Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Artist Playdate: This Phenomenal Writer's Witty, Thought-Provoking Work Not Only Inspires, It Helps to Make People's Lives Better...Literally

Hello, my name is Natasha and I am addicted to the author, Kate Lord Brown. I'm happy to admit it; it's 100% true. When I first stumbled across Kate's blog, What Kate Did Next, I felt as though I'd found a writer's and artist's multimedia oasis. Kate's blog features her writing along with videos, pictures, and music. Her blog posts which inspire you to look at the world, art, your personal life, and more in ways you never imagined are a feast for the senses. At the end of each post, she has a writing prompt that always helps me to discover more about who I am as a person. I can say with complete honesty that Kate has taught me how to be a more thoughtful writer.

Recently, Kate gathered some of her blog posts into a book. What Kate Did Next Tales of Babes and Books gathers some of her best writings and writing prompts into a little book that you can take with you anywhere and the best thing about it? All the proceeds from it go to the War Child Charity! Imagine get to be entertained by fabulous writing and challenged by inspiring writing prompts all while helping children. Can you say, "win/win situation"?

Recently, I had a chance to talk to this incredibly gifted, witty, warm, wonderful writer from Hampshire UK about blogging, writing books and creating something that helps to put children through school.

Please allow me to introduce Kate Lord Brown.

TST: How long have you been writing?

Kate: Forever! As a child I wrote little plays and stories for friends to perform, then later friends on the school bus would get me to write love letters to send to their boyfriends. My first story was published when I was 17, and I wrote for university magazines. Moving to London allowed me to join a great writer's group that met every week in the basement of Nomad Books on the Fulham Rd. I started writing my first novel then and the support of other writers really encouraged me to take writing more seriously. In Valencia our writers group used to meet in a smoky tapas bar overlooking the fortified walls and blue domes of the city - there were quite a lot of wannabe Hemingways in that group! Since having children my late nights talking about writing are a distant memory, and it now fits in around the demands of work and family. As Stephen King said - art is a support system for life, not the other way around.

TST: What prompted you to start your blog?

Kate: The honest answer is I was bored waiting for my novel to be submitted! Writers write - but it doesn't mean a whole lot unless you are communicating and exchanging ideas with people. I wanted to do something useful and figured there were a lot of writers out there in a similar situation - I hoped to create a virtual writer's group and that's what WKDN has become.

TST: What has been the most challenging thing about maintaining the blog? What has been the most amazing thing?

Kate: Getting to grips with the technology initially - I learnt as I wrote. I wanted WKDN to be very multimedia and the early posts just aren't! It's a very different kind of writing from my 'real' work too - very stream of consciousness, quite personal and open which is a challenge because like a lot of writers I'm quite private if not in the reclusive Salinger category. Blogging continues to amaze me - I think it is just beginning as a platform for communication. The community of writers is the single most incredible thing - that each post is being read and responded to around the world is extraordinary.

TST: What made you decide to turn some of your posts into a book?

Kate: A few of the regular readers and subscribers asked for a book, I was curious about Print On Demand technology, and again I was bored waiting to see the first book published :) Because of the format of the blog - each post has a writer's prompt - it works well as a workbook format.

TST: How did you choose the posts?

Kate: I had a look through the year's posts and cherrypicked the ones that had the most responses. Hopefully that way the book will 'talk' to the most people.

TST: What was the process of putting a book together like? What were the challenges? The high points?

Kate: It's something I'd recommend to anyone who is curious. I used Blurb but there are plenty of sites like Lulu and Xlibris who can help you publish your blog. In theory you download their software, upload your blog and you are away. In practice it's taken me a couple of weeks to edit the material until I was happy ... then there was choosing the cover. I would say make sure you're happy with your copy before you upload to POD. Editing in a WP programme is much easier than on their software. The high point was definitely getting that box from the US and unwrapping the first proof copy.

TST: Did you edit or expand your posts from the book? Were you the editor of this book or did you enlist help from friends?

Kate: I had to edit extensively. In fact a little box popped up as I downloaded the blog saying 'Wow. There's a lot of text here. Are you sure?' It felt like every word counted going into print, and I edited each published post to the bare essentials.

