1. How did you come up with the title?
Newgate Gaol is featured in the book and I researched its history. Before it was demolished in 1904, a certain area of the prison was nicknamed ‘Birdcage Walk’. As a title, it struck me as fitting on different levels. In real life, George Woolfe’s father was a birdcage maker – I didn’t invent that because it sounds picturesque, the proof is there in the 1901 English census – and, on a more implicit level, this is a book concerned with class and in London there is a real street called Birdcage Walk. In contrast to where George comes from it’s in a very affluent part of town, running alongside St James’s Park and not far from Buckingham Palace.
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There’s a lovely message in the classic novel Howard’s End by EM Forster, ‘only connect’. I think that’s what I wanted to leave readers with; the belief that connecting with people, whatever their background and class, is what matters.
3. How much of the book is realistic?
Obviously the book is a blend of fact and fiction – where the documentary evidence of the era and its events petered out, I have imagined the rest. So while it’s definitely not all real I hope it is realistic. Although there is a lot about Edwardian London that won’t be familiar to readers I hope the characters – the way they think and how they react and love and are frightened – are universally human and therefore recognizable.
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I got stuck at various points during the first part and each time I came back to it, I had to go through it all again so I was immersed in that world again. Towards the end the momentum really took hold and I felt as though I had it all in my head. That made it much easier and quicker to write.
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Actually sitting down and writing it! There’s nothing I love more than writing once I’m in that ‘zone’. But I will still do anything to avoid it. If everything at home is a mess and I haven’t brushed my hair then the writing’s going well.
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learnt that, despite all my avoidance techniques, I can actually sit down and write a whole book. I’ve wanted to for as long as I can remember but work and life in general gets in the way (or I allow them to!). I didn’t think I would have the self-motivation to do it so I’m pleasantly surprised. I wish I could be disciplined enough to write 2,000 words a day like Stephen King but I’m an all or nothing person and have to work around that. On a very productive day I can do 5,000 words but there are many guilt-wracked days in between those!
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It came from reading. When I was little I was scared of the dark and so I’d put the light on and read until I fell asleep most nights. The books I read – many of them again and again – were such a comfort and escape and eventually I wanted to create a little piece of that myself.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
It’s almost impossible to pick one. There are writers I admire for their skill and writers I just love – and some who fit into both categories. One of those is Alice Munro, whose short stories are just exquisitely written. I love writing short stories, it’s a real challenge to try and convey so much – a whole place and whole lives – in so few words. Alice Munro is the master of this – she can nail a person so that they’re fully formed in your head in a single sentence.
9. Tell us your latest news.
I was really pleased to be selected by Barnes and Noble for their NOOK First Program, which runs until early December. I’m also excited about the audiobook of Birdcage Walk that has been produced by AudioGO – it should be on sale in time for Christmas.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Only that I hope they enjoy it – there’s nothing like that little temporary escape from the everyday that a book can provide. If I manage to transport someone to somewhere else, even for a minute, I will be very happy!
About the Book
A London Murder Mystery Based on a True Historical Crime
George Woolfe is a young working class East London printmaker in the early 1900’s. Frustrated by the constraints of his class and station, he sees an opportunity to escape when he by chance meets Charles Booth, author of one of the most comprehensive social surveys of London ever undertaken. But this auspicious encounter has tragic consequences for George who, within six months, is charged with the murder of a young woman. But did he do it?
Set at the dawning of a new century, when the rigid class and gender boundaries of the Victorian age were soon to shift and realign, Birdcage Walk is a historical novel that vividly brings to life a real-life Edwardian murder and the possible miscarriage of justice that followed it.
Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Diversion Books
Release Date: November 4, 2012
Buy Links: Kindle, Nook, iBookstore
About the Author
Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist from England. Her first job was as an editorial assistant at the Guardian Newspaper, followed by a stint as deputy editor for the lifestyle section of London bible, Time Out magazine. There she had assignments that saw her racing reindeers in Lapland, going undercover in London’s premier department store and gleaning writing tips (none-too subtly) during interviews with some of her favorite authors. After becoming a freelancer, she left London behind and moved to the beautiful Cotswolds in order to write her first novel. Now at work on her second, a ghost story, she is visiting haunted pubs as part of her research.
Links to connect with Kate:
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