Katherine was born in a Christian home in Norfolk, England. Her imagination was sparked through the telling of many stories including C. S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles. Once she could read, these stories formed the bread and butter of her literary heritage, both thrilling her with a sense of the adventure of a life of faith and convincing her of the incredible power and goodness of the divine, as shown in the character of Aslan. Here was not a “safe” God but a “good” one as Mr Beaver tells the Pevensie children.
As a primary school child she loved school and loved writing stories, and that passion never left her, but, being raised in an age where teaching writing was all about free-flow of creativity with no form, she had little real idea about ‘the how’ of constructing good stories. She was told her stories were good, but had no idea what made them good or what was needed to improve them. There was none of the rigorous formative assessment required by teachers today!
Other early literary influences include the Laura Ingall’s Wilder Little House books, Enid Blyton’s vast library of books and the delightfully imaginative Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, as well as the more contemporary Dark is Rising books by Susan Cooper and The Animals of Farthing Wood books by Colin Dann.
Katherine went to Hull University to do a BA in English and American Studies (98) and a couple of years later she completed an MA in English Literature at The University of Sheffield, a season which began her love-affair with the North. Afterwards she moved to London and worked in publishing for a few years. However, working as an admin assistant in STM publishing didn’t give her the opportunity to use her literary skills, and the right doors never opened for her in the publishing world. After a year on a working holiday in Australia where she taught English as a Foreign Language, she realised that her passion for literature was raising its charming head, and signed up for a PGCE in Secondary English at the UEA (2006-7). Teaching English has proved to be the best way to hone her understanding of the craft of writing, both in terms of linguistic constructions and stylistic features and through exploring ways of forming narrative. She currently works as an English and Creative Writing tutor, both one-to-one and in a small group setting – for her this is the best part of teaching!
An important aspect of Katherine’s journey as a writer was the time she spent living and working in Cambodia both as an EFL teacher (2006) and later on as an English and Drama teacher (2007-09) in a Christian international school. Whilst in Cambodia she got inspired with the idea for Lydia’s Song and her experience of living and working there informed the character of Lydia. More widely than that, experiencing life lived in an impoverished country and seeing so much injustice around her (child-sex trafficking being just one example) has been a catalyst for the themes and issues she writes about.
For Katherine, one of the biggest influences has been considering the energy and richness that occurs when people of two or more cultures come together. Whether it’s mining the depths of the cross-cultural experience on the World Literature course she taught in Cambodia, marrying an Indian, or living in an ethnically diverse and relatively cohesive part of Sheffield, multi-culturalism has played a key role. Katherine and her husband Blessan’s children are mixed-race and it’s very important to them as parents that they understand and appreciate both heritages and to that end Blessan has been raising them to understand his mother tongue, Malayalam. This cross-cultural experience inevitably has and will colour the things that Katherine wants to write about.
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Interview with Cara Meredith: