My Series of Author & Poet Interviews #author #poet Narberth Book Fair#BookFair. Today with Catherine Marshall #MondayBlogs

Titleband for Narberth Book Fair

Throughout this months I ’ll be posting interviews with the authors and poets who will be taking part in our Book Fair:

There are forty authors, so, obviously, there are many genres for both adults and children. There will be talks an writing and books, creative writing workshops for adults  workshops & talks and fun workshops for children, activities for the children  Children’s Page and a fun book trail through Narberth, the gorgeous little market town in Pembrokeshire.  Location.

All free!!

And, of course, there will be the chance to chat with all the authors and to pick their brains on all aspects of writing. Even to buy their books and have them personally signed.

And, as usual, there will also be the writing competition: this year is a poetry competition:  competition . Submit a poem, in any form, of 20 lines or less, on the subject of : –


Having outgrown our previous venue we have been lucky to hire the Queens Hall: who have been very generous in their support of the event.

Although, five years ago,  I started organising the book fairs on my own I was soon joined by Alex Martin:  and Thorne Moore: Unfortunately Alex has moved on to pastures new  (although is still a great supporter), so Thorne and I have been joined by Elizabeth Sleight. Elizabeth is involved in the charity we are supporting through our raffle; The Harriet Davis Seaside Holiday Trust For Disabled Children: . 

Our author today is  Catherine Marshall

Catherine Marshall


Hi Catherine. Could youe start by telling us what the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing is, please?

To engage and entertain readers, and to be published and to make enough of a living not to have to do anything else.

Are your characters based on real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Some of the characters in Excluded were based on real people, or at least composites, because the school was based on a very real place, but everyone else is imaginary.  They also, of course, all have some element of me in them.  Which is a little bit worrying.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Yes.  Never wanted to be anything else.  Well, except an actress, from when I was about seven until I went to college, did a degree in Drama, and realised I was much better at writing it than performing it.

What do you think makes a good story?

An intriguing plot, believable characters and a sense of suspense, whatever the genre.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I was eleven.  I was bored during the summer holidays and my mother suggested I write a book.  I called it The Ravenscrofts.  It was a story about a family with seven children (think The Waltons transferred to a 1970s Birmingham suburb).  I illustrated it as well.  We unearthed it from my parents’ loft a few years ago and I laughed and cringed in equal measure.

What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

I didn’t consider them to be any genre, until an agent told me she was going to try to sell them as psychological thrillers.  I would say psychological dramas, but then again there is generally a crime in them somewhere.

What was the inspiration behind Still Water?

I wanted to look at how far we will go if we’re pushed, and what it takes to push us to that extreme.  Still Water is about betrayal, and I think that’s a pretty good incentive.  (That and revenge, which is going to be the theme of my next book.)  And St Ives in Cornwall is its hugely inspiring setting, just because I love it so much.

Still Water


Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

Still Water is the story of Jem, who lives with her father Alex in a Cornish seaside town, and who is in search of a hero to help her through a recent trauma.  It’s also the story of Gil, who is charming and attractive but as it turns out the most flawed of heroes, and of Cecily, who links them in an entirely unexpected way.  I hope it’s a must read due to the strength of the characters and the twists and turns of the plot.  It’s hard to say more without spoilers!

In three words, can you describe your latest book?

Emotional suspense drama

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

A bit of both, really.  I start telling them what to do and as the story develops they tell me what they’re going to do.  And from then on it’s a dual enterprise.


Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?

I can walk on my toes for quite a distance.  I walked that way all the time when I was a small child.  Everyone thought I was going to be a ballerina.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Most if it happens in my head when I’m ironing.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read!  Watch tv drama, go to the theatre, plan interior design projects.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing.

I was twenty, on holiday with my friend in what was then Yugoslavia.  We were sitting outside on the terrace of a restaurant, enjoying the April sunshine and the sea view.  I went to the loo, which meant going back across the terrace and through the depths of the dark and crowded restaurant.  The key broke off in my cubicle door.  The only voices outside were those of German tourists.  So I shouted in German, Help!  The door is locked!  which made no sense because of course the door was locked, so I banged on it and rattled the handle in a panicky manner.  After a torrent of words I couldn’t understand, a few minutes later a hefty German guy came hurtling over the top of the cubicle, landed almost on top of me and proceeded to break the door down from the inside.  I walked back out to applause from the entire dark and crowded restaurant and onto to the sunny terrace to my friend, who had been completely oblivious throughout.

