Monday, June 01, 2009

Kate Griffin Answers Questions Five

Catherine Webb is a Carnegie Medal-nominated author who began her writing career at 14 and has written seven books aimed at the YA audience. Now in her early 20’s and writing as Kate Griffin, A Madness of Angels is her first book aimed squarely at the adult audience, and it is something special (US, UK, Canada, IndieBound, my review). The Midnight Mayor is a sequel planned for fall 2009 (US, UK, Canada, IndieBound). Cat is a life-long resident of London, and her love of the city is clearly reflected in her writing.

Thanks to Kate for taking the time to answer
Questions Five.


If I were going on holiday to London and I can only visit one pub, which pub do you recommend and why?

KG: Well, I kinda don't drink, owing to expense and taste and the fact that I never really had much fun doing it. But I do have fond memories of the
Sherlock Holmes, which is to the north of Hungerford Bridge, and the Castle on Pentonville Road has a very nice roof terrace in the summer, which almost redeems the fact that it's on the Pentonville Road. If you're after drink + fun, may I heartily recommend Cafe Kick on Exmouth Market, which is a sports cafe. This essentially means a lot of football, many photos of men in bad shirts looking mud-splattered, much booze and, best of all, bar footie. Many, many hours have been happily whiled away playing bar footie in Cafe Kick.

If the A Madness of Angels were a fortune cookie, what would its fortune be?

KG: Sweet and sour chilli sauce much good makes; but be careful what you say on the telephone.

How would you interpret this fortune if it were your own? Or Catherine’s?

KG: Um. As a profound culinary truth combined with a bit of sound social advice? I mean, if I was going to wax profound, I'd say something about yin and yang, unlikely combinations being so good, about the best and worst of life combined, and maybe talk a bit about the kind of stuff we say over the telephone and how it makes us behave that might not otherwise be the case. But I think my first, short answer, was probably the best, since there's very few dishes which don't benefit much from sweet and sour chilli sauce. Particularly all those Thai starters you can get - oh, sesame prawn toast! Now if you could find a way to inscribe a fortune cookie on the surface of sesame prawn toast, I'd be gobbling that down. As it is most fortune cookies are a really disappointing event.

As for this whole Catherine Webb/Kate Griffin business... while I did consider inventing a whole alter-ego for Kate Griffin, based largely on a theme of her being an Antarctic explorer with the kung fu skills of Michelle Yeoh and the ability to speak Tagalog as a fluent second language, I quickly realised that the amount of work involved in maintaining this cover, both physical and linguistic, was probably beyond my grasp. So, after much debate, I have come to the conclusion that Cat is Kate and Kate is Cat, and they both share the same fortune cookies, are avid fans of Dr Who and the West Wing, and need to have a haircut. I am still hoping to be thrown out of various parties for Kate Griffin owing to lack of appropriate ID, but alas, no one has yet thrown a party in Kate's honour for Cat to be chucked out of, so that plan is still on hold...

What other peculiar qualities of A Madness of Angels should readers be aware of?

KG: It's magic, Jim, but not quite as we know it...

It's a fantasy book, full of sorcery, mystery, monsters, and blue electric angels, but it's also fantasy given a sharp kick into the 21st century. Magic in A Madness of Angels isn't about how well you can intone in dodgy Latin, or whether you've got a spare bit of the chalk of destiny roaming around your alchemy lab. It's fantasy that rides the top deck of the inner city bus, casts its spells in street patter and, I hope, catches enough of real life in it to make the world seem that little bit more exciting and strange than it already is. Miracles and mysteries in this happy urbanised age are no longer about sacred waters from holy springs, or green-skinned dryads hiding in trees. These days, your ring of power is made of plastic and kept at the back of a charity shop with the snow globes, and your dryads skins' are the colour of dusty metal, their lairs buried inside the street lamps that are the new urban forests. Also, while death may only be the beginning, no one ever bothered to write a survivors guide for after the event...

Why should A Madness of Angels be the next novel that everyone reads?

KG: Hopefully, because it's got a bit of everything in there for everyone. It's (I hope) funny enough to make the tired commuter smile, strange enough to make the mundane seem peculiar, real enough to catch at the memory of pretty much anyone who's ever waited for the last train on a cold night in December while wearing the wrong kind of shoes, dark enough to make the night seem long, magical enough to make the night seem brighter, and different enough to promise a flavour of something new for hopefully everyone who reads it.

And if none of that appeals to you, it's got some really sound advice on why skipping your underground fare is a bad idea, and why it's always a good idea to pack extra clean shirts when embarking on a vendetta where high voltages are involved.

1 comment:

ediFanoB said...

Liked the interview. London is my favorite town. That means I love to read stories settled in London. I prefer stories with either Victorian age combined with steampunk, crime, mystery or magic. A copy of A Madness of Angels is on my shelf and on my newly created summer reading list. I look forward to read it. I read several good reviews about the book.

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