I am delighted to welcome Catherine Hokin today 🙂
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
My name is Catherine Hokin. I’m a Glasgow based writer and my debut novel Blood and Roses, a work of historical fiction about Margaret of Anjou and her role in the fifteenth century Wars of the Roses, came out in paperback and kindle in 2016. I also write contemporary short stories which are a bit twisted!
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
My historical fiction is based on real people, strong women who have played an important part in history but whose voices have either been forgotten or distorted. Margaret of Anjou, for example, was turned into a mad witch by Shakespeare and that stuck even though it’s completely wrong! When I’ve found the character who interests me, then I go hunting for the ‘gaps’ – the things that they did/which happened to them that we know about but we don’t know the reasons why. That’s where the story telling starts.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I do use personality traits from people I know that I think will fit the character – like a lot of writers I’m always collecting quirks – and I also use myself. I used my experience as a mother of a teenage boy in Blood and Roses – he’s read it and he forgave me! There’s a mad tyrant in book 2 who’s based very much on a real person but I’m not saying who…
How do you pick your characters names?
A lot of them are real but for supporting characters I use common period names. For my short stories I use ones that match with a particular characteristic: Alice in Stolen Moments lives in a macabre fantasy world, Cara in Kitchen Nightmares is very caring.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I’m a planner. Lots and lots of research with masses of notes, pinboards and Pinterest; a first draft which is a research/story dump and then storyboarding. I’m a big fan of Story by Robert McKee – it’s my template.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
AL Kennedy, Angela Carter, Emma Donoghue, Terry Pratchett, Kate Atkinson
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I want to know how he managed to hold all the crazy plot strands of One Hundred Years of Solitude together and write such an amazing book. And George RR Martin – seriously, how can it be taking this long…
Were you a big reader as a child?
Huge, I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I’ve always loved stories.
When did you start to write?
I wrote my first pieces about 25 years ago but life and children got in the way and I put it all aside. I started properly again about 4 years ago when I could find headspace to do it. For the last 6 months I have been writing full time which is an absolute joy – it may not last so I’m relishing every minute.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
That’s a toughie – being honest probably The Handmaid’s Tale as I loved it but didn’t think the ending worked. Although I’d prefer Margaret Atwood to do it than me.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
One Hundred Years of Solitude, it’s a breathtaking sweep of genius – I don’t think my brain is big enough though.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
The Chance sisters, Nora and Dora, from Angela Carter’s Wise Children. Afternoon tea at the Savoy and then cocktails – they’d have a wealth of stories and hopefully a few tricks to help us get away without paying.
What are you working on right now?
I’m in that strange writer place of being involved with 3 books at different points. I’m still doing a lot of promotional stuff round Blood and Roses, my second novel (set in the fourteenth century) is with my agent and I’m at the first draft/nervous breakdown stage of book 3 which is set in the twelfth century, sort of.
Do you have a new release due?
My lovely agent is sending out book 2 and we are keeping everything crossed. It’s tough out there – she is looking for a different publisher and it’s not easy. At least she gets the rejections first though…
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I blog on the 22nd of every month for the History Girls author collective – there’s 30 of us and there’s some great stuff on there.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Catherine 🙂
Buy your copy HERE
Publisher: Yolk Publishing (11th January 2016)
Blood and Roses tells the story of Margaret of Anjou (1430-82), wife of Henry VI and a key protagonist in the Wars of the Roses. This is a feminist revision of a woman frequently imagined only as the shadowy figure demonised by Shakespeare – Blood and Roses examines Margaret as a Queen unable to wield the power and authority she is capable of, as a wife trapped in marriage to a man born to be a saint and as a mother whose son meets a terrible fate she has set in motion. It is the story of a woman caught up in the pursuit of power, playing a game ultimately no one can control…