Catherine Law - historical romantic novelist


Discover spell-binding romantic fiction with a dark heart


Interview

An abridged version of A Season of Leaves was published in early 2009 as part of Reader’s Digest

Of Life & Love series…

The three-novel volume included East of the Sun by Julia Gregson and The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. This is the interview with Catherine Law by Anne Jenkins of Reader’s Digest that appears in the volume:

Is A Season of Leaves your first novel? It is my first published novel. I have written others, all of which have since been shredded and recycled! My agent, who has believed in me through many manuscripts, and has the patience of a saint, has read them all. I feel that this novel is more focused and better planned, better researched.

So when did you start to write? When I was a little girl I used to scribble stories and clip the pages together to make books. I’ve always had the desire to write. That’s what drives me. Having a book deal has given me more confidence. It validates what I do.

How did you research the various aspects of the Second World War and of the situation in Prague in the immediate aftermath of the war? I wanted to create authenticity in my writing and make the events of long ago ring true in the present, so I spent many hours soaking up the atmosphere of wartime and the hard, brutal facts at the Imperial War Museum in London. And I read a huge number of books about the war. I’ve been to Prague twice. The first time I went I was taken on a Communist tour of the city; they pointed out where a big red star used to dominate an elegant square. I also interviewed Eva Melichar, a Czech lady now living in Canterbury, who escaped Prague with her family when the Communists took over. [Eva has now sadly passed away]

You work as a journalist and have written travel features for Homes & Gardens. Has that experience been helpful in your novel writing? I’m acting chief sub editor on the magazine now, but I used to write travel features and went on some wonderful press trips. I would become emotionally attached to wherever I was and just loved getting into the history of each country, each city we visited.

How did you decide that your heroine, Rose Pepper, would fall for a Czech soldier? Rose is based on my great-auntie Ginge, who was a land girl during the war. I’d been writing away all my life and suddenly I thought of her and a door just opened in my head. I interviewed her as a journalist almost, and she just opened up to me, much to the surprise of her two sons. She met her Czech soldier, Jan Chlebek, when he was based with the US Army in England during the war, and the details of their story inspired much of Rose’s love affair with Krystof in A Season of Leaves.

Rose’s story is all about single-mindedly following a dream. What dreams do you have for the future? Well, my first dream has just come true: I’m a published author. And I’d be so pleased if, in ten years’ time, you were to open my latest book and see a list of maybe eight other titles listed at the front. I’d like to be in the position where readers love my books so much they can’t wait for the next one to come out.

How would you feel about having your novel made into a film or a TV drama? That’s another dream! I’ve fantasised about this with friends over a few glasses of wine; it’s very indulgent. I can picture Anna Friel playing the part of Rose. She’s beautiful, but ballsy too. Or Romola Garai who appeared in Atonement.

Who do you see playing the handsome, aesthetic Krystof? He’d have to be a Czech actor. One of the films I saw that inspired me was a Czech film called Dark Blue World. It’s about Czech soldiers fighting with the RAF in the war. When it was all over they went home and faced imprisonment. In the film there was a young actor called Krystof Hadek. He would be perfect.

Readers will enjoy the strong vein of nostalgia in your books, too. The Cornwall you write about is so evocative of bygone days. I am really remembering childhood holidays in the Seventies: the farmland, the clifftops, the beaches, the sea. The cove I write about in the book is based on one I knew then. It was called Portwrinkle. I love those Cornish names . . .

Would you like to live in Cornwall and write your novels there? I’d love to live by the sea, but I also enjoy living in the Chilterns. In fact my next book is set there. A bolthole by the water in Cornwall or Kent would be a luxury.

Interview copyright Anne Jenkins, Reader’s Digest Of Love and Life series

 

Here is feedback from one happy Reader’s Digest reader:

I enjoyed reading A SEASON OF LEAVES very much too, I enjoyed being transported backwards and forwards in time, it was very nostalgic, I was with Rose every step of the way, and what a way it was. You were able to feel exactly how Rose was feeling – I just wanted them to be reunited in the end, but somehow knew they would not be, not the ending I wanted I know — but a good read all the same. Hope my humble reviews help in some small way – can’t wait until I receive my next volume. Kind regards Rita Crawley.