Friday, March 13, 2009

EAILF Kate Mosse and Victoria Hislop

Victoria Hislop and Kate Mosse

Liz Thomson explained that both women were given a platform on Richard and Judy and both attended Oxford.

Victoria is a reluctant novelist and only became one at 45. It was a total surprise for her as she never wanted to be a novelist. She is too loud and gregarious but suddenly one day inspiration struck. She was on holiday with her family in Crete and trying to please husband and teenagers and in a guide book she found there was a nearby island that had been a leper colony. She was inspired by the place and they way people seemed to misunderstand the island. There was no real feeling of misery. With the two that she was there she had formulated the story. She felt compelled to write.

Life is full of surprises and this required a complete change of lifestyle. She made the comment that when the book was book into the many translations that you lose control – the readers respond not to just the book but also the translation.

Kate Mosse then spoke and mentioned that she too is inspired by place and that she was a writer who had not written as a writer up to 43. Writing was a pragmatic decision then she wrote Labyrinth.

Be proud of what you do- keep trying. Many writers are not comfortable in their skin – you are not necessarily the writer you are as a reader. Your reading voice is different than your writing voice.

She fell in love with Carcassonne then began to read. It was a private love affair.

If you use real history you must get it right so that you can be free with your imagination. She met her character ten years before she began to write.

Victoria had also met her character before writing. She just knew she had to write it – compelled, a responsibility to write about it. Victoria is more interested in modern history – 20th century is what she likes.

She did also no research because it was all in Greek and she didn’t speak it then. The Greeks didn’t seem to mind that she made it up. It is now being made into a 26 part Greek TV series.
Kate was she was pedant and totally immersed in the history.

Victoria said The Island was very hard to sell and it’s first print run was 5000. It was just a good story and nothing more. She clarified that she did research leprosy.

With historical fiction people wanted to be entertained and learn something. A novelist can be biased (telling only one side of the story) a historian has greater pressure. Novelist have freedom.

Victoria was asked about second books – awful. Third is worse. She would only write another one if she had an idea for it. She only wrote the two because she had ideas for them. She doesn’t want to bore people so she may not write another unless she is struck by an idea. She must be compelled to write the story. Victoria said her website

Are websites important? Victoria wasn’t a big website person. It works well for overseas readers but she would much rather meet readers in person. She also said she was too old to get excited about them.

On the other hand Kate said hers was really important to her. It was part of a teaching programme and it was to reach people who would not come to events. It was a good way to engage with others. She spoke about blogs – the writing is the exact opposite of what is required for novels. Blogs are quick, succinct and novels take time.

She felt it was the job of a successful writer to support other writers. Course can be helpful to learn skills. You can’t teach creativity but skills can be taught.
That's the last of my reports on the festival. I can't wait for next year's. It was brilliant and I personally gained so much more than I could have hoped. Through the words of the various authors I have clarified in my mind exactly what type of writer I am and where it fits. This has been a huge struggle for me but with the lightbulb moments from Kate Mosse and Rachel Billington I have a much clearer vision of where my voice fits and the stories I am compelled to write. So now head back down to the real work at hand - writing!


DOT said...

Thanks so much for the effort you have put into your reports of the litfest, Liz.

Very insightful and informative and, as I have blogged, I was unsure about the value of conferences but you have convinced me.

You win the Curly Wurly!

Fiona said...

'... you are not necessarily the writer you are as a reader. Your reading voice is different than your writing voice.'

So true.

Great report for us Liz. Thank you.

Lane said...

Thanks once again Liz. Excellent - and incisive - reports.