TST: How do you feel you've grown from this process - as a writer and as a person?

Kate: It's been great - very satisfying. My work has been published in anthologies before but this is the first little book that's me. I'm still waiting and hoping for a publisher to pick up my novels so the fact that the WKDN book has worked and people are buying it is a lovely thing. Writing can be very tough - if your work is rejected or not picked up immediately your confidence does get knocked. The only thing you can do is bounce back, and this book has been a bounce in the right direction.

TST: Often times, writers have to act as their own publicity and marketing person as well..what are you doing to promote your book? Do you like promoting when it is your work or is it hard?

Kate: I find it a lot harder than when I was an artists agent - it's much easier to talk up someone else's work than your own! It's why I always knew I wanted to get an agent first rather than approaching publishers directly - you do end up feeling a bit self effacing when it is a book you've written and I think it helps to have someone great who is enthusiastic about your work in your corner. But all the skills picked up working for and marketing other people you can marshall as your own forces as a writer once the ball is rolling.

TST: What made you decide to do this for charity?

Kate: There was never any question in my mind - writing WKDN was all about helping other writers think about their work, and it only seemed right that any profit should go to charity. The material is up there for free access on the blog, but it's edited and laid out as a month long workbook which makes it fresh. When I told the pilot I was publishing WKDN as a book his eyes lit up - 'what you're going to make something out of this at last?!' - then I told him it was for charity. Who'd be married to a writer eh?

TST: How did you choose War Child?

Kate: I heard about War Child through their 'Heroes' album and concerts (any regular visitors to WKDN will know I love music ..!) When I read about their work, it seemed an obvious choice. The pilot has spent a lot of the last year flying into places in Africa, and I worked a lot on projects in the Middle East - when you see what innocent children are up against in these war torn areas it breaks your heart.

TST: What do you hope this acccomplishes for War Child?

Kate: All profits from the sale of the books are going to them - each book sold is enough to put one child through school for an entire year.

TST: Do you think you will put another book together?

Kate: Sure! It's been fun, and I hope people will enjoy the book and that it will help them with their writing. I hope my novels will soon find a 'real' publisher, but in terms of WKDN if everyone is still enjoying the posts in a year's time it would be great to do it again for another charity.

TST: What advice do you have for people who might have a similar dream?

Kate: Go for it! If you've been thinking about it, why not check out Blurb, Lulu or any of the others. You can download their software and 'slurp' the contents of your blog in seconds. Even if you don't want to publish it's quite a blast seeing all your words laid out in book format. POD is great for small projects like this. I deliberately went for the most economic option, and for a few dollars or pounds you can have your blog immortalised in book form (and as much as we all love our blogs, we still love books more, right?!)

For more of the magic of Kate, please visit To purchase this incredible book, please visit What Kate Did Next Tales of Babes and Books


Kate Lord Brown said...

Natasha - you're an angel (and far too kind!) x

Rose Works Jewelry said...

This is a wonderful interview! I'm going to have to start following her blog :)

Amanda Fall - PersistentGreen said...

Fantastic interview. I'm delighted to be introduced to Kate's work, and look forward to diving in to her blog when I have more time.

As a fellow writer, I'm also very interested in her comments about POD. I dream about a collection that features my writing AND artwork, and goodness knows how difficult that would be to publish through regular methods. POD might be an option down the line.

Thanks to Natasha and to Kate!

Felicia Kramer said...

I have been following Kate's blog for awhile now and I love her writing. Great interview, Natasha.

Rowena said...

I love Kate Lord Brown!
I feel proud to say that I've been reading her from almost the beginning and I'm glad she changed her blog name. I like this title so much better. (Have I told you that before kate?)

Now I'm thinking about publishing some Flying Girls that way.... I thought I was going to do some sort of book with them, but didn't think about just slurping the blog. it's an intriguing idea.

Oh and now I'm thinking about Burning Lines... I wish we could do that again... I wish we weren't all so busy. It was so much fun.

Frenzy23 said...

This is such an inspiring interview. That sounds like a great charity, I'm glad Kate is donating profits from her beautiful words to such a thing.