An interview with… children’s author Katharine Orton

Kate Frost

Nevertell, Katharine Orton’s beautifully written novel for 9-12 year olds, transports young readers to the snowy wilderness of Russia in a magical and evocative debut. We’re thrilled to welcome her to the blog today to find out the secrets behind her writing process.

So do tell us, Katharine, where you get your ideas from?

I get fragments of ideas from all over the place. Overheard conversations, history programmes, things I read… Often these spark ‘What ifs…’ in my head that seed themselves and slowly grow. And sometimes, if I’m really lucky, they collide and make an even more interesting idea.

And how do you know when you’ve got that really good idea?

Sometimes I can get really excited by an idea but after I’ve played around with it in my head for a while it fizzles out. Maybe it’s missing something, and that thing will come with a little patience – or not at all. So I think there are two factors: whether it gives me that initial feeling of excitement, and whether that excitement stands the test of time.

Where do you write?

Sat on the sofa – or wherever I can find a little quiet hideaway corner to hunker down!

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

I’m trying much harder to be a plotter these days, but I can be an outrageous pantser!

How long does it take to complete a book?

Oh that’s such a hard question! I think Nevertell was roughly four years in the making – from the very first spark of an idea, to signing with my agent Bryony Woods, to securing a publishing deal and the book finally arriving on shelves. But the second book I will have written in a much shorter time. It must vary from book to book, person to person.

What hurdles do you encounter along the way?

As many people are no doubt finding at the moment, it can be hard to focus when events from the outside world seep in. For me, fretting isn’t helpful to the creative process! I get lost in the woods of my ideas sometimes too. That’s why it’s always so great to have a second pair of eyes on what you write – or failing that, a little break can bring clarity.

How do you know when your book’s journey is completed?

I’m not sure if I’ve learnt that yet! I know it’s an oldie but I think the quote ‘a work of art is never finished, only abandoned’ is apt. Although I have no idea who to attribute it to!

What books inspired you as a child?

I loved anything a bit dark – and still do. Or funny. Both is even better. From Robert Swindells’ The Ice Palace to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of The Snark, and fairy tales from all over the world. And Roald Dahl, obviously!

What’s your current or next project?

I’m writing another book for children right now – similar to Nevertell it has magic in a real-world setting, plus a touch of folklore and fairy tale. I’m so excited to see this one out in the world as I feel like I’ve been on a real journey with it.

We’ll be excited to read that one too as we love Nevertell!

We’d love to know three random and/or interesting facts about yourself.

  1. I’m a fairy tale and folklore enthusiast.
  2. I used to work with glass, where I worked alongside (and was also taught by) a former monk! I still like to make fused, stained and engraved glass pieces.
  3. If I wasn’t a writer I would’ve liked to be an artist, archaeologist or paramedic.

You can find Katharine on:

To find out more about Katharine and her books go to:

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