My guest this week is Kathryn Gauci. She frequently posts beautiful images of costumes, interiors, textiles and antiques which take me to another place. So, I wasn’t surprised to learn that this author has a background in textiles. I read The Carpet Weaver of Usak during lockdown and so enjoyed being taken away by the characters and places she wove for me.
Over to Kathryn:
Thank you for inviting me on your blog, Angela. Because of my background as a textile designer, I always think in images. The words come later. As a writer of WWII among other things, as you are, the imagery is combined with knowing the area well and hearing the stories. I always think it’s like walking with ghosts: being familiar with the area seeps into your bones. You smell the fragrance of the countryside and imagine the food that was cooked by maquisades in the ruins of the homes, and much more. Touching the senses through food, sounds and smell is vital in giving heart to a novel. It rekindles memories. This has happened in all of my WWII books, but particularly the latest, The Secret of the Grand Hôtel du Lac, which was inspired by the Resistance in the Jura and the area around the Swiss Alps. I was alone for much of my research time and it fired by imagination as to just how hard it was for the maquisards to survive and move about in the terrain – even more so for escapees.
Apart from actually being there, art is a huge inspiration. This was especially so in my Asia Minor novels like The Embroiderer. Orientalist painting played a big part in trying to get the décor and clothing. I never stop looking at art. Looking at old photography was also important. My current WIP is a WWII novel set on a Greek island and a painting inspired that. When I saw it, I had no idea where it would take me, but it touched me. My next step was to make a rough storyboard.
Girl with Two Caged Doves by John Frederick Lewis on left. On the upper right: The Quayside of Smyrna (lzmir) prior to the Great Fire in 1922 and below right: Preliminary Presentation Board for WIP The Blue Dolphin
And then there is music. I always play music related to the period while writing the story. With my Asia Minor novels, it was the oud, and other oriental sounds. One of my books, Seraphina’s Song, is completely inspired by music. Rebetika and Smyrniot songs played in the hashish dens and tavernas of 1920’s and 30’s Piraeus. Which brings me to another source of inspiration – films! Never on Sunday and the Greek film, Stella, were inspirational for Seraphina’s Song.
Cinema is a wonderful inspiration –, especially Film Noir, for mood and the pacing of a story. I can think of countless films that have inspired me for WWII, including The Third Man which had a profound effect on me as I later went to live and work in Vienna. I aim to try and evoke that mood for my next book which is set there.
Thank you so much, Kathryn, for inspiring us on this Monday morning. I have The Secret of the Grand Hotel du Lac on my kindle and look forward to reading it.
Kathryn Gauci was born in Leicestershire, England, and studied textile design at Loughborough College of Art and later at Kidderminster College of Art and Design where she specialised in carpet design and technology. After graduating, she spent a year in Vienna, Austria before moving to Greece where she worked as a carpet designer in Athens for six years. There followed another brief period in New Zealand before eventually settling in Melbourne, Australia. Before turning to writing full-time, Kathryn ran her own textile design studio in Melbourne for over fifteen years, work which she enjoyed tremendously as it allowed her the luxury of travelling worldwide, often taking her off the beaten track and exploring other cultures. Since then, she has gone on to become an international bestselling author. Code Name Camille, written as part of The Darkest Hour Anthology: WWII Tales of Resistance, became a USA TODAY Bestseller in the first week of publication.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/KGauciAuthor