30 Aug 2015

Blog Tour/Author Interview - Kate Kerrigan (The Dress)

Lily Fitzpatrick loves vintage clothes - made all the more precious because they were once owned and loved by another woman. Thousands follow her vintage fashion blog and her daily Instagram feed. But this passion for the beautiful clothes of the past is about to have unforeseen consequences, when Lily stumbles upon the story of a 1950s New York beauty, who was not only everything Lily longs to be, but also shares Lily's surname.

Joy Fitzpatrick was a legend. But what was the famous dress which she once commissioned - said to be so original that nothing in couture would ever match it again? What happened to it - and why did Joy suddenly disappear from New York high society?

Kate Kerrigan's enthralling novel interweaves the dramatic story of joy, the beautiful but tortured socialite and that of Lily - determined to uncover the truth and, if possible, bring back to life the legendary dress itself.

Such a beautiful book - I have it 5 stars!

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
 Can’t imagine working with another author but I do have friendships with authors that I get a great deal out of both professionally and personally. I have worked  in the past developing film and television ideas with the brilliant YA author, Helen Falconer.  I’m also lucky enough to be good friends with several great Irish writers,Claudia Carroll,  Ella Griffin, Marian Keyes and Cathy Kelly.  Cecelia Ahern is a writer I especially admire, and every now and again I take out for lunch and grill her mercilessly about how she works hoping that some of her Midas touch brilliance will wear off on me!  I worked on The Dress  with Maeve Binchy’s editor, Rosie deCourcy,  and in many ways it was the closest I came to working with another writer.  Rosie really put me through the ringer  and when I kept apologising for all the rewriting I had to do, she kept  reassuring me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong by saying, “this is exactly what we did with Maeve  on Circle of Friends!”  The process taught me  just how much work needs to go into making a  really great story.

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I have three places that I work in, and I alternate between them.  the first is a really lovely little book lined office the front of my house that looks out on the sea. It’s got an old roll top desk and is cluttered and cosy, so it looks like the perfect  lady novelists den, but in actual fact it’s not that comfortable to work in.  the second place is a small cottage type  chalet in my mother’s back garden. My grandfather built its me as  his first grandchild to play in, it’s like a mini house. Mostly it’s full of my mother’s junk, but there’s a small back room with beautiful light looking out onto my mother’s laburnum tree. I always do my best creative work there.  my husband is an artist and has given me a corner of his studio, a small converted boathouse at the front of our house. I moved between these three places as it’s important for me not to get stale or bored with where I’m working.  I try to stick to a working day that ties in with my children’s school hours, but it’s not always easy. I love going away on retreats  for a few days at a time where I have the freedom to write 24-hours if I feel like. But being a mother the pesky kids have to come first – even though for a committed, passionate writer that’s not always easy.

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you? 
 The middle bit of the first draft. The beginning is always full of hope and possibility, the end is great because it’s nearly over, although it is always painful letting go -  but somewhere in the middle I  often get overwhelmed with  the sheer magnitude of being engaged in writing 100,000 consecutive words put into a coherent, entertaining form  and think I will never be able to do it. 10 books later I still doubt my ability to write one single book.

4. When and why did you first start writing? 
 As far as I can remember I have always written. My mother tells me she knew that I was going to be a writer from the age of six or seven. It first occurred to her when we were in the post office one day. She saw me staring at the man behind the counter, and she said that I was not just looking at him, but observing him with a strangely keen eye.  She thought it was odd for a child of my age and guessed that I might become an artist or writer because of my  interest in observing the world

5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I can honestly say I have never had such fun researching a novel. I used work as an editor on women’s magazines and so fashion was a big part of my life as a young woman. I thought I had forgotten everything but when I started to write about my fashion blogger Lily it all came flooding back.I was also very lucky to have a close friend who is a textile and fashion designer, Louise Brennan, who has a library of absolutely beautiful volumes of fashion history and books that I was able to refer to. When it came to the point of me designing the actual address of the books title, I began to struggle. So I phone Lou and said ‘Help! I have just described ‘the most beautiful dress ever made’ but reading the text over it sounds ugly! Can you help me get a picture of it in my head?’ Lou then came up an absolutely beautiful sketch for me to work from. That first drawing, the picture that Lou drew up immediately after reading my early description of Joy’s dress, ended up on the front cover of the book itself.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
 I find it very difficult reading fiction while I’m  actively engaged in writing it.  As a result I read a lot of non-fiction and when I do read books for pleasure, I always have a book on the go  o read in those last 10 minutes before I go to sleep at night, it tends to be  thrillers.  I am currently reading the third in the Carnivia trilogy by Jonathan Holt. Set in Venice it’s real escapism  and a proper page turner. The last women’s fiction book I read was The Flower Arrangement by Ella Griffin. It was so breathtakingly brilliant and moving it made me feel like never bothering to write a book ever again! 

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Write because you love it because you enjoy the process, not because you want to get published. Be methodical, find a good editor to work with – a tough one possible, then keep plugging away at it. Do your best to make your book the best it can be, then let go and move on.