Wednesday 1 July 2015

Blog Tour: The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

TitleThe Dress
Author: Kate Kerrigan
Published: 1st July 2015
Publisher: Head of Zeus

Today I am part of the amazing Blog Tour for The Dress by Kate Kerrigan. Today I am so thrilled to share an Interview with Kate and GIVEAWAY!

Interview with Kate

1. Hi Kate! Can you tell us about your new novel, The Dress and the inspiration behind the story. 

Before I became a novelist I spent many years working as an editor on women’s magazines, so fashion was very much a part of my life. For that reason, I had always shied away from writing about it.  I suppose I had always thought the world of fashion to be rather shallow and meaningless. I always have my idea for a new book ready as I am finishing the last. So, a couple of years ago as I was about to deliver The  Lost  Garden to my editor, I realised that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to write about next. I was beginning to panic when, at a gallery opening for my husband who is an artist, I met an old associate from my fashion styling days. We began to talk about clothes and how they were made  back in the days when quality was everything. As I listened to this man talking passionately  And with such feeling about the craft of dressmaking and sewing, the phrase ‘write what you know ‘came to me. I made a decision  to base my next novel in the world of fashion  and to give it the same emotional resonance as I try to give all of my stories.

2.  Can you tell us more about coming up with the idea for Joy and Honor's gown. 

 The idea for The Dress  itself was based around the  concept of creating something so beautiful that it might, somehow, transcend reality. My problem was making it look pretty! I am not a designer, and when I had finished describing my vision of what The Dress should look like, frankly, it sounded pretty ugly! So, I called a good friend of mine, Louise Brennan, who happens to be a very brilliant designer.  As a talented textile and fashion designer, Louise has worked for some of the most brilliant people working in fashion today, including Alexander McQueen. She is also a fellow Irishwoman and neighbour of mine in County Mayo. I read her the passages from the book and gave her my notes of what I needed the dress to contain in the way of mythology and technical detail. She came back with an exquisite set of drawings, the first of which features on the front cover of the book itself. This is the first time I have ever had  such direct input  into a cover. It feels very special and extraordinary to me that what began as simply a part of my creative process to help me imagine this beautiful gown, has ended up on the front cover of the book itself.

3. What did you most enjoy about writing this story?

 The part I most enjoyed was looking at Louise’s pictures and flicking through her vast library of glossy fashion volumes. To be honest, this was a very hard book to write, and took a year longer than it normally takes me  to complete a book. It went through countless edits  and rewrites, before I began working  with the legendary Rosie deCourcy,  Maeve Binchy’s editor for 23 years. I now realise that the more effortless and easy a book reads, the more work can go into creating it.  I have learnt more as a writer, in writing The Dress than all seven previous Kate Kerrigan books. However, looking back, it was hard work! I love being a writer. I could never be, or do anything else. But sometimes, as a job, it’s like  being in a bad relationship; I love it but can I honestly say  I enjoy it? Ask me another one…

4. Were there any parts of the story that you found hard to write?

 Oh yes! All the best bits are hard! Writing about  Joys decline was painful. I always find writing about love very painful. I’m not sure why. I should be used to it by now. But, if I want to make something resonate with the reader emotionally, it must resonate with me first. I cry every day when I write. I take every step of my characters journey with them. If it hurts them, it hurts me.

5. What type of writer would you say you are? Do you have a specific writing style?

 I don’t know what kind of writer I am, but I do know what I aim to be is an emotional writer. Human emotion, love and death and everything in between is what interests me. If I haven’t drawn a laugh and a tear out of the reader by the time they are halfway through one of my books, I feel I have failed.

7. Who would you say are the authors that inspire you?

 I love a lot of  popular Irish women writers, alive and dead. Maura Laverty, Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Cecelia Ahern and a great new writer Ella Griffin. Having said that, I grew up reading the complete works of Agatha Christie which gave me a love of crime and thrillers but I have to this day. In fact, I always aspired to write  those type of books. My first book, unpublished, was a dark literary thriller called Blonde. It is still in the bottom of a drawer somewhere.

8. What are you currently reading?

On that note, I am currently reading the third in the brilliant Carnivia  trilogy by Jonathan Holt.  Plus, I have just finished Ella Griffin’s  beautiful new novel The Flower Arrangement. Stunning. Bawled my eyes out

9. What are you working on now?

 I am sticking with the theme of vintage clothes.  The novel I am currently working on is called The Rose Suit. It is the story  of an outfit by the brilliant Irish couturier, Sybil Connolly, the woman whose life it changes when she buys it new in 1960s New York,  and a young textile designer who is  urgently trying to track it down, for  life changing reasons of his own.   The  Rose Suit is mostly set  in Dublin, but that may change. I am only getting stuck into it now, so who knows where this suit and the people who created it might lead me. That’s part of the adventure of being a writer; I make plans, and I never start the journey without a map.  However, the way creativity works, you never quite know where you  are going to end up next.  That being said,   a big part of the writing process for me is my ongoing progress chats with my Facebook followers.  I also document all of my research material on Pinterest  – so my readers know as much about my progress as I do!  Making it up as I go along… 


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