Katie Flynn, author of almost 90 novels, talks about her inspirations in life and her favourite books and music
Have you always been a writer?
Yes; I’m what is known as a compulsive writer. In fact my husband always swears that he “joined me” to the Prestatyn Writers Circle, because he was sick of tripping over towering piles of manuscripts whenever he entered the house.
When did you first realise you wanted to become an author?
Gosh, that’s a hard one! But I think it came about when I was around ten and on holiday in Devon. My brother and I were messing about with a half inflated rubber dinghy in a deep seawater pool, when we saw two riders coming towards us along the beach. One horse was chesnut, the other a bay and the girl riding the chesnut was absolutely gorgeous. They both swept past us without a second glance, and I was so envious! But as I turned back to endeavouring to tip my brother out of the dinghy, I realised that the girl, the horse and the beach could all be mine, because they were in my head now, and when night time came, I would weave a story around them.
How did you cope with a young family and writing?
I did most of my writing when they were in bed and once they were grown up it took me ages to convert to day time typing, but I was once described by a reporter as “the woman who writes a book with one hand and clips the rind off the bacon with the other”. I was irate, mostly because I’d never clipped rind off bacon in my life! But I think the answer to the question is that they say all women can multitask, and writers are especially good at it.
If you weren’t a writer what would you have liked to have done?
Oh, something to do with animals and the countryside. Perhaps I’d have run a rescue centre for dogs and cats, or worked with a vet in some capacity. I love gardening too so perhaps I could have worked in the grounds of one of the stately homes; good idea for a novel that!
I adore Simon and Garfunkel, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan,
The Beatles, The Seekers and The Spinners
- all golden oldies, like me!
What music do you enjoy listening to?
If I wrote a list of all the music I enjoy, it would need pages, so I’ve cut it down to just a few of my very favourites.
Only two of them are even slightly modern - Sailing to Philadelphia by James Taylor and Mark Knopfler and Fields of Gold by Eva Casssidy. As well as these, I adore Simon and Garfunkel, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Seekers and The Spinners - all golden oldies, like me!
What are some of your favourite books?
I’m afraid my choice of reading matter is somewhat old-fashioned and I should explain that since getting ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) I have been unable to focus and see all print double. This means that a great deal depends on the reader of the audiobook; a good reader makes most books a joy whereas a bad reader ruins the best of stories.
I tend to read the books I enjoy over and over and these include Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, all Mary Stewart’s suspense stories, most of what Dick Francis has written, Ellis Peters’ Cadfael books and almost all Terry Pratchett’s Discworld stories (especially the Witches and Captain Vimes).
I am also very fond of children’s books: Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden, When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson, Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr and The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. But top of my list must be: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, read by Jenny Agutter - marvellous!
Where are some of your favourite places?
First I must mention Anglesey and the Swtan in Church Bay, which inspired me to write Lost Days of Summer. The Swtan is a Welsh long house, impeccably restored by local volunteers and is rich in atmosphere, taking one back in time. It is well worth a visit, but if you can’t go in person, try their website on www.swtan.co.uk.
I also enjoy Cholmondeley Castle for its glorious gardens and wild pond life, where you may see rare dragonflies and beautiful bog plants. Then there is Ellesmere, which has wonderful country walks round the Mere, which are wheelchair friendly.
I also love visiting Australia, where I can see not only my son and young granddaughters, but enormous crocodiles, cuddly koalas and kangaroos which bounce onto hotel lawns to graze as soon as it gets dark.
Also, Brian and I often visit Gibraltar, where my eldest son and his wife show us the real Spain, and lastly, I love to spend time in Norwich, where I was born and brought up and which holds many happy memories for me, as well as a great many friends and relatives.
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