Writing superheroes: Kathryn Gauci

Fifty Shades of Purple? Read on and find out more…

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If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?

 My earliest effort was a story called “Adventure in Spain” about a girl who searches for her missing sister and surprise, surprise, finds her alive and well and living with the gypsies. It was written in a small notebook and was illustrated with hairdos straight out of the “Bunty” magazine. I was twelve at the time and I still have it. It illustrates that even at a young age, I had a desire o escape my English surroundings for wider horizons. Prior to that inspired literary masterpiece, after each school holiday, we were always encouraged to write an essay about where we’d been during the break, which in those days rarely amounted going much further than the next city, yet I always began my essay with “The train sped out of the station….”  Thankfully no-one questioned me about my flights of fancy. 

 It wasn’t until years later after a full-filled career as a textile designer that I wanted to write professionally. During the later years of that work, I travelled extensively to compile trend directions for my clients. I enjoyed that work immensely as it enabled me to transport them into another time and place: the spice markets of Asia, tribal Africa, the harsh Nordic winters of the land of the midnight sun, and of course stepping back into history, all of which was invaluable when I actually did begin to write “The Embroiderer”.

 

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All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise I won’t tell.

I’m a bit of a free spirit. I hate being hemmed in by the constraints of society. If I get an idea, I go for it. I am not a procrastinator.

 

Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?

My partner in crime is my husband. He’s my biggest fan and encourages me in my endeavours. Being creative himself – he is a magician who is both a performer and who also creates magic effects for the world-wide magic fraternity. He understands the creative process, gives me the freedom to fly, and is always there for me.

 

Where do you get your superpowers from?  

I’m an avid reader and a dreamer. As an artist, I find inspiration in all the arts from cinema to art galleries. Whilst writing The Embroiderer, I took the occasional time-out to create a collection of flame-worked and kiln fired glass jewellery. The translucency of glass is beautiful and I love the way colours react with each other. You’re never sure exactly how it’s going to turn out –  a bit like writing really.

 

Where is  your secret lair and what does it look like?

My secret lair is a small room surrounded by books with a sliding glass door which opens out into the garden. In the summer, I have it open and listen to the birds – which are extremely noisy in Australia – and in the winter, it is cosy and warm.

 

What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world-saving form? How do you insure they are used only for the good?

I read a lot and watch films, particularly French films which often have an unusual storyline. And I love to cook and spend time in the garden.

 

Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your superhero costume, but if you did, what would it look like?

I would be a hippy again. I just love hose wrap-around skirts, Indian dresses with tiny mirrors and lots of embroidery. And then there’s  the beads and scarves. No self-respecting hippy would be without an Indian scarf tied around their head and hanging half-way down their back. Not to mention the colours – Fifty Shades of Purple. And to complete the effect, a powerful dab of patchouli to transport us to India.

 

What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced in your writing?

I am not one for doubting myself, but convincing an agent that you have the next best-seller is a daunting. As an Indie author, marketing is also something that takes great effort. Perseverance is the key point here.

 

What was the supervillain that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

The costs associated with getting a book to market can mount up. A good editor is vital as is the choice of the publishing company you decide to go with. It is not easy to find the right publisher as a certain amount of trust is needed and not everyone meets your expectations. This is trial and error until you click with someone. Always trust your gut instinct.

 

What important lessons have you learnt along the way?

Knowing when not to waffle and to keep the flow of the story without being side-tracked into too many sub-plots. It’s also important to remember that you are not alone in this world of writing and even the greatest writers have their ‘off-days” when nothing seems to make sense. Perseverance and practice; its hard work, but rewarding when you get it right.

 

What has been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

Living in another time and place. Researching the history and the different tangents that led me to.

 

If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

I don’t think I would change anything. I think you grow with your writing. Making mistakes and rectifying them is character building and all part of the learning process.

 

What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.

You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. Believe in yourself. If you don’t, no-one else will.

 

Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

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Set against the backdrop of the mosques and minarets of Asia Minor and the ruins of ancient Athens, “The Embroiderer” is a sweeping family saga spanning several generations. Offering a fascinating insight into a forgotten world, it is a story of love and loss, hope and despair, and of the extraordinary courage of women in the face of adversity. 

In the spring of 1822, during one of the bloodiest massacres of The Greek War of Independence, a child is born to a woman of legendary beauty in the Byzantine Monastery of Nea Moni on the Greek island of Chios. The subsequent decades of bitter struggle between Greeks and Turks simmer to a head when the Greek army invades Turkey in 1919. During this time, Dimitra Lamartine arrives in Smyrna and gains fame and fortune as an embroiderer to the elite of Ottoman society. However, it is her grand-daughter, Sophia, a couturier, who takes the business to great heights, only to see their world come crashing down with the outbreak of The Balkan Wars, 1912-13. In 1922, Sophia begins a new life in Athens but the memory of a dire prophecy once told to her grandmother about a girl with flaming red hair begins to haunt her with devastating consequences when the German army invades Greece in 1941. 

The story begins to unravel when Eleni Stephenson, an English woman living in London, is called to the bedside of her dying aunt in Athens in September 1972.  In a story that rips her world apart, Eleni discovers the chilling truth behind her family’s dark past plunging her into the sensuous and evocative world of Orientalist art and Ottoman fashion, to the destructive forces of political intrigue, secret societies and espionage where families and friends are torn apart and where a belief in fate and superstition simmers just below the surface.

 

    You can find Kathryn at:

Website ~ Twitter @KathrynGauci

 

 

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