Kate Mosse – The Master of Time-Slip Fiction – 19th August 2015.
“You want to do a thriller? Taxidermy! It’s just creepy,” explains Kate Mosse, on her new book The Taxidermist’s Daughter. “I do have a great regard for the skill of taxidermy. It’s delicate, it’s a working class art.” She gave it a try in research for her book. “I can’t respect the craft without knowing what it feels like, what it smells like. It’s my job to give a 360-degree view of what it’s like to be in the room. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever done.”
Given she’s a vegetarian, it’s hardly surprising. But Kate Mosse is a master of her craft, understanding the surrounding and history in which she sets everything and what she writes about. Her lead in the latest book, Connie, follows her tradition of the strong female hero, but what comes first, the character, or their surroundings?
“Characters don’t come first,” she says. It’s the idea, landscape and story that come first. “I build my stage set. The plot is the building blocks. For me, writing a novel is about holding your nerve. You’re writing and the hero steps forward when they’re ready.” If you turn round and look for them before they’re ready to come out, you can lose them entirely.
Mosse is such a prevalent writer, always working away on something, that any advice to aspiring writers is welcome. “When I started writing I was editing myself before I’d written,” she explains. “The person you are as a reader is not necessarily who you are as a writer”, but it can take a while to work out exactly where you sit. A favourite quote of hers is, “Try again, fail again, never mind, fail better.”
The worst part of writing is the middle. You start with all the best intentions but there’s a bit in the middle where you’re bored because you’re not over half way, like in baking. You mustn’t lose your love or you’ll introduce a character you don’t need, or think, “I know – a spaceship will help!”
“Writing a novel is hard,” she reinforces. “It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, you just haven’t got it right yet.”