Kate Kerrigan Special Feature
‘Kate Kerrigan’s distinct storytelling links the ghosts of our pasts with modern dilemmas. Mesmerising and moving. Just beautiful.’
‘Nobody does lavish vintage like Kate Kerrigan.’
Kate began her career as an editor and journalist, editing many of Britain’s most successful young women’s magazines including more! and Just Seventeen magazine under her birth name Morag Prunty, before returning to her native Ireland in the 1990’s. She writes a weekly column in the Irish Mail about her life in Killala, County Mayo – and contributes regularly to the RTE radio program Sunday Miscellany.
Covers can be a real bone of contention with writers and their publishing houses. Although we express ourselves in words, storytellers carry pictures in our minds too – of what our characters look like, and what kind of books we are writing – how we want them to look and what kind of an image we want to project. So when the time comes around for the covers of our books to be designed we often have strong ideas of how they should look. ‘Judging a book by its cover’ is for real with us writers – and it can leave designers quaking in their boots.
I have been incredibly lucky with my publishers over the years. Although I have had my moments. I won’t say which ones but there was a time in the past where I have gone the full drama-queen meltdown. I’m not alone. I regularly get emails from fellow authors moaning and bewailing covers they don’t like on their precious tomes. A bad cover is like starving yourself to lose 20lbs for your friends wedding just to have her put you into a horrific, flouncy bridesmaid dress that you hate!
Generally, though, I must admit, I have been happy with my covers. Never more so than with my last two books – The Dress and Only Ever You – created by the talented design team and Head Of Zeus. But it was with my latest book – That Girl – that I had my Oprah ‘Ah-Ha!’ moment. Although I’m a best seller, twenty years into my writing career, and currently writing my tenth Kate Kerrigan novel, publishers have always found me quite difficult to pigeonhole. I have lots of lovely readers and nobody is complaining but sometimes I ask myself – just who am I as a writer? What am I writing about? Exactly? Most of my books are what you could call ‘era fiction’ – written in various periods dating back not further than the 1920s. I have set my books in nearly every decade since – including some dual timeline books also set in the present day. As a result of this all of my covers have been quite different from each other. I like all of them. But when I saw the cover of That Girl – set during my mother’s coming-of-age years – Swinging Sixties London – the striking image of a young, characterful woman striking a cheeky pose, struck a chord with me. It was not simply that I liked it as a cover for the story I had written. It was more than that. It wasn’t just representing my writing, it was like it was telling me something about my writing.
I called my editor straight away and said; ‘OK Rosie – there’s something going on here. I LOVE this cover too much. Lets talk!’ I flew to London, then we gathered, as a team in the ‘comfy pink’ corner of the Head of Zeus offices and talked it through. Rosie’s passion is horses and she hit the nail on the head when she said – ‘We know Kate Kerrigan books can run the race – but have we got the livery right?’ We lined my books up on the table up and asked ourselves – why did the cover for That Girl stand out? What was it saying about me as a writer? Instead of looking at the differences between my novels (era, fashions, themes) we started talking about what they had in common. All of them are about women of character who are on a journey. My stories come out of the individual woman at the centre of them. There are usually three women featured – Honor, Lily and Joy in The Dress; Rose, Ava and Sheila in Only Ever You – and readers often come to me afterwards and confide their ‘favourites’. I am often surprised at their choice. That’s why I say that the reader is as important a part of the finished book as the writer. A book is not complete until a reader has put their ‘take’ on it – and it’s not always the same take as the author! As the author, I have my ‘favourite one’ too. She is the woman driving the story forward. Not always the most popular one – not always the one all of us can relate to – but she’s the woman we’re all talking about. It’s her heartbeat that’s drumming out the story to me.
In That Girl, it was pale-skinned, red-haired Annie – the abuse survivor – running, hiding – would she find the strength she needed to survive? In The Dress it was Joy – obsession with beauty led her to rock-bottom in her addiction – would she rise again and discover the beauty within? In Only Ever You – Rose’s desperate single-minded passion threatened to destroy the very love she craved. Will these women get what they need? What they deserve? Around them, their friends and rivals become part of their story – enriching and weaving. Together, with these women I try to paint pictures of the complex and beautiful nature of being a women and where our passions lead us. The women I write about have different lives and live in different eras – but, in their hearts, they are taking the same journey as all of us. The search for love, meaning and redemption and the crazy, sometimes dangerous adventures our desires lead us into.
So, without further ado – meet my new cover girls!
Annie from That Girl – Joy from The Dress and Rose from Only Ever You.
Exclusively for U.S and Canada e-books, we have 1930s country-woman and Mayo femme fatale Bernadine, from The Perfect Marriage (formerly Recipes for a Perfect Marriage) who discovers love for her schoolteacher husband through her passion for cooking.
On the cover of Little Miracle, meet feisty Irishwoman Eileen. She cannot forget the baby boy she gave up for adoption in 60s Dublin – will she find him again before her own life runs out?
With the help of the brilliant design team at Head of Zeus – I have put my heart on my sleeve – and on the covers of my books.
I hope you love them as much as I do.
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Head of Zeus
Thank you to the team at HOZ for the opportunity to the on the blog tour and for my copy of the book.
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