Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Entangled Blog Tour - Cat talks editing, writing and cheese

Cat Clarke - Entangled Author
I got to meet Cat "Entangled" Clarke a while ago as non-fiction editor for Scholastic and we got along famously, and the cocktails had nothing to do with it either.  Chatting to Cat I realised that not only is she a very cool hat-wearing lady, we have many things in common, we love books, we love good writing, she can wear quirky hats, I can't so I envied her, she writes, I write reviews...and we both adore cheese. 

When Quercus offered MFB to be part of Cat's blog tour for her novel Entangled, we LEAPT at the chance.  I got the chance to fling some questions as Cat which she had to answer in as polite a way as possible. *hee hee*

Here we go:

What training / uni / college degree did you have before you became an editor at Scholastic?

I studied History at Edinburgh University. Maybe I should have done English Literature, but I was paranoid that it would make me hate reading! Of course, now I have an alarmingly sparse knowledge of the classics...

Did you always want to be part of the publishing industry? Or did you ever want to be Elvis?

I’ve wanted to work in publishing ever since I did one of those career questionnaire thingummyjigs and the results came back telling me that my ideal career was Editorial. I’m very easily persuaded. I can honestly say that I have never ever wanted to be Elvis. There WAS a time when I wanted to be Kylie, but I don’t like to talk about it.

What made you sit back and realize and you wanted to write something for the wide world to read – and not just the non-fiction titles you’ve written in your capacity as editor?

I’d wanted to write for years and years, but my lazy gene wouldn’t let me. It was only when I started working as a non-fiction editor and was around books and bookish people every day that I got around to starting my first novel. I sometimes wonder if I would have ever got around to it if it hadn’t been for my break into the publishing world. Scary thought!

How did you reconcile your writer-self with your editor-self? Was it an open-secret at work, i.e. did people know that you were writing fiction?

A few people knew, but I didn’t really like talking about it. I didn’t want anyone thinking I wasn’t 100% committed to the job, and I didn’t want my authors to feel weird about it! When I got my book deal, my boss sent an email round the whole office, so everything was out in the open from that point on.

Prettiest Cover Ever
When you approached agents to look at Entangled, do you think your role as editor at Scholastic helped?

I think it only helped in that it gave me access to people who could suggest agents for me to approach. It meant I didn’t need to go trawling through the Children’s Writers’ And Artists’ Yearbook. But I am a serious geek, so I did that anyway. That book did not leave my coffee table until I’d signed the contract with my agent!

I remember a recent blogpost on your website where you mentioned that it’s been a year that day when you got THE CALL from your agent that Entangled had sold and you couldn’t really do much about it at work. How did you celebrate in the end?

I ate a splendid cheese and meat platter and had a couple of drinks. And a few weeks later I went out for a posh dinner. Oh, and I bought myself a special hey-you-got-a-book-deal necklace.

Now that you’ve walked away from your editorial role, do you find that your editorial voice has gone quiet or do you think it’s even more prevalent now than before?

Well, I’m still doing freelance editing and I get to flex my editorial muscles with The Lighthouse Children’s Literary Consultancy, so the voice is going strong. At the moment the voice is telling me that my characters roll their eyes too much, I really need to find a new way to describe crying and I STILL have a tendency to use the word ‘just’ too often.

Final fromage question: if you had to be a cheese, what cheese would you be?

I feel like I’m on Blind Date! I’ve given this question more thought than is sensible, considering the length of my to-do list right now. At first I was thinking Camembert, but lots of people don’t like Camembert, and everyone likes to be liked, right?! So I think I’m going to go for Parmigiano Reggiano – you can’t beat it. Life without it is unthinkable. And it has umami, the fifth flavour – the one that makes things taste extra-delicious. Yes... I think that’s my final answer. I’ll have to go before I change my mind. Thanks for the awesome questions, awesome Liz!


Some very cool answers here, thanks Cat for taking the time to chat to us!  Our Entangled review is up next week, so be sure to stop by for that too.

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