She is the missing girl. But she doesn’t know she’s lost.
Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children’s festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift…
While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is – and who she might become.
Today I’m honoured to be part of the blog tour for the paperback release of The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer – my thanks to Sophie Portas at publishers Faber & Faber for inviting me, and do check out some of the other posts. I was lucky enough to read and review this lovely book almost a year ago, when it was first published in hardcover and for kindle. I really enjoyed it for the quality of the writing, for the highly original story, and for the joy that is Carmel – you can read my review here.
I’m really delighted to welcome author Kate Hamer to Being Anne, telling us very vividly what it’s like to get up on that stage. Over to you Kate…
I was chatting to my best friend from school recently about being published, and about what this year has been like. ‘I can’t believe you are getting up in front of people like that,’ she said, ‘when we were at school you were too shy to even do a bible reading in assembly.’ I thought about it and realized it was true. My best friend was brought up in the Welsh tradition of eisteddfoddau – the annual competitions of music, poetry and dance – so performing came as naturally as breathing for her. Not so for me – my palms would go sweaty and my legs shake and if there was any way possible of getting out of being on that stage I’d take it.
Writing on the other hand is a very solitary activity, just you, your computer and your story. I even talk to myself sometimes – reading the manuscript out loud, or trying words out to get the exact right one I’m aiming for. What I’ve discovered in the past year is that although writing might be a solitary business, publishing certainly is not. As part of getting the book out there I’ve been to events from Edinburgh to Norwich promoting it and yes, finally getting up on that stage.
The very first one was the Cheltenham Literary Festival in October 2013, before the book was even published. It was at what they called a ‘proof party’, a really lovely event where there are several new authors, tea and scones on little round tables in a beautiful spiegeltent. I think I was lucky, it was a good event to start with – quite intimate and very friendly. At the end of the session everyone was to be given a goody bag with proof copies of the books. I was also lucky enough to be sharing the event with a great speaker, another debut author Cal Moriarty (The Killing of Bobbi Lomax) and our editors – Angus Cargill and Sarah Savitt, both very interesting and generous speakers. Still, it didn’t stop the nerves kicking in.
As I climbed those wooden steps I started feeling the old familiar wobbles. The lights went down in the audience, and up on the stage and the chairperson began her introductions. Soon, we were talking about everything – the themes of the book, creative writing courses, the experience of editing from both sides of the fence. Then it was time for questions from the audience and all of a sudden it was over. I couldn’t believe it. I’d done it without fleeing the stage. ‘I was soooo nervous,’ I said afterwards. ‘You didn’t look it,’ was the response. Really? It was a good experience and I realized how much all these battles are going on inside – to the casual observer you’re just up there chatting about your book. Other authors also tend to be very generous and it’s great to hear about their books and writing routines too.
At Cheltenham I signed my novel with something like ‘my first book ever signed, October 7th at the Cheltenham Literary Festival.’ We stayed for ages chatting to the audience and the people coming up to have their books signed. Meeting other avid readers that come to the events has been one of the most memorable and unexpected joys of this year. It’s easier to forget the nerves once you realize everyone there, including myself, is just another book fiend!
Kate, you wouldn’t believe how that brought back some of my early performance nightmares – being led off stage as a child when I froze at my first eisteddfod! I hope our paths will cross at a future talk or book signing, and I wish you every success with the paperback.
Meet Kate, with thanks to Goodreads:
I grew up Pembrokeshire and have had a passion for books since being a small child, I have written stories ever since I could hold a pencil. I studied art in university then worked in television for over ten years – mostly on documentaries, much of which involved using my writing skills.
I studied creative writing at Aberystwyth University and won a prize there for the ‘best beginning to a novel’ – the book that went on to be ‘The Girl in the Red Coat.’ I also completed the Curtis Brown Creative course. I won the Rhys Davies short story prize in 2011 and the winning story was read out on Radio 4.
I live in Cardiff with my husband and Mimi the cat. We go for long walks and to the pub quite a lot.
Follow Kate on Twitter or via her Facebook author page.