Katy Regan was Features Writer and Commissioning Editor of Marie Claire before leaving to concentrate on writing fiction in 2007. Whilst there, she wrote a column ‘And Then There Were Three . . . Sort Of’ about her experience of having a baby with her best friend (who just remained a friend). This proved so successful it ran for two years and now, ten years on, people still remember it. When she’s not writing fiction, Katy writes features for the likes of Stella Magazine, Psychologies and Marie Claire. She is also blogging about her experience of writing her fifth novel on her website: www.katyregan.com. She lives in Hertfordshire with her son. The Story of You is her fourth novel.
- Your new book, sweetly named ‘The Story Of You’ is just out. Can you tell us what the book is about and what inspired you to write this story.
Itâ€™s a big, emotional love story basically about Robyn and Joe, who as teenage sweethearts experienced great trauma together. The book sees their lives collide again sixteen years later with some pretty dramatic consequences. Robyn is a psychiatric nurse – and Iâ€™ve always been interested in writing about mental illness, since itâ€™s something that touches far more people than is probably talked about and itâ€™s in my family. Also, I really wanted to write a big, fat love story this time – a story about love conquering all! Itâ€™s darker than my usual style I think, but ultimately, even more uplifting for it. Plus there are funny parts – still lots of funny parts I hope, and some colourful characters.
- To the readers of the website, that may not be familiar with you or your writing, can tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
Well, Iâ€™m a northern lass from Lancashire – I have a nine year old son, no Maths GCSE and very little special awareness! In terms of my writing: Iâ€™ve always written stories – I used to make my own books as a child – but started off as a magazine journalist. I was features writer and then commissioning editor at ‘Marie Claire’ magazine, before I wrote a column about having a baby with my friend (it was called And then there were three â€¦.sort of) which was eventually turned into my first novel: ‘One Thing Led to Another’, published in 2007. ‘The Story of You’ is my fourth novel. I also write journalism for most of the newspapers and magazines.
- What’s your favourite book of all time?
I really donâ€™t know, there are so many! ‘Birdsong’ by Sebastian Faulks is probably up there, though – SO beautiful. And ‘The Gathering’ my Anne Enright. But Iâ€™ve loved other books just as much for different reasons. I didnâ€™t want Jeanette Wintersonâ€™s memoir: ‘Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?’ To end. It totally blew me away with the strength of the voice. When I was little, I loved ‘A Christmas Carol’ and you canâ€™t beat Beatrix Potter for setting the imagination alight.
- What book did you read that made you decide to become an author?
Tim Lottâ€™s ‘White City Blue’. Itâ€™s not famous or anything (although it won the Whitbread Award for First Novel in 1999 I think) but I just totally loved how true to life and relevant to my life and era it was – how moving but not sentimental. I decided thatâ€™s the sort of writer I wanted to be and read and re-read that book and underlined bits whilst I was writing my first novel. I still get it out and read it for quality control when Iâ€™m flailing! Itâ€™s just a brilliant sad, funny book.
- Who is your favourite literary hero/heroine?
So manyâ€¦..but in terms of people who inspired me as I was growing up, probably Beatrix Potter. I was mad about her stories. If you mean literary character, I had a real soft spot for Austenâ€™s Emma, probably because she reminded me of some of my matchmaking friends!
- What authors do you admire?
Loads and loads (most in fact since itâ€™s a ruddy hard job!) And it changes all the time when I discover new ones. To name a few of my favourites though: Anne Enright, Ian McEwan, Hanif Kureishi, Graeme Simsion, Lisa Jewell, David Mitchell, Claire Morrall, Joshua Ferris, Maggie Oâ€™Farrell, Kate Atkinson, Chris Cleave. I could go on all dayâ€¦.
- Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Life, mainly: My friends, my family, cafes, overheard conversations, TV, magazine and newspaper stories. My head.
- If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
Iâ€™d have more confidence but then I donâ€™t think you can magic that up really, I guess itâ€™s something that grows.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
Probably some short stories by an author like Miranda July or Ali Smith; my own work in progress, because then I could pass time making it better and a notebook for the aforementioned! Itâ€™s amazing what you can do with a notebook.
- What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
Writing! Practice, all the time. A good tip, which I use myself, is buy yourself some random postcards with pictures of people on or a photography book full of portraits (like the Schweppes Photography Prize book). If youâ€™re stuck for something to write about, choose a picture of a person from the book and write a story about them, creating a world for them based on what they look like and how you imagine their life to be. Itâ€™s kind of what I do when I people watch too, but just in my head.
- When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
A cup of tea!
- And finally Katy do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
Iâ€™m writing my fifth book at the moment which is proving to be really good fun. (Iâ€™m so excited about this one! Itâ€™s going to be funny, moving and quirky. I am loving spending time with the characters already). Iâ€™m also writing a warts and all blog about the experience. Itâ€™s called ‘How I Wrote This Novel’ and itâ€™s on my website here: www.katyregan.com. Everything going swimmingly so far but do expect some â€˜And today I cried as itâ€™s all going in the binâ€™ updates very soon!
Iâ€™d also like to say, that ‘The Story Of You’ is out on ebook on July 3rd and paper-back in September. Please do let me know what you think! Your thoughts mean everything to us authors, so please do leave a review on Amazon..