Kirsty Ferry has written another rather magical tale, this time featuring Bea, Schubert the cat and bees, of course. So I invited her onto my blog to tell us a bit more about it.
This is the sixth book in the Schubert the cat series – it started off a few years ago with Every Witch Way, which was just meant to be a funny little romcom, with a hint of magic, about a girl called Nessa McCreadie who discovered she had ‘witchy propensities’. You really do have to suspend your disbelief with this series, but Schubert has almost become an institution on his own. Readers tell me they love to find out how his meddling in the human characters’ relationships get the characters together. I’d run out of Nessa’s family to write about, but this is Bea’s story, who was a minor character in It Started with a Wedding, which is about Nessa’s brother Alfie, so I decided to write about her, and Schubert decided to wander in – and that was it!
I love cats, and am always pleased when they make appearances in stories – Schubert makes another appearance in this book – tell us about him.
Schubert is a huge, black cat of indeterminate origin. He was picked up as a kitten on the Norfolk Broads by Nessa, and I suppose you could say it was meant to be! They have an odd understanding between them, and he seems to know more than the average cat. The thing about Schubert is that every time I write about him, I discover more about him too. He’s quite a mystical cat – prone to ‘conversations’ and mind-reading, and does seem to have some sort of history with one of Nessa’s ancestors who was deemed a witch. He is often passed around Nessa’s siblings to be looked after, but it seems his purpose in these situations is to help them find true love. Some of his favourite things are Nessa, his toy mouse Catnip, tuna, salmon, and Nessa’s nieces Isabel and Maggie. Some things he claims he doesn’t like are heights, baths, being forced to dress up in cute cat outfits, and his pink leash. He much prefers his purple leash, and often takes a constitutional around the town, elegantly holding his leash in his mouth.
Bea’s Garden has also been feature before and it sounds rather lovely – how do you see it in your mind’s eye?
It’s very much like Dilston Physic Garden in Corbridge, Northumberland. I love it there, and the paths are just like the ones in Bea’s Garden, meandering through different areas and always something new to discover. There are crystals and ornaments and wind chimes and sculptures amongst other things, and a big wooden summerhouse where I have attended a few Writing for Wellbeing courses and a couple of sessions on natural remedies for things like eczema, which I have suffered from all my life. The garden is all about nature and science combined – the homeopathic things, the folklore and myths, and the scientific side of plant remedies. Well worth a visit and full of magic, in my opinion. This is the weblink – Dilston Physic Garden . Bea’s Garden differs, however, in the fact that I relocated it to Scotland (purely for the story purposes – how else could Schubert pitch up so regularly when he lives in Edinburgh?) and that it’s the old walled garden of a Victorian estate. The story is about Bea, who owns the Garden, and The Man, who owns the Big House. There should surely be a gate between the two, shouldn’t there…? A gate lost, perhaps, to the mists of time…or an extremely overgrown border!
As someone who has one idea, writes the book, then only about half way through that gets the next idea, I’m in awe of how many books you write – how do you keep so many plots and characters in your mind without getting them mixed up?
I don’t really – I think it looks like I write more than I do. I did an MA in Creative Writing, and a lot of my assignments were strategically done to help with my books. For two years after that I wrote nothing due to life getting in the way, and I’m in that situation at the minute as well, but I had a lot of stuff submitted that I’d done in lockdown (I was on my own as husband works away and my son was at Uni, and had four days a week to fill as my day job took up the other three!). I think the hardest thing for me is getting started sometimes. I start with a concept, but I don’t plan. If I’m in the writing zone, I can just write and see where the story takes me. I’m not so good if I have to think about it. If I write a book, I can often pick the character that will star in the next one, and if I get a lightbulb moment, I’ll jot it down and leave it until I’ve finished the current book, which is a nice way to be able to continue with the next book in the series. It’s definitely easier if you already know your characters and the theme to the series. If I need to start a new series, unless I know what the new concept will be, I have to walk away and let it work itself out. I hate sitting staring at a screen with nothing appearing on the page.
Tell us about your writing routine – do you aim for a certain amount of words per session, for instance, and do you write in a particular place?
I refuse to put pressure on myself so I’d never tell myself a word count. I write when I can grab a chance, and chances have been non-existent recently, so I’m well out of my writing routine! I used to find that a Monday or a Tuesday afternoon would be a good time if I was in on my own, but I can’t do it with anyone else around. I’ve also been quite good at finding excuses not to write, even if I’ve been in on my own, so I’m my own worst enemy. A night time used to be pretty good to if I was home alone – I’d take my laptop to bed at about 9 and write in bed for two or three hours. However, for the last few months my dog has got himself into the routine of getting up two or three times a night at stupid o’clock to go outside to the loo, so I’m acting like I have a newborn again – going to bed early to grab sleep before I’m forced awake! We changed his diet back to what he used to eat, and it has helped a bit, but he’s not 100% there yet so I still can’t risk a late night. I can pretty much write anywhere, though, if my head is in the game. I did most of my MA in Costa, fuelled by large Americanos and bacon butties! My current place of choice is the dining table on my laptop which is where I am right now, but I keep gazing out of the conservatory window and thinking I should really do some gardening…I am the Queen of Procrastination.
Do you have a favourite bit of the writing process?
There are a lot of parts I like. I like starting with a new project and being all excited about it. I like it when it suddenly clicks and the characters start talking to me in my sleep and I know where I’m going with the story. I love it when I reach the word count of a novel or a novella, because then I know the rest of the words are a bonus. My favourite part, though, might be when I’ve written it, edited it, and I’m going through and polishing it before submission. I have a real sense of pride and achievement with that. And I may be odd, but I also love it when the edits come back from the publisher as I know I can revisit the work and make it even better with the editor’s input. I’m not precious about my writing. The publishers know what readers like, and I work with that as I trust them.
What do you have in the pipeline?
I’ve got about 10k of another Padcock book on my laptop which I haven’t touched since January. I think I started it about September. This is terrible, as I know if I put my mind to it, I can write a book within a few months. I did start re-reading it before work on Thursday while I was in the coffee shop before heading into the office, but I didn’t get very far through it. I need to have another look, but I’m also coming to the end of a two year art course which I’ve loved, but the final project and portfolio we’re doing has really sucked my time up. Maybe I should get that out of the way and devote some time in the summer to Padcock. Once that’s done, I’m also contemplating revisiting my timeslips but I don’t know – people tend to have wanted uplifting stuff recently which is why I’ve been working on Padcock and Schubert. There is also scope for another Schubert book, I think – but I’ll wait and see. I know right now, though, that the lawn really, really needs mowing….
Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.
Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.
Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.
For more information on Kirsty visit:
About the book
What’s not to love about Bea’s Garden?
Its higgledy-piggledy layout, fascinating plants and occasional resident black cat makes it the most charming place to visit on a sunny afternoon. Plus Bea has bees – and her Honey Festival is sure to create a buzz.
But not everyone thinks Bea’s Garden is the bee’s knees.
The Man at the Big House next door has been a thorn in Bea’s side for the longest time, with his unnecessarily snippy letters about her beautiful climbing plants ruining his ‘clean lines’. Could he and his poisonous project manager Carla pose problems for her Festival? Or can Bea rely on the Man’s cousin – and her newest annual pass holder – Marcus Rainton to fight her corner?
With bee best friends, big black cats, a secret garden gate and a surprising identity reveal, Bea’s Garden is surely in line for its most magical summer yet!