Friday, September 12, 2008

Beyond the Labyrinth?

Another Kate I was very excited to discover was making an appearance at The Press Christchurch Writer's Festival was Kate Mosse.

I loved her novel Labyrinth, which I'd brought as soon as it was released in New Zealand. After reading it I'd chatted with the family about it and my boy's were fascinated and excited as their favourite game is Carcassonne. We had to go look it up on the internet and there were a lot of Carcossonne style Lego castles being made that week, as well as a lot of the game being played.

I enjoyed listening to Kate talk about her discovery of the town and her instant love affair with the Languedoc region. Her passion for and knowledge of the area (she has a home there) shows through in Labyrinth and her descriptions of the place. She said in the summer when the town is chokka with tourists it is probably the closest approximation to what it would have actually been like in older times, crammed full of people and all their noise and bustle.

She is a very thorough researcher and liked to complete all of her research before even starting on a work. I think it was 5 years worth that went into Labyrinth. (I should have taken notes during the festival rather than relying on my rather dodgy memory) Of course then the difficulty is ensuring the research and too much much information doesn't hinder or strangle the story. I know when reading Labyrinth I felt I learned a lot about the Cathars and struggles in the name of religion of the time, but I felt she achieved the right balance of story-telling and background. I cared about the characters and had to know what would happen next!

The audience had quite a treat really, she was a very warm and engaging speaker and the hour was over in a flash. We were all pleased to hear her say she was a huge Ngaio Marsh fan, and crime fiction fan, and had read every one of her books. She went out to the Ngaio Marsh House open day and thought it remarkably similar to Agatha Christie's home.

Kate and her husband teach creative writing, and it was clear this was a passion for Kate. She was very generous with sharing her thoughts on many aspects of writing.

I also saw her in the panel Oranges aren't the only prize, as she was a founder of the Orange Prize for literature. It was fascinating to hear of the genesis of this prize and why it was set up, and to counter some of the criticisms that it is sexist by being eligible for women writers only. Again she was a very open and generous speaker.

One of the highlights of the festival for me was an impromptu opportunity to go out for a wine (or two) with the girls - the girls being Kate Mosse, Dame Fiona Kidman and Mary McCallum. Lovely.

1 comment:

Law and Order said...

Kathryn Ryan interviewed Kate Mosse on National Radio last Wed. Doesn't beat having a wine with her though.