I was born in Bolton in Lancashire, in the United Kingdom. I've lived in
Cefneithin and Cardiff in South Wales, Bewdley and Tenbury Wells in
Worcestershire, Leominster in Herefordshire, Ludlow in Shropshire, Solihull and
Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands. And I spent some time in Southern Ireland
and France. I now live in Kansas City, Missouri and I'm here to stay! I use the
places and homes I've lived in as "backdrops" for my writing.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope
they gain, feel or experience?
I want emotions stirred. I want the reader to LAUGH (very important,) cry,
feel anger, be sympathetic. I want the protagonist to become the reader's
friend. And I want to make sure my writing appeals to all five senses when I
create settings. For me, writing makes all life's experiences: success,
betrayal, obsession, loss and love have a real purpose.
Your story-telling ability is very reminiscent of Maeve Binchy, who's a
master of crafting simple but heartfelt tales with a moral message. What do you
think is the moral message behind Cover The Butter? Did your own religious
upbringing have any bearing on the storyline?
I've read all of Maeve Binchy's books, mainly because I'm intimately familiar
with Ireland and the Irish culture, and I can relate. The simple message in
Cover The Butter is : "It's never too late to escape and start over." I'd like
readers to form their own conclusions as to what the moral message might be for
them. There could be several. I was raised a Roman Catholic (although I'm now
labeled as "lapsed,") but yes, my past experiences came in very useful. I'm
fascinated by all aspects of any religion.
In Cover The Butter, was Kate Cadogan's story something that had been brewing
around in your head for a while, or did it just occur to you one day? Did you
know how her life would unfold, or did you watch it happen as you wrote?
Thoughts concerning Kate's life swam around in my head for a couple of years,
usually when I was illustrating. I'd debate whether I should be writing instead!
I let the characters lead the way in Cover The Butter. There was no rigid plan.
Two major themes in this book are female jealousy and generational distance.
In your mind, are those two themes related to each other?
Usually, no. In Cover The Butter, the two major themes are definitely
related, but the very nature of the female jealousy involved isn't exactly
"normal." The smothering situation Kate is in and the problems she faces as a
result of the relationship with her mother Biddy can't be blamed on simple
generational distance. I've received emails asking about Narcissistic
Personality Disordermany readers reckon Biddy suffers with this condition.
(Althoughit's her daughter who does all the suffering!) Readers detail their
personal predicament and I'm asked for advice, but unfortunately I can't help,
as I'm no expert. I observe and relate. I believe this is the
definitionNarcissistic Personality Disorder: A pattern of traits and behaviours,
which signify infatuation and obsession with one's self to the exclusion of all
others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one's gratification, dominance
As a mother yourself, was it difficult for you to write Biddy's character?
Very sad at times, especially because despite everything, Kate had an intense
love for Biddy.
Why does Kate remain in such a dull and sexually strange marriage for so
I think many women hang on simply because they think that's their lot. Why?
Apathy, morals, society? I don't know. In Kate's case, her mother's behavior
marrs, influences, affects her decisions in life. Kate becomes accustomed to
accepting rather than retaliating. Such control can turn into an odd form of
security, and is often mistaken for love.
Music and fashion have very specific ways of setting moods, and both play
subtle, but distinct roles in Kate's life story. Why did you choose music and
fashion to frame Kate's life?
I hope the songs play in the heads of readers as they turn the pages. I used
music and fashion to set the mood, create a backdrop, give a sense of time.
Kate's life was recorded as a journey, and music and fashion were the perfect
Is Barry Finch based on a real person? And if so, do you know where he is now
and what he's doing?
Yes, a Barry Finch type really was part of my life a good while ago. I don't
know what happened to him, though! He was BAD. My writing is a fictitious blend
of various elements from my own life and those of others. My characters are
formed by mixing the personality traits of those I've met or been involved
withor just observed.
Kate loves to cook. Besides writing, what is your passion?
Spending time with family and friends. Doing and going to dinner parties,
walking the dogs, watching films, painting canvas and walls, making curtains,
cooking French stuff and drinking wine, single malt and the odd gin and tonic.
If you weren't a writer what would you be?
I'd own a restaurant, be an entomologist, or work in a zoo.
When and where do you find the time to write?
I usually write 3-4 days a week, and start typing after 11:00AM, and often
keep going until 4:00AM in the morning, or if I'm on a roll, I'll work through
the night, not wanting to lose the thoughts in my head. I change from my desktop
computer to my laptop when my husband comes home, so I can follow him around.
Otherwise, he feels neglected! He's a fantastic cookso on my writing days, I
don't have to stop to prepare meals. We both have a passion for cooking.
How do you deal with writer's block?
Thank goodness, I don't get writer's block, but I do procrastinate. I find
all sorts of essential jobs I must do around the house. I have to force myself
to sit down sometimesbut once I start writing, I find it hard to stop!
How do you deal with fan mail? What questions are you asked?
I answer all fan mail, and I LOVE receiving it! I'm asked about England,
London, Ireland, Wales and France. I'm asked for recipes for some of the simple
foods mentioned in Cover The Butter (I've put a few on my website.) Will there
be a sequel? (Yes, and set in Provence.) I'm asked if I plan to base a novel in
Americayes. I'm asked if Tarts and Sinners is anything like Cover The
Butteragain, it deals with human relationships, but the themes aremore um,
unusual. It examines sexual relationships.
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher.
This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...