Catherine Law - historical romantic novelist


Discover spell-binding romantic fiction with a dark heart


Catherine's FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

The short answer is I am inspired by life: everything around me, everything I see, hear and dream about. Creating a story is a fascinating process and it constantly intrigues me how one tiny co-incidence or discovery can be the spark that turns into a full-length published novel.

When I first stumbled across a humble little book The Normandy Diary of Marie-Louise Osmont, in a second-hand bookshop, I had no idea her story would, years later, become the germ of the idea that evolved into The September Garden. The years of German occupation, and the invasion of the Allies – seen through the eyes of this ordinary woman who had no idea what was going on as soldiers parachuted into her fields – stayed with me and inspired, I think, some of my most emotive writing.

The ‘September Garden’ itself came to me one day when I was writing in my attic room overlooking allotments.It was September, the sun was golden and slanting down over end-of-summer sunflowers and dahlias and plump apple trees and I was captured by this transient moment in time when something, in this case a ‘garden’, was at its most beautiful best. For Nell, my main character in the novel, I wanted to create a symbolic place of safety, of meaning and poignancy and the walled garden at her home, Lednor House in the Chilterns, became the September Garden, where she buried her darkest secret.

Are your books sequels?

No, not at all. However, there are themes running through them: I write about ordinary middle class characters and put them in dangerous or challenging situations, where they do extra-ordinary things. And of course, war-time is a period ripe with stories and incredible experiences that people like you and me lived through.

But each of my stories is separate, and I would not want to write a sequel to say, The September Garden, for I think and hope that the story continues in the readers’ mind anyway. Once I have finished a novel, I want to start afresh with something new – Book Four is already taking shape.

How did you start writing?

I can’t remember never wanting to write. It’s a compulsion! As a child I used to take pieces of paper, staple them together to make books and then write in them. I used to spend hours in the library, seeking out different books, tracing the authors from A to Z. They were to me, fabled and talented people whose name appeared on the spines of books full of mystery and intrigue and delight. They were creators of another world that I could sink in to and lose myself in. And I wanted to attempt to do the same thing, so I began to write books (pretty dreadful ones it must be said) through my teens and early twenties.

After many rejections and many manuscripts destined for the recycling bin, I at last found the story I wanted to write – the story of Great Auntie Ginge, which became A Season of Leaves. I certainly went through a hard-knock apprenticeship of reworking, rewriting and perseverance.

Creative writing can be taught, I think, as can technicalities and professionalism, but you can’t teach drive, determination and imagination, and the incredible state I find myself in: of living to write not writing to live.

When do you write?

Weekends, holidays, whenever I am commuting to work, scribbling in a notebook. It is hard, having a full-time job, and most evenings I cannot write as the day’s work has drained me. But if I am in ‘writing mode’ and am ready to write, and have a weekend free, I plan the scenes in my notebook.

I get up early, switch on my lap top (and not the TV or radio or internet) and start to write. I find it so much easier to type-write, as opposed to hand-write, as I find my typing is so much quicker and I can get it all down before I forget it (which is prone to happen!) As I write something down, unfortunately, I often think of something else about the character or the plot and this in itself is a distraction. The completion of the novel is the culmination of all these fractured ideas, and images and scenarios which come together, I hope, in a logical, clear and realistic way: the finished novel.

I have come to the conclusion that I read the books I want to write and I write the books I want to read.