography. There's definitely a horror endemic to things like the Great Plains and mountains and things like that. But there's a particular eeriness that Maine and New England carry with it in the woods and little and coves and little thickets and hidden things. It's got a sort of, it's almost un-American.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Yeah, I mean you just have to look at the weather, the kind of fog and the mist, the lighthouses and the somewhat dramatic coastline in areas, it definitely lends itself to dark tales.

Catriona Ward:

Yeah, and it's also where you were, I suppose, arguably another kind of horror star-started, as you know as well, when people first landed, began the settlement, the European settlement of the States, and so there's a lot. There's a lot to recommend New England for, b ut Main in particular, I don't know my partner in and this is in retrospect, I just thought what the hell were we doing, but um, we went up there to do a bit of fact-checking in November, and main in November is bleak and unfriendly, not the people, just the landscapes. It was so cold, everything was shut, um, but in a way it was the best way, the best time to see it, I think, because you, it didn't have any of its lovely summer tourists. You know and tourists, you know Johnny, and best clothes on for us it was very much wearing his most bleak aspect.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

You know it's interesting because I feel that way about parts of the coastline of Wales in the UK. It's a little dark to me, it feels that way. And I come from Tasmania in Australia and there are parts of that state that feel very dark and bleak to me. Because the land has had such a hard, cruel history and sometimes I think that different parts of the world, when you step onto the earth and you walk around, you can feel it. Yeah. I think humans aren't the only ones that suffer from inherited suffering. I think it's also in the land.

Catriona Ward:

It sort of lingers, maybe in the land but also in, and, like you, pass down that memory, whether people talk about it or not there and, you know, in the ethos, and there's plenty of yeah, there's plenty of that, plenty of that all over the world, isn't there?

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Yes, and it's ongoing. I'd like to talk about the opening of Looking Glass Sound. the story begins with your main character, 16 year old Wilder. He's on a full scholarship at a school where most students come from wealthy families and bully him because they see his family as poor. Wilder often hears his parents arguing behind closed doors. He's lonely and sees himself as somewhat awkward. When his uncle dies and leaves them his coastal cottage. Wilder's parents take him there for holiday. While there he meets Nat and Harper. The way this beginning is written from the whistling sound of the bay and continues, quote, "the house is surrounded by a white picket fence with a gate. It's white clapboard with blue shutters and I think I've never seen anything so neat, so perfect. End quote. I mean it's the perfect setup for an unnerving story. Did you see this opening clearly before you began writing?

Catriona Ward:

Yeah, I always saw that particular moment quite clearly. What was different originally was the book sort of in reverse originally. So I had it opened with so this as you know, Wilder, late in the book, comes back to the cottage to try and reclaim his narrative. Originally I had old Wilder opening the book, but I realized that it missed out on all of the stuff that anchors you to the story and the passion of those teenage friendships. You know. I mean, in some ways romantic love has nothing on the intensity of friends you make at that age.

Catriona Ward:

And it is, as the first line says, this is a book all about love, different kinds of love, and I realized it's a completely different kind of connection you have to Wilder. If you've never seen that, if you haven't seen that young and intensity of those of those b onds he forms with Nat and Harper, you don't really it's a completely different kind of book in a way. I mean not. And to go, you know, to go back to Stephen King as well, it has in its kind of relationship that he does so well and he I mean a lonely teenagers are absolutely like Stephen King's tape tailor made for them. He understands the difficulties and and also the joy of that intensity so well. So anyway, I reversed, I switched the order and I decided to write it in a more linear way, starting with Wilder At 16 and progressing from there.

Catriona Ward:

I mean linear. Perhaps is a kind of ridiculous word to use about this book.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

And how far into writing the manuscript were you before you decided to do that?

Catriona Ward:

Quite far yeah, quite far and it changed. It changed things quite, quite significantly, but it was the key to the book really, because you know in a book, in a book so ostensibly about love, you have to, you have to show Wilder in love, you know with these two people, but you also have, you have to form your own love for him and people have various reactions to Wilder, but I sort of love him. You have to.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

At times, while reading Looking Glass Sound, I found myself drifting into that twilight space between reality and the surreal. Did you feel like this while writing the story and, if so, how do you ground yourself while writing?

