I had the great joy of reading a proof copy of Kat Gordon’s debut novel, The Artificial Anatomy of Parks (2015) published by Legend Press. It tackles some of the subjects that fascinate me most: the complex nature of families, the secrets which those families keep and the difficult business of forgiveness. Kat’s style is quirkily British in a way that reminds me of books like I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. I was so excited to find out that her gorgeous novel has been shortlisted by the Not The Booker Prize. Fingers and toes crossed for Kat.
Kat is currently working on her second book, which is set in Kenya. Here’s a lovely little insight into her world.
Which three words would you use to describe yourself?
Headstrong. Compassionate. Sleepy.
What do you love most about writing?
The freedom, the mental and imaginative stimulation; I can’t choose!
What do you find hardest about writing?
The editing stage (argghhh).
What kind of child were you?
I worry that I was a little precocious. When I was seven, and my younger sister was four, I used to write and produce a play every night. I’d sit my parents down and make them watch us. Hannah (my sister)’s character was called Meg and she was an alcoholic, and I was her long-suffering friend. Looking back it all seems a little harrowing for a seven-year-old, let alone her little sister!
Where’s your favourite place in the whole world?
Reykjavik. We lived there for a while in 2014-2015, and had so much fun. Amazing people, landscape, food (except for the rotten shark. And the dried fish shavings that looked like dead skin)… We definitely want to go back.
If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
Which fictional character would you most like to meet?
Elizabeth Bennet – I really want to be her friend. Or Jeeves – maybe he could help us get our flat in order.
What book do you wish you’d written?
Frankenstein. Because it’s beautiful and sad and complex, and because it would have made me loads in film rights.
Do you have any writing tics that you’re forever editing out?
I used to break up my dialogue with action all the time because I thought it improved the ‘flow’. Now I know I just wasn’t confident enough in it.
What’s your greatest fear?
What are you reading at the moment?
Butterflies in November by Auður Eva Olafsdottir, to remind me of Iceland.
What’s your favourite word?
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
It really is advisable to drink bottled water in countries without good water sanitation.
Which writer do you most admire?
I think my boyfriend, Tom, is the best writer I’ve ever come across. But I also think Karen Blixen was a master of descriptive prose.
What song or piece of music would you choose as the theme tune to your life?
That’s a hard one – my favourite song is ‘Don’t Think Twice’ by Bob Dylan, but that’s about wasted time and toxic relationships, so I don’t think I want that as my theme song! Maybe ‘All You Need Is Love?’
Where do you write?
At home, on the upstairs landing outside the bathroom.
What or who inspires you?
People in general! I think a lot of writing is trying to understand what makes them tick, trying to work out why they do the things they do.
When were you happiest?
I’m quite a happy person, I think. But Reykjavik really was special.
What keeps you awake at night?
Worrying that I’m going to let someone down. That and espresso martinis.
What three tips would you give aspiring novelists?
- Believe in your writing, but don’t be too precious about it.
- Find someone who can give you feedback you’ll trust.
- Take a break when you’ve finished to get some perspective on it!