Today, we continue talking to Kate Forsyth about her writing…
SG: Welcome back, Kate. Your fantasy stories are hugely popular for all ages. You’ve said fantasy has the ability to open up the ‘big topics’ so children are able to engage in them. Tell us more about this fascinating idea.
KF: One of the things I love most about fantasy fiction is that it works on so many different levels. Firstly, you have the story itself which is full of wonder and adventure and suspense, so readers – whether child or adult – are entranced and entertained.
Then, because fantasy deals with ideas of the improbable, it opens up the imagination to new possibilities. It takes you to new worlds and other times, so that your experience of your own world and your own time is enriched and deepened.
Because it speaks in symbol and metaphor and archetype, like myth and fairy tale and poetry, fantasy fiction connects with a deep and ancient part of our brain where our most deeply felt desires and fears are kept hidden – and it therefore allows us to face these fears and desires in a safe place, allowing us to act them out through our identification with the heroes in the story.
Finally, fantasy fiction is one of the few art forms where we can grapple with the really big and difficult questions of life – what is the nature of good and evil? Can I choose my own destiny or is my fate inescapable? Can I triumph over evil, can I be a hero in my own life and my own world, is a happy ending ever possible?
That’s a whole lot of things for one tale of wonder to do!
SG: It must be exciting for you and your sister, Belinda Murrell to be launching new books together at the Sydney Writers Festival. Belinda’s is The Ruby Talisman. Were you storytellers when you were little girls?
KF: Oh, yes! We both told stories, wrote poems and books, and played endless, intense, imaginative games – plus we were voracious readers!
SG: Research obviously grounds your stories, they resonate with place. (For me, it’s the Eileanan stories and the one I’m reading currently, The Puzzle Ring set in Scotland.)
Kate, how do you pick up on the sense of those places?
KF: I have a very visual imagination. I see what I write in my mind’s eye. Sometimes it’s like a film unrolling in my head and I’m simply describing what I see. However, I have all sorts of aids to help me visualise where my story is set.
When I was writing ‘The Puzzle Ring’, I had photos of castles and mountains and moors and lochs stuck all over my wall near my desk and saved as my screensaver on my computer.
And, of course, I went travelling in Scotland for a month with my family and took hundreds of photos!
SG: You are also an accomplished poet, with your collection of poetry, Radiance published under your maiden name, Kate Humphrey. I know this is a very broad question, but what does poetry mean to you?
KF: I’ve always loved to both read and write poetry. I don’t write much anymore – I think the poetic urge is all devoured by the books! Certainly my books are all full of songs, spells, curses, chants, riddles and prophecies – many of which rhyme! Which is odd, because my poetry never did.
I still love poetry – I read it to my children now.
SG: Last one, Kate! If there was one piece of really useful advice you could give emerging writers, what would it be?
KF: To have courage. Writers need to be bold and they need to have conviction and they need to be truthful – they can’t be afraid of what people will think or say!
SG: Thank you, Kate for coming on to my blog and allowing these insights into your writing life. I found it fascinating and I’m looking forward to reading my copies of The Starthorn Tree and The Wildkin’s Curse.
Congratulations again on the release of The Wildkin’s Curse!
PS Can’t wait to start reading The Witches of Eileanan series for the second time so I can be enthralled all over again!