Give us a random fact about yourself.

I have no sense of smell.

Catherine’s links:



Today I’m really pleased to be chatting with author Catherine Marshall

Quick introduction, please.

photo (20)

I’m Catherine Marshall, born in Birmingham, now living in Lancashire.  Author of two romantic novels, many short stories and three psychological thrillers.  Married, two grown-up children.  Worked largely in education teaching English and Drama.

What first inspired you to start writing?

I’d always written little stories as a child.  Then during the summer holidays when I was eleven, I complained to my mum that I was bored.  She said, Why don’t you write a book?  I did.  It was about a family of seven children and called The Ravenscrofts.  I illustrated it too.  Horrendous.  While I was a teenager I wrote short stories to entertain my friends, then while I was at college I began selling short stories to Jackie magazine.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.  When I’m writing is the only time I really feel like me.  That, and wanting to entertain people with great stories.

Why do you write?

To give voice to the ideas and characters in my head.  Because I love telling stories.

Do you only write one specific genre or are you multi-talented?

I never thought I was writing genre fiction.  I thought I was just writing books.  Then an agent said I was writing ‘suspenseful women’s fiction’, which isn’t much of a leap to psychological thrillers.  I have always preferred that genre as a reader/viewer, so it’s a natural progression, I guess.

What does your writing space look like?

The study at home, a huge old office desk usually stacked with my husband’s Open University course material, photos of our children and my scribbled notes.

Do you ever have writer’s block and what do you do then?

Yes.  Often.  Iron.  Or go for a walk.  It’s usually because I’m approaching something from the wrong angle, so I need to retrace my steps and try to find the right angle.

Do you write full-time or have a day job and write in your spare time?

The latter.  Working in schools has been very useful for all those long holidays!

Are you an Indie or a traditionally published author?

Both.  Years ago I published two novels with Robert Hale and short stories with various magazines.  Now I have three novels available on Amazon Kindle.

Tell us about your new book.


Still Water is set in a small town in Cornwall and is the story of Jem, who earns her living making jewellery and lives in a cottage on the cliffs with her father Alex, a painter.  She becomes entranced by Gil, an attractive and charming visitor to the town, and believes he can save her from her loneliness and grief.  She is unaware, however, of Gil’s link to the secrets of her own past or that she is setting in motion a chain of events which will lead to tragedy.

What are you working on now?

A novel called Hurt, about the damage people can do to each other, and how we deal with those who hurt us.

What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

Publication!  A three-book deal would be nice.

What has been your best moment as a writer?

I’m hoping that’s yet to come.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career?

Having two major publishers seriously interested in buying one of my novels and then both of them changing their minds.  Although having come so close does keep me going.

Who would you most like to read your work (a hero/idol)?

Probably writers whose work I enjoy – Julia Couch, Erin Kelly – and pray they enjoyed it!

What are your three favourite books including the authors?

Impossible to choose just three, but – Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson, The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell and Decade by Jacqueline Briskin.

 A bit of triviality now…

What would ‘living the dream’ be to you?

Living in Cornwall, earning a living from writing.

Who would you cast to play the characters in Still Water in a movie?

Well I did have Aidan Turner in mind when I wrote Gil, but that was before he became an international success as Ross Poldark.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Windmills of my Mind, sung by Alison Moyet.

What makes you laugh?

Playing Articulate with my family, ‘Gavin and Stacey’, my comedy writer and actor friend Eric Potts.

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

Aidan Turner!  My grandmother, who encouraged me in everything and who died when I was ten.  My good friend and fellow writer Thorne Moore.  Billy Connolly.  David Tennant. The author Julia Crouch, who I’ve met and is lovely. Thinking about it, that’s quite a bizarre combination.

Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.

I have no sense of smell.  I hate rice pudding.

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next? And how much time a day do you spend on social media?

Oh, I don’t know.  An hour?  Not usually in one sitting though. And  I’m not sure I do balance it.  I need to crack the whole marketing lark, I think.  It’s still early days for me.  I did take some leaflets to local bookshops and libraries and gained a lot of interest which I need to follow up.  Actually, balancing marketing and writing is not the problem.  Balancing marketing, writing and the day job is the problem.

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