Hello, Kathryn and welcome to your interview.
Please tell my readers about your farm, and how you came to run one?
I run the farm with my husband who has lived here all his life. It’s been in his family since 1919. It is 331 acres and consists of 120 acres of arable land and 211 acres of grazing. The house was built originally in 1750 and extended in 1830, and is classed as a Georgian Hall. Very atmospheric, full of spirit activity and a wonderful place to live! Its situation, on the top of a hill in north Northumberland, gives the most incredible 360 degree panoramic view and on a clear day you can see the Scottish Borders.
I moved here in August 2001 after falling head over heels for the Farmer, who is now my husband. I used to come to one of the holiday cottages on the farm land (there are 3), with my mum and dad, and the last holiday we had was June 2001. Three weeks after returning home, my dad passed away.
Do you run sheep? If so how many and are they bred for their wool?
We have approximately 400 stock, 140 of which are breeding ewes and will be lambing in the next couple of months. There are still many lambs waiting to go to market but because of the bad weather this winter, we’re keeping them back to fatten them up! We also have 9 tups, or rams if you prefer.
The sheep are clipped, or sheared, in June and we do sell the wool, but unfortunately, it isn’t worth much these days and we make very little after we’ve paid off the clippers.
You clearly have a love of animals, do you have pets on the farm?
Oh yes! We have four beautiful collies called Molly, Sparky, Bonnie and Meggie, all working but incredibly affectionate, too. Sparky is Amy’s dog; the bond they have is exceptional. Bonnie is the best working dog out of the four while Meggie is my special pet, and Molly is.... just Molly, really, laid back, not a care in the world, full of character. I just love them all. We also have a cat called Jessica who snuggles on the bed with us after she’s brought birds and mice to the back door. Typical cat!
You write on your blog about your talented and beautiful daughter, she is eleven years old and clearly the light of your life. Has she inherited your love of writing?
I would definitely say Amy has inherited my love of writing. She has her own blog (http://www.amysspecialstories.blogspot.com) where she writes very short stories, poems and pieces, anything close to her heart. She’s very talented. Amy is autistic which makes her writing talent incredibly special. She is indeed the light of my life.
You have completed your novel “Discovery at Rosehill “… tell us about the book, and what inspired you to write it?
The book is told in the first person by Camilla, a medium who is led to her new home, Rosehill Farm, by her deceased grandmother. It contains many of my own paranormal experiences which have taken place in my home, and this is partly what inspired me to write the book. I have based Camilla on myself where the paranormal side of the story is concerned, but, as you will hopefully read, her romantic life isn’t at all like mine! The story is a mysterious tale of discovery for Camilla, where she learns the truth behind Rosehill, mainly through spirit communication. She falls in love with a vicar, adding a twist to the story, but it concentrates more on the spiritual/paranormal genre and includes visions, manifestations, communication and poltergeist activity. It might make you cry, I hope it makes you smile. But I really want it to make the reader think.
How long did it take you to complete “Discovery at Rosehill” … from word one until final draft?
Okay, bit embarrassed at the answer to this question, but it has taken 3 years! I haven’t rushed it; my life is so full with having an autistic daughter and running a farm that writing used to take a back seat occasionally. But the last twelve months have given me a kick up the backside and after contact with my dad, I decided to get it done once and for all. But I’m proud that I’ve done it, and I know he is, too.
The book is a loving dedication to your late Father, you and he must have shared a very deep bond. You must be so pleased that you are able to dedicate the book to him.
I am ecstatic. I hope it will be published one day for many reasons, but one of those reasons is because I know he will be at the book launch, supporting me through what will most probably be one of the most nervous events of my life since marrying the Farmer at Bamburgh Castle! My dad is always around me. All my life I wanted to make him proud of me. When my daughter was born, that was the proudest moment in both our lives. But he was still alive back then. I want him to be proud of me now, as he travels on a journey along the purest path.
Working the farm and looking after your daughter and husband must be incredibly time consuming. Do you need to set aside “YOU” time in order to write? Is your family supportive of the time you need to spend on writing?
At first, my husband was extremely sceptical about my writing. He is very old fashioned and was brought up to think that women have a role in life; to look after the house, kids and husband (not necessarily in that order!!). But as the book progressed, I am pleased to say that he has started to understand how important it is to me to have it published. Not only because of my dad, but because this is something “I” will have achieved on my own. My daughter demands attention when she’s at home so I’m not able to write at those times. But yes, now I can honestly say that my family is supportive.
Have you been in a situation that caused you fear during spirit activity?
There is only one time I was fearful. It was in the evening when Amy and the Farmer were out of the house and I was upstairs at my computer. I heard a very distinct noise downstairs, like the sound of someone walking in the hallway towards the bottom of the stairs. We have creaky floorboards so it isn’t difficult to distinguish sounds in this house! Anyway, it didn’t feel right. Something told me the sound was coming from a negative energy and I was genuinely scared. A part of me even believed someone was in the house, a human rather than an astral, and I picked up the nearest vase, a very heavy crystal ornament, then made my way to the top of the stairs. I stood for a few minutes before suddenly feeling very calm and I knew that the energy had gone. I don’t know who it could have been.
