Thursday, 14 May 2015

Debut Spotlight: Kate Winter

Under the debut spotlight today is journalist Kate Winter and her debut novel The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) which is published next Thursday, 21st May.

Kate Winter is a journalist, novelist and storyteller from the North West of Ireland who was lucky enough to grow up with no TV (though she didn't consider it a lucky break at the time) and lots of books. After graduating from University of Ulster with first class honours and the Ulster Television Award for her BA in Media Studies, Kate promptly forged a glittering career for herself in waitressing. 

Then one day, beside a swimming pool in Australia, Kate decided it was time to write a book. The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) is Kate's debut novel.
When Rosie Potter wakes up one morning with what she assumes is the world's worst hangover, the last thing she expects is to discover that she's actually dead. With a frustrating case of amnesia, suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely demise, and stuck wearing her ugliest flannel PJs, Rosie must figure out not only what happened last night, but why on earth she's still here.

Slowly the mystery unravels, but there are many other secrets buried in the quiet Irish village of Ballycarragh, and nobody is as innocent as they first appear. Aided by the unlikeliest of allies in her investigation, Rosie discovers that life after death isn't all it's cracked up to be, particularly when you might just be falling in love . . .   
The Happy Ever After of Rosie Potter is a hilarious, life-affirming and romantic journey through Rosie Potter's afterlife, in which she shares the ghostly tale of how she lived, she died, and she loved (in that order).

Guest reviewer Emma Crowley loved this debut novel, you can read her review on publication day next week, so she wanted to ask Kate a few questions about The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) and her writing so over to Emma & Kate...

Can you give us a brief description of your debut novel The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP)? 
The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) is a romantic, supernatural, slightly twisty Irish comedy. It's about a dead girl who finds herself stuck haunting her hometown in rural Ireland because it appears there are some things she needs to learn about life before she moves along. It's got a lovely man in it too.

Had you planned out the book before you began or did Rosie and co take on a life if their own as you were writing?
Oh, I definitely planned it out painstakingly before I got stuck in to writing the actual book. In fact, I write almost three times as many words in the planning stages as are in my actual novels and all by hand - I have huge piles of notebooks all over my house, they're kind of like furniture at this stage. I handwrite my first draft always, and at that stage, I let my mind wander and let myself drift a bit with the characters and storyline if the yin takes me, because I know I'll be 'fixing' it later when I transcribe it onto the screen. But usually, it's a fully formed book-baby by the time it comes out of my head. All my characters live in my brain, all the time. It gets quite noisy in there.

Describe Rosie in three words?
Impulsive, feisty, lovable.

Did you find it difficult to write from a dead person's perspective or was it liberating as you could let rip and say what you felt?
It was great - I really loved the voyeuristic element to it all, and the comedy side was fun too. The hardest part was defining hard and fast rules for how a ghost would interact with the world, how I could make it fit with supernatural ideas that circulate already and yet kind of make it my own. I took inspiration from other sources a bit, but mostly, I just let my imagination run riot. Hence we now know what toilet-bowl tastes like...

Being Irish myself I loved all the Irish references, wit and humour.  Were you worried an International readership would get this? 
Honestly, I think one of the blessings of writing a debut novel (aka chancing your arm) is that you never really imagine anyone is going to read the damn thing. So you don't really worry about that kind of stuff. In my wildest daydreams, I did think about the fact that the US market would love the diddly-aye-ness of the setting, though. And, sure if a book is set in rural Eire, you have to expect a few aul swearwords too, don't you?

How important do you think the cover is when promoting the book? Anyone taking a brief glance at the colourful cover might be surprised on discovering the main character is dead. 
Well, my wonderful publishers were in charge of the cover and I trust them to know what they're doing! As far as the importance of covers, I think they're vital: Everybody judges a book by its cover, I don't care what they protest to the contrary! But in fairness, Rosie Potter (RIP) is a very light-hearted romp through murder, mystery, intrigue, infidelity, loss and betrayal, so I think the butterflies and flowers work really well... Hehehe.

Have you started book two? Is it in a similar vein to Rosie Potter or a total departure?
I have just finished book two! Well, when I say that, the hard work starts when my editor starts sending me notes and making me rewrite the whole thing so it's a proper book, but I am so excited about it. It's a few years since I wrote Rosie Potter (RIP) and I have evolved a lot as a writer. This book is chunkier, with a bigger cast, and a little darker... But it's still a supernatural, romantic, slightly twisty Irish comedy. And, of course, there's a lovely man in it, too!

What do you need to have at hand as you sit down to write?
Coffee. A scented soy candle. My phone (without regular distractions I can't write). My pets, Mischief the dog and Cooper the cat, to snuggle. And quiet. Although, sometimes, to mix it up, I do go and sit in my favourite restaurant and eat lovely Italian food and drink wine and type away while the lovely Italian waiters distract me.

Have you any advice for other aspiring writers hoping to publish their novels? 
Keep writing! And if you lose the plot (literally) put the book away and start something new. It will still be there in two years, three years. Mine take absolutely ages to sprout properly in my brain, and if I try to push 'em out too soon, they just fall flat. You'll know when it's time. Trust your gut. And write what makes YOU feel stuff. I'm always laughing out loud when I'm writing, I totally crack myself up.

What books inspired you to become an author?
Jeepers, that's a hard question. All of them?! The whole existence of books and the worlds in them has always been one of the wonders of life for me. As a child my mother used to read Tolkien and CS Lewis to me from when I was a teeny tiny toddler. Books have always been a massive part of my existence, and I've rarely had a TV in my lifetime. I admire so many authors, but in my own genre, I adore Marian Keyes, she is the Queen. A book called Honeymoon by Amy Jenkins had a big impact on me in my early twenties, too. And I love the male side of commercial fiction too, which you can't call chick lit, but it kinda does the same thing... Colin Bateman and Brian Finnegan are two of my favourites. I could go on... and on.... and on!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic!!!! Well deserved Kate!!!!! Where is the book launch? And what time?