Katharine D’Souza writes contemporary fiction about families, friends, and the issues they encounter. She’s published three books set in Birmingham, UK, and also runs a writers’ group, is chair of a festival of writing, undertakes freelance editing work, and works part time at a university. All of this cuts into her reading time, a situation which annoys her. Her most recent novel, No Place, came out in August.
Hello. Tell us a little about you and your writing.
While I’ve always loved to write stories, I didn’t take it seriously until I went part time at work over ten years ago and now find that balancing my own writing, running a writers’ group, editing, and working part time in an office is a good combination to ensure I both get some writing done and have something to write about.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Well, I’m not quick with a witty comeback, so I like the opportunity to write a draft, delete it, rewrite it, revise, etc until the lightning-fast response actually appears in print.
And the worst?
Writing first drafts. I very much prefer having material to rework.
Why did you choose your genre?
I want to write about the way we live in contemporary Britain, so contemporary fiction set in British cities is the perfect fit for me to explore the issues I think about.
Do you have a special writing place?
I am lucky enough to have a study of my own, but writing the first draft often happens in cafes, on trains, while lying on sofas, anywhere I can force myself to do it, really.
Which four writers would you invite to a dinner party?
Oooh, can they be from history? Because I’d love to invite Jane Austen, no competition. There are a lot of things I’d like to ask her. Though I’d also like to talk to J K Rowling and Maggie O'Farrell as they’re my modern day inspirations. Then, because meeting her at a Puffin Club event when I was very small was probably the seed of me wanting to write, Noel Streatfeild, so I could say ‘thank you’.
If you could choose a different genre to write in for just one book – what would it be?
Tough choice – perhaps fantasy. I enjoy reading it, but have never tried writing it. I think I’m intimidated by the complex world-building in the books I’ve read.
What do you know now you wish you’d known at the start of your writing journey?
The importance of independent critique, from writers’ group colleagues or an editor. Finding the courage to request and then listen to honest feedback is what really helped me improve as a writer.
What is your proudest writing achievement to date?
Whenever I hear feedback from readers. When someone tells me how much they enjoyed a book, or talks about the events or characters with insights which show how much they identified with the issues, that’s what makes it all worthwhile.
What are your future writing plans?
I am working on a new novel. But it’s at first draft stage. Which means I’m hating it. Watch this space!
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