Katerina Cosgrove is the author of 2000’s The Glass Heart and her new release ‘Bone Ash Sky’ has recently been released by Hardie Grant.
Welcome to Beauty and Lace Katerina, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us.
What started you on the path to novelist?
I remember telling my parents and older sister that I wanted to be an ‘authoress’ when I was seven. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to try and understand my reality through words.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book ‘Bone Ash Sky’?
Narrated through the eyes of an Armenian-American journalist, my new novel follows a family’s epic journey from the Armenian Genocide to Lebanon’s civil war to present-day Beirut. On the way, we travel through the Syrian desert, the shores of Lake Van in Turkey, and war-torn, shrapnel-marked Beirut. We meet militia men and suicide bombers, and also see war through the plight of women and children.
What made you feel you had to write this book?
I felt that it was a secret history, a forgotten chapter in the story of the Middle East – particularly in terms of the first Holocaust of the twentieth century, and its lack of a profile in the West. When I first visited Armenia, an old man said to me: Thank you for coming to this forgotten land. Maybe I wrote the book for him!
What inspires your stories?
My daily ocean swims. My family. The human struggle. Travel and other people’s stories.
Do your ideas generally begin with a character or an event?
My ideas for books always begin with one line that pops into my head. Everything flows (or doesn’t flow!) from there. For this novel, it was ‘First there was a white wall.’
Have you got a writing process you follow, what’s your writing routine?
I tend to do a lot of research before I start writing. Most of it doesn’t make into the final version, but it’s what Hemingway calls ‘the iceberg’ under the surface; it deepens and enriches and informs the work.
If you are struggling to get the words to come do you have a ‘crutch’ you lean on to get you through?
I don’t really struggle to find words. I struggle to curtail myself, and edit my words well, over and over. If I am ever feeling tired of writing, or questioning whether it’s all worth it, I go for a run or a walk.
Do you have a favourite place or time of day to write?
I can write anytime these days. Especially since I’ve had a child, I can write in brief snatches whenever it’s possible. I’m not precious about it any more. In terms of place, I can be in any room, no matter how noisy, but I need to be facing a window, looking out.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I would ask them to sit down for many months, or years, and figure out whether they really want to be alone for most of the day, writing, with brief flurries of intense activity when a book is actually published. If they’ve then decided on the path of the writer, I would advise them to read widely in all genres and to travel outside their comfort zones.
What’s next for Katerina Cosgrove?
Another novel! The next one is in the works: a post-apocalyptic eco-thriller. It’s where my head is at these days – sustainability, society, and whether our planet can put up with us for much longer.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Freedom and constraint, depending on circumstance.
Thanks for your time Katerina and good luck with your post-apocalyptic eco-thriller.