We’re welcoming Kirsty Ferry to the author spotlight this weekend. Kirsty hails from the north of England, and her books have been compared to those of Susanna Kearsley (one of my favorite authors.) I’ve read Kirsty’s books and loved each and every one of them. Kirsty is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 with the ghostly tale ‘Enchantment’.
Her timeslip novel, ‘Some Veil Did Fall’, a paranormal romance set in Whitby, was published by Choc Lit in Autumn 2014. This was followed by another Choc Lit timeslip, ‘The Girl in the Painting’ in February 2016 and ‘The Girl in the Photograph’ in March 2017. The experience of signing ‘Some Veil Did Fall’ in a quirky bookshop in the midst of Goth Weekend in Whitby, dressed as a recently undead person was one of the highlights of her writing career so far! Kirsty’s day-job involves sharing a Georgian building with an eclectic collection of ghosts – which can sometimes prove rather interesting. You can find out more about Kirsty and her work at www.rosethornpress.co.uk, catch her on her Facebook Author Page or follow her on Twitter @kirsty_ferry.
What was your favorite childhood book? I have lots of books I’ve loved over the years. One of my favourites growing up was Anne of Green Gables, but as I got into my teens I developed a slight obsession with Wuthering Heights and the Victoria Holt books. I remember spending, on more than one occasion, a whole day reading Victoria Holt books!
Did this book influence the way you write today? Do you have tattered copy of it on your bookshelf? I have all my Anne books at my parents’ house, but my own bookshelves are littered with various copies of Wuthering Heights. I’ve also got a box in my garage filled with Victoria Holt books, and more boxes of them in my parents’ attic. Brontë and Holt have very much influenced my writing over the years but I’m not quite as good as them! I’d love to write something like Wuthering Heights that will still be read and enjoyed in two hundred years’ time, but I’m afraid that my early attempts at writing a Gothic mystery from about twenty years ago are appalling. It’s amazing how much you learn over the years as you develop your own style. I’ve learned by re-reading that ‘novel’ recently, that I was no Victoria Holt!
Did you study creative writing in school? I loved English as a subject and that, along with art, was the homework I would rush to do the evening I got it. Creative Writing wasn’t really a ‘thing’ on its own back then, but I managed to cover it off in my English language GCSE and it was incorporated in my A levels as part of an English Language and Literature qualification. Later on, I studied creative writing at degree level as part of my Literature Degree, and last year I completed a Masters degree in it, which was a fantastic experience.
Tell us about your decision to write that first book, even if it wasn’t published. The first book I wrote (apart from the appalling Victoria Holt thing) was The Memory of Snow. It arose from a timeslip short story I entered into a competition, and I realised that I could probably expand on it. I had never written anything of any length before, but tackled it by using three timelines and breaking it down into chunks: Roman, medieval and contemporary. The book is set on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, near where I live and I found if I broke the story down, it didn’t seem so daunting to write. Soon, I had around fifty thousand words, which was enough for what it was intended to be – a YA novel. I submitted it to a few agents and publishers and entered it into a few competitions. I kept getting the same response – very good, but too niche market to be commercial; short-listed, long-listed or commended in competitions, but never more than that. Then my book actually won a competition – for a proof-read and light edit. It was fate! It needed to be ‘out there’. So I decided to bite the bullet and self-publish it. My friend, the cover designer Berni Stevens, designed a professional cover (after she had cringed at the one I designed and showed her!) and I put it on kindle, then later created paperbacks. Five years on, the book is still selling and has little resurgences. It is stocked at Vindolanda Museum on the Roman Wall and I did a project last year with a youth group and Groundworks North East about Meggie the Witch – a real witch who I fictionalized for the book. I just let it do its own thing, and it seems happy to remind me every so often that it’s still there!