Meet author Kate Fulford of 'Inlaws and Outlaws'
Kate had a long & varied career that encompassed working in the software industry, for brand & marketing agencies, and several years as a freelance copywriter.
She has a distinctive authorial voice that refuses to take anything too seriously, not because she doesn’t think life is a serious matter but because she believes that it is almost always better when leavened with humour.
Q & A
Gathering from your Bio, you have worn the hats of many trades. What was a deciding factor for you to wear the writer’s hat?
I had a great career in marketing. It was intellectually challenging, interesting, and creative. But it was also frustrating because a lot of creativity was stifled by the business process. Brilliant ideas (or ones that I thought were brilliant anyway) would get thrown out in favor of something safer, cheaper, and which everyone could agree on. At the same time I had always enjoyed writing, both the story telling aspect and the craft itself, but for a long time I needed to earn money (don’t we all?). It was only when I got a bit older that I could take a step back, and free up my time to write. I gave myself a time limit to write something I thought was good enough, and then get it published. I think though, that all my life leading up to this has given me so much to draw on that I’m glad I didn’t start when I was younger, and I wouldn’t have missed my years in business for anything.
In your debut novel ‘In-laws and Outlaws’, the characters are well thought out and very different from one another. Do any of these resemble people you know in your life?
I’m really glad you like what I’ve done with the various characters! When I am writing I feel a bit like I an actor - I have to take on the persona of each character and think what’s their motivation, what’s their back story, how would they behave in this situation? I think about even the most incidental character quite deeply as I don’t want anyone to be a cardboard cut out. I really don’t like it when characters in fiction behave in a certain way simply to advance the plot.
All the main characters are amalgams of people I have met or observed at some point, but no character is all one person. Claire, Eve’s psychologist friend, for example draws on a number of really good friends I have had over the years, people (some men, some women) who are more thoughtful and sensible than I sometimes am. Eve herself has my sense of humor, but she is far more reckless and brave than I am, so there’s a bit of wish fulfilment there too! I would also say, though, that every character contains a little piece of me, however small.
Would you have liked Marjory as your Mother in Law?
No, and I wouldn’t wish her on anyone else either! I do think, though, that there is an elemental tension between mothers-in-law and their sons’ wives. There is an old saying - a daughter’s a daughter for all her life, a son is only a son until he takes a wife. Women tend to fear losing their sons to other women. It’s that idea of being wholly replaced, a threat which a son-in-law doesn’t bring. Marjorie is a monster but her feelings are, on some level, relatable. She is fighting to keep what she thinks of as hers, unfortunately she doesn’t have much in her armory. She’s not charming or funny or kind so she turns to less pleasant methods to achieve her goals.
I really like Eve the main character in the novel. Who is your favorite character?
It has to be Eve. She is fearless and clever and a great survivor. She is also little amoral but hopefully in a good way. She also says and does things other people wouldn’t dare to. I would love to be as brave as Eve, but she does get herself into all sorts of trouble when it might be more sensible to walk away.
Towards the later part of the novel, Eve is applying some real sleuth like methods till the book draws into its surprising conclusion. Did your inspiration for the turn of events come from mysteries you have read?
I do love a page turner! Building tension and anticipation are important elements in plotting. You want the reader to really, really want to know what’s going to happen, but not be able to guess what’s coming. At the same time you have to put in all the clues, both actual and psychological. One of my favorite films is The Sixth Sense because at the end you think ‘no, that can’t be!’ but actually all the clues are all there, in plain sight, once you knew what to look for. I also I try very hard to tie all the plot elements together as I hate being led down the garden path by something that’s entirely irrelevant. So dissecting other stories (books, films and TV) has helped me think about what I like and what I don’t like as an audience member and try to please myself!
Are you a reader? If so, what is your favorite genre or your favorite authors?
I always have at least one book on the go but I am very eclectic. I read a lot of fiction, but also social history, science and psychology books. I am fascinated by the human condition, how we live now, how we lived in the past, how we make sense of the world. I don’t favor a particular genre or author, I love (and sometimes hate) all sorts of books. I’ll try anything (although I gave up thinking I had to finish every book I start a few years ago) and take it on its merits.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
First, write. I heard a composer say that the magic only happens when he is sitting at his piano, and I think that the same applies to writing. You simply have to sit down and get on with it. And don’t fill your head with other writers’ ideas about how you should work. Where, when and how you write is unique to you, there is no magic formula.
Second, edit. No one writes beautifully or totally coherently straight out of the blocks. Think of a book as Michelangelo thought of the marble that became David. You have to start somewhere, and you have to chip away at it for a good long time. A lot of what you write will be lost by the final edit, but if it ain’t there to edit, you’ve got nothing!
Third, take advice. I learnt as a copywriter not to be precious about my work.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently finishing a book inspired by the idea of the multiverse. This posits that there are infinite universes out there in which infinite versions of each of us exist. What might happen, I wondered, if you could visit these other universes?
Thank you Kate Fulford for allowing me to interview you here today.
I wish you all the best in your next endeavor!
* If you are interested in my review of 'In-Laws & Outlaws', click here: *