I just can’t wait to read Kathy Sharp’s first novel, Isle of Larus, reputed to be “a lighthearted bit of whimsical fun.”
Kathy is a fellow member of the diverse Crooked Cat community.
“Thank you very much, Jane, I’m thrilled to be here.”
Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you became a writer.
My mother didn’t mention that I was born with a pen in my hand, but I think there’s a strong likelihood of it! The need to write seems to be built into the DNA somehow. But marriage, motherhood and work all conspired to slow me down. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve finally had the time and opportunity to explore different forms of writing fully.
You sound sooo like me, Kathy! What prompted you to write Isle of Larus, and how long did it take to write?
The main inspiration was the fabulous landscape of the Jurassic Coast, where I am fortunate enough to live. The first idea came from a writing exercise I was doing with a newly-formed writing group in Weymouth – writing from the point of view of a building or inanimate object. I found this an excellent way to create characters. It was the way into fiction writing for me, and suddenly my head was full of ideas. You could say the characters of Isle of Larus literally grew out of the landscape. Seven months later I had a completed novel.
What made you decide to write a humorous book?
I’m not sure I did set out to do that, Jane. It’s just the way my writing tends to turn out. I have always used humour as a way of coping with the ups and downs of life, so it felt quite natural to have a giggle or two at my characters’ expense as they coped with unexpected and mysterious goings-on.
I wish I’d had time to read Isle of Larus before this interview – but it is on my to-buy list. Might you describe the kind of readership who would most appreciate it?
This is a very interesting question, and one I sincerely wish I’d considered before I began writing! The book is, as they say, genre-defying. I threw in all my favourite themes – islands, the sea, boats, mysteries to be solved, self-discovery, dramatic events, adventure, gentle humour and a touch of the supernatural, all set in an imaginary past. It’s a fantasy of a sort, but not at all typical, and very difficult to pigeonhole into a genre. My best guess is that readers who enjoy mysteries in a historical setting with a touch of humour would be the natural readership. But it’s just a guess.
Is this going to be the first of a series, or will you try new genres?
I’d very much like it to be the first of a series – the second book is well on its way. I don’t rule out the idea of other genres, though. I’ve had ideas for stories set in and around the first world war that I might develop further. Perhaps the historical novel is my proper genre, and I’ve simply slipped into fantasy by accident!
What books / authors / people have most influenced / helped you in your writing?
I have been influenced by a considerable range of books and authors – though the unlikely combination of Patrick O’Brian and J K Rowling comes to mind first. The biggest help, without any doubt, was the Weymouth Writing Matters group, and after that the Dorset Writers’ Network. There were people in these groups who listened, who encouraged, who said of course you can write fiction, when I had my doubts. Isle of Larus would not have happened without them.
What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your book?
I learned a great deal from it. I certainly hadn’t expected to enjoy creating complex plots and have so much fun devising ways to tie up loose ends. The answers were usually in something I’d already written. I seemed to have already provided the solution to a problem that I hadn’t yet identified. Weird, isn’t it?
I understand that you sing in a choir, and write lyrics. Ever thought of writing poetry?
Yes – another benefit of the writers’ group. We went through a phase of studying a variety of verse forms, and tried out sonnets, triolets, alphapoems, haiku, villanelles, pantoums, form poems and all sorts of others. The restrictions in construction or rhyme pattern concentrate the mind wonderfully, I find. It’s an excellent way to learn more about writing, even if you don’t see yourself as a poet. Some of my poems were set to music and became song lyrics, too. Double value for the time invested!
What is your favourite pastime?
I love plants. All kinds. Weed or treasured cultivar, I admire them all. I enjoy studying and photographing them, or just gazing at them in disbelieving admiration. There you have it.
How did you find Crooked Cat?
I didn’t. A friend from my writers’ group saw they were open for submissions and told me to jump to it and get my synopsis sorted out since Crooked Cat was clearly the perfect publisher for me. So I did. I’m eternally grateful to her. A splendid example of the power of networking, isn’t it?
Isle of Larus is published by Crooked Cat Publishing and is available in paperback or e-book format at Amazon:
You can also read Kathy’s regular Monday blog on Goodreads
Or find her on Facebook