Catriona Ward:

Oh yes, this one's a particular nightmare because it really does wander those, those barriers, even more than my other books, which is saying something. I think the one thing that I always stuck to is that none of this means anything without the character's passion. So you know it's, it could be considered, I think, quite a almost meta-textual novel. There's not just discussion of story and what that means, and it's just slipping between narratives and debate about who owns a narrative and indeed who's creating certain narrative, which can all make you feel quite untethered. Which is why the one thing I stuck to is, I make the relationships as strong and as real and as deeply felt from the heart as I possibly could. So that was the grounding for it.

Catriona Ward:

Really, I've never been any good about doing any kind of, you know how some novelists do like almost like a murder board with bits of yarn and pictures of things, and that's what they do. They plan out their structure. I've never been able to do that. It always just I, just I tried, and it just makes the whole thing go dead for me. For me, it was just boiling it down to no matter what level of the story you're in, or what slipperiness there is, slipperiness there is in the narrative. What's always driving this is that, you know, is their love and their grief and the human feeling behind it.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

You know, I feel there are some books that I read and I can tell the author is all about plot. There are others that I read where I can tell the author is following the characters, and Looking Glass Sound is one of those books. Earlier, you used the word tethered. I felt this while I was reading the book. I needed to keep myself anchored.

Catriona Ward:

Yeah, to orientate yourself. Yeah, I bet yeah.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

So that alone makes the reader unsettled, which is, you know, for the genre that you're writing is perfect. There are some books we read and we can finish the first chapter and we kind of figure out already what's going to happen, but then there are books that keep you guessing, and this is one of those books. Now let's talk about your publishing story, from your first finished manuscript to finding an agent and publishing deal.

Catriona Ward:

Yeah, well, my first one was published in the UK in 2014. As I said, I did this creative writing course and it's a masters, very funny, and so it's a workshop structure and it was really instrumental in trying to keep starting that process, because I think the difference between writing a short story or writing a couple of scenes and writing a novel is absolutely immense. You know, the sustained act of kind of banging your head against a brick wall would be one way of putting it, is in a far cry from whether you can write or whether you can write a book, or two different things, I think. And what made the difference to me was kind of being, that course opened up the door to that possibility that I might be able to, might be able to do that. They were, back then, very particular. So they don't take fantasy because they're not qualified to judge fantasy and because fantasy is not writing.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Yes, you're not the first one to tell me this about MA creative writing courses.

Catriona Ward:

I know, and they do a crime. They do a crime strand now. So maybe, and no, it's gotten a bit better. But back in the day, you know you get workshops and you hand your stuff in the week before and everyone reads it, and then the next week ev eryone comes in, it's rather, then they talk about you for two hours and you're not allowed to speak. You can imagine the tension rising in your body as they continue. But the thing is, with me, because I was writing a ghost story which was what eventually became my first novel, Girl from Rawblood, and just Rawblood in the UK, and they spent the first, probably about half hour having a debate about whether I was allowed to be there or not, or whether this book was any good or whether ghost stories were any good.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Oh, my goodness.

Catriona Ward:

I just just had to sit there and wait for it to pass. In a way, it was, first of all, there were people, and there was very useful contributions, like you end up with this kind of they hand back your work at the end of what their notes on it. So you get this. You get a pile of work, a stack of manuscripts that have all got notes and edits and suggestions and reactions, and that is incredibly useful. Some of it wasn't, but no, and it also taught you that the worst thing that could possibly have happened to you as a budding writer as in someone looking at it and going, I don't like it, had happened and actually we were still alive and that didn't matter. That was, I think that was really formative. It was, of course, was started by Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter, and it was very, very back in the 60s, very, very kind of literary.

Catriona Ward:

Anyway, I wouldn't necessarily recommend that step for everyone. You don't, in fact, need, I think, a creative writing course or a master's or anything like that. What you might need, though, is a group of your peers, and that's what that course gave me, is you know people who are at your stage of development, who and who write very different things, who are willing to talk to you and let you about your work and let you see theirs. That was invaluable and I can't recommend that highly enough, because looking at what they do right is really informative. Looking at what they do wrong is incredibly informative. It's always the thing that you don't think that there's a problem with that's actually the real sort of the thing that has to be unraveled, no matter what you go in expecting people to comment on it. Well, apart from that thing about whether I belong, whether I deserve to be there or not, it was always something different.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

And how did you go about finding an agent?

