I’m delighted to welcome fellow Legend Press author Kat Gordon to the blog on the day that she releases her debut novel, The Artificial Anatomy of Parks. I was lucky enough to meet Kat at the Legend 10th birthday celebrations last year, and can report that she is a lovely lady with a wicked sense of humour – I can’t wait to get stuck into her book!
Can you describe your new novel in one succinct but sensual sentence?
A coming-of-age-narrative about family secrets and the damage they cause; the Parks are a larger-than-life, eccentric family, and Tallie – the headstrong protagonist – starts off estranged from them, but is gradually drawn back into their world after she hears that her father has had a heart attack.
Who is your favourite character and why?
Matilda (the grandmother)! She doesn’t suffer fools gladly, so she was really fun to write. Similarly Aunt Vivienne. They’ve both been hurt quite badly, and both made mistakes that have hurt others, so they’re not perfect people, but they’re survivors, and they can do unexpectedly nice things too. I like it when a character acts against type. Malkie is one of my favourites too, for being a genuinely kind person.
And of course I have a lot of affection for Tallie, my main character.
Which authors have been your main inspirations?
The book follows Tallie from the age of five to twenty-one, and I think a lot of the inspiration for her childhood self has to have come from Harper Lee. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout is so forthright, and feisty, and there’s that great humour that comes from the adult Scout as a narrator recounting what younger Scout did in a knowing way (presenting her reactions to something, and making it obvious that she knows, and we know, that younger Scout has got the wrong end of the stick). I think this distance is where the humour lies, and hopefully I’ve been able to capture that in my novel too.
Then Kate Atkinson, especially in Behind the Scenes at the Museum, is wonderful at putting together a large cast of characters and making you believe in each one of them. Hopefully I’ve been able to achieve that as well! I had so many characters as one point that I forgot who some of them were (predictably, those were the ones who didn’t make it into the final draft).
How does your writing process work; confusion and paper flying everywhere or calm and ordered?
I would say it’s totally organised. My boyfriend probably thinks it’s not because there are books and print-outs piled everywhere on my desk, but they’re all exactly as I want them and I know where everything is! Last year we lived in Reykjavik for a while, where I was able to have a daily writing routine, and since we’ve returned to London I’ve realised just how productive that was… So now I try to get up at the same time every morning and write until mid-afternoon. I can only sustain my calm and orderliness until then. Everything else in my life tends toward complete chaos, but at least the work’s getting done!
What is your guilty pleasure when writing? (Chocolate, wine, coffee…)
I don’t tend to eat or drink until afterwards, especially if I’m really stuck in, but my cat likes to lie underneath my desk (or sometimes on my laptop keyboard), so I keep a packet of treats for her in the drawer and she gets through plenty of them while I’m writing (she’s getting a little plump, actually).
Please share your blurb with us.
At twenty-one, Tallulah Park lives alone in a grimy bedsit. There’s a sink in her bedroom and a strange damp smell that means she wakes up wheezing. Then she gets the call that her father has had a heart attack.
Years before, she was being tossed around her difficult family; a world of sniping aunts, precocious cousins, emigrant pianists and lots of gin, all presided over by an unconventional grandmother. But no one was answering Tallie’s questions: why did Aunt Vivienne loathe Tallie’s mother? Who was Uncle Jack and why would no one talk about him? And why was everyone making excuses for her absent father?
As Tallie grows up, she learns the hard way about damage and betrayal, that in the end, the worst betrayals are those we inflict on ourselves. This is her story about the journey from love to loss and back again.
Oooh, thanks Kat. It sounds like a wonderful read. I love that cover too! You can buy The Artificial Anatomy of Parks here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kat Gordon was born in London in 1984. She attended Camden School for Girls, read English at Somerville College, Oxford, and received a Distinction in her Creative Writing Masters from Royal Holloway. In between, Kat has been a gymnastics coach, a theatre usher, a piano accompanist, a nanny, a researcher and worked at Time Out. She has spent a lot of time travelling, primarily in Africa.
Kat lives in London with her boyfriend and their terrifying cat, Maggie. Her first novel, The Artificial Anatomy of Parks will be published by Legend Press on 1st July 2015.