Catherine Forde - Author Picture

Catherine Forde - Author

Cathy Forde worked as an English teacher before becoming an author. Her novel Fat Boy Swim was Shortlisted the Blue Peter Award and the British Book Trust Teenage Book Award in 2004. Cathy loves writing for teenagers and finds inspiration in the preoccupations of her teenage sons and their friends. She lives in Glasgow.

When did you start writing?

I always loved writing stories and poems in school, but didn’t start to write seriously until my younger son, Dec, went to school. That was nearly seven years ago now, and I can’t imagine NOT writing or thinking about writing every day.

My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, and most of them develop from my own life and what goes on round about me. Maybe the way someone looks will start me thinking about a character, or I’ll go somewhere and hear a story about a place and the tiny nugget of an idea will start to grow. A lot of the time my two sons give me stories without realising it. They do something daft, or come away with a new word and I steal it from them. Please don’t tell them I said that or they’ll want payment!

My long novels take about a year to write, especially if I have to do research before I begin. Think Me Back, Fat Boy Swim and SKARRS each took a whole year to write and The Drowning Pond (2005), which I am still editing, has taken over a year because I am finding that other aspects of being a writer, such as doing talks in schools, interrupt my routine more and more. I’ve just finished writing a couple of shorter books in between edits of The Drowning Pond, and have worked on them very intensively for a couple of weeks each, and that’s been a whole new discipline for me.

First of all you have to read and read and read, and secondly you should get into the habit of writing regularly, even if it’s just a diary. Thirdly, you should take notes of all your good ideas, especially if they keep niggling at you.

I work in a very cluttered room, on a very cluttered table by a window that lets in too much cold in the winter, and too much sun in the summer. Because all my books have taken shape at the same table, I’m a bit superstitious about making my writing spot more comfortable.

I’ll have to cheat and name three. Jimmy from Fat Boy Swim is the first. He just popped into my head fully formed and I think he’s really decent. GI Joe from Fat Boy Swim is another character I have a soft spot for because he is tough and kind and honest. My third favourite character is Grampa Dan from SKARRS. He is based on my dad who died of cancer just before I started writing SKARRS and before any of my novels were published. The ‘voice’ of Grampa Dan is my dad’s voice and the character is my tribute to him, from the way he talks to the music he loved.

Elements of most of my characters are partly based on real people. I’ll steal the way someone talks, or looks or behaves, but not a whole person. For example, Aunt Pol in Fat Boy Swim has lots of my sister Pauline in her character, and many of the teenage boys are inspired by my sons and their friends. I never, ever put anyone I don’t like in real life in my novels, but people who I’m fond of will often become cameos in my stories.

I have to cheat here and list a few. I know David Almond is considered a children’s writer but I think his work is stunning; spiritual and beautiful, and Skellig is one of my favourite reads of all time. My other favourite writers include Jamie O’Neill (‘At Swim, Two Boys’ my Top Read), John McGahern, Brian Moore, Pat Barker, Bernard MacLaverty, Rohinton Mistry, James Joyce and Charles Dickens. I could go on forever…

I’m going to cheat again and list two. 1. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis. 2. Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morley.

Featured Books, with extracts, by Catherine Forde

Let's Do It!
Catherine Forde
Interest age of 14+ Reading age 8+. Three boys who film their crazy stunts and put them on YouTube prepare for their craziest stunt yet. This is crazy, madcap comedy particularly suitable for dyslexic, reluctant and struggling teen readers. To...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 13+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 21/05/2011
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