13th October, 2018
Durham Town Hall
Review by Gabriel Brown
At this sold-out event, Kate Mosse shared her preference for writing more about the people who live with the consequences of leaders’ decisions than the esteemed figures themselves, and also her belief that she has failed as a writer if someone notices she has researched her books. Mosse views herself as a writer, not a historian. I found her insights on motherless characters intriguing, due to her explanation of their greater independence – this is the reason her protagonists are always outsiders, who have generally lost someone.
All of this went a long way in helping the audience understand what sort of writer Mosse is, and held particular weight for an ‘outsider’ such as myself. Kate also described her writing process – her books are not fully-planned, but she uses a real historical timeline as well as her own fictional one. Her daily schedule is very relatable: she writes until she is bored, and doesn’t set a word count; a system I can relate to!
When it came to talking about writing as a pursuit, Mosse made a wonderful comparison: of writing being similar to creating a scene on a stage. She reminded us that although the acts of writing and reading are solitary, sharing the work is an inclusive venture.
As someone who had never come across Mosse or her work before, this event was truly a whistle-stop tour of a great mind at work, and an introduction to the first of a quartet of books which I will be keen to pick up.
This work was produced by participants on our Durham Book Festival Reviewers in Residence programme, a cultural journalism programme run by New Writing North Young Writers. Reviewers in Residence gives aspiring journalists aged 15-23 the chance to review books, attend events and interview authors at the Durham Book Festival. For more information about New Writing North Young Writers visit the New Writing North website.