Posted by: Admin | January 8, 2011

The Saturday Interview – 13

Novelist, Katie Fforde

I caught up with popular author, Katie Fforde  in London, where she was attending the Nibbies (the annual Bookseller Industry Awards). Currently writing her 18th novel, due out in 2012, Katie tells me that number 17, Summer of Love, will be released in March, in time for Mother’s Day, while the paperback of Perfect Proposal will hit the shelves next month. Described as “witty and generous romance – Jilly Cooper for grown-ups!” by the Independent, Katie’s books have a large and loyal following worldwide.

Katie and I first met around 1989 in a lunch queue at a would-be writers’ conference, run by the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). It was a lunch washed down with several glasses of wine, so when I made to leap up in an afternoon lecture to ask a question, Katie leaned over and quietly enquired as to whether I had thought through what I was about to say. I hadn’t, of course. She stopped me from making a fool of myself in front of everyone and I’ve always remembered her for it.

At the time, we both wanted to write Mills and Boon style romance. She was one of my first writing friends and, although we eventually took very different paths in our literary endeavours, we have met up periodically over the years and always seem to take up right where we left off. Unlike me, Katie stuck to her romantic guns and carved a regular niche for herself on the shelves of Waterstone’s et al even becoming Chair of the RNA in the process. She also took part in University Challenge – the Professionals as part of the Society of Authors team. That’s the Katie I remember – always ready to “have a go”!

Is she living that dream we shared all those years ago, I asked her?

“It can be a bit of a treadmill,” she tells me, “but a very nice treadmill!”

Under contract to write a book a year until 2013, there’s no time for the sabbatical she would like to take. “Each book takes a lot of hands-on research. I’ve taken a survival course with Ray Mears for one, attended a small-holding course for another.”

Katie even appeared in New York as an extra in the TV dramatisation of one of her books. “That was fun, but very tiring!”

Does she feel that her books have changed over time? “My heroines are still 27-32,” she tells me, “which is the age I still am in my head!” Aha – so she still falls in love with every hero? “Of course!” she admits, with a twinkle. “I love romance – it keeps me young.”

Looking back, how did Katie feel about turning 50?

“I dreaded it! Partly, it was fearing the menopause, partly that I have less energy than I used to.”

She kept writing through it though, weaving her tales of love and romance with her trademark light and humorous touch.”I just told myself brace up or you’ll miss your fifties. And now I know that, apart from slowing down a bit, age is all in the mind.”

Will she ever retire?

Katie takes a moment to consider. “I’d like that sabbatical,” she muses, “because I want to travel round Australia, but I wouldn’t want to give up entirely.  I’d miss it too much.”

That’ll be a huge relief for Katie’s legions of fans – so long as Katie keeps falling in love with her heroes, there’s hope for romantics everywhere!

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Responses

  1. I want to understand why so many people fear 50 and the menopause, I myself can’t wait ! There seems to me so many advantages of being older and wiser and no more PMT to worry about how great is that !

  2. It’s great that you feel so positive about getting older, Jane – maybe we should feature you in an interview? It seems to me that whether we dread it or not is partly down to the life stage we’re at when it occurs. Those whose children are still at home, or who are embarking on new careers or new relationships seem to be distracted from it! As for an end to PMT – believe me, for some of us the menopause is PMT plus!


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