Welcome Catherine please tell us a little about yourself and your book.
I am a novelist, journalist and short story writer. My debut novel Truestory was published by Sandstone Press in 2015.
What inspired you to create Truestory?
Truestory is about a mother struggling to raise a child with autism. I was inspired to write by my own experiences of raising my daughter, Nina, who is autistic. It took us until she was ten to get her diagnosed and the years before that were isolating and frightening. This sounds like a dark subject – but the book is full of humour and hope.
What is your writing routine? are you a pantster or planner?
It depends what I’m writing – with a short story I can afford to suck it and see. With a novel it makes me feel nervous not to have some idea where I’m going. With Truestory I had the very last page in my mind right from the beginning.
Did you have a favourite place you like to write, while you were creating your novel?
I can write any time, any place, anywhere – on paper or on screen. I can write for five minutes or five hours. I’m very adaptable! Most of the first draft of Truestory was written at the kitchen table between school runs and tea times.
Describe what your Muse looks like to you in three words.
Friendly, colourful, vibrant.
What part of writing your novel did you most enjoy? E.g. First draft, research, editing…
The first draft is like drawing teeth. I love the editing and messing with it afterwards.
If you could be one of your characters, which one would you be and why?
In Truestory there is a character who is a drifter – travelling around taking jobs here and there. In theory I like this idea – that life is one long ever-changing adventure. He is called Larry and is also charming and a wonderful listener and story teller. I think it would be fun to be Larry.
There is also an old lady called Jeannie who gathers stray cats and dogs and lives on cake. That would be fun too.
Which character did you like writing about the most? Why?
Sam, the autistic boy in Truestory, has a secret on-line life. He asks his on-line friends the big questions in life and gets all sorts of weird and wonderful (and terrible) advice in return. This was a lot of fun to write.
I write about difficult subjects – illness, bereavement, loneliness – but I hope I do it with a light touch. There is humour in what I write because there is humour in life.
If you could describe you main character in three words what would they be?
My narrator is Alice. She is: struggling, loving & a trier.
What is the funniest thing that happens to your main character ?
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but Alice is trying to hide certain things from her son who sees all and records all. This could never end well!
Does any of your characters have any strong beliefs or fears if so what are they?
Sam (aged 12) believes that if it’s on-line it must be true. His on-line name is ‘Truestory’ hence the title of the novel.
Did you have to do a lot of research into Autism? And what that means for people who are Autistic and the people around them? If so could you share with us you knowledge?
I did not knowingly do research into autism – but I used the experience of raising my child to write the book. Quite a few people who work with autistic people have commented to me that reading Truestory told them more about life with autism than lots of text books could have done. You’ve got to remember though that there are many different facets to autism and no two people are alike.
What was the best advice you’ve ever had while writing your novels?
Keep going. Even if at a snail’s pace. Keep going.
Who are your favourite Authors?
Kate Atkinson, Jeanette Winterson, Alan Bennett, Alexander Masters.
What projects are you working on next?
I am currently working on a family memoir called ‘When I Had a Little Sister’.
Do you have any advice for fellow writers who maybe undertaking creating their first novel at this very moment?
Keep going. Stay optimistic. Enjoy the process of making things up.
Any final words you would like to add?
Thanks for having me on the blog. One of the best things about writing a novel is sharing it with people, so thank you for giving me that opportunity.
Thank you Catherine for taking time to do this blog interview, it has been a real pleasure to hear about your novel, I wish you well with your novel and all other writing projects you may undertake in the future.
Blurb of Truestory:
On a remote Lancashire farm, eleven year old Sam seeks answers to life’s big questions online. His mother Alice’s life is dictated by Sam’s strange ways and her husband’s fecklessness as their money runs out. When Duncan brings home a stranger to help with his latest scheme, Alice is furious. Sam can’t cope with change. But Larry beguiles Sam with his maps and, as he works his magic, Alice falls for him too.
By turns hilarious and tragic, Truestory examines how we are all trapped in our own lives, yet sometimes have more options than we realise.
Quote from James Robertson: ‘Catherine Simpson does not waste words. She has that rare ability to conjure up people and places, how they look and how they sound, in just a sentence or two. Her writing is vivid perceptive and acute and she deserves a wide readership.’
If you want to find out more about Catherine and her novel Truestory . Check out the links below.
Link to my website:
Amazon author page: