I am so incredibly excited to have Katy Regan on The Love of a Good Book.
Katy Regan was Features Writer and Commissioning Editor of Marie Claire before leaving to concentrate on writing fiction in 2007. Whilst there, she wrote a column And Then There Were Three . . . Sort Of about her experience of having a baby with her best friend (who just remained a friend). This proved so successful it ran for two years and now, ten years on, people still remember it.
When she’s not writing fiction, Katy writes features for the likes of Stella Magazine, Psychologies and Marie Claire. She is also blogging about her experience of writing her fifth novel on her website: http://www.katyregan.com. She lives in Hertfordshire with her son. The Story of You is her fourth novel.
They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take. Please can you describe the journey that you went on?
I would actually say that staying published rather than being published is the hardest thing these days! However, to describe my journey in brief: I started off a journalist on women’s magazines (and still write for them). I was features writer then commissioning editor of Marie Claire. I’d never considered writing a novel really, although I wrote short fiction in my spare time. I just didn’t think someone like me: a normal girl from Morecambe, Lancs did things like write novels! In 2004 I became pregnant with a friend of mine (who remained only a friend not a boyfriend) and this proved to be quite the unexpected career move! I ended up being commissioned to write a column about it for Marie Claire and this column is what eventually became my first novel: One Thing Led to Another. However, it wasn’t easy. Any ideas I had that because I was a journalist meant I’d be able to write fiction were soon dispelled! I spent two years writing that first novel. It was written late at night and early in the mornings because I had a baby and a full-time job. I taught myself, really through reading endless books about writing and actually practising writing lots and lots.
I got a fantastic agent when I’d written about three chapters of One Thing…. if it hadn’t have been for her seeing some potential in me, I don’t think I’d be published now. She not only helped me get a good deal, but helped nurture me as a writer and helped me get my novel into shape. My first deal with Harper Collins, therefore was the end of two years hard work and teaching myself how to write fiction.
Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them. So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
Great question! I think it would have to be Fraser from HOW WE MET and the reason for that, is because I’d fancy him madly and we’d get to have a snog!! (I’d make sure of it). I think we’d spend the day walking along the promenade in Morecambe – my hometown and nearby where HOW WE MET is set – then we’d get the beers in at the pub, make one another laugh and kiss till the sun went down and the moon came up. I’m kind of a bit in love with him (as you can probably tell…)
If you were told that you could live any day without repercussions for your actions, what would you do and why?
Oh God, the choice!! I’ve no idea! Um, bag a business flight to San Francisco (always wanted to go) and hit the second hand bookshops by day and the bars by night. Clearly, I wouldn’t pay for anything and would have no hangover…..
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? See above! I’ve always wanted to go. I think San Fran would be right up my street. I love the idea of all the bookshops and those hills and the laidback attitude. If not San Fran, then Maine or New Hampshire. I have fantasies of going in autumn when all the leaves are golden against the clapboard houses, dangling my feet off a jetty and eating crayfish. This is exactly what would happen, right?
If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
Jeanette Winterson’s memoir: Why be Happy When You Can be Normal? Omg it’s amazing. So life-affirming and written with not one ounce of self-pity. Makes you proud to be a human being and a woman.
If there was one saying that could sum up your life to date, what would it be?
Could be worse (joking! Sorry, my northern dryness couldn’t resist) No, seriously, probably “Never a dull moment” or “It’s complicated!”
Please share with us, one random fact about yourself or your book?
I went to stage school with Posh Spice when I was 16. This isn’t THAT random anymore since I wheel it out at any given opportunity. In terms of my new book THE STORY OF YOU: the actress I had in my head when I was writing Grace, and who I’d choose to play her if it were ever a film, was Shirley Henderson (she was the high-pitched friend in Bridget Jones’ Diary)
What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
I’m writing my fifth novel at the moment. It’s a simple idea but it’s going to feature a ten year old boy and it’s going to be sad and funny and quirky. That’s all I’m going to tell you about it – I’m really excited about this one though.
What or who in life inspires you?
My nine-year old son, Fergus. I love the way kids see the world -they haven’t experienced the pain of life yet! All that losing people and tortured love and relationships… They’re so optimistic and unjudgmental, because of this. I want to capture some of that spirit in my new book.
What is your all time favourite book?
I really don’t have one but Tim Lott’s White City Blue was the book that made me think, I wanted to be a novelist.
Please would you share who your 5 dream dinner party guests would be? There are so many potential, killer combos, but just to give you one:
1) Someone to make me laugh: I love Billy Connolly – I don’t know his comedy THAT well, it has to be said, but he’s got the twinkliest, most humorous eyes ever and I love his accent (plus he does do some rather funny visual humour sketches to spice things up if they got boring)
2) Jeanette Winterson. She’s from Lancashire too and is massively clever but also so down-to-earth and wise.
3) Jamie Oliver – he’s got a lot to say, lots of ideas and is so passionate and political about food (He could also take over if my dinner went tits up.)
4) Someone I know and love in case I was just really shy: My son (he’d crack a good fart joke and lower the tone if it all got too cerebral) or a best friend.
5) Someone I fancied: Um, Ryan Gosling? Ewan McGregor?
At your dinner party, there is a cocktail in honour of ‘The Story of You’ what would the ingredients be?
Something from my past (peach Taboo maybe! This drink is also featured in the book), something from my present – so, vodka, beer, white wine that I presently like to drink a lo of – and some Jack Daniels somehow worked in, as this is Joe’s favourite drink and what he and Robyn drink at his mother’s funeral in the book; the drink that leads them to the scene in the barn….which was one of my favourite ones to write.
Celebrity date for your party?
Ewan McGregor (I just came up with that) because he is very hot (obviously) but also, mostly, he seems interesting and like a really nice down to earth bloke and I like his accent. I don’t think I’d get bored of listening to him talk. I love a Scottish accent! If he wasn’t available, maybe a writer I really admire and whose brains I could pick, like Chris Cleave or Joshua Ferris. In fact Joshua Ferris (author of The Unnamed and Then We Came to the End) is my new literary crush, not only is he very handsome (seriously, look him up!) but I love his writing which is totally unsentimental, modern and fresh. I just bought his new novel, “To Rise Again at a Decent Hour.’ Can’t wait to read and swoon at his intelligence! (then Google pics of him in inappropriate lit-crush fashion)
Quick fire round:
Night in or Night out? Night out
Books or e-books? Books most definitely
Beach or City ? City
Letters or emails? Emails! I can’t handwrite these days but I love going through hilarious old letters that we sent to one another at university (yes, am THAT old)
Classic or modern? Um, modern classics?
A big thank you to Katy for such fabulous answers and for stopping by today.
Also a big thank you to Louise at Harper Collins for inviting me to be part of the tour!