We caught up with award-winning journalist and author, Katherine Faulkner, to discuss her first novel, Greenwich Park. We delve into her greatest achievements, advice for fellow writers, inspirations for her book and more.
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To celebrate Katherine Faulkner's latest book, Greenwich Park, we've teamed up with Champneys to offer one lucky winner the chance to win a French Connection wardrobe worth £250 and a spa break treat to look forward to this summer, plus a copy of Greenwich Park*.
Scroll to discover our interview with Katherine Faulkner...
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Definitely Greenwich Park! I had started novels before but never finished one, but Greenwich Park felt different and special to me, so even though I had a new baby when I was writing it, my belief in the idea somehow kept me going. I'm so proud of how it's turned out and seeing it on shelves as a real-life book is a total dream.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
To judge other people by their actions, not their words. A piece of advice someone should have given my main character!
What motivates you?
I find it hugely motivating to read the work of others and be inspired to do better, and to push myself to grow as a writer. But I've always been motivated to read, write and tell stories. That feels like home to me, and always has, ever since I was a child.
What do you do to unwind?
Since mentioning books again would expose me as the giant nerd that I am...(!) I'm also a big fan of yoga, and also of being outdoors. I have young children and there is definitely something helpfully meditative about moving at their pace sometimes, not doing very much – drawing pictures, feeding birds. Until it all goes wrong within a few minutes, of course...
What is wellbeing to you?
I think it's probably about balance, and making sure you get enough of each of the things we all need to fill ourselves up – enough time with family and friends, time using your brain and being creative, moving and being outside and also resting, eating well and caring for yourself.
How do you treat yourself?
Like all parents of young children, I do find time for pampering and self-care is the thing that gets sacrificed the most – but the upside is that even something really-simple, like getting a haircut and then going for a coffee can feel incredibly luxurious!
What is the best aspect of having your book published?
Having my book published has been completely mind-blowing in so many ways, but my favourite thing is when I get messages from all over the world from people telling me how much they loved Greenwich Park, how they couldn't sleep because they wanted to read it all in one sitting. It's the best feeling in the world.
What was the main inspiration for your book?
I have always been fascinated by female friendships – how complicated they are, the gap between what we say and what we really mean, and what's going on on the surface versus the reality. I had this idea on my head about the difficulty a character would have trying to 'unmake' a friendship, of distancing themselves from someone they had a bad feeling about, but who wasn't obviously doing anything wrong except just being a bit too friendly (I actually did have an experience like this, and I found it quite difficult to know what to do about it!).
And then my lightbulb moment came when I was in my first antenatal class and I realised everyone in the room was expected to be friends – just because of the fact our babies were all arriving at the same time and we lived in the same area – and I realised this was the perfect setting for the story that became Greenwich Park.
What’s been the most exciting part of the publishing process?
All sorts of unexpected things have been exciting – like seeing Greenwich Park bound as a real book for the first time, and the first time I saw the amazing cover illustration – but seeing the novel in real bookshops, especially in window displays, and then people actually picking it up and buying it in front of you, is pretty hard to beat!
What tips would you give to any aspiring writers?
Not to give up! It can be a lonely process and there are lots of moments of self-doubt. I'm sure every writer has had days when they think, 'This is terrible, I'm wasting my time'. I think the trick is to take long breaks from your manuscript – you can see the problems and how to fix them so much more easily when you come back to it afresh.
Quick fire round
Where is your favourite place to write? Tied between Belle Epoque Cafe on Newington Green, and The De Beauvoir Deli, in Hackney.
Do you write every day? I wish I could – but I write whenever I have childcare!
Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter? Autumn will always be my favourite but I am absolutely loving this beautiful spring - It felt like a long winter!
Favourite childhood book? I was obsessed with books about witches – I loved Mother Holly, which is a very dark fairy tale, and a book called The Witch in the Cherry Tree, where a child spots a witch in the cherry tree in his garden while he is baking cakes in the kitchen with his mum. I think is something about the intersection of safe domesticity and otherworldly horror that I have always found difficult to resist!
What superpower would you most like? I would give anything to be one of those people who can survive on a couple of hours' sleep. I am terrible without my full 7/8 hours which is so annoying as there are never enough hours in the day for all the things I want to do!
What are 3 words to describe yourself? Curious, independent, optimist.