Thursday, 27 August 2015

Debut Spotlight: Katie Marsh

Today is publication day for one of the best debut novels I have read in quite some time so it's my absolute pleasure to welcome author Katie Marsh to the blog tell us a little more about her book My Everything.

Katie Marsh lives in south west London with her husband and daughter. As well as writing novels she has a career in healthcare, and MY EVERYTHING was inspired by the bravery of the patients she met while working in stroke services.

Katie loves strong coffee, the feel of a blank page and stealing her husband's toast.

To find out more about Katie and My Everything, visit her website katie-marsh.com or you can follow her on Twitter @marshisms.

On the day Hannah is finally going to tell her husband she's leaving him, he has a stroke . . . and life changes in an instant.

Tom's only 32. Now he can't walk or cut up his own food, let alone use his phone or take her in his arms. And Hannah's trapped. She knows she has to care for her husband, the very same man she was ready to walk away from.

But with the time and fresh perspective he's been given, Tom re-evaluates his life, and becomes determined to save his marriage. Can he once again become the man his wife fell in love with, or has he left it too late?

Can you give us a brief description of your debut novel, ‘My Everything’?
It’s the story of a young teacher - Hannah - whose husband Tom has a stroke on the day she’s going to leave him. He is only 32. It’s a warm, dilemma-driven story about two people discovering the things that are really important to them in life.

The subject of My Everything is an emotive one regarding a young wife Hannah having to change her plans when her husband Tom suddenly has a stroke, where did the inspiration come from? 
I actually thought up the premise the night before I got married. I was in the pub with my bridesmaids, playing skittles and enjoying slightly too much of the local Scrumpy cider, and we were talking about the wonders of my husband-to-be. At the time I was working with some inspirational stroke survivors in London in my job as a healthcare project manager, and the wedding and their bravery combined in my brain and I thought ‘What if..?’ 

How did you go about researching the effects of strokes to patients and their carers?
I talked to a lot of the patients and carers I was working with at the time, to learn more about how stroke had impacted on their lives. I also interviewed clinical colleagues to make sure I got the medical facts correct and attended a lot of stroke survivor and carer groups too. 

I haven’t had a chance to read My Everything yet but I’ve heard from others that it is an emotional read, did you find it as emotional to write? (I have now and it's a-maz-ing)
I’m so happy other readers found it an emotional read, and yes it was incredibly emotional to write. The situations Tom and Hannah face are so tough - Tom has to rebuild himself after his stroke, while Hannah is forced to give up on her dreams to care for the man she wanted to walk away from. I felt for them every step of the way, and their defiance, humour and bravery made me laugh and cry throughout the five years it took me to write the book. 

Describe Hannah in 3 words
Heartfelt, brave, kind.

If ‘My Everything’ was to be optioned for a film, who would you like to play the roles of Hannah and Tom?
In my overactive imagination, Carey Mulligan and Felicity Jones are battling it out to play Hannah. As for Tom, I think it’s got to be Jake Gyllenhaal.

What can we expect from you next? 
I’m currently working on my second novel, which is due out next year. 

What do you need to have at hand as you sit down to write?
A vat of coffee and a large supply of Extra chewing gum. I alternate constantly between the two. And Post-its. LOTS of Post-its. 

What advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Clich├ęd, I know, but just keep writing. It took me nine years to get my publishing deal and a lot of that time was just me in a chair convincing myself that I wasn’t crazy for carrying on. I was lucky to have good friends who cheered me on and persuaded me not to give up, and I also found joining Twitter really helpful - communicating with other writers made me believe I could get published too.

What does a typical writing day look like for you as you try to balance home & work life with writing?
I tend to get up early and do all my writing in the morning. I creep out of bed at 5am, make coffee and get some words down before I have a chance to get distracted and before my daughter and husband get up for breakfast. Putting words on the page early is essential, as I also work as a freelance healthcare copywriter and so frequently don’t get another chance to look at my work in progress until the evening. Then I edit what I’ve done that morning, before starting all over again the next day. 

Are you going to treat yourself to something special to celebrate publishing your debut novel?
I already have! I got a Quentin Blake print of an Owl Writing when I got my book deal. I love Quentin Blake and owls and I certainly love writing - it was perfect and now hangs in my writing room urging me on.

Finally have you anything exciting planned for publication day itself? 
Alongside playing the hunt ‘My Everything’ game in various London bookshops and supermarkets, I am planning a special meal out with my family. There will be bubbly. As they’ve put up with a decade of me banging on about my writing, I think they more than deserve a proper celebration.

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