Today we have a guess post from Alexandra from TheHufflepuffNerdette.
Alexandra interviewed authors of ‘The Witch’s Kiss’ series – Katharine and Elizabeth Corr. Both Katharine and Elizabeth will be at CHCC YA Fest – so happy to have these lovely ladies back at Chadwell Heath Community Centre!
What is your writing kryptonite?
Twitter! It’s so easy to spend way too much time looking through our social media feeds when we should be writing or editing.
What made you want to write this book?
Initially we thought it would be fun to write a gender-reversed fairy tale (The Witch’s Kiss is loosely based on Sleeping Beauty), but we ended up also using the books as a way of thinking about grief, and family, and forgiveness – important themes to us, since we’ve both lost people we love.
If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?
DO NOT GIVE UP! Have some confidence in yourself. Keep writing. Believe you can do it.
Have you ever had difficulty coming up with an idea for your story?
No: one of the blessings of having a co-writer is that one of us will eventually come up with something. But to be honest, we generally have lots of ideas. Our difficulty is finding time to write them all!
As a writer what would your spirit animal be?
Not sure, but we know our patronuses: a black swan (Katharine) and a deer (Elizabeth).
What Hogwarts house would the main character of your book be sorted into?
We think Merry is a mixture to be honest: there’s definitely a lot of Gryffindor in there (she’s pretty brave and somewhat headstrong), but also a tiny bit of Slytherin (by the last book she’s really powerful, and she’s definitely not going to let anyone get in the way of her saving her brother).
While you were editing your book, what were some thoughts that were going through your mind?
Well, we always try to make sure our characters’ voices are authentic – that people will believe in them. When we were editing our third book, The Witch’s Blood, we spent a lot of time thinking about how the book fits into the overall arc of the trilogy, and making sure that everything we said was consistent with the first two books.
Do you google yourself?
Elizabeth: yes, occasionally – out of morbid curiosity!
Katharine: Never. I tried to avoid reading reviews too.
What word would sum up your books?
Do you believe in writer’s block?
It’s definitely possible to become so paralysed by anxiety about your work that you can’t write. Writing as a duo helps: we chivvy each other along, and if one of us is stuck, the other will usually point out a solution.
What is your writing process like?
Somewhat chaotic! We always start with a detailed outline and with the intention of writing alternate chapters. But in reality, we write at different speeds so we get out of sync. And then we edit the outline as we go along too, so the story evolves as we we’re writing it. Plus, you can never tell when a character is going to get difficult and start arguing with the dialogue you’re planning to give him or her…
What advice do you have for other writers?
Get the first draft FINISHED. Even if it’s rubbish. The worst thing to do is to start editing before you’ve done that first draft, because the danger then is that you’ll never finish it.
How much research do you do for your books?
Quite a lot. We wanted the system of magic in The Witch’s Kiss series to have an organic feel, so we read a lot about witches in English history and about the traditional use of herbs, metals, etc in magic. We also created spells in different languages to give the feeling of something which has developed over time. For the sections of the books set in the past, we researched the Anglo-Saxons to make those bits feel as realistic as possible. We even had a go at learning Old English!
When did you first start writing?
We’ve both been writing individually since we were children – school and university journalism (Elizabeth) and Tolkien fan fiction (Katharine) – but never did anything with it until we started writing together. That was in 2012; we got an agent in 2015 and our first novel came out in 2016.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
We both use computers (desktops rather than laptops to avoid backache!) but we also carry notebooks round so we can write on trains, whilst waiting to pick up our children, in coffee shops, etc.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
The first page, definitely. Even with a detailed outline, finding the way into a new story when you’re starting that first draft is daunting.
What do you find is the easiest part?
Editing – refining what you’ve got is so much easier than that dreaded first draft…
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
About six months, give or take – it depends exactly on how much time we’re given by our publisher. We both have families, so we don’t always get to spend as much time as we’d like purely on writing.
Any tips on how to go through a dreaded writer’s block?
Sounds daft really but just keep writing. Sit down and force yourself to put something down on paper, even if you delete it all later. Just showing up to write is the key thing. Finding a trusted friend / family member who you can chat to about your ideas is also really helpful.
How did you decide to pick out your book cover?
Luckily, we don’t have to design or choose our own covers – HarperCollins outsource the process to the fabulous Lisa Brewster at BlackSheep Design. She’s super talented and we really love our covers.
Do you think the cover plays an important part of the buying process?
Yes definitely – an attractive cover is bound to make it more likely that someone will at least pick up your book and take a look at the blurb…
How do you market your books?
Some marketing is done for us by HarperCollins. We try to be active on social media and we always answer emails from readers. We also like to attend as many events as possible. Talking to an audience about our work is always exciting!
Why did you choose the traditional publishing route?
We wanted to be traditionally published mainly because we wanted the thrill of seeing our books in book shops – it seems to be much harder to get that shelf-space if you’re self-published.
What is your favourite quote of your book?
It’s hard to pick, but we do really like this bit from The Witch’s Kiss:
“As Gran stared at her over the top of her glasses, Merry caught a gleam in her eyes; something behind the love and the grandmotherliness. Something as hard and sharp as a diamond blade. ‘Did you think the craft was just something to be used, Granddaughter? That it was an easy way of getting what you want? That there would never be a price to pay?’”
How can your readers discover more about you and your work?
We have a website: www.corrsisters.com. We’re both on Twitter (@katharinecorr and @lizcorr_writes) and on Instagram too (@katharinecorrwrites and @lizcorrwrites).
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
Publishing in general we hope will become more diverse and more willing to take risks. We’d love there to be more bookshops and definitely more libraries. For ourselves, we hope to keep writing and keep being published – we have several new works-in-progress in the pipeline…