The Winter's Child
What a gorgeous cover this is and certainly gets you in the mood for the Winter/Christmas period that is fast approaching! Today, I have a Q&A with the author, so sit back and enjoy my turn on the Blog Tour for The Winter's Child by Cassandra Parkin.
Hi. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing.
Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?
I’m a Yorkshire-based writer with Cornish roots and a passion for fairy-tales. I grew up between the city of Hull at the mouth of the Humber, and the town of Falmouth on the South coast of Cornwall – so one way or another, I’ve always lived close to water, and rivers and oceans always find their way into my books. I currently live in the East Riding with my husband, two children and two cats.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve written fiction all my life, but it took me a very long time to admit that I wanted to do it professionally, or even to believe I might have a chance. So I wrote in secret instead, occasionally showing close friends or family.
Then I wrote a collection of short stories for a group of much-beloved friends in America, as Christmas presents. Each short story was set in modern-day America, written for adults but based on their favourite fairy-tale. Then in the New Year they all ganged up on me and said I had to try and get it published. So to stop the nagging, I entered a competition for unpublished short story collections. I had no expectations of getting anywhere, but to my absolute astonishment, New World Fairy Tales won. I remember finding out while I was unpacking yoghurts in the kitchen. I burst into tears and called my mother. I think the moral of this particular fairy-tale is, always listen to your friends because they do, in fact, know best
What did you do as a job before becoming a writer?
I went to university, did a degree in English Literature, got a job in the marketing department of a big Consumer Goods company, and spent a very long time trying to pretend I fitted in. I used to write short stories in the backs of my notebooks (boring meetings were especially good for this) and novels on my computer during my lunch-break. I did this for about fifteen years. Meanwhile, everyone who knew me was saying, “You want to be a writer. You want to be a writer. You need to stop working on marketing and become a writer” and because I’m an idiot and slow on the uptake, I just completely ignored them.
How do you carry out the research for your novels?
Wherever I can, I like to go to the places my novels are set. Place is really important to me, and although I rarely name the locations in my novel, they’re always based on somewhere I’ve known and loved. I’m naturally a bit of a magpie, and I tend to collect snippets of ideas – bits of dialogue, images that stay with me, ideas that I want to explore – and then dip into the collection when I start writing. Some things come in useful very quickly; others I’ve been carrying around in my head for years.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
When I start a new project, I always know the beginning, and I always know the ending. The middle is a vast unknown wasteland where it’s perpetually twilight and I can never see more than a few feet in front of me. If I could give aspiring writers one piece of advice, it’s this: if you get about four chapters in and it suddenly all gets difficult, that’s a good sign. Keep going. The middle part is always the toughest.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
Given a totally free choice, I like to write in the mornings, preferably at my dining table and in my pyjamas. I have a sort of tray-table thingie that turns my dining table into a standing desk – better for my back, my blood-pressure, everything really – and as soon as the kids are out the door and on the school bus, my working day can start. That said, when I’m working on a first draft, my target is 2,000 words a day, every day – so I write whenever and wherever I can to get this done. Also, if the cats have brought in something dreadful that I have to look at, like a dead mouse or a poor terrified frog or something, then all work must cease until it’s been properly dealt with.
When you're not writing, what do you like to read?
I always have at least three books on the go – a book I loved as a child, a book I’ve loved as an adult, and a book someone’s recommended to me. Right now I’m reading the Tove Jansson edition of Alice In Wonderland, Donna Tartt’s Secret History and Lee Harrison’s The Bastard Wonderland.
How important do you think social media is to authors in today's society?
Overall I think it’s a huge gift. Like all gifts, it’s important to use it wisely – time is always the scarcest resource for any writer, and it’s easy to get sucked into a Twitter black hole or fritter away the afternoon on Facebook – but overall, it’s like magic to me. How else could a reader instantly tell hundreds or even thousands of people across the world that they loved a book they’ve read? And how else could a writer instantly thank them for sharing their thoughts?
Could you tell the readers a bit about your latest book?
Five years ago, Susannah Harper's son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.
But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.
As her carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family's past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.
Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
I’d be Jen, from my third novel Lily’s House. She’s very brave and strong, and I would love to be more like her.
Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.