Friday 2 October 2015

Q&A with Katie Marsh, author of My Everything

Hi, Katie! Can you tell us a bit about your first novel, My Everything?

It’s the story of Hannah, a young teacher whose husband Tom has a stroke on the day she’s going to leave him. It then follows them as he struggles to rebuild himself after the stroke and as she has to give up her dream job to care for the man who has made her miserable for months. It’s a book about being brave, about second chances and about making the most of life.

Name five feelings/emotions you think (or hope!) readers will experience when reading your debut.

I think ‘My Everything’ is a life-affirming book, during which readers will hopefully feel uplifted, shocked, sad, sympathetic and joyful.

Reading the book, I loved how chapters of (mostly) happy memories between Hannah and Tom broke up the chapters set in present time, in the aftermath of Tom’s stroke. How challenging did you find maintaining that balance from heartbreak and sadness to joy and laughter?

It was so challenging - the book went through eight drafts before publication and you have hit on the exact reason why. I was constantly working to maintain a tension between the present tense and past tense chapters so that readers could feel the poignancy of their disconnection in the present when compared to their excitement when they met and fell in love in the past, and then vice versa as the two stories run together towards the end of the book.

How did your job working in healthcare help inspire your writing of the story in My Everything?

I thought of the idea when I was working with stroke survivors in south west London. I ran patient events and met such incredibly brave survivors and their families too. The way one couple in particular stood by each other really inspired me. I was preparing to get married at the time, and one day the two ideas fused and I thought ‘What if…?’

I know you turned me into an emotional wreck when reading My Everything but did you feel the same when writing it?

I really did. I got through a lot of tissues and was frequently to be found weeping in my attic. I still think about Tom and Hannah now - they were both very real to me.

How did you celebrate publication day?

I went out for a gorgeous brunch with my family and then played hunt ‘My Everything’ in bookshops across London with my husband Max and my daughter Evie. She was very pleased when she found a copy in Waterstones in London Piccadilly! And so was I...

I thought your debut novel felt anything but - it was beautifully written and delivered. But have you yourself read any strong debut novels recently that you would recommend?

I cannot recommend Cesca Major’s ‘The Silent Hours’ highly enough. It kept me up till the small hours and I was so impressed by its skilful interweaving of three entirely compelling narratives, and by the way she produced an ending of such stunning poignancy.

Can you tell us anything about what you're working on now?

My second book is due out next year and I’ve just handed it in to my editor so we can start working on it together. It’s about dementia and family secrets and that’s all I can say for now!

How different does the process of writing a second book feel to the process of writing your debut?

It feels less lonely, because I know I have an editor and an agent who are on my team and who will help me to ensure that Book Two is as good as it can be. I also love the fact that readers have responded so well to ‘My Everything’ and all the lovely reviews and messages have really kept me going as I was grappling with my new novel.

If you woke up in a couple of weeks time to a tweet from an author who has just finished and loved My Everything, who would be the dream author to send you that message?

It’s a tie between Rowan Coleman and Jojo Moyes. One day…*dreams*

If you could become a book character for 24 hours, which character would you choose to be and what you would be getting up to?

It would have to be Tigger from ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’. Who wouldn’t want to zoom around all day being excited by absolutely everything you encounter? And what would I be doing? Bouncing, of course!


Katie's debut novel My Everything was published on August 27, 2015. Find a copy on Amazon here.

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