Catriona Ward:

Well, when I finished, I finished the book, I said seven years later, don't take seven years to finish a book, kids, it's too long. And after that, um one good thing the course had done, I mean seven years previously, but there's a sort of a term where they introduce you to lots of agents and people come from publishing houses and talk to you about things. And they did say, "you know you can write to us, and if we met you and you did this course, you know you can write to us, it doesn't matter when." And then I thought, and that was my first glimpse, you can write to us in 10 years and say I met you at UEA. That gave me my first glimpse into the glacial pace of publishing. Time moves at a very, very different rate. So I, after I finished, I wrote to three or four agents and went and met with them, and chose one, we signed and it was very it was, it was fairly smooth process. But what really changed the book for the better was the work I did on the manuscript with the agent. It became a book, you know, and that in itself taught me the difference between how to form it, the difference between a manuscript and a book, as it were, how to form it and how to make it into something that was actually readable and comprehensible. So that was really valuable experience.

Catriona Ward:

Then we submitted it to various publishers and my first book wasn't published in the U. S. until much later, and my second one even later, which I'll get to. But we did that publishing deal. The first book did al right and the second book, Little Eve, I found so difficult to write and the difficult second novel is a real thing. I wrestled with it. Now I think it's one of my best, but it was you know, I struggled and struggled. I delivered it, I think two years late, but I mean, going from seven years down to three years to write a book is actually pretty good, pretty good going.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Yeah, I've heard this before that so many writers find writing that second novel is really, really difficult.

Catriona Ward:

Oh, it's dreadful. You've never, ever written anything except your first book. So how do you know how to write anything but that? And maybe you can't. The impostor syndrome, the doubt, and the writerly crisis, is much worse with the second one, I think, than with the first one. The first one usually got no one looking over your shoulder and it's sort of a joy, it's a private joy, no one's waiting for it. But the second one usually, as was my case, you have a two book deal and someone is waiting for it and you've got this challenge where you could be a real writer, maybe, if you can just get this right. So the pressure's on, I think.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

Yeah, and sometimes that pressure just stops the flow, right? Okay, let's talk about other books. What are you currently reading?

Catriona Ward:

So I've just read something fantastic called Death of a Bookseller by Alice Slater, which is really really great. I loved Virginia Feito's Mrs. March. It's absolutely wonderful. I actually just also read the new Stephen King, Holly, which I thought was so interesting and he's pivoted, I say I see as a sort of pivot, but it's more traditional, kind of almost detective noir than it is horror, and it's featuring this character which he introduced in earlier books.

Catriona Ward:

He writes so beautifully about mothers and daughters and I found that really interesting. It's got this beautiful kind of, um, in Holly mother has just died. This isn't part of the main plot at all. It's got this fantastic strand about octogenarian and cannibal serial killers which I loved. But there's also fantastic melancholy meditations on what losing your parents, and particularly your mother, can mean to a daughter. And I just think he always there's always these unexpected pockets of wells of compassion and insight which he has in his books which I probably shouldn't be surprised, not surprise very much, the wrong word, but you know, kind of moved. So I've just finished that. I really, really enjoyed it. I'm not reading as much as I should because I'm writing, and when I'm writing I find it very difficult to read because either I get derailed or I start wanting to write that book that I'm reading.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

So put down the books and keep writing, please. Catriona, thank you so much for being a guest on the show. It's been fabulous chatting with you.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly:

You're welcome and I wish you all the best with the book. Thank you so much. So lovely to meet you. Thank you for a lovely talk. You've been listening to my conversation with Catriona Ward, author of Looking Glass Sound. To find out more about the Bookshop podcast, go to thebookshoppodcast. com and make sure to subscribe and leave a review wherever you listen to the show. You can also follow me at Mandy Jackson Beverly on Twitter, instagram and Facebook, and on YouTube at the Bookshop podcast. If you have a favorite indie bookshop that you'd like to suggest we have on the podcast, I'd love to hear from you via the contact form at thebookshoppodcast. com. The Bookshop podcast is written and produced by me, Mandy Jackson Beverly, theme music provided by Brian Beverly, executive assistant to Mandy, Adrian Odtohan, and graphic design by Frances Faralla. Thanks for listening and I'll see you next time.

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