I was so intrigued by the title of Kathy Sharp’s novel, Whales and Strange Stars, that although I didn’t have time to read it I was desperate to be part of the Brook Cottage Books tour and find out more.
Having spent my working life advocating that teachers and students should read as writers and write as readers, I’m also delighted to be sharing Kathy’s post explaining which other authors have influenced her work.
Published by Crooked Cat Books on 12th December 2017, Whales and Strange Stars is available for purchase from your local Amazon site.
Whales and Strange Stars
A sea captain passes through the forgotten port of Wych Ferry, and whiles away an hour relating his traveller’s tales to young Rosamund Euden. He tells her that the stars are different, if you sail far enough, that the horizon isn’t quite real, not when you get there; he speaks of sea serpents and whales, and mysterious islands.
To an impressionable girl who has never left her home, the whales and strange stars of his stories come to symbolise the great outside world she longs to see. The sea captain moves on, unaware of the dramatic events he has set in action as Rosamund’s search for adventure leads her into a world of dangerous secrets in the marshlands of eighteenth century Kent.
Torn between loyalty to her uncles, and her desire to discover what lies beyond the marshes, Rosamund seeks help from an unexpected source. But who can she really trust?
Which Other Writers Have Influenced My Work?
A Guest Post by Kathy Sharp
It’s a standard question, a cliché, even – but it’s worth asking, and answering, too. The absolutely honest answer, from me, is that it changes all the time. Every new book I read (and sometimes an old one that I re-read) will leave its mark on my writing. Every new way of looking at things, every unusual point of view, every fresh subject will show up in my own work to some degree. And every piece of writing that’s dull, sloppy or unimaginative will be a reminder to pull my socks up, too.
Having said that, there are indeed writers whose influence on me is more than just transitory. Patrick O’Brian is one of them; from his writing I learned that the interaction of the characters is the soul of a book. Charles Dickens is another. From Mr Dickens I understood how to use the oddities of human nature – I’m always on the lookout for a character with a Dickensian feel. And then there is Nicholas Montsarrat who taught me about the sea, and the importance of beautiful, clear writing. Among modern writers, I learned from J K Rowling that it is perfectly possible to inject a sense of humour into an essentially serious tale. And all four of these have helped me appreciate the art of storytelling.
Other writers have shown me that a book with minimal plot can be a page-turner if only the characters are interesting enough; that writing a novel entirely in the present tense requires great skill; that a book where the characters are kind to one another need not be dull. I could go on.
Every book I pick up, fact or fiction, teaches me something new. It’s one of the joys of the writer’s life that all reading is research and that the happy results of that research will bob to the surface of your own writing. Some writers are a little afraid of reading, of falling under the influence of another writer and losing their own originality in the process. Not me – bring it on, I say! And there are still so many books I’ve never read, so many more writers who will continue to teach and influence me. There is still so much I don’t know. So if you’ll excuse me, now, I have a book to read…
About Kathy Sharp
Kathy Sharp was born and brought up by the sea in Kent. Life took her inland, and she worked for many years as a desktop publisher for Surrey County Council, and as a tutor in adult education.
And then, one day, she visited a friend who had just moved to the Isle of Portland, Dorset, and fell in love with the place. She has now lived by the sea in the Weymouth and Portland area for more than ten years, and still loves it. The wonderful Jurassic Coast, and Portland in particular, were the inspiration for her Larus Trilogy of novels.
Kathy also sings with, and writes lyrics for, the Island Voices Choir on Portland, and is a keen member of local writing groups, as well as enjoying studying the local flora.