1. Is there going to be a sequel to Harry August?
This is a lovely question, because it is implies that people enjoyed Harry enough to want a sequel! So thank you for asking. The answer at the moment, however, is that there’s no plans in the works. However there was an idea lopping around a few years back which I may one-day revisit, and I’d never say never.
There is also a film in development, so watch that space too.
2. Will there be any more Matthew Swift/Magicals Anonymous books?
Short answer: I don’t know.
Long answer: There are no plans at this present time to write more. This is not because I have any less love for the series – it is incredibly fun to write and I’d go back to it like a shot. Rather I’ve also got 5000 other projects on the go, and fitting in Matthew Swift while keeping all the other stuff running is currently beyond my power. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon though, in the form of a TV series currently in development. Whether it ever leaves development, I can’t say, because after all, this is TV where things can stay trapped in development for 20 years and then vanish without a trace. However the producer is an amazing woman who could probably have stopped the Golden Hoard with a single, ferocious raised eyebrow, so if anyone can do it, she can. Again, annoyingly: watch this space.
3.What’s the best way to actually get a direct answer to a direct question from you, Kate/Claire/Cat/whoever you are?
The blog is still a bit of a work in progress – sorry if you’ve encountered technical issues from it! Hopefully it’ll settle down soon. When it is fully functional I do read and enjoy all the comments left on it, so thank you if that’s been you! I’m probably most reachable via Twitter @ClaireNorth42. Apologies if I don’t reply directly or speedily – I will always try to – but in the juggle of life-writing-lighting-life, social media is something I try to ration a bit, as it feels like a rabbit hole with no bottom.
4.What’s with the pseudonyms?
Ah, right, yes…
So I started writing quite young, and did so under my own name, Catherine Webb. In those days I wrote Young Adult books, because I was, basically, a young adult. It was joyful fun, but by the time I was about 20 I was starting to write more ‘grown-up’ books, whatever that means, and my publisher decided the time had come for a pseudonym. Thus, Kate Griffin came into existence, in order to make it clear to readers of the Catherine Webb books that while, yes, I was still me, still writing stuff I loved, the style and content of the books would be very different from my YA stuff. It was a quick and easy way of marking out new territory, essentially. Then when I was 25, I wrote Harry August, and again, the style of writing and content was so different that my publisher felt it would be best for me to have another pseudonym, for exactly the same purpose.
Now, there’s a lot to be said about the pros/cons of such a thing. My interests in whether it’s a good or bad idea is purely commercial – I’m perfectly happy to be called anything, really, so long as I get to spend my days being able to a) eat and b) write books. However as the debate for me here is almost entirely commercial, with a tiny dose of genre/literary battles and maybe a splash of feminist stuff on the side, I’ll leave it here for another time…
5. What’s with the lighting design?
Simply – I love light. Light is flipping gorgeous. And being a music lighting designer gets me out of the house so I can meet people, go places, and not just sit at home all day writing books. I love theatre and I love gigs. I am constantly amazed that my career allows me to see live events every week, and what’s more I get paid to to it. I am not likely to stop being an LD any time soon – I suspect that as much as anything, getting out of the house probably keeps me sane. Bizarrely.
6. Favourite writers/have you read….?
Roger Zelazny!! Come on people, Roger Zelazny is the best…
While here, a little list: Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Ursula le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Ruth Ozeki, NK Jemisin, Raymond Chandler, Iain M. Banks, George Orwell.
If you’re looking for a shortcut, then the Kitschies is an award for intelligent, progressive and entertaining speculative fiction, which I’ve been a judge for several times, and always produces fascinating shortlists.
7. Any advice for aspiring writers?
a) Write what you love. It’ll come easier, read better.
b) Get an agent. Whole manuscript submissions are,for my money, better than partial ones.
c) Find a copy of the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook. It’ll tell you way more than I can.
d) Don’t spend your own money on trying to get a publishing deal! (i.e. freelance editors, readers, PR etc..) It’s a hugely unwise investment…
e) Know that the publishing business is ridiculous, and being paid to write books for cash is a wonderful, brilliant, absurd career choice. In short: get ready to laugh at it, you and the world. It’s a much healthier response than the alternative.
f) If you get published… don’t read your own reviews. If you are writing for the praise of others, you’re writing for the wrong reason. If you’re writing in order to sell huge numbers of copies, you’re writing for the wrong reason. Ask yourself why you’re writing, and invest your emotional energy in that. It’s the words you make and the way you live that matters, not whether you got a 3* review that you thought should have been 4*.
8. Sooooo you’ve been getting increasingly political. What gives?
I am a fluffy left-wing liberal, with a massive chip on my shoulder about the impending climate apocalypse.
As a writer, there is a quiet pressure to keep your nose down, been clean in word and deed and only pronounce on nice stuff, like book tours and publication dates etc.. I absolutely will continue to do this, and am constantly amazed, thrilled and grateful by the community of readers and writers I have the privilege to engage with.
But as a human being – and one advantaged in many ways by much of life – to ignore suffering, to close your eyes and your ears to reality – well that just feels like bad humaning. I would love to live in a superhero adventure where I could punch my way to social justice and environmentalism for all. I would love to be a hero. Alas, Real Life keeps on throwing a spanner in my anti-gravity dreams and so instead, I think I should do what little I can.
What that largely means is a) I volunteer for the Green Party b) I try to live sustainably, with an open mind, but mostly above all else c) as a writer, it would be daft not to write about all this. And so I do.
I will continue to write the best fiction I can, telling the best stories I can, because stories are awesome and I’d go mad without it. Stick around – this blog and my twitter are still all very much there for that.
But I am also speaking up more and more, because frankly, what else is a girl to do? If that’s not your cuppa tea, I totally get it. But whatever you believe, if you’re up for a reasoned, fact-checked debate between humans who recognise the validity of each other’s humaning, I’m here for it.