Sunday, August 25, 2019

An Interview with author Katherine Pym

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Katherine Pym likes history, especially 17th century England, specifically London during the 1660's. The decade is is filled with human interest stories as the people adjust from one government to another, and all their changing rules and regulations.

Another era is the French Revolution, and she has written a novel about Camille Desmoulins, a popular pamphleteer and journalist.

Why did you start fiction writing and what genre(s) do you like to write?First, I'd like to thank you, Robin, for giving me this opportunity. I truly appreciate your generosity.

I don't know when I never wrote, but the main thrust was when my sister and I admitted we were intellectual snobs and could easily write a novel. It would be a historical romance set in France during the Revolution. Ours would be different, and great. How little did we know! My sister soon bailed but I continued which resulted in - years later - Desmoulins, a historical fiction based on a real person and his wife. At the time, everyone knew their devotion to each other, Desmoulins' peers, and today's historical community. It is a tragic love story.

Why this/these genre(s)? What attracts you to them?

Now, I write mostly 17th century London stories. For some reason the era/place is very close to me as if I've lived there and then, walked the tight lanes, smelled the coal smoke that covered everything. It also hops with all sorts of exciting historical events.

Generally speaking, what is the driving force behind your characters? Have any of your characters changed in dramatic way from what you imagined at the start during the writing process?

History is what drives my characters, how they respond to the events, i.e., the fire of 1666, the plague of 1665, the 2nd Anglo/Dutch war. My stories are about the common man who must live under these circumstances. Some of the stories are quite heady. So, in a way, my characters don't dramatically change, although one character was supposed to be a person who never allowed anyone close, but as the story unfolded she couldn't hide anymore. I couldn't stop her as she burst through the scenes, much more of an extrovert than previously envisioned.

What do you find the most difficult in finishing a story and approximately how long does it take for you to write a story?

It takes approximately 1 year from start to finish. Toward the end, I want to rush it, which makes for lost closures. I force myself to slow down and close out subplots along with the main plot.

Are there other types of writing you do such as non-fiction, or short fiction?

I've done an alternative historical fiction of Joshua and Magdalene (new age/woo-woo), and a young adult fantasy of how salt filled the seas. Lots of Celtic folklore in that one. It's quite fanciful and imaginative.

I also am in the midst of writing short stories that should meld into a novel of time travel, YA, if and when it finishes.

Has your writing affected you in any way and what would you recommend to someone wanting to start writing fiction?

Writing is my life. I don't know what I would do if I stopped. I love to research and find historical odds and ends which I then incorporate into the story. Like: one of my characters was shot. The physician brewed a medicine in the kitchen which, among other items, included boiling lily oil, worms, wine, and live puppies. It was a real medicine that apparently saved the life of a French king in the 16th century. It is called Oyl of Whelps. Once everything is boiled down, you make it into a salve and apply it to the wound.

These things, what people went through, how they made do, which we never see in the school history texts (only government policies and warfare, the discussion of battles), add to the dimensions of my characters and it adds to dimensions in my life. I wouldn't have it any other way.

As for someone who wants to start writing... I'd highly recommend them not to quit their day job. It's a lonely pursuit and hopefully anyone who tries to write likes themselves and can spend hours alone.


Katherine Pym said...

Thanks very much for taking the time to interview me, Robin. I so very much appreciate it.

Rhobin said...

You are very welcome, Katherine! Thank you for participating! It is interesting to learn about authors and what drives them to write.

Historical Writer/Editor said...

Hello, Katherine, those are both interesting eras in history! I enjoyed your book set in the 1660s. It was not only very realistic, but it was quite entertaining! I wish you well with your writing.