The book deals with paranormal experiences. These ring very true to my ears, are they based on your own dealings with the spirit world?
Yes, most of the paranormal scenes in the book are taken from my own experiences. In order to make them read more interesting, I have obviously fictionalised them and “beefed” them up a little!
Tell us about your two blog sites, firstly Crystal Jigsaw, when did you create the blog and why?
I first created Crystal Jigsaw in May2007. I started writing it because I was planning Discovery at Rosehill and needed a writing platform to promote my work. A very good friend of mine told me about blogging and I glared at her, wondering what on earth she was talking about. When she showed me her own blog, I realised I had to do one, too! (She went on to have a blog-book published.) My late father in law passed away a few weeks after I started my blog and I can honestly say contributed to several of my earlier posts, from both the earth and astral planes! I write for an audience; there I said it. I blog because I love to write and I love to entertain. I’m a bit of a coward though, because I’d be useless on stage so that’s why I prefer to entertain from behind a computer screen.
You have a very large following, does that surprise you at times?
I am really proud of my large following. My blog is very important to me and to know that other people appreciate it too is a wonderfully encouraging aspect of writing. I want the world to read about my little corner of Northumberland, and I want to tell them how incredible it is to be me!
You clearly have things to share that others want to read about, the blog has such a natural and unforced pace; I felt instantly relaxed and eager to read your posts. Do you research things to share with your following or are these experiences about life and everything it can throw at us that you share?
Thank you for the compliment. The only research I do before writing a blog post is when I write about autism. There’s no point stating facts when I can’t back them up. I always hope people will feel welcome to comment and ask questions, which is why I feel research is important particularly when writing about such a complex subject.
For most other posts, I just write them. I tend to talk about my farm, husband, daughter, writing. Occasionally, I have a little rant about the poor state of current affairs, or political matters which I get really cross about!
Then you have your new blog Marvellous Mable, where you invite readers to send you their paranormal experiences. Clearly you would have to rely heavily on your own experiences and your gut instincts when determining which of these experiences to publish. Have you received any that have surprised you?
. This blog has only just been created so it’s not really taken off yet. I do hope people will keep sending me their experiences though, it’s very interesting to read them. I received one the other day which shocked me. I try not to live a sheltered life and know that some people can be quite... errr.... rude, but this person sent me a very long piece, badly written and absolutely full of bad language. The experience was obviously fake, and every other sentence had a swear word in it, and I’m not talking mild swearing either! I don’t think this piece would have given the author or myself a very good reputation and would most probably have put off readers for life! So I hit the delete button!
However, I have received some great pieces. One in particular was from a favourite author of mine, Cally Taylor, who wrote Heaven Can Wait. I was extremely honoured.
On a more personal level, may I ask when you were diagnosed with Epilepsy?
I was diagnosed in 1999 whilst pregnant with Amy. The medication I was prescribed seemed to be working until November 2009 when I started having tonic clonic seizures (or grand mal as they used to be known). These were happening in sync with my hormones, in other words, once a month! I spent the next seven months in and out of hospital, back and forth to the doctors, until I went private after waiting for the NHS to get me an appointment with a consultant. Eventually he re-diagnosed me with “photo-sensitive epilepsy” and changed my medication. I now have to wear sunglasses when using the computer and can’t go to the cinema, play computer games (not that I have time) or spend too long in front of the screen without a significant break. Strobe and flashing lights are a no-go as is a camera flash, which is a bit of a pain because I love taking photographs! It took four months for the medication transition. I can’t drive until the summer, providing I have no more seizures in the meantime. I keep asking people with spare fingers to keep them well and truly crossed for me! I’m desperate to get back behind the wheel and start living again!
It would be so frightening and confidence destroying to go through something like that. You made a brave and exciting decision yesterday, please share that with my readers.
It was absolutely terrifying. My daughter witnessed me having seizures which was horrific for her and will probably stay with her for the rest of her life. The seizures stripped me of my confidence and independence. However, you’re right, I did make a brave decision, perhaps not for some, but certainly for me. In order to gain back my confidence I have decided to attend the CyberMummy 2011 conference which will be held in June this year, in London. I still can’t believe I’ve booked the ticket and the hotel room for two nights! Eeeeek!
What are your plans writing wise for the remainder of 2011?
Do you have another work in progress?
My current plans are to find an agent and/or publisher for Discovery at Rosehill. It’s incredibly important to me to have this book on the shelves as I said earlier. It’s not the money side that’s important, it’s the thought of me being a published author, and the wonderful expression of pride that will be etched upon my dad’s face.
Your book is marvellous. Is it completed and edited ready for publishing. Are you sending out submissions to publishers and agents yet?
Thank you again! Yes, it’s completed and edited (and tinkered with a million times!) and yes, I have started sending out submissions. But I realise this is something that takes time so I’m being patient - ish....!
Please Share the links to your sites below.
Paranormal Blog: http://www.marvellousmable.blogspot.com