Kate Murray-Browne is a freelance editor with over ten years of publishing experience. Before going freelance, Kate was an editor at Faber & Faber, where she worked closely with new (yay!) and established authors to develop their manuscripts. Since going freelance, Kate has worked with Unbound, Simon & Schuster, Orion, Weidenfeld & Nicolson and many more. Kate is also a visual artist. The Upstairs Room is Kate's first novel.
Kate is reading at The Riff Raff on Thursday December 14th along with Rosie Wilby, Laura Kaye, Clifford Thompson and Julian Furman. Come join us and be in with the chance of winning some lovely lovely books!
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Here's the blurb for The Upstairs Room...
Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill.
Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners – including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room.
Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?
I’d had the basic idea for a long time, but I could never get anything off the ground. The moment the characters came into my head, and the book really got started, was late afternoon in the office, in a particularly boring period at work. Frustrated energy often produces good things. I was so excited, I had to get up from my desk and walk up and down the corridor.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write your first book?
That I wouldn’t regret it. I worried a lot about whether writing a novel was a bad idea, when I sort of knew it wasn’t, and definitely knew I was going to have a go anyway.
What’s your go-to procrastination method?
Reading articles by writers about writing (like this one). I try to pass it off as a useful thing to be doing, even though the advice is always ‘write’ rather than ‘read a lot of stuff about writing online’.
What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing it?
I don’t think I had a tantrum, but I did have lots of boring moments of self-doubt, which I suspect were quite annoying for my husband.
Best thing about writing your book?
When I had got so comfortable with the characters and the setting that I could conjure up whole scenes and conversations at will — it felt like a kind of magic.
And the worst?
Self-consciousness and fear of exposure. Specifically, waking up in the middle of the night after having sent a draft to someone to read, mortified by something I’d written.
Go-to writing snacks?
Morning: coffee and bagel
Evening: crisps and white wine
I’m useless in the afternoons.
READ MORE MY FIRST TIMES>>>
Who or what inspires you to write?
The fact that your novel won’t exist if you don’t write it. This Martha Graham quote (discovered via Zadie Smith) puts it more elegantly:
‘There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open’.
The book that changed you?
Every book does in a small way, even the ones I don’t like.
Your pump up song?
Anything by the Slits: pure energy and fearlessness.
If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer dead or alive, who would it be?
One of my greatest disappointments working in publishing was finding out that writers are not always the same in person as they are on the page (sometimes they’re better of course — but that doesn’t make answering the question any easier). I reckon Caitlin Moran might be just as much fun in real life, particularly over a bottle of wine, so probably her.
One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?
The people assessing your work are human beings, with tastes and whims and flaws. Rejection is unpleasant but not final: you only need one ‘yes’.