kate evans

Kate Evans was born and grew up in Co. Sligo, Ireland. In 1967, in search of adventure, she immigrated to Canada. Two years later, she moved to Newfoundland and made this wild and wonderful place her home. Her writing career began quite unexpectedly about twenty years ago when she went on a pilgrimage to St. Patrick’s Bed in the heart of the Maam Mountains, in Connemara, Ireland. The pilgrims were mostly Irish speaking and so, the mass, the readings, the traditional, unaccompanied singing were all in the Irish language. It was magical. On the way back through the mountains her first piece of writing took shape in her head. It was published and she just kept writing drawing for inspiration on her love for travel and passion for the theater. She wrote numerous feature articles for the newspaper, two scripts for CBC radio, a short story which was published in Ireland of the Welcomes and adapted a script for a dramatic presentation of The Children of Lir, a cantata, by Irish composer Patrick Cassidy. It was while experimenting with different kinds of genres and ideas that she finally decided to write a novel. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of Newfoundland, a hands on writing circle which meets once a month and continues to provided her with invaluable support, friendship and constructive criticism of work in progress. Her first novel, Where Old Ghosts Meet, was published in September 2010, by Breakwater Books, St John’s. NL. It is short listed for the APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award and for the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award.

You used your own family history as a basis for Where Old Ghosts Meet. Can you tell us a little about that process?
I never knew my paternal grandparents. I didn’t know their names nor had I ever seen a photograph of either of them. My grandfather had disappeared as a young man leaving behind his wife and children and rumor had it that he had gone to America but that as an old man he had made contact with my father. My grandmother, whom he deserted, lived just a few hundred miles away but she was never mentioned either nor did we visit with her or she with us. That was how it was.
The novel actually sparked some interest in your family to look more deeply into the past which led to new information regarding your history. How was that experience for you knowing that your novel, a work of fiction, could initiate action in your personal life? When I decided that I wanted to write a novel I thought that this would make the basis of a good story so I went looking for information. Basically I drew a blank except for one old man in the village who told me that, there was no story in it, he just fecked off. At that point I decided to create my own characters and story and to set in the same time frame as my family history.
Following the publication of Where Old Ghosts Meet my sister and brother, who still live in Ireland, decided to do some research into the family. One day while looking through some of my father’s books and papers, a photograph of a group of people fell onto the floor. The writing on the back indicated that it was taken in Boston in 1961. The old man in sitting front and center in the chair was my grandfather. His name was Bernard and he was the image of my brother Ben. A Google search of the 1922 census in Ireland found the family. My grandmother’s name was Kate. I presumed that we had both been named after them. The family mystery remains to this day.
How was it working with Lisa Moore? How important is a workshop, a mentor, a writer-buddy, to your writing process?
Lisa, was Writer in Residence at Memorial University when I first contacted her. The manuscript was finished at that stage but I was feeling uncertain as to its value. I gave Lisa the first four chapters to read. To my great delight she asked to see the rest of the manuscript. When eventually we got together, Lisa had pages of hand written notes for me, full of suggestions, questions for clarification and above all generous with her praise for the writing urging me to submit it for various first novel awards. Her input and enthusiasm at that time was invaluable to me. She took time, to discuss her suggestions in detail and encouraged me to continue to take risks in developing my own style. I implemented many of her suggestions and came to see my work as having value. She was an outstanding mentor, insightful and honest, generous with her time and talent and kind and gentle as a critic. I am deeply grateful to her.
Kathleen Winter said in a previous interview with Book Fridge that “writing is often… a way of exploring questions.” What does that statement mean to you? If I hope to write effectively and with authority then I need to explore questions as they arise. For example, I had to ask myself, what would make a man abandon his wife and child and simply disappear? Can such an action ever be justified? In order to find the answer to this question I had to delve into the psychology of Matt Molloy. I had to create his back-story and look for motivation and so present the reader with a situation where they could decide if it was justifiable or not. As Matt’s relationship with Peg Barry begins to take shape, I had to think carefully about the nature of love and ask myself. What is love and is what Matt and Peg have together love or friendship. Can you tell us a little about your next project?
My next project is also a novel. The ideas are perking away in my head and more keep popping up all the time and going off in all directions. I write it all down and hope that it will come together down the road. Right now I don’t know what the end product will look like but it will have a connection to Ireland because that helps to ground me but it will be set mostly in Newfoundland and will be more contemporary.
Any suggestions for BF readers?
The Sea, by John Banville; The Secret Scripture, by Sebastian Barry; Disgrace, by J M Coetzee; Small Island, by Andrea Levy; The Invisible Worm, by Jennifer Johnston

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